NBA Baller Beats aims to provide gamers with a completely interactive basketball skills game that is augmented by a solid soundtrack. I can tell you one thing for sure: If NBA Baller Beats only accomplishes one goal, it will definitely make you sweat.
I've tried the workout Kinect games as a means of cardio before, but they really don't hold my attention. I prefer to use a variety of Kinect games to accomplish the same objective.
Will NBA Baller Beats be added to my rotation?
Let's talk about it.
The Theme of the Game
In a nutshell, NBA Baller Beats challenges you to mimic the on-screen commands with dribble, pass and shot maneuvers using the basketball provided (any basketball will work, but it's nice that Majesco and the NBA provide you with one).
The concept is very similar to Guitar Hero, but it grabs its own identity because the moves you're doing all come with a basketball in hand.
There are commands that call for a standard one-hand dribble, crossovers, behind-the-back moves, double-team splitting dribbles, chest pass movements and shot fakes.
On a high-difficulty level, it can get really intense, as all this dribbling, passing and shooting is supposed to be tied to the music playing in the background.
The more in step with the commands and music, the higher the score—theoretically.
The soundtrack is a nice mix of retro to contemporary hip hop and a splash of rock music. It works pretty well, although at times I found myself concentrating a bit more on the beat rather than the commands and vice versa.
While I understand the draw of including music in the game, I'm not sure that connecting it to the core concept makes the game more fun. I could even see how it could become too frustrating for some gamers.
I really do like the soundtrack, but I feel it could have been used as background music, and I would have enjoyed it even more.
The Dribbling and Kinect Responsiveness
I should mention, I've played basketball for a while. I'm 6'5" and more of a forward than a guard (by pick-up game standards), but I'm not a horrible ball-handler. Your prior experience dribbling a basketball is definitely relevant with this game.
On the higher-skill levels, the dribble moves required aren't for a novice ball-handler by any stretch. Here are two examples of the game in action, both come from YouTube on the KinectAddict's channel. the first video is of a novice-to-moderately-skilled dribbler (which is also the category I fall in).
The second video is of an advanced dribbler—to say the least:
I found myself restarting a few times with the difficulty set to Baller, which is the highest level. I enjoyed the challenge, and I could easily see how using this game regularly would improve your ball-handling skills.
Starting on the easy level is a good way to cut your teeth if you don't dribble a basketball regularly. This will give you something to build up to.
The make-or-break aspect of any Kinect game is the responsiveness to the motion captured receiver itself. I can honestly say, this game has excellent responsiveness to your movements and the ball.
The biggest compliment you can pay to a Kinect game is that you forgot you were even using a motion-capture device while playing.
That happened for me with NBA Baller Beats.
This is where things get a little rocky for this title. There simply isn't a ton of variety in this game. You dribble, you dribble a little bit fancier, you fake a pass, you fake a shot and you repeat.
If you play this game, say, once or twice a week, that would keep it in the proper context. That said, as a means of exercise, it really shines.
I built up a nice sweat, and it made me want to play a real game of basketball. I don't see it as a game I'll get a itch to play with the same regularity that I play other games.
However, I plan to incorporate it in my cardio schedule. If you're like me and you use or are open to using Kinect as a means of getting in a cardio workout, NBA Baller Beats is definitely worth a look.
My Final Verdict
7 out of 10
Strengths: Responsiveness, great workout
Weaknesses: Low replay value, music concept Is expendable
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