26th January 2011 - This game was originally announced as a free to download XBLA title that looked like a great way of playing as our Xbox Avatars and a lighter way to enjoy multiplayer. But once Kinect came to light, someone thought it was a good idea to scrap that free XBLA title and turn the base game into a motion controlled kart racer to show off Kinect to racing fans. Im here to say that no, Mister Bigwig, that was not a good idea.
The idea behind Kinect Joyride is decent; it’s a light hearted racing game in the style of games like Mario Kart and Sega All-Stars Racing. You know the ones; fun, fast and full of flavour. But while it may be pretty great in theory, it fails to uphold that standard when put to practice.
The main issue comes in the form of the Kinect tech itself. Whereas games like Dance Central and Kinect Sports have pulled off pretty great motion tracking gameplay, Joyride completely misses the mark. You stand upright, and use your hands on an imaginary steering wheel to drive. You thrust your hips to drift, and pull and push the ‘steering wheel’ to make use of the boost. It all falls apart when you actually try to race, resulting in a sad display of what this great machine is capable of.
The game mechanics behind the title though, are pretty solid. Like I said, the idea behind the game had potential. Furthermore, the multiplayer would have worked wonders were you able to play with a controller. With up to 8 players online, and 2 locally, Kinect Joyride had the potential to be great, and with some smart design moves, sadly fails to play the way you want it to.
You race in-game as your profiles Avatar, and the entire game takes the same colour and style formation as them; its bright, its big and it looks like a lot of fun (like the game itself!). Its all very simple, and doesn’t have any room for improvement given how straightforward it is. In its own way, this is great, giving gamers an essentially perfect looking racing world to play the game through and some great car models that go hand-in-hand with the Avatar racers. But the style doesn’t go as far as to help the gameplay flaws.
There isn’t much to talk about here, with the most bland audio department from a racer in a while. Its all the standard and predictable sound effects that really don’t capture you, instead closing more in on the annoying factor. The background music furthers this, too - its cheesy, repetitive and almost unbearable in long stretches.
Really, I was looking forward to the original Joyride game. It looked fun and basic, and a good alternative to shooting annoying American kids in Halo or playing Mortal Kombat with my friend in Vietnam. It still looked interesting when the Kinect abilities were tacked on, but the end product is far from worth the asking price. Its honestly not enjoyable for very long, especially after you realize how much you hate pretending to drive and how silly you look when you try to boost, only to see that the bad sensing results in nothing happening but you thrusting your arms in and out stupidly in your lounge room. While the game does have some pretty cool gameplay mechanics and ideas at its core, BigPark have missed the mark with the bad Kinect implementation.
Ultimately, Kinect Joyride got more things wrong than right. The end result just goes to show what myself and what im sure are legions of other Xbox 360 games said all along was right; give us the free XBLA title instead of trying to make a racing game out of a machine that tracks your body. I don’t want to use my hand to thrust, boost and turn all around the track. I want to sit back, relax and enjoy a kart-racing driving game built for fun. Kinect Joyride doesn’t allow any of that.
AAG SCORE: 5.5/10
+ Visually pleasing
+ Well designed game modes
- Frustrating Kinect usage
- Terrible Audio
- Great ideas turned bad
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott