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Bounce house: Hands-on with NBA Baller Beats

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Microsoft's motion-sensing Kinect experiment has been hit or miss. Mostly miss, actually. You can count the number of awesome Kinect games on one hand, though good luck getting Kinect to recognize it.

The problem? The tech just isn't as accurate as it should be, leading to lots of lag issues and games that frankly feel more like tech demos than actual games.  So what's a game developer to do? How about giving Kinect something it can handle -- like a full-sized basketball?

Indeed, that's the prop you'll get with every copy of Majesco's NBA Baller Beats. Releasing September 11, the game's premise is simultaneously simple and outrageous: dribble a basketball to the beat.

If you're familiar with a game like Dance Central -- and considering it's one of the few must-own Kinect franchises, here's hoping you are -- NBA Baller Beats will click instantly. You'll follow a note highway ala Rock Band or Guitar Hero (though in this case, the notes are basketballs) by dribbling the real ball in your living room with either your left or right hand, depending on the location of the note. Occasionally it will gives you a more complex move, such as a crossover or going between the legs.

Three different difficulty levels ramp up the challenge, so newbies can hop in and start off easy while those who already have some handles can go right into the ankle-breakers. The game includes 30 songs from dribble-friendly artists like Run D.M.C. and Gorillaz as well as head-scratchers like Them Crooked Vultures.

Sound ridiculous? It is. It's also pretty cool, especially if you're into basketball.

We had some hands-on time with NBA Baller Beats recently, and we can confirm two things: it's tricky (not just because that's the song we dribbled to), and it's tiring. Rhythmically dribbling a basketball for three or four minutes straight will work up a sweat, as will chasing down said ball when it invariably bounces off your foot and scuttles down the hall.

You'll also need a fair share of space for this one, not to mention a decent bouncing surface. It works just fine on hardwood floors or low pile carpet, but if you've got a shag rug, things get spazzy fast. Then there's the noise issue, which even reared its head during our hotel room demo as the downstairs neighbors called to complain. Tourists! Make no mistake: you WILL piss off your neighbors with this game.

But if learning how to dribble like a pro while working off a few calories sounds worth the inevitable argument, NBA Baller Beats is just the ticket. Best of all, it's a Kinect game that may actually work as advertised. Score.

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