When people think of creative or unique video games, the original Xbox system isn’t the first system to jump into anyone’s mind. The PS2 spawned a million games, including some games that were considered to be pretty odd by western gamer standards. Games like Katamari Damacy immediately come to mind, since that was obviously the work of someone who sniffed a little too much glue one weekend. The Gamecube had some fairly odd titles released for it as well, I mean Odama was a real time strategy pinball game which was a first, and it also was absolutely no fun to play. I’d rather check live wires with my tongue than play that game again. Gamecube also had Cubivore, which one person liked and they don’t count. Dreamcast was also home to some insanely bizarre games. Seaman anyone?
That game is the reason Leonard Nimoy sort of creeps me out. A fish with the face of a human…ugh.
At the time even hardcore gaming fans would tell you the original Xbox was the system to own if you wanted to play sports, racing, or first person shooters. If you wanted something that was a little beyond the norm, well you bought a different system. Part of this stigma was because for video game fans it appeared that Microsoft was trying to just buy it’s way into our hobby. Sure, that’s no different than when Sony did the same thing, and yet people made that distinction.
Sadly, people who decided that the original Xbox wasn’t worth checking out if you wanted some diversity in your gaming missed out on some truly unique games. With backwards compatibility and the Xbox Originals service there is still a chance to check out these games however. In fact, I hope Microsoft is listening, because here are ten games that I feel should be added to the Xbox Live Originals service as these are ten games that truly delivered a different gaming experience than the norm.
First up is a game that needs to be release with Xbox Live support added to it right f’ing now.
Deathrow is possibly one of the best games that no one has ever played. The game is a futuristic sports game that is one part Ultimate Frisbee, and one part Rollerball (the original film, not the piece of crap remake). Players throw around a disk and attempt to throw the disk through the other team’s goal that is hovering off of the ground. The only catch is that there are two ways to win a match, score more points, or just beat the other team until hey are unconscious. If the other team can’t stand, then they can’t obviously finish the match, right?
The game is not merely about winning, it’s about surviving. With several teams with varying statistics, being able to control strategy of your team on the fly with the d-pad and trying to decide whether you should try and score or just pummel the other team is just great fun. There’s something that’s just refreshing about a game where knocking out the goalie is not just an accepted tactic, but also an integral part of the game.
The only thing that was obviously missing in this game was Xbox Live Multiplayer. I guarantee you that if this game had Xbox Live Multiplayer people would still be playing this game right now. Microsoft, all I want for Xmas is this game with Live support. I’ll buy it again if I have to even if I have to sell my body for MS points.
I may not be much, but this body is worth at least 1200 MS Points…right?
#9 Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay
For the most part movies based off of video games and video games based off of movies suck harder than an easy date on prom night. Seriously, if you think back to most video games based off of movies the most notable ones, like EA’s The Godfather, aren’t memorable because they’re great games, they’re memorable because they some how managed to just not be awful. At least movies based off of video games games have some an excuse, though I still do not understand how Uwe Boll gets the rights to make these movies.
Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher’s Bay, other than being a pain in the ass to type repeatedly, is another game that showed off the diversity of the original Xbox. Rather than make an easy buck and throw out a generic FPS game, the game involved stealth, bare handed fighting, shooting and some great lighting. Sure the game also had a cheesy story and a couple of technical errors, and yet somehow the movie by the same name had a far worse story and even worse errors throughout the film. By comparison the story in the video game is like a novel by Stephen King, while the movie is like it was written by a hack like Dean Koontz.
Chronicles of Riddick: Excessively Long Title is an Xbox game that is not backwards compatible. With this title the chances of Microsoft adding backwards compatibility is slim, as it appears that a next-gen remake is in the works. If anything I think that speaks highly of the original game since if you updated the graphics, smoothed out the bugs and added multiplayer the game could stand toe-to-toe with this generation of games. Although it is sort of disturbing to see videogames following the Hollywood trend of unnecessary remakes.
#8 Crimson Skies: High Road To Revenge
Okay, so I said this list was for titles that I think should be added to the Xbox Originals list and here I am writing about a game that is already available for download on Xbox Live Marketplace. I only do this for one reason: I love this game and most of you ignored it.
Seriously, what the hell people? Graphically this game still looks good and is probably the best arcade flight game available on a console. Featuring a huge single player game, a wide variety of planes, and smooth control I would sacrifice my left testicle to the gaming gods if it meant that a sequel was in the works.
More importantly, this was probably the game I played the most on Xbox Live, and it was worth every single f’ing moment. It was frantic, fast paced with some of the best designed multiplayer maps available in any game and yet most gamers spurned it like a hot chick with herpes and to this day I still cannot for the life of me understand why. Do you people just dislike good games?
Unfortunately FASA who developed Crimson Skies has folded. However you and the other million or so people people who passed by this game in order to purchase 50 Cent: Bulletproof can redeem yourselves by either downloading this game from the Xbox Original service, like right f’ing now, or by buying a copy for $3 used at Gamestop. $3 for one of the best Xbox games! BUY IT NOW.
Maybe I’m coming off too strong and you folks are wondering how much I’m getting paid to do this. Let me answer that by saying I’m getting paid only in the adoration of my fans, meaning I work for free. I just love this game -that- much. BUY IT OR YOUR GRANDMA DIES. WHY DO YOU HATE YOUR GRANDMA?
#7 Deus Ex: Invisible War
Okay, so there were a lot of FPS titles released for the Xbox. So what, are you one of those pansies who get motion sick from playing these type of games?
Oh, you are? And it’s a serious medical condition? Oh. Damn. I’m sorry man. I hope you get better soon.
As for the 90% of the rest of you who don’t get motion sick from standard activities such as sitting then standing quickly, the Xbox did some good things with the FPS genre. Deus Ex: Invisible War is one of those games. You wouldn’t know that however from doing any sort of research of the game online. While Deus Ex: Invisible War was enjoyed pretty much universally by critics, the community panned it. Why? Because it wasn’t the first Deus Ex game.
And on the 10th day God created the internet. Soon after people flocked to whine about everything. I’ve even seen people whine that kittens aren’t cute enough.
Let’s get it out of the way though, Deus Ex: Invisible War was not as good as the first Deus Ex. Did this make it a bad game? Yes according to the reverent Deus Ex fans. I thought it was pretty good. The game had it’s flaws, including some small areas and some of the features of the original game were streamlined for the sequel, but as someone who uses the computer solely for writing and porn (and more emphasis on the porn) Deus Ex: Invisible War was a new experience for me. Hell, what I had played of the first Deus Ex was the Playstation 2 version of the game, and that version was worse than the idea of Ann Coulter posing in Playboy. Ick.
I’m telling you, patch that sucker up using the patches available for the PC version, toss it on the Originals list and it’ll make money.
Then again, I thought the Virtual Boy was a good idea.
#6 Armed and Dangerous
From the creators of such classics as Giants: Citizen Kabuto, which was also a really strange f’ing game, came Armed and Dangerous, quite possibly the oddest third person shooter to ever be released on a game console that didn’t suck. Equal parts odd humor, British accents and strange weaponry the game was an absolute blast to play. How much better can a game get than being able to have a gun that shoots sharks?
Think about that for a second, this game has a motherfu#$%ng gun that shoots motherfu%^&ng sharks.
How did it not sell 5 million copies?
Of course outside of the guns and humor the game was a fairly standard shooter, but the guns and humor made it so much more. The game was balanced well for things like a weapon that turned the world upside down and flung the enemies into the air….before gravity righted itself and splatted your enemies into the unforgiving ground.
Honestly though, do I need a better reason for this to be added to the list of Xbox Originals other than the fact that it has a gun that shoots sharks?
Sharks man! Sharks!
#5 Steel Battalion
This game I have added though I know it is practically impossible to add it to the list of Xbox Originals. This game was originally released for $200. And here you thought that $60 games were too expensive. The reason for the price tag was because the game shipped with a controller that had more buttons than a machine with a lot of buttons. That’s impressive. The game practically needed for you to go out and get a driver’s license specifically for the game.
At the core of the game was a pretty standard mech game, only the developers paid about as much attention to the detail of little things like the turn speed of the mech in the game as the developers of Forza Motorsport do to the stabilization of a car as it’s turning. There will likely not be another mech game released that spends as much loving attention to detail as Steel Battalion does. The controller had a ton of buttons in order to simulate the feel of driving a large mechanized robot.
The first time I tried the game I turned the key and stalled the engine. THAT is how realistic this game is.
I’m not really sure how they could add this to the list of Xbox Originals, unless you could buy a cheaper version of the controller then pay $15 to download the game. I mention it because truly, you will not find an experience such as this game on any other console, and there might never be a game like this again. It is obvious through playing that this was a specific project that the developers who created it loved, and shows in the final project. If Microsoft is trying to show people what they missed out on if they didn’t have the original Xbox, then adding Steel Battalion to the list of Originals would go a long way to showing that their first system was more than just some racing games and Halo.
Yet another first person shooter.
Calling Breakdown a first person shooter is a disservice to the game however. This is one of the few first person games that tries to do everything you would find in a third person action game, only in first person. Everything is done in the first person view, even the opening montage where the main character throws up into a toilet. People who notice minor details in graphics could probably spend hours counting the amount of pixels shown in the digital vomit.
As a game it’s not exactly the most finely tuned game in the world. There are certainly some balance issues, and personally even though I normally do not get motion sick from video games…this game was an exception. Barrel rolling a couple of times in a first person view made my lunch decide to say hello. Although this game taught me that if I ever need to barrel roll in real life, then I should do it with my eyes closed. The character in Breakdown never blinks though, and with the action in this game there are times where you’ll forget to blink as well. So stock up on the Visine.
Even with various FPS like The Darkness incorporating just regular life events into the FPS genre, nothing takes it to the level Breakdown does. The end result is not always good, but it’s worth playing just to see what Namco has attempted to do with the genre. This game is currently backwards compatible.
#3 Panzer Dragoon Orta
Panzer Dragoon Orta is another game that’s just something you have to play to understand. At the very core of the game it is an on rails shooter. To judge it by merely that description does the game a horrible injustice though. In many ways the game is one of the best mixtures of both simplistic old school style gameplay together with some serious strategy and beautiful graphics.
Form shifting, homing lasers, gliding, berserk attacks, and avoiding obstacles, these are just some of the things that you have to think about during the roller coaster ride that is Panzer Dragoon Orta. Flying on the back of a Dragoon (i.e. Dragon in case you didn’t get it), the game speeds a long at an intense rate. You either adapt to the style of game and ride with it enjoying the thrill ride, or you die a lot, and likely throw your controller into the wall.
This game is also backwards compatible, and it would be a crime if SEGA and Microsoft didn’t eventually add this to the Originals list.
#2 Phantom Dust
This is a game that practically screams MADE IN JAPAN!
Random sort of girlie looking guys fighting battles in clothing that offers practically no protection (and strangely more belts than is absolutely necessary), combined with amnesia and more text boxes than you could care for? Oh yeah. Phantom Dust is about a world where the surface is covered in fog, known as Phantom Dust, that wipes away peoples memories. Stay on the surface too long and you will not even remember to eat food. Sounds like a quick way to forget crazy ex-girlfriends right? Yeah, the people on this world don’t see it that way. They live underground but on the plus side there are those who can use special powers called Espers.
People love Espers, it’s a proven fact.
Anyhow, these Espers can use there powers to roam the surface world, or something. There’s a lot of other story related stuff but most of it is just background noise. Sure it’s interesting, but that’s not the point. The point is the gameplay rocks. Essentially Phantom Dust is a collectible card game mixed with an action game. Magic: The Gathering made an attempt at this sort of thing also on the Xbox, but was nothing near as well done as it is in Phantom Dust.
The game is played in various 3D arenas. You collect various Skills(Cards) and sort those Skills into Arsenals(Card Decks), when you start a battle orbs representing your chosen Skills will appear near your start point. Only a couple at a time will appear. You run up and assign those Skills to various face buttons and use Aura to use the skills. Aura regenerates over time. Some skills are only useful either close up or far away. Some are only for support or defense. Having the right skills equipped or in your Arsenal is essential in the game. This is one of the better versus original Xbox Live titles available.
There has never been a game like it before or since, and it was a budget title! This title, also backwards compatible, can be owned for cheap, and I would love to see an Xbox 360 sequel allowing for up to 8 or more player to contest against each other in larger arenas. It would be insanity. Pick the game up if you have a chance, there’s still a surprisingly dedicated community for this game out there.
#1 Stubbs The Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse
There’s a considerable amount of personal bias that I have for this game since I am a huge fan of zombie movies.
Stubbs The Zombie is one of the best zombie games ever made (up until Dead Rising was released that is) and even though the game is fairly short, clocking in at around 5 hours or less depending on your skill level, the game has more charm in 10 minutes of the game than most video games muster up over 20 hours. I like long games as much as the next person but I would rather have a great short game than a game that takes a good concept and stretches it out for so long that it’s just boring by the end.
Stubbs just doesn’t get boring. This is still one of the only games where you get to play as the zombie. Throughout the game you are attacking humans, and not just killing them, but once dead you recruit them to your legion of the undead. At least in Stubbs The Zombie when your AI allies act brain dead, it still makes sense. You can also possess people by detaching your hand and grabbing onto a person’s skull, throw gut grenades, etc. Over the course of the game you will need every tool available as well since the AI is top notch.
In fact the game was created by Bungie defectors using the Halo engine. This is sort of obvious while playing the game as the AI tactics might seem familiar to those who have played the Halo games, and while storming down a street it plays out occasionally like a corridor shooter. That and at least one vehicle controls like the warthog. This is anything but a Halo clone however. The game is built upon a familiar frame, but it deserves recognition for being not only one of the best zombie games ever, but also being one of the best games available for the first Xbox system.
There you go. These are only my personal top ten, and not including such games as Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, Midtown Madness 3, Star Wars: Republic Commando, and more that showed off what the original Xbox could accomplish if developers spent a little time and creativity with their games. Microsoft might have tried to buy their way into our hobby and our living rooms, but these unique titles are what made the system a necessary purchase for any diehard game fan.
Until the next time I get drunk and think of ten games to write about, peace!