Battle Race is by far the most fun, however - and a direct rival to Mario Kart. Like a deadly version of the main race, you snag power-ups as you whiz round the track, which nearly all have a direct cousin in Nintendo's classic. The Hover Mine (Banana), Rocket (Red Shell) and Super Speed (Star) are the main culprits. New twists include a blast of air to push others off course, a 'Deep Freeze' cube to leave rivals temporarily in stasis and a Teleport power-up to push you into a better position. You raise your hand up and left to utilise your weapon - and against the odds, it's a fairly natural manoeuvre.
All of these modes include a two-player option, which is surprisingly bug-free when standing side-by-side with a competitor. Joy Ride also supports play over Xbox Live, but it's a pared-down package - with only one simple race style on offer.
Joy Ride is also stingy in terms of different environments - miles behind Mario Kart's rich smorgasbord of strikingly idiosyncratic worlds.
Samey elements are shared across supposedly different scenes - leaving you feeling not a little conned, and struggling to get a sense of any defining features.
There's the sort-of-Chinesy ones, complete with stone dragons and Pagodas (Forbidden Fortress, Cloudtop Temple), the Arizonian red sand, moisture-less ones (Rocky Road Speedway, Aviator Ranch) and the paved through paradise, cliffs-in-the-background ones (Boathouse Bay).
The art style of each is, as you'd expect, cartoonish and searingly colourful - but it's also sparse, with little to catch the eye than road signs, other cars and the occasional rock, house or electricity pylon as background scenery. In particular, Dash mode feels unnervingly bare beyond the stretch of road beneath your wheels.
As you complete scenarios across this restricted palette of terrains, you gain medals and 'Fans' - effectively points that are automatically exchanged for new vehicles and which unlock harder courses. It's a smart and easily understandable model of progression for the unschooled audience the game is geared toward.
Any real potential Joy Ride has, though, is dampened by that frankly ridiculous control system. You never get used to not holding a wheel, making it hard to avoid overlapping your wrists - and confusing your vehicle - during pressurised corner taking.
The fact you have to stand up throughout is a joke; not least because your feet, knees and thighs have absolutely no role to play in proceedings - and yet any attempt to play sitting down will send the send the menu screen into frenzy.
Add in the fact that your 'wheel' is so very sensitive that it's near impossible to accurately anticipate where your vehicle is going to end up at each corner - and that there's no brake option to rectify any wrong turns - and you have to wonder why anyone would choose to play not only Joy Ride but any Kinect racer over a controller-based alternative. (A Kinect-friendly Forza is on the horizon. We are fearful.)
With Kinect Sports, Kinect Adventures, Dance Central and others, standing up and prancing about makes perfect sense. You might get tired, but your avatar is replicating your full-body movements from the real world. Remaining upright is necessary.
In Joy Ride, you'll very quickly begin to begrudge your on-screen persona. They demonstrate a very different experience to the person in control: Not only do they get to sit down whilst you have to pointlessly support your weight throughout - but they're constantly smiling, too. After an hour in Joy Ride's company, it's highly unlikely you'll be doing the same.
Might just be proof that racing games will never work with Kinect.
- Colourful, confident visuals
- Lag is barely noticeable
- Mario Kart-aping is fun
- Why do you have to stand up?
- Over-sensitive steering
- 'Imaginary' wheel is frustrating
- Limited track count, online options