E3 2017 and many people tuned in to Microsoft’s E3 conference to find out about the highly-anticipated Project Scorpio. Of course, we now know it as Xbox One X and it will be the world’s most powerful console. As we also discovered during the same conference, not only will the Xbox One X be able to run in native 4K, HDR, blah blah blah, but it will also be able to play games over 15 years old as part of the announced Original Xbox Backwards Compatibility! They confirmed that Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge will be the first game available from the original Xbox and Microsoft have even gone as far to say they may be able to retrospectively add Achievements to first party games. So this got me thinking…
The days of the Original Xbox (as well as PS2, Gamecube and Dreamcast) still remain my most treasured memories in gaming, and having the opportunity to relive some of these games without venturing into the loft armed with a dust cloth and spider catcher to find my old consoles is hugely exciting. So here is a list of all the games I really do hope will be coming to the Backwards Compatible library. Obviously this is a personal list, but I think there will be something for everyone.
These need to be games that aren’t available to play anywhere else via enhancements. So, games like Halo: Combat Evolved aren’t included because they are available in the Master Chief Collection, but also Grand Theft Auto: Vice City or Jade Empire/Knights of the Old Republic cannot be included because I could, if I wanted to ruin the experience, download it and play on my smartphone with touch controls. The same goes for HD remakes available on the 360 or Xbox One, so no Fable, Beyond Good and Evil, Soul Calibur II or Grabbed by The Ghoulies unfortunately. All these games would have been on the list otherwise.
Some of the games on the list have been emulated onto the Xbox 360 already, but these are included in the list as they received no enhancements as part of the port. So, in no particular order:
There’s an old adage that can be found on the internet that goes along the lines of ‘Those that say Tricky is the best SSX have never played SSX 3’. At this point, I can neither confirm nor deny I started circling this philosophical insight, or was myself merely caught up in the complexities of it. Either way, it is a statement that I will shout from the hills because I believe so passionately in it.
Sure, the Xbox One has a few snowboarding games available at its disposal already, with Steep and Mark McMorris Infinite Air both being released at the back end of 2016. The 2012 SSX reboot is also available as a 360 Backwards Compatible title, but these all pale in comparison to the SSX Xbox releases. Each one had something special about it, but SSX 3 was this series at its peak.
The open-world setting of a tri-peaked mountain offering varying degrees of difficulty was a brilliant and original idea for a snowboarding game. No longer were decisions on whether to race or freestyle left to menu selections, you just went to the start location and joined in. The final race incorporated all three peaks and race locations and it was an exhilarating 30 minutes putting everything you had learnt into practice.
But it was also balls-out crazy when it wanted to be. Signature tricks had characters flinging their boards round their heads, break-dancing on them or using them as wings, all in mid-air. The characters were definitely stereotypical, but also as diverse as anything, appealing to all walks of life.
All this without even mentioning how fantastic the soundtrack. But I will save soundtrack talk for the next entry.
Burnout 3: Takedown
2004. I’m deep into adolescence at this stage and starting to discover my own interests and realising I can be my own person. I am presented with Burnout 3 as a birthday present and in that first moment of booting it up, my entire musical taste is changed forever.
Funeral for a Friend, Chronic Future, Autopilot Off, Yellowcard, From First to Last, Midtown, Rise Against, Atreyu and Jimmy Eat World. Even the guilty pleasures of Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance all feature on this soundtrack and spawned my love of guitar-driven music. My taste may have gotten far heavier over the years, but this is the game that showed me different music exists, and that it’s far better.
Burnout 3 introduced the Takedown element of the series where you are able to thrash your car around the tracks and take out opponents. Not only is this a great stress-reliever, but it’s a fantastic gameplay addition. Crash mode made its return from earlier in the series, but this time included the Aftertouch feature, allowing one last hurrah to cause as much destruction as possible.
Burnout has an entry on the Xbox One in the form of Burnout: Paradise via BC; another great edition in the Burnout franchise that introduced an open-world element where every junction was an event. It always had something missing though – the charm of Burnout 3.
Super Monkey Ball Deluxe
Yes, I included a Super Monkey Ball game on my wishlist, and what?! Hard to believe that a series that’s been around this long that this last entry on the Xbox was back in 2005. Before you condemn the rest of this list based on this entry though, hear me out.
This game is huge: Story mode and Challenge mode are collections of all levels available in the two main games previous, with Challenge mode having several levels unique to this version. That’s over 240 to keep you busy.
But wait, there’s more. Race, Fight, Target, Boat, Shot, Dogfight, Soccer, Baseball, Tennis, Golf, Bowling and Pool. These are the names of the minigames available in this collection, but these themselves are all fully fleshed out. Pool has a number of rule variations to choose from, Soccer has tournament rules or a simple penalty shoot-out on top of a single match, Race and Boat have a number of different tracks to choose from. Even Minigolf has a full 18 holes to play through.
It’s the variety of gameplay that earns this game a place on my wishlist.
It could be argued, for a very good reason, that the whole trilogy could fill positions on this list. But without wanting to be greedy, I plucked for my favourite in the series.
The TimeSplitters series is an FPS known for its time-travelling that allows the player to experience levels from all time periods and locations. Created by Free Radical Design, TimeSplitters was released in 2000 by a team that had previously worked at Rare on games such as Goldeneye and Perfect Dark. Arguably the series was a spiritual successor to these games.
The first TimeSplitters had a very basic single-player. While TimeSplitters: Future Perfect had the most robust single-player campaign in the series, it is TimeSplitters 2 which offered the complete package in terms of multiplayer and single-player.
Back in the day, school finished at 2:50pm. With a brisk walk, my friends and I could be at my house, PS2 turned on (multi-tap inserted) and profiles logged in on TimeSplitters 2 by 3:20pm. I know this so well because it was what we did most nights during my early adolescent years. And there was one level we always returned to; the Chinese level with the Virus game mode on. It’s a map carried over from the first game, with its tight corners off-set with a more open area with two sets of stairs where we would run around frantically trying to avoid contact with the AI players who had this ‘virus’. We were gluttons for punishment though, only choosing AI characters that would make us jump and scream if we turned a corner and they were there waiting for us. Sometimes we felt extremely brave or stupid and played this game mode in the Hospital level, which ramped the horror up to 11.
The single-player was also terrific having you travel from a Space Station to the Wild West to a dam in Siberia (which may as well have been the first level in Goldeneye on the N64 such is the comparison).
And much like SSX 3 this game could be absolutely crazy at times. Hundreds of unlockable characters, each with their own stats. Our personal favourites were the walking Gingerbread Men; creepy but funny. We also banned use of the monkey because, due to its size, it was a lot harder to shoot than all the others.
Note: This is the only game I have ever played with my mum, such is the obsession we had with it.
My one and only time playing this game involved drinking a lot of crème egg flavoured shots – you take what you can get your hands on at age 18 – so whilst my memories of this game may be hazy, I know it’s still worth a spot on the list.
Fuzion Frenzy is a party game for up to four-players that was a launch title for the Xbox. Each area, think of it like The Crystal Maze, had a number of minigames that allowed the player to collect orbs depending on their performance. At the end of each area all players would play that areas’ specific Fuzion Frenzy map, whereby they could bank the orbs they had won, or risk them, instead seeing them spawn on the map for collection again, earning more points.
There were six areas in total and three or four minigames per area. It was incredibly fast-paced with each lasting only a minute or so, but the variation was such that if you were particularly bad at one type, you could stay in touch by being better at others.
The game has aged ridiculously well unlike some others on this list, by having a static camera for the games and basic controls. It also features a late 90’s/early 2000’s futuristic hip-hop soundtrack that, if anything else, will make you laugh at how cheesy it sounds now, nearly 20 years on.
And that’s the list!
Looking through this list and compiling it, it became apparent that many of these games and the memories they bring back are because of the local-multiplayer element of them; something sadly lost in these days with online gaming. I think it would be fantastic for Microsoft to do any of these games for BC, but then how do they offer them to us? Would they be added as part of the Games with Gold scheme? Hopefully, because I think they would otherwise struggle with a price tag attached.
What would you like to see added? Let us know in the comments below!