Published on June 4th, 2012 | by Ben Gray0
Review: Joy Ride Turbo
Summary: Ben takes to the wheel for even more cheesy excerpts in his drive-through of Joy Ride Turbo.
Kart racing games have commonly been associated with Nintendo, after the ever so popular Mario Kart series has developed into a sustainable branch of one of the developer’s biggest IPs, so it was only a matter of time before either Microsoft or Sony were going to have a crack at it. Not long ago, MS did just that, releasing Kinect Joy Ride as a launch title for the device (announced a year or so before as a free-to-play, controller based downloadable title), yet impressions were mixed, some viewing it more as a showcase of the device’s capabilities rather than a game in itself. Consequently, they’ve succumbed to customer demand, and retreated to their original plan to some extent. Was it worth the effort? Largely, yes.
Joy Ride Turbo is as traditional as it gets, simplified for accessibility and certainly not for the hardcore racing fans – as if the light-hearted, cartoony visuals didn’t give that away. The controls are picked up quickly, and surprisingly work; the button based drift mechanics are nowhere near as irritatingly difficult to get to grips with as Ridge Racer, and the various stunts are triggered by simple flicks of the thumbsticks. Sadly, this means that being able to move the camera to the side and rear has been sacrificed, and no matter what camera angle setting you’re using, you’re forced into the third person view – presumably to stop people being sick whilst performing stunts over massive jumps.
The diversity of the game’s ten tracks is what slows that repetitive feeling, the various routes and jumps that weave throughout each circuit encourage experimentation, and this is rewarded through vehicle parts that go towards unlocking new rides. Whilst most of these can be easily obtained through the game’s time trial mode, it’s a good reward for those that don’t just take the path laid out for them. One track in particular; Gold Rush Road, is a maze of various jumps and shortcuts, and the player can alternate to find the fastest, and sometimes more importantly, the safest route, as the game’s power-ups obtained in the traditional manner of driving through respawning crates can be a nightmare for first place.
Difficulty is well-tackled – the smooth difficulty curve helps players to get to grips with the layout of tracks and handling of the cars before ramping up the challenge for those last few championships. However, the “parts” system involved with unlocking cars can result in still using the same cars by the end of the game, making it incredibly challenging to take the podium and this is largely noticeable in how the car’s handling stat can let you down on tighter tracks such as Badlands Motorplex. Consequently, most of the reward comes post-championship; unlockables are inconsistent with game progression as a result. Despite the various championships and tracks, the major section of Joy Ride Turbo can be done and dusted in a single sitting, although all-round success may require several playthroughs.
By far Turbo’s best feature is the stunt parks that are reminiscent of those vehicular playgrounds in Burnout Paradise, where laidback fun with friends is to be had. Many trophies and car parts can be collected, and the multiplayer integration allows for some enjoyable sessions online. Sadly, whilst of high quality and fair replay value, there are only two stunt parks to play, Crimson Park and Perilous Park, both offering differing experiences yet I would have liked to have seen more environments for the game’s best mode. DLC? Hopefully. Free? I wish.
Overall, Joy Ride Turbo is a great take on the kart racing subgenre, and for 800MSP, is certainly worth your time. In areas it feels half-hearted; I would’ve liked to have seen more tracks, certainly more stunt parks and perhaps an garage to manage vehicles easier, but the diversity of these environments, polished controls and enjoyment had makes it a satisfactory cruise.