Kinect Joy Ride (Xbox 360)

Game Review

Kinect Joy Ride (Xbox 360) Review

Europe Thu, 11 Nov 2010 by James Newton

Kinect Joy Ride Screenshot

It'll drive you round the bend

Kinect Joy Ride started life as an Xbox Live Arcade title before Microsoft reworked it for Kinect and sent it to retail. As such it’s simplistic, accessible and entertaining, but whether it’s worth the money is debatable.

Control in Joy Ride is as simple as can be: hold out your hands and turn them to steer. Acceleration and braking is done for you, leaving you to focus on three key skills: drifting, boosting and executing stunts.

Drifting is a matter of leaning into turns, letting you maintain your speed whilst sliding around corners, with rewards for holding longer drifts. Boosts are generated by pulling your hands closer to your body, building a meter before pushing your hands forward to unleash a speed increase, and stunts are easily executed by bending, leaning or twisting your body when your car is airborne.

Kinect Joy Ride Screenshot

The removal of all control over acceleration, plus the lack of anything physical in your hands, means your first race is likely to bewilder as much as entertain. The initial pace isn’t too fast, so you’ll never feel your car is racing away from you, but learning to negotiate the courses without anything in your hands is an odd experience to say the least. Whilst the wide and lazy corners of the opening circuits should be handled with ease, once you take on the last few courses you’ll find it tougher to make it around. It’s as if the steering wheel on your in-game car only turns by so many degrees, making tight turns trickier than they should be.

Masking the game’s XBLA roots is a decent amount of content, steadily drip-fed through to you as you accumulate fans of your racing prowess. There’s the choice of racing with or without weapons, both of which are playable online with up to seven others, or any combination of players and AI bots to make the numbers up to eight racers. Online play is smooth and lag-free, and worth dropping into if you can’t rustle up any players offline.

It’s not all straightforward racing though, with a range of other driving minigames to dabble in. Probably the best is the stunt mode which puts your car in a half-pipe and challenges you to execute as many stunts as possible within the time limit, racking up points along the way. The extremely physical nature of this mode makes it a lot of fun, and the score attack element will hold your interest as improved scores unlock medals and more. It’s also a mode that doesn’t rely on tight handling and full control over acceleration and braking, a definite advantage.

Kinect Joy Ride Screenshot

Smash mode is the opposite in many ways, asking you to crash into statues of various sizes to accumulate points. It’s an odd mode that relies on tighter steering than the game is often able to offer, as you need to execute donuts to achieve high scores but the turning circles never feel quite tight enough to fit right.

Playing Dash mode is another control method altogether: racing down a track separated into lanes, you slide between lanes to avoid obstacles and attempt to set the best time possible. Removing the need for any kind of steering simplifies the game even further, quite an achievement in itself, but there’s some fun to be had in these quick rushes to the finish line.

The final mode is also the strangest as it has nothing to do with racing or steering at all. Trick mode sees your car take to the skies, your avatar perched on a wing, and you must mimic poses display on screen for reasons that are never fully explained. The body detection for this is picky to put it politely, often requiring you to lift an elbow slightly or gently bend a knee, but as some poses require you to stand parallel to the screen it’s often impossible to tell where your pose is going wrong.

Kinect Joy Ride Screenshot


Kinect Joy Ride is simple in every way, from its inoffensive cartoony presentation to the music that’ll make your head bop. There’s a few nice touches along the way – you can paint your car the same colour as any item you hold up to Kinect – and there’s a wealth of courses, cars and styles to unlock if you’re persistent. Some modes are certainly better than others, playing next to a friend is always more fun, but once the initial novelty of driving a car with only your hands has worn off you’ll realise this isn’t worth the full asking price.


Scoring Policy

User Comments


1. Mickeymac United States 11 Nov 2010, 23:21 GMT

I wasn't expecting much out of this one either. Luckily Sonic Free Riders is all the racing the system needs at this time.


2. xOGxGunnz United States 12 Nov 2010, 00:45 GMT

A bit disappointed that this game didn't do better. I was really hoping for a solid cart style racer similar to the classic Mario Kart.


3. Waffle_cones United States 12 Nov 2010, 01:37 GMT

I was never to fond of the idea that you grabbed onto air and moved your hands up and down like a freaking mime.


4. sykotek United States 12 Nov 2010, 07:24 GMT

Wasn't this game previously announced as a free XBLA title for all 360 owners? Maybe they meant it was a free-for-all and I'm just mistaken.

Edit: Did some research after my post

sykotek goes back to playing Yaris


5. Corbs United States 12 Nov 2010, 09:16 GMT

That's a shame, I had considered picking this one up. Great review J!


6. ballkirby1 United States 11 Dec 2010, 00:49 GMT

I'm sure this game could've sold much better if they weren't saying it was going to be free a few years back.
I will still pick this one up though because I want a racing game and I don't trust Sonic Riders games with anything. (Unless the demo is good, which luckily there's a demo for both titles)


7. LEGEND_MARIOID United Kingdom 25 Dec 2010, 12:53 GMT

Bot the racing games appear to be poor unfortunately....


8. Dave123 United Kingdom 21 Jan 2011, 19:34 GMT

played the demo from kinect adventures and quite enjoyed it..not sure whether to take the risk though, it's had a lot of bad reviews...


9. JanJape Netherlands 28 Jan 2011, 15:19 GMT

I bought it and enjoy it. I don't know what sonic is like but I prefer microsoft kinects above alternatives because of the better motion controls. Racing part is good, just a pitty you can not race one versus one bet are always sticked with at least 8 cars in a race.


10. stoolie United Kingdom 21 Mar 2011, 11:19 GMT

My family and I love this game even though it is chronically flawed. Now let me just clear a couple of things up; the controls are very difficult and sometimes inaccessible (the racing is definitely the worst culprit); it is simple to the point of distraction and the price hike from £0 to £40 in an instant was very offputting.
But here's the thing, I picked it up for £18 from a famous online retailers so the largest barrier for me was already knocked down. Despite my trepidation, this game has provided hours of entertainment for my kids (6 and 3), my wife (age deleted) and myself. Just the social aspect is enough to introduce children to a friendly world of gaming where competition is ok and co-operation is even better.
The dash tracks are simple to play and both the kids beat my time regularly resulting in a great deal of screaming and cheering, the stunt tracks are fun, silly and my kids love twisting all over the place to flip their cars (newly painted using the sensor to match the colour of their own clothes), and the trick games cause a lot of laughter as Mummy and Daddy make fools of themselves posing like deranged cheerleaders.
This is a game for the family and when they say that, this time around it is really relevant, it is not perfect and the controls are flawed but if you want children and adults to game together (kinectimals, whilst better, seems to be marketed at children almost exclusively) this is a great introduction.
I wouldn't pay more than £20 for it, but I've purchased games for more money that have offered the kids less (Kinectimals just got a bit boring for them and too difficult for my youngest).
My son loves his green Hummer and my daughter, her pink sand buggy and with a really nicely paced system for unlocking content, this game has and will continue to keep them driving, posing and twisting for months to come.
I would give it 4 out of 10 as a single player teen/ adult experience but 8 out of 10 for family entertainment. Hope this is useful for anyone tempted but put off by the large number of negative reviews.

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