10 Unlikely Original Xbox Games That Should Be Backwards Compatible
Zack brings us his picks for ten more backwards compatibility candidates, albeit a little more obscure this time.
Nearly 800 games released for the Xbox between 2001 and 2008, and despite the best efforts of Microsoft, there is no way all of them will ever get the backwards compatibility treatment. Though that could be for the better, these games are the ones that will hurt a little more to not see be made backwards compatible. Whether due to their lack of sales/popularity or unavoidable licensing issues, these are games that probably won’t (but should) make it onto the Xbox One.
There once was a time where comic book video games didn’t have to be shoddily made movie tie-ins. Taking iconic characters, some recent/classic/original story arcs, and turning them into a fun game was primarily a practice around the 90’s and early 2000’s (as shown with games such as Spider-Man on the original PlayStation). One of the last prime examples of this practice was 2005’s The Punisher by Volition, best known now for the Saints Row series. It’s a bare-bones shooter, to be fair, but the interesting story, Frank Castle’s character development, and the controversial interrogation feature makes it stand out among other dime-a-dozen shooters of the time. Sadly, even though this game was backwards compatible on the 360 and even improved, piles of licensing issues (a running dilemma you’ll find as this list goes on) would make this a lot of work to get onto the Xbox One for the small amount of people who would appreciate it.
Remember Knights of the Old Republic on the list of Xbox Essentials? This is that without the Star Wars license. The story features multiple characters with multiple endings, an interesting combat system based around magics and hand-to-hand combat, and really nice art design that would hold up well against the backwards compatibility uprezzing. Jade Empire is a sorely overlooked competent BioWare RPG that not many people know about, which is the main reason it’s on this list. It’s more likely to appear at some point than others on this list, considering it still has a dedicated fanbase and it has a history with the Xbox, but it will be long after we’ve played and replayed KOTOR on our Xbox Ones.
007: Everything or Nothing
Everyone who grew up with the EA Bond games have their own favorite of the bunch. My personal favorite is From Russia With Love, but from a purely quality-based standpoint, Everything or Nothing is the best Bond game to come out of EA. It’s got a fully original story, featuring Willem Dafoe as the main villain, fast-paced chase scenes built in the Need for Speed engine, huge set pieces, fun memorable levels, and it’s the only game out of the three starring Brosnan to have his voice and likeness tied to it. However, again, licensing issues kill any shot of this or any other beloved Bond game of the time to return. Mix in the fact that Activision fumbled with the license for 7 years (2006-2013) and it’s EXTREMELY unlikely that Bond will be returning to video games any time soon, whether in the form of a new game or a re-release such as this.
Resident Evil 4 on a boat. Are you sold yet? It’s a really cheesy game with a nearly paper-thin story, but what it lacks in writing it makes up for in atmosphere, exploration, and white-knuckle gameplay. If you’ve played a single modern horror game Cold Fear won’t do much to scare you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a hidden gem that’s worth exploring. The only licensing issue lies in the soundtrack featuring Rob Zombie, but that can easily be re-licensed or flat-out removed and the core game would stay intact. This game isn’t very likely to achieve backwards compatibility due to its obscurity and it’s a real shame.
Tony Hawk’s Underground
Cold Fear had ONE licensed track, imagine trying to re-license 80. I’m pretty sure this game doesn’t need explanation, THUG is without a doubt one of the most beloved skateboarding games in the world. After the train wreck that was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, I can’t be the only one who went back to relive the glory days of the franchise. But with Activision out of the picture and so much licensed music, the likelihood of this legendary game appearing on our Xbox Ones gets lower by the day.
The Simpsons: Hit & Run
I might as well just call this list “Licensed Games That Will Never Be Backwards Compatible.” But c’mon, you know this one hurts. It’s Grand Theft Auto, but with the look, charm, and personality of The Simpsons. Even if you only ever looked at this game once, it sticks with you in a way that forever reminds you how much of a lawless badlands the 6th generation was. It’s a hilarious, memorable, and fun game, but because The Simpsons no longer has a video game license holder it will forever rest in limbo, never again to grace a marketplace with its presence. And in the immortal words of Bart Simpson; “I didn’t think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows.”
Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams
This game’s reputation precedes itself. One of the most beloved horror games ever made, Silent Hill 2 enters your psyche on a level your therapist can only dream of. Atmosphere drenches every corner of Silent Hill while the symbolism-filled plot drives you further down the rabbit hole. I tried to keep games that already have HD versions off these lists (Beyond Good and Evil, Halo 1 and 2, etc.), since they’d be better ported via Xbox 360 backwards compatibility, but it’s no secret that the Silent Hill HD Collection is the worst set of remasters ever released. That’s exactly why the game deserves another chance, but it’s also exactly why it won’t get one. Konami simply isn’t in a “caring-about-the-fans” mood these days, which is why the HD Collection released in such shambles, and why the only hope for the series to make a comeback was abruptly killed off in 2015. But in my restless dreams, I see that town, in HD, on Xbox One.
Yes, I get to have two cheesy horror shooters on my list, it’s my list. This one is different though. While Cold Fear is pretty straight-forward – undead happens, you kill the undead, rinse and repeat – The Suffering puts you in the shoes of Torque, a possessed man in prison for killing his family, fighting the supernatural force that possesses him. Mixing elements of a prison break and a claustrophobic horror game, The Suffering is another seemingly bare-bones shooter that has more layers to its story and gameplay than you’d ever expect. This is another hidden gem that isn’t likely to make it onto Microsoft’s radar without an extremely vocal petition.
Imagine this if you will: Metal Gear Solid 2 with psychic powers, developed by the creators of TimeSplitters. Sounds dope, right? Second Sight accomplishes this feat amazingly, telling an engaging cinematic story in TimeSplitters’ timeless art style, complete with an abundance of charm, satisfying stealth, and powers that serve an actual use to the gameplay. If this is your first-time hearing of Second Sight, that’s the exact reason it won’t make it onto the Xbox One. It’s criminally overlooked and the lucky few who got to play it can attest to its brilliance.
In 2005, the idea of an open world space shooter with deep storytelling, likeable characters, and memorable moments was just a dream reserved for the Xbox 360. Little did everyone know that computer graphics company, GlyphX, was making that dream happen that very same year. With a full sweeping orchestral score worked on by none other than Tommy Tallarico, a comic-worthy story (with a tie-in comic released by DC alongside the game), and breathtaking visuals for the time, it’s amazing this game flew under so many radars. Did I mention you also become a literal God?
If this game would have made the cut for backwards compatibility on the Xbox 360, Mass Effect would have bombed, Advent Rising would have gotten the trilogy it deserved, and the world would be a better place. I’m not saying it would solve world hunger, but it might have. And now we’ll never know. The best we can hope for now is that Microsoft finally brings this underrated masterpiece to modern audiences.