Originally set to be a free-to-play Xbox Live Arcade title supported by micro-transactions in 2009, Joy Ride changed direction and launched in November 2010 as a real game utilizing Microsoft's Kinect. Players race their avatars against opponents, and compete in a variety of game modes, using motion controls.
Kinect Joy Ride is a kart racer in which players control their vehicles by pretending to hold a steering wheel with their hands. The Kinect then detects which direction players are turning, and the game reacts accordingly. With no direct control over acceleration, all the player has to worry about is steering and boosting, which is activated when their hands are thrust forward. The player fills their boost bar by pulling their hands in towards their chest. Along with racing, coins can be collected along the tracks, and similar to other Kinect games, the camera will take photographs of the player as they race and show it to them later. The game also includes power-ups which can be picked up and used in-race, similar to other Kart racers. The power ups are controlled by the player pulling a box with their weapon across from the side of their car to use it. The power up stays with the player until it is used.
Gameplay in Kinect Joy Ride often brings comparison to games like Mario Kart due to the arcade nature and cartoon visuals on offer. You can drive a variety of cars from jeeps to sports cars each with your avatar in view. Unfortunately, the game received heavy criticism from reviewers and the Internet when it was eventually discovered that the game features such a heavy degree of "auto-steering" keeping the car following the track, that it is actually possible to do fairly well in a race by doing absolutely nothing.
- Pro Race - standard racing for position
- Battle Race - same as a race event but with weapon pick ups in the style of Mario Kart.
- Smash Mode - Drive and drift through breakable objects for points
- Stunt Mode - Earn points by doing aerial stunts in a giant half-pipe. Collect items and cause explosions for more points.
- Dash Mode - Set the best time on a 3-lane track. Drive mistake-free to charge your boost. Boost to increase your speed.
- Trick Mode - Match poses to earn points and multipliers.
The above modes can be played in single player or two player with a friend on the same console. Trick mode features co-operative multiplayer.
Xbox Live multiplayer is also offered in Kinect Joy Ride.
During gameplay in these modes you earn fans, similar to that of Blur, where you unlock new cars and tracks based on how well and consistent you perform in the game. This is shared interestingly in multiplayer thus an emphasis on sharing play to get unlocks quicker may be in use.
The game also features these five avatar awards.
- Marathon Racer Suit - Play for 10 hours.
- Boss Hoodie - Play on all tracks.
- Raven Leather Jacket - Drive every vehicle.
- Aviator Ranch Goggles - Play each activity once in solo play.
- Smashing Helmet - Play each activity 10 times in offline play.