Two weeks ago I did the first “What’s Worth Keeping” column, with an emphasis on the Nintendo Wii. It hit decently but oddly didn’t generate the conversation I had hoped it would. There was more of a comment trail on my Facebook than on the actual piece itself, which I found odd. Still, the original version of the column I did years ago was a pretty popular one shot, so I decided to keep this intended series going. If a conversation starts than in two weeks time we’ll tackle the PSX (or PSOne as young kids without a sense of history are wont to call it) and if not, then we’ll dump this attempt down the sewers and never speak of it again.
As a reminder to those that missed the previous column, the attempt is to pare my collection down to a maximum of twenty games per system, leaving me with only the games I will enjoy the most as middle age and then eventually incontinence and senility set in. This column we’ll be looking at the Microsoft Xbox and turning things on its head. You see as much as I love my Xbox, I’ve only got nineteen games for it. This means we won’t just be trying to pare things down, but deciding if there is anything I could or should add to my collection based on my own personal tastes. Let’s see what happens.
Between January 19th 2004 and November 6th, 2006, I reviewed thirty-five different titles for the Microsoft Xbox. If I average up the scores from that time period (we used numerical scores back then), I gave out an average score of 6.57, which is pretty high when you think about it, which shows that when I played a game on the Xbox, it tended to be a damn good one. As a gamer I used my Xbox for multi-console gaming too. After all, it had a hard drive, something unheard of back then. The Gamecube and PS2 had…memory cards, and those were all too fallible. Here now is a list of the thirty-five games I’ve reviewed for the Xbox. Remember, if they don’t appear on my currently own listed later on, it pretty much means I didn’t feel they were worth being part of my permanent collection.
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
Curse: Eye of Isis
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2
Dead Man’s Hand
Metal Slug 3
Silent Hill 4
Kingdoms Under Fire: The Crusaders
Midway Arcade Treasures 2
The Bard’s Tale
Super Monkey Ball Deluxe
King of Fighters 2002
King of Fighters 2003
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Samurai Shodown V
King of Fighters Neowave
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Wow, there are some definite stinkers on that list. I love mummies but Curse was horrific. Raze’s Hell and Phantom Dust? Ick. Wrestlemania XXI and Dark Corners of the Earth? Well, they’re both in the Hall of Shame for good reason. Some of these I barely remember. Like I couldn’t tell you the differences between Psi-Ops and Second Sight right now at all. Of those thirty-five reviewed games, only ten of them made it into my permanent collection. Let’s see what they are:
1. Ark Fatalis: Action RPG, Arkane Studios/Dreamcatcher
2. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2: Action RPG, Black Isle Stuidos/Interplay
3. The Bard’s Tale: Action RPG, InXile Entertainment/Vivendi Universal Games
4. Capcom Vs SNK 2EO: Fighting, Capcom/Capcom
5. Dreamfall: The Longest Journey: Adventure, FunCom/Aspyr Games
6. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind – Game of the Year Edition: Action RPG, Bethesda Studios/Microsoft
7. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel: Action RPG, Interplay/Interplay
8. Dungeons & Dragons Heroes: Action RPG, Hunt Valley Development Studio/Atari
9. Fatal Frame: Director’s Cut: Survival Horror, Tecmo/Tecmo
10. Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly – Director’s Cut: Survival Horror, Tecmo/Tecmo
11. Hunter: The Reckoning: Redeemer: Action RPG, High Voltage Software/Vivendi Universal Games
12. The King of Fighters: Neowave: Fighting, SNK Playmore/SNK Playmore
13. The King of Fighters: 02/03: Fighting, SNK Playmore/SNK Playmore
14. Obscure: Survival Horror: MC2/Dreamcatcher
15. Panzer Dragoon Orta: Rail Shooter, Smilebit/Sega
16. Psychonauts: Platformer, Doublefine Games/Majesco
17. SNK Vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos: Fighting, SNK Playmore/SNK Playmore
18. Still Life: Adventure, Microids/The Adventure Company
19. The Suffering: Survival Horror, Surreal Software/Midway
Wow, it’s kind of sad to think how many of those development teams and publishers no longer exist. Out of the publishers only Microsoft, Capcom, and SNK Playmore still exist. Sega would be purchased by Sammy, Tecmo would merge with Koei, and Majesco is now a budget licensed game publisher. All the other publisher are well…gone. Some other companies owns and uses the Atari name now (Infogames I think?) and Aspyr is now a company that ports Windows games to Macs. The developers are doing a bit better. Microids is a huge company in Europe, Arkane Studios just made Dishonored, inXile is doing some high profile crowdfunded games, Doublefine is still chugging along, and SNK Playmore is well…making KoF games and milking old Neo*Geo games. Other than that though, there are lot of dev teams on this list that no longer exist and it makes me a bit melancholic.
So what do we have here? Seven action RPGs, four fighting games, two adventure games, four survival horror games, a lone platformer, and a rail shooter. Six genres isn’t too bad, but it’s apparent what I preferred to play on my Xbox.
So the question now remains, what can stay and what can go? Both Fatal Frames have recently been released on PSN, but the PS2 versions were notably inferior to the Xbox versions, so I wouldn’t junk those games for digital versions. Psychonauts is a possibility, I guess, as I can’t imagine there was any real difference between the two versions. The problem is a whopping eleven of these games are exclusive to the Xbox or PC and if I wanted the PC version of games like Still Life, I’d own them. I’m stuck with the Xbox for games like Orta, D&D Heroes, and Dreamfall if I want a console version, so this makes paring down for this system quite hard. I suppose I could make a snide comment about how much better the original Xbox was for system exclusives than the 360, but really that’s only true about the 360 in the past two or three years. It’s also worth noting that seven of these games (Arx Fatalis, Brotherhood of Steel, Redeemer, KoF 02/03, Obscure, SVC Chaos, and Still Life) can’t be played on the 360. Ugh.
So what, if anything is worth removing from the collection? As well, is there anything out there worth taking the final spot in the Xbox lineup? I should add I owned and got rid of Steel Battalion. I’ve also played through Indigo Prophecy but have no interest in ever playing it again. Right now I think I am leaning at Robotech: Battlecry as my final Xbox game but to be honest, I can’t remember a thing about it save that Harmony Gold got the original voice cast back together. I remember it getting good reviews and my friend Dave loving it but…that’s about it.
That’s also about it for this column. Use the comments to help me pare down my collection, give me suggestions for what to add, and also list the Xbox games you’ve found worth holding onto nearly seven years after the system’s demise.