Have you ever thought wheels were overrated? That you could do a much better job of steering than something invented by a caveman? Then Joyride is possibly the game for you, but if you answered “no” to these questions you may find yourself coming down with a severe bout of buyer’s remorse.
Joyride is noticeably the least interactive Kinect launch title. Instead of the full body movement seen in games like Kinect Sports or Dance Central, Kinect Joyride is controlled simply by holding your hands out in front of you, gripping an imaginary steering wheel and miming your turns. There’s no need to accelerate or brake – that’s taken care of by the game.
There is some small finesse to the control system, though. Drifting can be achieved by leaning into the turn, you’re able to boost your speed by pulling your extended steering hands towards you to charge then thrusting forward again to release, and tricks can be achieved by twisting your body.
If your idea of a racing game is sticking to the track and driving a perfect line then Joyride will not be your scoop of chips. You’ll spend much of your time off road and as you cannot control your speed, you cannot brake into corners. The steering sensitivity is a mixed bag, even on straight roads expect to be taking detours through trees most of the race.
Luckily, the game doesn’t mind if you go off road. Grass and dirt don’t slow you down and trees, fences and other barriers go down with no ascertainable impact to your speed or the car.
Accuracy means very little in Joyride. That means that the game is easily accessible to the casual player Kinect is marketed towards, but is it also an admission that the game is limited by the technology? Can racing games work on Microsoft’s motion sensor? Joyride doesn’t make a very good case to say the least.
Joyride has a handful of predictable game modes including Pro Race, Smash, Dash, Trick and a kart racer called Battle Race. Both Pro Race and Battle Race can be played over Xbox LIVE.
Scoring in these modes grants you fans and will unlock increasingly challenging tracks and more cars and leaves you with some sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, what will at first appear to be a wealth of content will quickly wear thin as you’ll soon discover you’re going through the same motions (literally) over and over in cars that don’t feel much different to drive.
Joyride's other problem is its menu system. After every race it throws you right back to the main menu, a full five selections away from racing. All this added navigation removes any flow and can be a deciding point as to whether you’ll have one more race or whether you’ll simply shut it off and never think about it again.
At its heart Joyride is an average cartoon racer. Take away the controller and it gains a gimmick but loses a lot of form and playability. It’s momentarily fun but, when compared to other Kinect launch titles, is hardly worth the asking price.