The original Xbox and the Xbox 360 may not have the largest exclusive library in comparison to the PlayStation or Nintendo’s console at the time, but the titles they did have were unique and noteworthy. Enough so that they don’t deserve their current fate, to simply remain as part of the past. With the Xbox One one struggling to foster franchises or exclusives outside of Halo and Gears of War from…Halo to Gears of War, it’s time that Microsoft begins to look at its past, including those in the early life of Xbox One, to help itself with the future.
What better way to choose which past games are most deserving than to look back and see which would be the best in a modern setting.
The following are in no particular order and does not include any non-released games:
8Rise: Son of Rome
Rise: Son of Rome as a concept sounded great. Playing as a Roman soldier on the field, commanding troops, and fighting for the glory that was Rome with what looked to be a spiritual successor to the Beat ’em Up genre. While the imagery and setting of the game are worth noting, the mechanics and story, unfortunately, fell a bit flat. Combat featured very little depth, with only 2-3 buttons being the focus at all times, never evolving into more in-depth mechanics to keep the player’s attention. Even with all of these faults, the game is still fun and showed a lot of potential for what a modern Beat ’em Up style game could be. With a little more polish and depth with its mechanics and a slightly more engaging story, Rise: Son of Rome could easily create a unique sequel worth owning.
Before From Software would become known as the Dark Souls developer, there was Metal Wolf Chaos. A game that features the President of the United States going against a coup d’etat using a powerful suit of armor named Metal Wolf. It’s a completely over the top, extreme action game that finds an interesting balance between a Dynasty Warriors style game meeting Vanquish all while destroying hordes of enemies with an ever-powerful mech. Unfortunately, the game never saw a Western release, but there is a real opportunity here to not only revive this game (especially considering the ironic political environment currently) but to make it into something of its own on Xbox.
6MechAssault & MechAssault 2
MechAssault took the complex nature of the MechWarrior series and boiled it down into a more arcade-like experience. There was no first person, no slow moving mechs, just fast-paced third-person action of mechs fighting other mechs. It served as the first real showcase of the Xbox Live service and did a brilliant job at doing. In terms of the Xbox One, there has been a partial effort from Microsoft to provide an online, arcade-like experience through the acquisition of PUBG (Play Unknown’s Battleground) as a console exclusive. However, since PUBG is available on other consoles (and even mobile), the benefit to the Xbox One is minimal in comparison to having a pure exclusive; MechAssault 3 could easily be the answer to Microsoft’s need to fill this void.
5Otogi & Otogi 2
During the original Xbox’s lifespan, Microsoft and Sega had a very strong relationship. After all, Microsoft did help develop the operating system for the Sega Dreamcast. When the Dreamcast went under, Sega began publishing exclusives on the original Xbox. One of the better titles to come out of this partnership was Otogi. Designed by From Software (who keeps being mentioned on this list), Otogi managed to touch on many of the elements that we have come to enjoy in the Action RPG game genre, but never really went far enough in terms of mechanics to raise it to the level such as Nioh. With the PlayStation 4 having both Bloodborne and Nioh, the Xbox One is in desperate need of an Action RPG of similar style, and Otogi could very easily become that for the Xbox.
Sunset Overdrive is an insane, self-aware third-person action adventure game set in an open world. If that seems like a long description, it’s not, it’s truly the only way to describe the title to those who haven’t played it as it is completely bonkers and merges so many genres together. The game’s plot is equally over the top, featuring a new energy drink that quickly starts turning the consumers into zombie-esque creatures that you as the player must kill. All of this is presented to the player in the name of style, not only does the look and feel of the environment convey a sense of unique designs and brash colors, the mechanics of the game employ the same feeling. Having weapons such as a gun that shoots frozen bowling balls all while bouncing and grinding on any and everything in the environment for the sake of making all the action of the game insane and over the top. It scratches a unique itch that the Xbox One doesn’t necessarily need, but is certainly appreciated.
The Xbox 360 featured numerous quality exclusives, but many of those (e.g. Halo, Gears of War) have already seen support on the Xbox One or have fostered sequels across all platforms. However, the Xbox 360 did foster three JRPG style games in an effort to appeal to Japanese gamers, and while none were of system-seller quality, they were still solid entries nonetheless. Lost Odyssey takes a very traditional, Final Fantasy-type, approach but adds an element of quick time events to add an extra level of mechanics to keep the gameplay from being stale, featuring fantastic short stories—assuming you put in the time. Lost Odyssey was never the caliber of other more notable RPGs, but it was the most notable for being the best on the Xbox 360. Considering the lack of RPGs as a whole, the Xbox One would be poised to game from any RPG, JRPG or not, through either a direct sequel or a spiritual successor.
Breakdown almost feels like a game for another console, mainly the Wii, but instead, it found itself on the original Xbox. Featuring a first-person perspective but focusing on hand to hand combat, Breakdown sets itself apart by being a first-person fighting game with guns rather than a first-person shooter. It presented something unique, and with a recent interest in titles that present more realistic gameplay and combat mechanics, Breakdown could certainly be in a category of its own being a first-person title that features complex hand to hand combat.
Perhaps the only truly successful game made of the multiple IPs Microsoft acquired with Rare, Killer Instinct sets itself apart from other fighting games in its focus on combos. To do real damage in Killer Instinct you must land attacks that start combos, continue those combos with special moves, and end them with a heavy attack to deal the most damage as possible. This makes the game take on a unique aspect of predicting and guessing your opponents move. To break a combo, you need to guess what type of combo they are using or be aware of what they are capable of, and when the moment strikes, unload upon your opponent. It is unique enough of a title that it deserves more life than what it was given, and if Microsoft hopes to have a larger e-sports preference, a perfect way to do this is through a quality fighting game like Killer Instinct.