- Publisher: Microsoft
- Developer: BigPark Inc.
- ESRB Rating: “E" for Everyone
- Genre: Kart Racing
- Pros: Super easy to play; custom paint jobs
- Cons: Menus; not a lot of gameplay depth; gets old about 5 races in
First, a history lesson. Joy Ride was first shown at E3 2009 and was originally meant to be a free to download XBLA game starring Xbox 360 Avatars. It would focus on custom user created content and paid premium DLC. At E3 2010 it was revealed Joy Ride had been turned into a full-priced Kinect launch game.
Kinect Joy Ride offers a fair bit of variety. There are normal race modes, stunt modes, drag races, and more. Smash mode is kind of interesting because you just get to break a bunch of stuff littered around an arena. The battle race mode feels just like a Mario Kart clone, complete with the same sort of weapon set. There are a handful of different environments that courses for each mode are laid out on.
There are a number of vehicles in the game, but none of them really feel any different from the rest. Unlocking new cars just isn't a thrill because there isn't ever a real feeling of advancement. They all feel the same.
One feature I admit I enjoyed way too much was the custom paint option. This lets you paint your car any color you want by holding an object in front of the Kinect camera. I scanned anything I had handy, and it copied the colors perfectly. A bright neon green pack of Ernie Ball Regular Slinky guitar strings, a bright red Stratocaster guitar, a purple and gold Minnesota Vikings blanket, etc. and it worked great.
This would all be awesome if Joy Ride actually played halfway decent, but it doesn't. The controls are easy to figure out - you hold your hands out in front of you to grab the "steering wheel", and turn your hands like you are turning a wheel to make your car turn, lean your body into turns to drift, lean your body while your car is in mid-air to do stunts, and pull the "wheel" towards your body to build up boost and then push it away to use the boost. But it isn't fun! The turning controls are unresponsive and calibration is wonky even though I'm playing with the same setup every other Kinect game worked fine in (which means it is a software problem, not hardware). It also feels odd to not have any speed control. Not that it matters, though, because the tracks are a mile wide and you aren't penalized for driving off road anyway. Each of the various game types are fun to try once or twice, but at that point you have seen pretty much all the actual gameplay the game has to offer. It has the depth of a half-dried rain puddle. It is very easy to pick up and play, but doesn't hold your attention for very long.
Graphically, Kinect Joy Ride looks okay. Everything is bright and colorful, but very simple in terms of textures.
The sound is also merely okay. Okay racing sound effects, and okay music. Okay.