Joy Ride Turbo is Microsoft’s latest attempt to break into the kart-racing genre, a la Mario Kart or Crash Team Racing. While the cartoony graphics and casual(ish) gameplay will remind players of these games, the ability to drive ‘real’ cars and the stunt options available attempt to set the game apart from its rivals. Whilst Turbo’s predecessor, Kinect Joy Ride, was a Kinect exclusive (and received criticism for its Kinect controls), Turbo relies solely on a player’s skills with a controller. Does racing your Avatar around cartoony tracks make for a decent alternative to other kart-racing titles, or should you stick with Mario and company?
Garage Full of Treasures - Whilst Turbo’s selection of cars isn’t as extensive as say, Forza or Gran Turismo, there is still a decent selection on offer, with 15 cars available over three different classes, and various colours and skins available for each. Don’t fancy a plain red sports car? Make it a cop car! Perhaps the most interesting part about Joy Ride Turbo’s car selection is the way in which you unlock them. Crates are scattered over each of the circuits and the stunt tracks, and each crate contains one of three parts for a certain car. I personally haven’t seen a mechanic like this used in a racing game before, and it makesyou want to check out every shortcut and every inch of each track to make sure you’ve discovered everything on offer.
A Different Class - In a similar manner to Mario Kart, Joy Ride Turbo offers up three different difficulties, known as 100HP, 200HP and 300HP. As well as this, Turbo gives players the chance to run around two different ‘Stunt Tracks’, which are essentially open world environments with a variety of Hot Wheels-esque constructions placed liberally around, which allows you to get some air and pull stunts, in return for coins and car parts which give you more rides.
A Good Track Record - Recently, games with bright colours seem to be automatically labelled as ‘kid’s games’, with no real regard for the content or depth of gameplay on offer. Joy Ride Turbo seems to attempt to live up to this label, with bright, cartoony graphics, goofiness from its drivers, and a general sense of fun, which is amplified by its pick-up-and-play nature. Each circuit in Turbo can be learned in a matter of races, as each lap is pretty short, and although the number of tracks is relatively small, each has its own distinct character, from the tiny kart-racing track in the middle of the desert to the sun-drenched beach resort.
Kiddy Track - As mentioned above, Joy Ride Turbo almost takes pride in its kid-friendly aesthetic, and unfortunately, this will be enough to turn off some gamers. On the other hand, Turbo is pretty easy most of the way through; only stupid mistakes on your part will cause you to fall out of the top three in a race. The races are all quite short, and the driving mechanics lack depth, so anyone seeking any form of realism should look elsewhere.
My First Car - I mentioned previously about how I was impressed with Joy Ride Turbo’s car-unlocking mechanic, in that you had to discover new car pieces during races in order to win new rides. The only problem with this part of the game is that it can take FOREVER to unlock any new cars, and even then, it’s completely random as to which car you get next. It doesn’t really take away from the novelty of the idea, but it does get quite repetitive to drive the same cars for so long.
Joy Ride Turbo is one of the better kart-racing games available, and one that I’ll fondly go back to, over and over again, for a quick burst of light-hearted racing. The gameplay is solid, there is plenty of content on offer, and some of the ideas implemented in the game come with a decent helping of originality. Sure, it’s certainly not a game for racing purists, and the difficulty level is definitely scaled-down, but that’s not really what this game is about. Just sit back, relax, and don’t think too hard, and you’ll have a great time with Joy Ride Turbo.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*