Photo caption: CURTIS SMITH, a “Brand Ambassador,” demonstrates the new “NBA Baller Beats” game at the E3 conference in Los Angeles, Calif. — Cornelius Fortune photo
Can’t teach an old ball new tricks?
“NBA Baller Beats,” unveiled during this year’s annual E3 conference — featuring the best and latest innovations of the video game industry — has all the makings of a hit game. The Majesco Entertainment title is slated for a September release and includes not only the game, but a full-sized Spalding basketball.
Let that sink in a moment.
Nothing says “serious about hoops” like packaging a full-sized ball with the game. And there’s a reason for this: you’re going to be dribbling this ball in real time, but your goal isn’t to go for the three-point shot, or dunking on your opponent. Oh no, you’ve done that before.
In “NBA Baller Beats” you dribble, shift position, and move (and groove) to your favorite hip-hop, dance, or pop music. Think of it as “Guitar Hero” meets “Just Dance 4,” greeting, and in some ways, overtaking the best NBA console games; that is, if you’re into that sort of thing.
For awhile now, thanks to Nintendo’s Wii game console (and Xbox 360’s Kinect), the new alternative to sitting on a couch and hammering the buttons of a game controller has been, if not replaced, then at least given a newly polished image where physical activity is the sole driver behind the gameplay. Video games and physical games used to share a thickly constructed (almost impenetrable) wall between them, but now the wall is coming down.
Dribbling a basketball to a music beat might almost seem a descent into self parody. As a result, hardcore basketball gamers are going to look completely the other way with this one. But no matter: this Xbox 360 Kinect game wants to reach a larger family-based audience, and you don’t even have to be a skilled player to master it. With three levels of difficulty, you can build your way up to an impressive score and some courtside bragging rights.
You’ll find selections from Run-DMC, Kanye West, Common, Lady Gaga, LMFAO, and a healthy serving of other popular artists, both classic and new, that will simultaneously enhance and challenge your game experience.
Most games, by design, are all about game simulation, providing a list of favorite teams you can play with and compete against. “NBA Baller Beats” takes it one step further: You are the game; you are the center of attention; and if you’re highly competitive, you can get your friends and family together for a match-off. You can start a different type of family game night.
“This game is extremely innovative — the first motion based sports game that requires you to play using an actual basketball,” said Tony Chien, senior product manager, Majesco Entertainment. “It requires you to get off the couch and play. You’re not pretending to dribble, you actually have to get up be active and play the game of basketball. And it’s also a brand new way to experience the basketball video game like never before.”
Virtual basketball’s are one thing, but dribbling the ball inside the house might give parents pause. According to Chien, if you have the gear, you’re already covered.
“If you have a Kinect you can play in your house,” Chien said. “It works on most surfaces. It won’t work on super-shag and plush carpets. If you have dance game, or other games where you already play Kinect, it’s the same parameters. It’s the first of its kind. We’re targeting basketball fans of all ages.”
“NBA Baller Beats” is the ultimate in hybrid game forms and one of the most unusual announcements to come from E3 so far.