NBA Baller Beats is the first full body motion-based basketball video game.
Traditionally, while basketball video games might help improve hand-eye coordination and instill a basic understanding of the sport, they’ve never been particularly useful for those who’d like to learn actual sport skills in the process—be it a child learning the game of, say, basketball or an adult looking to pick up new skills. Which is one of a whole bunch of reasons that NBA Baller Beats, the first ever full body motion-based NBA video game, should have hoops fans buzzing when it’s released this fall.
In the game, playable on Kinect for XBox 360, a user dribbles a ball in accordance with what he’s told to do on the screen, be it a cross-over, behind-the-back dribble, ball fake, etc. A variety of licensed, highly recognizable songs play in the background during gameplay, while three difficulty levels—Rookie, Pro, Baller—allow the user to decide how tough he or she would like the action to be. Playing the game, it’s basically impossible not to improve your ball-handling—you’re earning points by literally practicing dribbling—and you’re practically forced to pick up some harder-to-teach skills, such as the ability to keep your head up while maintaining your dribble and to bounce the rock with your off-hand.
“[NBA Baller Beats] just gives you a new way to experience the game,” said Tony Chien, a Senior Product Manager for Beats. “We take it one step further by saying there’s no pretend dribbling—you’re not pretend playing, you actually have to use a basketball to play… You build your fundamental skills, your handle, all these different moves you’re learning from these skills. You can definitely improve your whole game.”
Beats works with any size basketball—a purchase of the game comes with an official Spalding game ball—with the exception of a ball painted entirely black. There are different game modes as well: the standard single-player mode; a “Move School” mode in which a user can pick up new moves; and a head-to-head mode, in which up to eight players can go up against one another. Adding some interactivity, the Kinect camera can take photos of the user in action, and those flicks can be uploaded directly to Facebook.
As the user gets better, different “prizes” are unlocked, such as new difficulty levels, posters and Panini NBA HOOPS trading cards.
SLAM originally learned the details of the game during Finals week in Oklahoma City, at a Kenny Smith-hosted event where the former NBA point guard and current TNT analyst was showing off his moves and discussing what he loves about the game.
“[Smith] saw it and loved it, and wanted to have a bigger role in it, so we had him record the voice-over for the tutorial,” said Chien.
NBA Baller Beats hits stores September 11, 2012 and will retail for $59.00.