Xbox 360 Review: Kinect Joy Ride

Not quite Mario Kart, is it?

I remember when Kinect Joy Ride was first announced without the Kinect name attached. It looked like a pretty simple racer that would take on the likes of Mario Kart, since the other consoles seriously need a game that is similar to Nintendo’s flagship racer. But when Kinect became involved, my hopes were shattered…

Kinect is meant to be used to help games be a bit more realistic, but how realistic is it to be standing up to drive? If you stand up right now and stick your arms out to simulate steering, you’ll realise it’s not only unrealistic and idiotic, but it’s also incredibly uncomfortable. I did attempt to try playing the game sitting down and it actually worked for a little while before the sensor failed to recognise me and how to rescan me before continuing.

You can also boost by holding your arms back and then pushing them forward when your boost meter has some energy in it. Battle Races give you Mario Kart style weapons to use but these are awkward to activate while trying to steer, it asks you to stick your hand out and touch the icon for the weapon, but it sometimes doesn’t recognise that you are trying to do that and you can lose control easily.

Besides races, there are a number of different events to try like Stunt, Dash, Trick and Smash. Dash asks you to get through a track without crashing into cones, but fails to recognise when you just want to go in the middle lane to avoid cones on both sides. Stunt requires you to go up half pipes performing tricks for a high score, while Trick makes you match poses to continue your journey, but is incredibly harsh and finally, Smash gives you a time limit to knock over as many items as possible.

The problem with all of these is that none of them are remotely fun and completionists will have to play them multiple times to unlock achievements, but I wonder how many will have the patience to put up with the incredibly inaccurate controls. The first time I played Kinect Joy Ride, I actually enjoyed it…but about half an hour in and I realised that it’s actually a very poor game compared to other racers, not just because of the controls…but also the content. You are only given a number of cars and tracks to begin with, but you unlock more by gathering followers by racing and doing events, so the inevitable grind of racing games continue…although I doubt many will actually see it through to the end.

In the graphics department, Kinect Joy Ride is pretty simple to look at. It has the odd nice moment to watch, but it’s never truly pleasing on the eye. The tracks are forgettable in design and the music is quite annoying after a while.

The Verdict

Kinect Joy Ride is a major disappointment for those hoping for a Mario Kart experience with Kinect support. Playing it is exhausting and not really worth the effort…let’s hope a future racer is round the corner that can make better use of the hardware (and let you sit down to drive…)