Kinect Joy Ride Review

Kinect Joy Ride (Available exclusively on Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: E
Players: 1-8
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Big Park
Release Date: November 4th, 2010
Xbox Live: Online Multiplayer

Parent Talk: Rated E for Everyone; there’s a good reason for that as you might imagine.  Believe in the ESRB and all shall be well.

Forget Forza, Gran Turismo is a goner, and DiRT is exactly as the name implies.  Today you experience something original.  It’s the day you’ve all been waiting for.  Project COE is proud to present the world premiere of their Kinect Joy Ride review.  What, you expetced something else?

The Great:

A game for the whole family.  Joy Ride is simple enough for your grandmother to play, and wild enough to whip out at parties.  Don’t listen to anyone else; they don’t have a clue about this.  JR isn’t the most adventurous game ever created, and I’m not sure it even needs to exist.  But at the end of the day, I’m glad it does due to an offering of solid entertainment.

The Good:

+ It works…albeit not perfectly.  I’ve heard complaints from all over that Joy Ride doesn’t play well.  I don’t know what those people are smoking, but everyone who has played with me hasn’t experienced that many problems.  Depending on your distance to the camera, Kinect may not track your hands’ positions infallibly, but you’re clearly informed that Kinect requires a lot of space.  With seven foot or so, everything should be fine.  My issues include missing a boost when I clearly activated it and drifting when I didn’t want to.  You drift by slanting your body to the left or right, boost by bringing your arms close to your chest and then thrusting them forward, and perform tricks by moving your body in any direction like a crazy person.  Driving is done by holding out your hands as if you’re really behind the wheel.

+ A quality casual game.  Many people say Joy Ride is nothing but a glorified tech demo, but that’s not the case at all.  There are countless unlockable goodies, ranging from new cars and tracks to prizes…that apparently have no value.  Forget about prizes though; who needs them when you have a collection of pictures taken while attempting to drift.  Now that’s classic!  We can’t wait for Facebook integration…

+ Loads of modes.  There’s online support, a Mario Kart-ish battle mode, racing, stunt, smash, dash and trick modes.  That’s variety baby.  Some modes are more interesting than others, as is always the case.  Trick tasks you to mimic the on-screen avatar’s body positions.  Sounds easy, but it isn’t.  Stunt places you in a half-pipe, as you blast yourself higher and higher to reach tokens for points.  Stunt mode challenges you to destroy as many mini-statues as possible within a certain time.  Dash pits players against the clock.  Think time attack mode in other racing games.  I won’t explain the others for obvious reasons.

+ Short burst play.  I think this goes without saying.  Even the hardcore can enjoy Joy Ride (no, really?) so long as they don’t invest four hours in one sitting.  Joy Ride is best played with a friend for thirty minutes to an hour, tops.

+ A great avatar-supported game.  I also think it’s better now than it was at E3 2009,  It’s something completely different and deploys your avatar.  That makes the experience special.

The Bad:

– The online mode.  This is either unpopular, or people are just rude.  I needed six attempts just to participate in one match.  Keep in mind I received my review copy about a week after Kinect’s launch.  But where is everyone?  When I finally joined up with someone, there was no noticeable lag, but, what’s the fun in competing with only one other person?  This game supports up to eight, and I expect to see them!  I also don’t like that only the standard race and battle mode are accessible online.  Who’s idea was that?

– Battle mode is no Mario Kart.  The weapons are similar in scope to that famous racer, but the fun factor just isn’t there.  The weapons just aren’t as precise or unique.  You fire a rocket and it explodes directly in front of your vehicle.  Huh?

– No car variety.  Every car controls the same.  But this is a racing game after all, shouldn’t the cars behave just a bit differently?

The Ugly:

The price.  Coming in at full retail price, it’s doubtful Joy Ride will climb to the Top Ten sold.  The racing genre is already jammed with AAA software like Gran Turismo, Forza, etc.  Now comes Joy Ride, a family-oriented racer game that uses a brand-new input method, and is based on an original IP for $49.99.  You do the math.

Can this be done on another system?

Yes, it sure can.  Both the Move and the Wii-mote would be able to track the basic movements required here.  Not every mode would be playable or as enjoyable, but I’d say this is very possible with the other tech available on the market.

The Lowdown:

I don’t know why people are slamming Joy Ride so hard.  It’s a fun game that offers a lot of variety in a cute, little package.  The presentation is far more detailed than most of the Wii Sportstype games this is based on, but that’s ignored thanks to the hefty price.  Many believe this would have been better off as an XBLA game, but I think they’re asking for a bit much given all the extra content.  If you enjoy racing games, host a lot of parties, or just want to experience something different, Kinect Joy Ride may be exactly what the doctor ordered.  Try the demo to find out for yourself.

3 thoughts on “Kinect Joy Ride Review”

  1. I’m frankly surprised you don’t feel like a moron having your hands out like that. I would think I’m putting on a lame skit or something, and am missing a wheel to hold. More power to ya though ;)

  2. Honestly, it’s not that bad. It takes some getting used to, and you can grab something to use if you really want to. Just make sure the color is different than your skin tone or else the sensor gets confused. These are the best types of games to play with a bunch of friends because you all look like fools, but that’s part of the fun ;) I was surprised I enjoyed Joy Ride as much as I did. It’s not the type of game I’m suddenly going to find myself playing at 3AM or going for all the achievements, but it’s something to whip out whenever people are over and are looking to kill a good 45 minutes or so.

  3. I agree that having no peripherals of any kind playing the Kinect games feels totally weird. (except maybe for volleyball)

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