NBA Baller Beats (opens in new tab) wants you to forget everything your mom ever said about playing ball in the house. Using the Kinect, Majesco’s new rhythm and sports game will give you the first legitimate excuse you’ve ever had to practice your ball handling skills in the living room. Simply put, NBA Baller Beats is a rhythm game where you bounce a basketball to the beat of a few dozen catchy rock and hip-hop tracks. With the help of a professional basketball player, we got off the bench (aka the couch) and into the game for a demo of this exciting new spin on the rhythm and motion game genre.
Watching Keenan work up a sweat during our demo was a little bit mind-blowing. We barely had the skills to keep up with the music, but still had a ton of fun dribbling along to a nice steady rhythm like Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” While gamers who’ve spent some time on the court will surely take to NBA Baller Beats the fastest, training modes like Move School are provided to help get less experienced players get up to snuff. That way you won't get clowned on like in an AND1 mixtape when you take on some friends in 8-player local multiplayer.
Basketball fan or not, the game’s Kinect-navigated menus and Guitar Hero-esque visual cues make it instantly accessible. To help you stay on beat, the game uses scrolling tiles that come at you like the notes on a rhythm game’s fret board. Signals are aligned to the left or right, telling you when to switch hands with a crossover. Instead of the solos and hammer-ons of a music game, NBA Baller Beats uses fadeaways and fancy behind-the-back maneuvers as flourishes.
It’s a great use of the Xbox 360’s Kinect, which tracked both the ball and the player’s movements. This way the game knew exactly when we switched hands or bounced the ball between our legs – or attempted to, anyway. Copies of NBA Baller Beats will be sold with an official NBA Spalding replica basketball, but we were told the Kinect camera will be able to track any old leather pumpkin (opens in new tab) you've got sitting in the garage.
NBA Baller Beats isn’t just a great excuse to brush up on your b ball skills, it’s also a novel way to enjoy the rock solid beats of some new and classic tracks. The game will ship with 30 songs, including ones by Common, LMFAO, Interpol and Run DMC. While we enjoyed bouncing along to the old school bass line of a Queen song, the rhythms of tracks like “Stylo” by Gorillaz and Young MC’s “Bust A Move” have big potential for fun. There are plans to release even more music as DLC, but scroll to the bottom of this article for the full list of tracks NBA Baller Beats will ship with.
NBA Baller Beats feels like a motion and rhythm game that actually provides worthwhile practice for the skills it imitates. Having to keep your eye on the screen to spot cues for crossovers and fade aways while dribbling requires hand-to-eye coordination, and keeps your eyes forward, right where they need to be to juke a defender on the court. And unlike Guitar Hero, where players click and clack on a plastic facsimile of a guitar, with NBA Baller Beats you’re using the same ball you’ll be dribbling down the court with your buddies. Still, even if you never plan to take your basketball out of the living room, the pleasure of moving to a beat is what drives this game. So move mom's favorite lamp out of the living room and make some space for NBA Baller Beats, which hits shelves September 11.
Full track list:
“Access Hollywood” – Consequence, “Autobiotics” – Calling All Cars, “Canon” – Justice, “Championship Fever” – Najee, “Disparate Youth” – Santigold, “Don’t Sweat the Technique” – Eric B. and Rakim, “Get Ur Freak On” – Missy Elliott, “It’s Ok” – Cee-Lo Green, “Music Makes Me Feel So Good” – Static Revenge, “Night By Night” – Chromeo, “O.N.E.” – Yeasayer, “Roll Up” – Wiz Khalifa, “Satellite” – Rise Against, “So Good” – B.o.B., “Surf Hell” – Little Barrie, “Amazing” – Kanye West, “Another One Bites the Dust” – Queen, “Bangarang” – Skrillex, “Blue Sky” – Common, “Bust A Move” – Young MC, “Chillin” – Wale ft. Lady Gaga, “C’Mon Catch ‘Em By Surprise” – Tiesto vs. Diplo ft. Busta Rhymes, “It’s Tricky” – Run DMC, “Let It (Edit Remix)” – Machine Drum ft. Melo X, “New Fang” – Them Crooked Vultures, “Obstacle 1” - Interpol, “Party Rock Anthem” – LMFAO, “Slam” – Onyx, "Stylo” – Gorillaz, “Tightrope” – Janelle Monae