If you ask someone what their favorite console from the turn of the century was, you’re probably gonna get a lot of PlayStation 2s, an almost-equal portion of GameCubes, and a small-but-quantifiable number of Dreamcasts in response. Very rarely, however, someone will step up to bat for the original Xbox, and today that poor, delusional someone is me.
Look, I get it. The PlayStation 2 had 80 percent of the games that people cared about back then, and the GameCube had the rest. The Xbox was more powerful on paper, and arguably received some of the best versions of that era’s multi-platform releases, but its stable of exclusive titles paled in comparison. Other than Halo and Halo 2, the Xbox’s exclusive offerings were primarily a bunch of weird, experimental, and/or esoteric releases that only appealed to deeply entrenched weirdos like me — a contrarian Dreamcast die-hard looking for the next Sega.
And appeal they did! I loved my Xbox, even if none of my friends had one. But as time marched on, so did everyone else, and the Xbox’s eclectic catalogue was mostly lost to the hourglass. That is, of course, until Phil Spencer announced original Xbox backwards compatibility for the Xbox One at E3 2017, which has since become a reality.
And look, I’m grateful that it happened and that it works, but the 33 compatible games Microsoft has added over the last two years are widely not what I would have picked. There are still at least five Xbox exclusive titles that deserve backwards compatibility, so I’ve decided to outline them in the hopes that Microsoft will take notice.
Otogi: Myth of Demons
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not buying an Xbox One until Otogi is backwards compatible. Period. Teen Jordo playing this notoriously difficult game is why Adult Jordo loves brutal challenges (and From Software games in general), and it’s a crime that this legitimate classic has never been made available on any other platform — no Xbox 360 compatibility, no XBLA re-release, no PC port, nothing.
I don’t know if it’s from a lack of interest within From Software, a rights issue with publisher Sega, or if there’s just some graph at Microsoft that says its not worth the trouble. But whatever the reason, I hope that someone in a position to change things does so. Since Xbox emulation barely exists, we have to rely on corporations to make sure that heirloom games like Otogi are preserved for future generations.
Jet Set Radio Future
Honestly, I had just assumed that Jet Set Radio Future was backwards compatible until I started researching games for this list. This is the Xbox game, at least as far as non-Halos are concerned, so obviously it would be the number one priority for Microsoft’s BC initiative on the Xbox One, right? Or not? Not, I guess.
That might be unfair — for all I know, Microsoft worked its butt off to get JSRF onto the Xbox One, and just couldn’t make it happen for whatever reason. The game’s enormous soundtrack is of supreme importance to the experience, and with as many composers/bands/producers as are on that thing, it might present a significant legal hurdle to bring forward in its entirety. Still, that didn’t stop Jet Set Radio from making its way to Steam — albeit with a slightly truncated soundtrack — so I have to believe there’s some way to get Jet Set Radio Future on a modern platform. This game is, after all, why everyone that owned a Dreamcast also bought an Xbox.
As Microsoft’s flagship title for the launch of Xbox Live, MechAssault brought online multiplayer gaming to the forefront of the console conversation in 2002. Online gaming had been A Thing™ on PCs for years, and even the Dreamcast shipped with an included modem, but it wasn’t until Xbox Live turned the practice into a fully supported, OS-level service, that living room players really bought into the concept.
MechAssault was the proof in that pudding, and for an enormous number of people, was their first real exposure to how awesome online games could be. It would be incredible to go back and re-experience the dawn of that new age via Xbox One backwards compatibility.
Dead or Alive 3
It may not have been the best fighting game for the Xbox (that honor goes to SoulCalibur 2), but Dead or Alive 3 was the first big-name Xbox exclusive to remove a series from other platforms. Dead or Alive and Dead or Alive 2 were both available on the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 respectively, but the series wouldn’t see the broad side of a Sony console for a straight decade after DoA 3.
As one of, if not the best entries in the series, Dead or Alive 3 deserves preservation in its own right. Add in its importance to the Xbox’s moonshot launch in 2001, and it should definitely be among other, far less significant games that are already backwards compatible, such as the long forgotten King of Fighters Neowave, and Actual Murder Recruitment Apparatus Full Spectrum Warrior.
For all of you who remember Steel Battalion, I know what you’re thinking, and I’m gonna get there, but you gotta give me a minute. If you’re too young to remember Steel Battalion, however, imagine this: A “realistic” giant robot simulator, played on a bespoke, desk-sized control console that contained two flight sticks, a throttle, three pedals, and around 40 buttons. Every button does something significant and they all light up. That’s Steel Battalion — a game so weird and unlikely as to make it one of the most beautiful, foolish things a developer has ever released.
And if you’re thinking “wow, that sounds amazing; can it be played without the big controller,” I must inform you that it cannot. So how do we get around this for the Xbox One? I propose that Hyperkin, maker of the Xbox One/Windows 10 version of the original Xbox Duke controller, manufacture and sell Steel Battalion controllers for Xbox One. Not only would doing so be the only way for anyone to play Steel Battalion on an Xbox One, but it’s an idea just as ludicrous as Steel Battalion was in the first place. It’s what the game deserves.