The concept is simple Ė dribble the basketball in time with the music as icons travel down a Guitar Hero
-inspired track. Every once in a while, special moves, like crossovers, appear on the track, which you must perform once it reaches the hit zone. Itís a physically demanding style of play, though athletic ability is only a small issue.
The bigger issue facing NBA Baller Beats is the physical space you need to fully enjoy the experience. For starters, youíll need a nice wide area to play since some moves, or even just dribbling the ball, require a lot of room. Additionally, youíll want to make sure all breakable items are as far from the play area as possible. Thereís a reason Nintendo tells you to use the wrist strap. The ball can very easily get away from you, so you want to reduce the chances of a lamp breaking after an errant bounce or slipped pass.
If you play in a carpeted area, youíre in an even bigger bind. The game is playable on carpet, but you need to put a lot of mustard on each bounce. Even then, your dribbles will lose velocity each time they hit the carpet. Luckily, I was able to play in a friendís uncarpeted living room for this review, while at home I had some luck with a wood board normally used for puzzle building. Even then, it wasnít an ideal experience. Then thereís the issue of playing and disturbing downstairs neighbors if you have them.
If anything else, NBA Baller Beats is the closest any game has come to meeting Microsoftís initial vision for Kinect. In the announce videos, Microsoft presented a world where you could bring physical items into your games. Who doesnít remember the kid scanning his real-world skateboard into his virtual skate park? NBA Baller Beats doesnít go quite that far, but using a real basketball is a cool mechanic.
Still, the mechanic is only cool if you can use it, which is the biggest obstacle standing the way of NBA Baller Beats picking up any sort of traction. If you have to room to play (and a floor that can sustain a dribble), and are looking for a different rhythm game, this is it.