The announcement that Xbox would be leaving behind any new additions to the Backwards Compatibility library in order to focus on making sure all their games worked on the Project Scarlett was a bittersweet one. While the final announcement came with over 20 new games, there’s still plenty of original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles that are being left behind.
While we’re not expecting Xbox to suddenly pull a 180 and drop some new backwards compatible titles, we wanted to highlight 15 Xbox and Xbox 360 games that we’re surprised didn’t ultimately make the jump to the current generation. Who knows, maybe Xbox will add all these game when Scarlett comes out. That’ll be the dream. Either way, here’s 15 titles that we wish went backwards compatible.
1. Burnout 3: Takedown
As much as I’ve written about my love of Burnout: Paradise on this site, Burnout 3: Takedown is undoubtedly the best entry in the series and it’s something I will defend until my death. Considering it was the basis of Dangerous Driving, the spiritual successor to the Burnout series developed by some of the game’s devs, attempted but ultimately failed to capture Takedown’s mojo, you know how much of an influence it had.
Though the licensed soundtrack might have been the reason why it never ultimately made the jump to backwards compatibility, the fact games like SSX 3 and even Burnout: Revenge are available basically proves that means nothing when EA put their mind to it. Seriously, this would have been a license to print money, and definitely feels like a missed opportunity.
2. The Punisher
Though not the first digital adventure of Frank Castle, Volition’s 2005 stab at The Punisher is probably the most well known iteration of the character, at least in terms of gaming. That Capcom beat ‘em up was a banger, no doubt, but this version captures the brutality of the character and the world he inhabits.
With Thomas Jane returning to provide the voice for Castle, and a gritty story and plenty of violence that capture the essence of Garth Ennis’ run of Punisher MAX comics, The Punisher was a flawed but enjoyable, blood-soaked journey. With THQ Nordic remastering games like Destroy All Humans!, we’re honestly shocked that The Punisher didn’t make a return. Or maybe it’ll get a full remaster. Who knows?
3. The Max Payne Series
On the one hand, we can understand why the Max Payne series in its entirety didn’t make its way to the Xbox Backwards Compatibility program. With the first two games handled by Remedy Entertainment before Rockstar developed the third game, ensuring the entire series would be a herculean task.
However, the fact no games made their way to the program is shocking. The first two games were both available to download from the Xbox Live Marketplace on the Xbox 360, while the lack of Max Payne 3 again feels like a missed opportunity. It might have been a departure from the established series, but it was absolutely incredible regardless. If Rockstar want to remaster it for modern consoles, we wouldn’t say no.
4. Beautiful Katamari
If video games could act as therapy, Beautiful Katamari would be prescribed by doctors across the land. It’s almost impossible not to smile when experiencing the insanity that this game offers, and Beautiful Katamari brings in the eccentricities by the bucketload. How could you expect any less in a game where you roll up objects with a giant ball?
While the series has existed on other consoles, with the recent remake of Katamari Damacy now available on the Nintendo Switch, Beautiful Katamari was the only time the series was available on the Xbox brand, and now it’s going to be resigned to the annals of history. Godspeed, you Beautiful Katamari.
5. Backbreaker: Vengeance
I imagine lot of people are probably seeing this and their eyes are glazing over, while a small portion of readers are marking out, so let us explain. Vengeance was the Xbox Live Arcade spin-off to the American Football game Backbreaker, which had a minigame called Tackle Alley. If you ever played Bulldog or Red Rover in school, Tackle Alley was all too familiar.
Vengeance took that one mode and expanded on it, bringing with it over hundreds of levels where grown men lunge at each other and probably give themselves a concussion. With the tackles and physics powered by the Euphoria engine, each bone crunching collision felt unique and more impactful than other sports games.
6. Lollipop Chainsaw
Oh, Grasshopper Manufacture and James Gunn, you absolute mad lads. Both parties are known for their absolute bonkers stories and worlds, and Lollipop Chainsaw is lovably strange in both those aspects. A cheerleading zombie hunter has to save a high school from an unstoppable onslaught of the undead. Oh, and her boyfriend is a talking severed head.
Like some other games on this list, Lollipop Chainsaw might have been denied a place on the backwards compatibility program due to its song licensing, as the official soundtrack crosses the entire spectrum of genres. When your licensed songs go from You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) by Dead or Alive to The Way of the Fist by Five Finger Death Punch, you might struggle to maintain all those licenses.
Nier: Automata might have quite rightly earned a reputation for itself as one of, if not, the greatest game ever made, but all that success seems to have left its predecessor in the shadows somewhat, which is a real shame. The fact it never went backwards compatible doesn’t help matters either, but let’s not focus on that.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have been besieged by monsters, you control a father who would do anything in his power to protect his only daughter. It sounds simple in premise, but the overall journey goes to some dark and strange places, making for a memorable experience.
8. Binary Domain
After the rampant success of Gears of War, a lot of first person shooters decided to imitate that third person, cover-to-cover gunplay that the series so expertly refined. The imitators were often so much worse, with games like Inversion and Quantum Theory failing to set the world alight. Enter Binary Domain, SEGA’s attempt at copying the formula, and they did an amazing job of it.
The cover-to-cover gameplay might be incredibly similar, but Binary Domain added more to the formula with a trust system that rewarded you for working together with your teammates (i.e. not accidentally shooting them), which led to multiple endings. Spectacular boss fights along with a decent story about robotics and what it means to be human made Binary Domain an underrated and underappreciated gem.
9. Freedom Fighters
While IO Interactive are probably best known for their work on the Hitman series, an often forgotten classic from their library is 2003’s Freedom Fighters. Created during a time when Russia was always the de facto bad guy in a military game, as opposed to today where that’s clearly never the case, Freedom Fighters takes place in an alternate universe America that’s invaded by those darned Russians.
As a plumber who becomes a key figure in the resistance, you can use your influence to recruit up to 12 fellows soldiers to take out the occupying forces. While leading a squad never gets more complicated than simple follow, attack and defend orders, watching your team go to town on an enemy installation never gets old.
10. Anarchy Reigns
Ninja Theory’s recent announcement of Bleeding Edge might have come out of left-field for some people. A predominantly single player, melee combat specialist decides to branch out a make a multiplayer game sounds like a huge departure, but in reality, they’re following the same trajectory as Platinum Games when they released Anarchy Reigns.
With a pedigree that includes the likes of God Hand and Devil May Cry, Platinum set out their stall with MadWorld and Bayonetta before launching Anarchy Reigns. A sequel to MadWorld, Anarchy Reigns focused on various chaotic multiplayer modes, though the single player campaign was there if you wanted it. Honestly, the game is worth playing for the soundtrack alone.
We could devote an entire article to the wonder that was Bizarre Creations, who unfortunately shut their doors back in 2011. The Liverpool based outfit was perhaps best known for Project Gotham Racing and Geometry Wars, but we’re devoting two spaces on this list for their diamonds in the rough. First up, Blur.
A twist on the Mario Kart formula, Blur takes the items and insanity of a kart racing and applies them to real world cars in real world locations. There’s something uniquely appealing about watching a Dodge Viper fire homing rockets at the competition while drifting around Brighton Beach. You don’t get that in Crash Team Racing. Sadly, the fact that Blur got delisted a while back now meant that there was very little chance of seeing it again in the first place.
12. The Club
With the likes of Blur and Project Gotham in their library, Bizarre made their name on driving game credentials, so the decision to develop a third-person shooter for SEGA seemed like an odd one, but The Club was so uniquely Bizarre in its DNA. After a few hours of play, it was clear that The Club was just a racing game with guns.
In terms of more recent comparisons, The Club shares a lot of similarities with My Friend Pedro, as you sprint and kill your way to the level’s end, chaining stylish kills together to earn maximum points. The levels might have been abandoned factories, derelict mansions and shipwrecked cargo ships, but underneath they’re race tracks filled with opportunities for shortcuts and bonus points, and you’ll find yourself coming back time and again to find that perfect racing line.
13. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Movie-goers are currently still wrapped up in the debate of whether Maguire, Garfield or Holland make for a better Spider-Man, but gamers have a debate of their own: which Spider-Man game is the best? Last year’s PS4 exclusive might just be the total package, but I have a bit of a soft spot for Shattered Dimensions, mainly because fish-bowl head Mysterio is the main villain. It explains why I’m excited for Far From Home too.
Spider-Men from four different universes (Amazing, Ultimate, Noir and 2099) must work together to try and recover fragments of an ancient tablet which grant incredible power to those wield them. The interesting gimmick with Shattered Dimensions is the change in graphics and gameplay between each Spider-Man, making for four different, enjoyable experiences in one game.
It’s weird to consider a game like Stranglehold as a Max Payne-esque Bullet Time imitator when you consider that it was developed in conjunction with John Woo, the action movie director famed for his beautiful slow motion cinematography. Stranglehold is the gaming version of that vision, and while it’d be extremely dated by today’s standards, we would have loved a chance to give it another go.
Considered somewhat of a sequel to one of Woo’s most successful films, Hard Boiled, you once again play as Inspector Tequila as he shoot dodges his way through the Chinese and Chicago-based criminal underworld. It’s not the most intricate or deep game ever made, but it’s incredibly fun blast. The perfect rental game, for those who remember renting games for a weekend.
15. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Burning Earth
Speaking of rental games, here’s the perfect one. No one ever finished Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Burning Earth, they played it for the easy 1000G that you could obtain within 5 minutes. Honestly, I just wanted to see this game go backwards compatible so I don’t have to buy an Xbox 360 and this game to get that 1000G. If someone wants to loan me a 360, I’d be grateful.