By Robert Yocum
The interesting thing about being a gamer is that we can be simultaneously looking forward to new games, while also continually looking back to older games. With the announcement at this year’s Xbox E3 conference that the Original Xbox games would become backwards compatible, I thought it would be good to make a list of games that were outstanding examples of why the Xbox brand became the powerhouse that it is today. These games are all great games that, should they make the list of games to become playable on the Xbox One platform, are absolutely ones that should be checked out. As a note, I am excluding; Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 only because they are already playable through the Halo Anniversary Edition. Also, I will only be going over a brief description of the game and why it should be part of the backwards compatible family.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2002)
This game is a perfect example how to do a video game based on a television franchise RIGHT!!! The plot of the game itself is a long form episode of the show itself. The combat was ahead of its time in terms of the interactive environment, on-the-fly weapon acquisition and destruction, and combat itself had a great flow to it. If you took out the combo aspect of it, the combat is an early version of the Arkham series. With the exception of Sarah Michelle Gellar, all of the voice acting for the video game characters was done by their on screen counterpart. The writing was a complete success, sounding very much like something you would see in the TV series. The dialogue is snappy and snarky, the pacing and the flow of the plot were well mixed between cut scenes and action. This game was a great big sloppy kiss to the fans of the TV show that wanted to play in that world.
Mech Assault (2002)
The first of two games that were the standard bearers for gaming online for the Xbox, MechAssault was the first BattleTech type of video game published on the Xbox. Set in the BattleTech universe, you captained your lance of Mechs on the planet of Helios as a mercenary. But the game’s story, while interesting, was secondary to online play. This was the first game to be purchased almost solely for playing against others online. Who doesn’t want to be in an 80 ton Mech stomping around shooting off rockets and lasers and auto cannons? While the online match types were standard (Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Last Man Standing, Capture the flag), it was still in a giant Mech. There was also a predecessor to Gears of War’s Horde mode called Grinder mode, where more and more waves of Mechs spawned in. Though if they do bring the game back for backwards compatible they might have to change that name.
Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge (2003)
This game has already been announced as coming to backwards compatible, so I imagine a lot of old disks are already being purchased. As a first party game, Crimson Skies had a lot put on its shoulders. It had to be a visually impressive game as it was an updated version of a PC game, so the comparisons to PC games were bound to be inevitable. It also was published by Microsoft Games Studio, So Microsoft’s reputation for the quality of the game was on the line. Following the success of MechAssault, this game also had to give players a reason to continue to invest in Xbox live and to show online competitive and cooperative gaming on a console was a viable option. And in all respects, it was a complete success. The online component was smooth and fun, the game itself hit on all marks for story, visuals, and audio, and the game play itself was top notch.
Jade Empire (2007)
A late comer to the Original Xbox platform, this game none the less was an outstanding hit and paved the way for many of the Bioware games we now play today. You play as an orphan in a martial arts school run by Master Li, and like all games, tragedy happens and you begin your journey of discovery and exploration. A lot of what we saw on the 360 with both Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect started with this game. If you want to see how the Bioware RPG ended up where it is at now, this is where it started. The setting was inspired by Imperial China in terms of characters, weapons, magic, and fighting styles. There was also the start of the Duality system of Open hand (Light Side/Paragon) and Closed Fist(Dark Side/Renegade) There was even an option for romantic interactions with the NPC’s.
Outlaw Golf (2003)
What can I say about this game that would require about 20 minutes of explanation that would result in people still being completely confused? This game probably has the most balance between being a tongue-in-cheek satire of all things golf while simultaneously being a solid golf game in terms of mechanics. On the whole (pun intended) it is a solid, stick swing based golf game. The golfers you get to chose are, A dominatrix with a caddy in a gimp mask, a wanna be white rapper with his equally wanna be DJ caddy, and other equally ridiculous characters. The odd thing, however, is that it all worked. It should not have worked, but it did. What is equally as odd is that actor and comedian Steve Carell did the colour commentary for the action on the golf.
Prince of Persia: The sands of time (2003)
A reboot from the original side scrolling game from the 1990’s, the sands of time was the first game I remember being a 3D free roaming adventure game that got the free roaming correct. Instant death was constant in the Prince of Persia franchise, so instead of adjusting that game play away from the death, you instead gain the power to rewind time in order to avoid the death. Along with the great game play, the game itself had a great music soundtrack that gave the game a very immersive feel to it.
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