Massive jumps and full-body stuntsThe arcade-style gameplay of Kinect Joy Ride, the kart racing title from Microsoft Game Studios and fledgling developer, BigPark, ensures that there’s a heavy emphasis on speed and over-the-top manoeuvres, as you skid and swerve around the cartoon-style tracks against a variety of vehicles and colourful Xbox 360 avatar-inspired competitors. Rather than offer the simulation style and realistic graphics that you see in more serious racing games, Kinect Joy Ride is yet another of the Kinect launch titles aimed toward the casual gaming audience with a heavy focus on social play and featuring a control scheme designed for pick-up-and-play appeal. In Kinect Joy Ride, no driving license is required and it doesn’t discriminate against you if you’ve never played a racing game before.
The gameplay takes advantage of the Kinect peripheral, which is a first for the racing genre. The controls are extremely simple to pick up, and the concept should be familiar to anyone who’s ever played a kart racing game. You clench your fists and put your arms out in front of you, holding onto an invisible steering wheel as you drift around corners, perform stunts over ramps and muscle other cars out of the way to try and get to the front of the racing pack. There's a decent roster of vehicles in terms of the way they look, plus there’s the opportunity to pimp your ride in any colour that you place in front of the camera, but it’s disappointing that there isn’t more variety in terms of the way they handle around the tracks. As such, Kinect Joy Ride is a simple game in design, albeit with the added attraction of the technically impressive - and far from being simple - motion-sensing Kinect camera.
The game modes on offer afford you with the luxury of straight forward races, or Mario Kart style chaos in Battle Mode. You can also rack up points by chaining together a variety of stunts in Trick Mode, or simply career around tracks on a mission of destruction in the Smash events. There’s also the option to jump online against up to 8 players, or play split-screen – which is a decent addition if you’ve got young siblings to entertain. It’s disappointing that only two of the game modes can be played online (Pro Racing and Battle Racing,) but nevertheless battling against human opposition is the highlight of an otherwise mildly entertaining kart racer.