Sports-minded kids gravitate toward video games of the same ilk, but none have quite replicated the on-court experience like NBA Baller Beats, designed to work with Kinect for xBox 360. The $60 game comes with an official full-size Spalding game ball and helps players develop 20 different ball handling skills (a la the crossover, in and out, and pump fake), to the tune of 30 pop, rock, and hip-hop hits from the likes of Kanye West, LMFAO, Queen, and Lady Gaga. Players score points by dribbling and performing moves to the beat, unlocking levels from Rookie to Pro to Baller. Got a sleepover in your future? Up to 8 kids can play.
Adding to the appeal for NBA wannabes, a number of big-name players themselves have given the game their thumbs up: Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, and Brooke Lopez have all played it around the country during ProCamps for kids. Check out Brooklyn Nets Center Lopez playing against Santa Claus in this video just last Sunday (yep, Santa won). My 11- and 15-year-old sons were in attendance and loved it so much that the younger now insists he’s buying it for all his friends for their birthdays (ouch).
Of course the mom in me has to add this one caveat: Make sure you have plenty of room and a strategic location. While the game maker claims you need no more than (and maybe less) space than other Kinect games, you don’t want a wayward basketball wiping out the breakables in your living room. And you’ll have to tolerate a lot of ball thumping, but I don’t find that nearly as bad the nonstop sound of ball and kids crashing into the mini backboard and hoop currently hanging on the wall in my family room. At least I can listen to Party Rock while it’s going on.