Played on Xbox Series X
Depending on your age, you may recall the year 1996. For me it was the year I started secondary school and also the year Space Jam launched on the big screen. If you weren’t even born in 1996 then you may not recall this movie, but it was a smash hit. Space Jam starred basketball superstar Michael Jordan and characters from the Looney Tunes in a bizarre mash-up that somehow worked. The film went on to have monumental success grossing $250 million dollars.
You may be asking yourself why I am banging on about Space Jam, it was twenty five years ago. Well, after quarter of a century we finally see a sequel to the original launching in cinemas across the globe on 16th July 2021. What relevance does this bear to Xbox? Well, the development team at Digital Eclipse have decided to put together a game to coincide with the new film – Space Jam: A New Legacy. The great news is that if you’re an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber you can go and download this right now. Space Jam: A New Legacy is exclusive to the Xbox platform and players without Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will be able to download it free of charge on 15th July 2021.
If you’re not on Xbox and have always dreamt of controlling a cartoon Lebron James then you’re out of luck. Xbox appears to be the place to be for all Space Jam action, including some snazzy special edition controllers being created along with a Nike partnership for special edition Space Jam trainers (that’s ‘sneakers’ for you Americans).
The developers, Digital Eclipse, are known for developing titles for Game Boy Color and Advance. It wasn’t to much of a surprise then to see Space Jam: A New Legacy with visuals literally like we are back in 1996. This isn’t a bad experience though, the gameplay echoes classics such as Streets Of Rage and Golden Axe in the way it handles. With a simple and easy to learn control system, even the most casual of gamers could easily pick up and play this. There are only a few commands to learn; jump, attack and special abilities. The ability cards are there for a burst of increased speed or to heal quickly. Using jump and attack in sync deals a devastating blow to surrounding enemies with a hit to personal health.
If you’re expecting a game with great longevity, you sadly won’t find that here. Space Jam: A New Legacy can be clocked in around thirty minutes. With four separate levels each with their own boss, it is a short lived but fun experience. Choose between Bugs Bunny, Lola Bunny or Lebron James and either play alone or with friends. I don’t quite know why the developers chose this to be a beat em’ up rather than more basketball orientated but for what is essentially additional marketing for a movie, it doesn’t really matter. The premise is very simple, use your attacking skills to defeat enemies and move onto the boss. It is very rinse and repeat and I was a tad disappointed that there wasn’t a lot of variance in enemy types. You have to keep in mind whilst playing Space Jam: A New Legacy that it is technically free to play.
If we look a little deeper into Space Jam: A New Legacy, evidence of a rushed tight development schedule and the ensuing cracks begin to show. It does make you question how much time Digital Eclipse was given to create the game. Were they on a strict deadline to complete development before the film was due? Graphically everything is pleasing enough with bright, vivid well blended colours and animations. The sound effects could have done with some work; often they felt repeated and lacking in variety, similar to my thoughts on enemy types. After my first run through, I didn’t feel the need to ever pick up and play it again.
So, Space Jam: A New Legacy isn’t winning any games awards anytime soon. For what is essentially an additional marketing tool for the movie, it does what it says on the tin, so if you’re looking to kill half an hour, it’s worth the small download – even if it is just to relive your youth and play as Bugs Bunny and friends.