Kinect Joy Ride Game Poster Image

Kinect Joy Ride



Clever racer overshadowed by frustrating motion controls.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game promotes healthy social and competitive play amongst up to four players. It also demands a modest amount of physical activity.

Positive role models

The game's only role models are player avatars, none of which have a personality outside of how players behave. Players are forced to act aggressively on the track, but in the sort of cartoonish way common to most kart-racing games. The spirit is one of fun, friendly competition.

Ease of play

The movement-based controls (this game requires Microsoft's Kinect sensor) are easy to understand, but we experienced some issues turning. Merely twisting a pretend steering wheel often isn't enough to take a hard corner, but leaning into a turn to perform a drift frequently resulted in taking it too sharply. The timing is difficult to master.

Violence & scariness

Cars bump into barriers and other vehicles, but never come to any harm. Players can also throw items like exploding rockets, which will make opponents swerve and slow down, but, again, no damage is sustained by cars or drivers.

Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Kinect Joy Ride is a kart-racing game with a small amount of violence in the form of aggressive driving and explosive rockets. However, these actions result in no damage to cars or drivers. It requires Microsoft's Kinect sensor for motion-control gaming and consequently promotes some physical activity, though not as much as other Kinect games. Note that while this game supports online play, it does not have any communication features. 

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What's it about?

KINECT JOY RIDE, a kart-racer for Microsoft’s new camera sensor control system, has players pretending to hold steering wheels in the air. They turn their hands to turn their cars and lean a little to initiate a drift for a faster turn. Speed and braking are handled automatically. And there’s more to it than just traditional kart races. Some events will have players trying to boost their way to faster times down mostly straight raceways by repeatedly pulling back the steering wheel and pushing it forward, while others are set in massive half pipes that encourage players to collect floating cherries and perform tricks by leaning back and forth and from side to side while in the air.

Is it any good?


There’s little wrong with Joy Ride’s concept or overall design, but it does suffer from one pretty big problem: We couldn’t get a feel for steering. If, in an average corner, we didn’t drift, we’d end up sliding out in too wide of a turn. However, if we did drift we’d usually come in too sharply. It doesn’t help that players have no control over braking or speed. The game says it will control these variables for the player, but after messing up turn after turn I began to pine for manual control.

However, kudos go to developer Big Park for fleshing out the game with so many extra trick, dash, and battle modes. Some of these play modes are a lot of fun, particularly those that don’t require much in the way of precision handling. Kinect does a lot of things well, but it may turn out that vehicle steering isn’t one of them.

Online interaction: This game supports online play for up to eight people, but does not offer communication capabilities. We were unable to test online play during our pre-release evaluation.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about getting physically active while playing games. This game requires a modest amount of activity, but still requires players to stand and move their arms and torsos to control their cars. Did you feel tired after playing? Do you feel like it was a healthy experience? How does it compare to the level of activity required by other Kinect games?

  • Families can also compare and contrast racing simulator games with kart racers. What distinguishing features do these games have that make one suitable for kids and the other not? Do any kart-racers or racing simulators straddle the line between the two genres? How can parents decide whether these games are safe for their kids?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360
Available online?Available online
Developer:Microsoft Studios
Release date:November 4, 2010
ESRB rating:E for Mild Cartoon Violence

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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