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Drivin’ Miss Easy

As one of Kinect’s launch titles, Kinect JoyRide showed why racing games should never, ever use Micorsoft’s motion peripheral to steer. Clearly, the developers of that misfire, BigPark, learned that lesson well, because this downloadable sequel doesn’t force you to use the Kinect to steer—in fact, you can’t even use it if you try.

Instead, JoyRide Turbo is—for lack of a better way to say it—a controller-controlled arcade racer in the spirit of Mario Kart, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, and Crash Team Racing. It’s fast, furious, supremely simplistic, and if you’re open to something that isn’t terribly serious or hard, it’s actually a lot of fun.

As with so many arcade racing games, Turbo has you driving peppy muscle cars, trucks, jeeps, sports cars, and a Cheech & Chong–ish van on twisty tracks that look like they were designed by an 8-year-old with a Hot Wheels track set and a vivid imagination. While they may not have loops or make you jump over the dog, their numerous twists and turns will challenge your ability to steer. Though not your ability to brake, since you won’t need to in this game. While the game does have a good sense of speed, even without a cockpit viewpoint, the controls are tight and responsive enough that you’ll never feel like you have to slow down, even when taking the most hairpin of turns.

Unless, of course, we’re talking about the hand brake, and you’re trying to drift around a corner, since that fills up your boost meter. Though, there are other ways to earn that boost; when enjoying a big jump, you can wiggle the thumbsticks to make your driver do some midair acrobatics like he’s Tony Hawk at the X Games. Which will not only impress the ladies, but fill your boost meter as well.

Turbo also has a number of helpful power-ups you can grab midrace, including shields, a variety of rockets and mines, a shockwave attack nicked from Blur, and one that turns everyone’s car into a big block of ice. This also has the usual compliment of hidden and alternate pathways—though, not all are shortcuts, if you know what I mean.

What makes this almost as funny as it is fun, though, is that your driver’s actually your Xbox 360 Avatar. And since most of the cars are convertibles—and since it’s a nice-enough day out that you’ve put the top down—this gives the game an added bit of whimsy not seen since the first time you played Wii Sports and got to see your Mii lunge for the tennis ball. Granted, if you’re like me, your Xbox 360 Avatar doesn’t look as much like you as your Mii does—mine looks more like every white guy with a beard on South Park—but it’s still funny to see Virtual Paul celebrate when he comes in first.

Which happened a lot. In fact, the only real issue with Turbo—though it’s a bit of a doozy—is that it’s really not that difficult. Not once did I finish outside of the top three, and usually, I came in first with room to spare. Because of this, Turbo’s probably best left for little kids, parents playing with their kids, and anyone who just finished Call of Duty on Veteran or Dark Souls or some other really hard game and just wants something mindless, relaxing, and easy.

SUMMARY: A cartoonish, arcadey racing game, JoyRide Turbo has solid controls, a good sense of speed, and some interesting tracks and power-ups. Granted, it’s too simplistic and easy to keep serious race fans engaged for long (unless their kids don’t have to go to bed just yet), but it’ll entertain anyone looking for a fun-but-stress-free Sunday drive.

  • THE GOOD: Has a good sense of speed—and the tight controls to handle it.
  • THE BAD: It’s really, really, really easy. Really.
  • THE UGLY: The flash when you kick on the turbo is blinding.

SCORE: 7.5

JoyRide Turbo is an XBLA (Xbox 360) exclusive.