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Impressions: Kinect Joy Ride

2:14 AM on 10.26.2010

Kinect Joy Ride has a weird history. Initially introduced as a free Xbox Live title, the game has gone on to become a flagship Kinect launch title. Kart racers are a dime a dozen, and while many have stepped up to the plate, only the Mario Kart franchise has shown itself as being a capable, long lasting franchise. The Xbox 360 has not seen many kart racers, so Kinect Joy Ride has at least some standards to aim for: competition with a very established franchise, proving racing on Kinect, and making sure it's a game worth playing.

Kinect Joy Ride has a weird history. Initially introduced as a free Xbox Live title, the game has gone on to become a flagship Kinect launch title. Kart racers are a dime a dozen, and while many have stepped up to the plate, only the Mario Kart franchise has shown itself as being a capable, long lasting franchise. The Xbox 360 has not seen many kart racers, so Kinect Joy Ride has at least some standards to aim for: competition with a very established franchise, proving racing on Kinect, and making sure it's a game worth playing.

Core racing is just as you'd expect. Hold your fists like holding a wheel, tilt your hip left and right to change directions, pull back to fill up a boost meter, push forward to boost, and twist your body around when your little avatar-driven cars are in the air to perform trick. While it's not exactly tight (and a little squirrelly), it's probably the best motion controlled racing game I've played, so props for that. I mean, it's better than Mario Kart Wii with motion control. For the basic race mode, Kinect Joy Ride appears to do just fine.
 
Some of the more interesting modes included the drag race, stunt, and trick modes. Drag racing is a one-on-one shot down a fairly straight track, boosting as much as possible while switching lanes like with slot cars. Stunt involves launching cars up through a giant half pipe, performing tricks and collecting, oddly, cherries and bells. The best part about this is the odd contortions you can put your body in and see what stunts you'll pull off. Finally, there's Trick, which is a weird little party mode where the car is launched off a ramp, and players need to strike a pose...because it randomly makes the now flying car soar farther. Odd!
 
Who knows if Kinect Joy Ride will be a long lasting kart racer, but if anything, it looks like a very involved and physical game. Some will hate it, and that's ok. However, for those looking for an alternative to games like Kinect Adventures, Kinect Joy Ride seems like a title to at least pay attention to at launch.
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