The last time I saw Joy Ride was at last year's E3 showing when the Xbox 360 title was a fun little free game due out for Xbox Live to help usher in the online service's avatars.
The mysteriously absent game suddenly reappeared at this year's E3, now designed to help usher in the Xbox 360's controller-free, motion-sensing Kinect... for a price and with one major flaw.
Played without a physical controller Kinect Joy Ride does lose some of its nuance. You can no longer mash one button to accelerate and another to brake. Instead, you play the cartoon-ish car racing game in cruise control, racking up boost power by performing tricks and drifts.
While you lose two buttons and that thumbstick control so commonly found in console racers, you gain the ability to drive a car by holding your hands in the air, as if gripping a steering wheel and just steering.
The controls, when Kinect has you locked in, work like a dream. I was able to effortlessly slip my cartoon cruiser through other cars just by turning an imaginary steering wheel in the air in front of me. It did help, I found, to sort of lean into the turn, making my car steer a little sharper.
To drift around corners you have to throw your hip out to the side. Sure it sounds, and maybe looks a bit silly, but it is kind of fun.
Stunts are performed by moving your body around when your car goes airborne, leaning to the right or left, bowing forward or back or turning completely around in place.
Once you've built up enough power, you can kick in a turbo boost by shoving both hands forward as if pushing that invisible wheel away from you quickly.
It was a fun experience and only suffered from a slight bit of delayed response.
Joy Ride also has a mode that has you steering your car back and forth in a giant concrete half-pipe, essentially turning your car into a skateboard as you do stunts and power higher and higher off the lip of that pipe.
While the early build of the game was fun to play, it wasn't without issues.
While playing the game at a recent Microsoft event, a person walked up to the table on which the television was sitting to pick up a glass. They never walked in front of the TV, staying instead to the side where I didn't even notice them. But for some reason the Kinect camera apparently spotted them and started tracking their body, forcing my car to the left and making it impossible for me to steer.
I managed to drag my car along the side of the race track to the end, but the camera never corrected.
Developers Big Park said they were still tweaking the interface, but that's a worrying problem.