Getting Fit for the New Year 2.0
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
January 16 2013 8:00 AM ET
Unlike Dance Central, NBA Baller Beats feels like a game made for real athletes — or, at least, people with more hand-eye coordination than I have. The first full body motion–based NBA video game lets you (dare I say, expects you) to work the ball like a pro. The game comes with an official NBA game ball replica, you choose your favorite NBA team to follow, and you’re supposed to bounce the ball to the beat of any one of 30 songs (hip-hop and rock, though you’ll find Lady Gaga and Queen on the list). There are three difficulty levels, but here’s the drill: It’s not just ball bouncing, even at the easiest “rookie” level. That part I managed fairly well, even though I had to kneel on the ground in order to keep “dribbling” to the beat.
But the game also challenges you to master ball-handling skills that you’d see at a real Lakers game (and as much as I dreamed of becoming a Harlem Globetrotter when I was 7, I pretty much stopped practice that same year after I found out they didn’t let girls in). So when the game would combine dribble with pump fakes, crossovers, flow dribble, and other moves (all of which I had to Google in order to name), my Xbox approval rating really plummeted. At one point my copilot began throwing the ball in the air (to compensate for the inability to keep up with the beats) and did better than I did.
Some cool parts of the game: In multiplayer mode you can go head-to-head against up to eight players (though I never would), along the way you unlock posters and trading cards with the NBA players’ greatest moves, and all along you get tips from two-time NBA champion Kenny Smith. The best part? The Kinect camera takes photos of you playing Baller Beats, which you can then upload from Xbox Live to Facebook. Of course, that’s only the best part if you don’t look as foolish as I did last night. (And perhaps if I had this game when I was 8, like the kids in this video, I’d have grasped it a bit more quickly.)