June 1, 2012

No Joy in This Ride

Lasting First Impressions of Joy Ride Turbo from BigPark

Joy Ride Turbo boxartRemember when Joy Ride was supposed to be a free arcade kart racing title for XBLA? Remember when Joy Ride ended up as a full-priced Kinect launch title? I certainly do. With this in mind, I set out to spend an hour behind the wheel with Microsoft Studios’ recently published controller-only XBLA sequel, Joy Ride Turbo.

When I first loaded up Joy Ride Turbo I had this intense feeling of déjà vu. I was presented with the same music, the same cars, and the same tracks from my 2010 Kinect experience. After launching into my first race, I quickly forgot about my past life of arm flailing and butt jutting and realized that Joy Ride Turbo was the arcade racer I was originally promised, but with an smaller price tag. It definitely felt good to race around those familiar tracks and some new ones with the responsiveness that only a physical controller can afford…for a moment at least.

Available race modes include Battle Race, Pro Race, and Time Trial.  The most logical place to begin my Joy Ride career was in the Championship Series; sets of class-based Battle Races to progress through in order to unlock higher difficulty races. Only the 100 HP series was available from the start, with 200 HP and 300 HP offerings for those looking to further test their pedals and mettle. Battle Race is the kart racing standard mode where groups of power-ups are placed at regular intervals across the track, consisting of very limited offensive or defensive powers to use as you struggle to be the first to cross the finish line. No single power-up felt unbalanced or game-breaking but none of them really stood out as particularly imaginative or original. Quick Race allows access to the Pro Race and Time Trial modes. Pro Race is basically Battle Race but without the power-ups, giving racers the opportunity to apply pure racing skills against their opponents. Time Trial removes both power-ups and opponents, and in my opinion, most of what little joy this ride has to offer.

Joy Ride Turbo screen 1

All race modes feature a boost mechanic whereby you fill blocks of your boost meter (the number of available blocks is determined by your vehicle class) by drifting around corners and performing stunts while airborne. Perfectly timed use of boost enhances the effect and skilled players may find some enjoyment in managing their boost effectively. Coins are scattered throughout each course’s branching alternate paths and are used to purchase new vehicles and variants. However, each vehicle and variant must first be unlocked before it can be purchased. Unlocking an item consists of scouring each course for hidden parts, and every item requires three parts to unlock. In my limited play session, I managed to completely unlock only one variant, and even that required me to sabotage my racing performance a number of times in order to find the sweet spot required to open these finicky crates.

Joy Ride Turbo screen 2

Stunt Park sets you loose in a giant playground full of ramps, half-pipes, and impossible loops and allows you to collect coins and trophies without any specific goals or time constraints. I quickly became bored of working against clumsy physics for haphazard item collecting and saw little point in going back. Honestly, I found Kinect Joy Ride’s Stunt mode to be a more engaging and rewarding experience.

Although Joy Ride Turbo is not a terrible game, it’s not a good one either. The most memorable thing about it is the pause menu music (which provided the soundtrack to writing this review). Joy Ride Turbo is simply a bland and generic kart racer that quickly runs out of gas and does nothing to advance the genre beyond the mid 1990s.

BigPark, I gave you an hour and I am NOT IMPRESSED.

About the Author

is an avid gamer on all platforms, unapologetic graphics whore and peripheral junkie. He is also a drummer both electronic and acoustic, a loving husband, and adoring father to two lovely girls. Follow Craig on Twitter as @Talus as he eats sandwiches and posits on the latest inconsequential happenings in the games industry.



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