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20 of the most effective forgotten Xbox gems

20 of the most effective forgotten Xbox gems

20 of the best forgotten Xbox gems

We have been on fairly the historical past tour this month, and as our 20 defining Xbox moments collection involves an in depth, we have nonetheless obtained extra basic Xbox like to share. At present, we’ll be wanting again at a few of the missed, forgotten, or unsung Xbox classics from yesteryear. We have tried to restrict the record to video games that had been both unique to an Xbox platform or not less than often related to one, and in some circumstances it is not a lot that no one is aware of in regards to the recreation right this moment, slightly that we’re unlikely to see it make a return any time quickly for one purpose or one other. With the preamble out of the best way, let’s get into the video games…

Quantum Redshift

When Microsoft needed a counter-play to Sony’s WipEout collection — the futuristic racer that proved instrumental in serving to PlayStation make gaming ‘cool’ — who higher to show to than a crew that used to work on WipEout? Curly Monsters was a six-man studio made up of former Psygnosis devs, however sadly, Quantum Redshift can be its second and last recreation. That is no reflection on its high quality, thoughts… it is a excellent racer, only one that was just about despatched out to die. Quantum Redshift reviewed properly, however obtained valuable little advertising and marketing, and Microsoft, having paid for the sport to be made, took packaging into its personal fingers with a frankly terrible cowl that artwork director Neil Thompson overtly branded “a chunk of s**t” talking to Eurogamer again in 2012. Curly Monsters was initially contracted for 2 Xbox video games, though Microsoft apparently walked away from the deal after Quantum Redshift did not take off as hoped, dashing our hopes for a sequel to this incredible racer and shuttering the studio within the course of.

Growth Growth Rocket

Contemplating Weird Creations was greatest identified for its world-class racing video games, its catalogue certain does have a bunch of one-off wonders in there. From cartoon shooter Fur Fighters to the arcade motion of The Membership, the studio proved repeatedly that it wasn’t simply racers that it might produce to a incredible customary. This easy (in idea, not less than) firework-themed rhythm-action recreation was a blast, with jazzed-up variations of classical greats and chaotic word charts that will ship your fingers racing everywhere in the controller because the tempo picked up. Regardless of a restricted monitor record, Growth Growth Rocket is a superb time, particularly when dealing with off in opposition to a talented opponent within the native multiplayer Endurance mode, the place the track will get quicker as you full ‘laps’ of it and issues rapidly get fairly intense. It isn’t precisely a simple completion and, as an unique Xbox Stay Arcade (XBLA) launch, solely has 200G up for grabs, nevertheless it’s playable through backwards compatibility in the event you fancy a spot of difficult musical magic.

Phantom Crash

Genki’s enviornment fight gem Phantom Crash was an early unique Xbox launch, with the 2002 oddity permitting gamers to totally customise the mechs they took into battle. It is introduced as a futuristic sport of types — very similar to within the more moderen PS VR unique, RIGS Mechanized Fight League — and has a unusual sense of character and elegance that helped Phantom Crash stand out from related video games, such because the extra straight-laced Armored Core collection. Like Weird Creations, Genki was higher identified for its arcade racers, which matches a way in the direction of explaining the breakneck tempo of this nice little mech shooter. A sequel, S.L.A.I.: Metal Lancer Enviornment Worldwide, launched solely for PS2 three years later, however each video games have been lengthy misplaced to historical past, which is an actual disgrace.

Panzer Dragoon Orta

We spoke at some size about Sega’s involvement within the early days of Xbox in our Xbox20 characteristic collection, and Panzer Dragoon was simply one of many Japanese writer’s huge collection that will discover its method solely onto the Microsoft console. Orta was a model new entry into the cult franchise, making nice use of the {hardware} to ship a fantastically crisp stylised fantasy setting and snappy arcade-style taking pictures, which was declared by many on the time to be the top of this sort of on-rails motion. Now nearly 20 years previous itself, Orta stays the most recent new recreation within the collection, though we did see a non secular successor of types in Xbox One launch title, Crimson Dragon. Which, sadly, was kind of horrible. Nonetheless, MegaPixel put out a trustworthy remake of the unique Saturn recreation late final 12 months (with the sequel due earlier than the top of this 12 months), so between these and Orta being back-compat, it is not like we now have a scarcity of fairly dragon-riding shooters…

A Kingdom for Keflings

NinjaBee was considerably prolific within the early XBLA period, incessantly popping up on the service with some quirky new launch or one other. Of these, laid-back town-building recreation A Kingdom for Keflings was a particular spotlight, and never simply because of its super-chill soundtrack. Wandering round as a large and serving to the villagers proved such a pleasant change of tempo, and was doubly neat as you could possibly even play as your individual Xbox Avatar when the New Xbox Expertise replace rolled out. This sedate sim proved common sufficient to spawn a sequel a few years laters, and whereas it was just about simply extra of the identical, A World of Keflings was additionally actually good. However then all of it went quiet on the Keflings entrance, and it appeared the collection was finished. Whereas there hasn’t been a follow-up on Xbox, we not less than noticed VR title A Handful of Keflings pop up in 2018, so it is good to know that NinjaBee hasn’t given up on the little people in any case.

Steel Wolf Chaos

This one comes with the caveat “till very not too long ago,” however nonetheless deserves a spot right here because of the quirky mech shooter being the rarest of beasts: a Japan-exclusive unique Xbox recreation, and one which remained that method for the most effective a part of 15 years. Earlier than Devolver put out the remastered model, Steel Wolf Chaos XD, in 2019, this over-the-top mech shooter was a cult basic, if a particularly costly one. The bonkers story sees you play because the US president, taking the struggle to terrorists in your ludicrously overgeared mech. With dumb dialogue to match the nonsense narrative (suppose early Resident Evil or Home of the Useless), Steel Wolf Chaos is amusing riot, which is not one thing you’ll be able to actually say about most FromSoftware video games.

‘Splosion Man

Everyone loves doughnuts… there is a good little earworm for you in the event you performed this anarchic platformer again within the day. Twisted Pixel is one other crew that was extraordinarily energetic in its heyday, placing out 4 nice XBLA video games and Kinect retail title The Gunstringer over the course of simply two years. This nice run led to Microsoft buying the studio in 2011, though after the disappointing Xbox One launch title LocoCycle and never a lot else, Twisted Pixel left the Xbox household in 2015 and now focuses solely on VR video games. This wacky recreation sees our titular hero leaping and ‘sploding across the Massive Science labs, and options each difficult platforming and a few gentle puzzles as you hurtle round inflicting chaos. Notably entertaining was the multiplayer mode, with ingenious stage design forcing gamers to ricochet off each other in coordinated explosive parkour shows. Because the crew now focuses on extra concerned VR experiences, it appears unlikely that we’ll be seeing ‘Splosion Man (or his different half) once more any time quickly…

Name of Cthulhu: Darkish Corners of the Earth

This primary-person horror recreation was a very nice shock (properly, an deliberately disagreeable one, actually) when it arrived in the direction of the top of the unique Xbox era, as developer Headfirst did not precisely have a glowing monitor file — a number of cancelled tasks and the poor Simon the Sorcerer 3D had been all of the Journey Mushy follow-up needed to present on the time, and this formidable title appeared slightly huge of its point-and-click wheelhouse. Regardless of being considerably clunky (once more, by design, to an extent), this retelling of Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth completely nailed the awful tone and oppressive ambiance the mythos is understood for, and Darkish Corners of the Earth stays top-of-the-line Cthulhu-based video video games to this present day. Excitingly, Headfirst had a number of promising follow-ups and companion titles within the works, however none would ever see gentle of day — the studio went into administration mere months after the sport launched.

Kingdom Underneath Fireplace: The Crusaders

I’ve at all times had a variety of time for Phantagram’s mash-up of large-scale RTS battles, hack-and-slash motion, and RPG-esque character development, and whereas it won’t have set the world on hearth, the Korean fantasy fight recreation stays one in all my favourites from that era. It was at all times fascinating to see battles escape from a distance, then to zoom in and take direct management of a hero to try to assist flip the tide — the 2 particular person gameplay kinds had been finished to loss of life by the point this arrived in 2004, however combining them in actual time simply made for a kind of ‘why has no one finished this earlier than?’ moments that do not come round all that usually. Phantagram got here out with a sequel the next 12 months, with Kingdom Underneath Fireplace: Heroes feeling slightly extra like an enlargement than a model new recreation, and being the final on Xbox to make use of this fascinating hybrid strategy. 360 follow-up Circle of Doom was a pure hack-and-slash recreation and actually suffered for it, and whereas true successor Kingdom Underneath Fireplace II was introduced method again in 2008 with a console launch deliberate for 2009, it might spend the following decade in growth hell, shedding most of its goal platforms alongside the best way and solely making it to PC in 2019. The Crusaders did get a PC remaster final 12 months, and on condition that different titles from that period (just like the Bloodrayne video games) have seen the identical therapy and later come to Xbox, there’s nonetheless hope that I am going to get to see my boy Rupert once more. Oh yeah, everybody has actually daft names, too. It is nice.

Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Area

Most individuals find out about Blinx — Microsoft’s failed try to get a pleasant Xbox mascot within the vein of Mario or Sonic — however I am at all times shocked by how few folks appear to know that it obtained a sequel. Whereas the unique was a reasonably easy 3D platformer with a time-bending mechanic that made ingenious use of the Xbox’s onerous drive to permit real-time manipulation of the circulate of time in a stage, Masters of Time and Area is… properly, it is actually bizarre. Gameplay is cut up into two elements, with the Time Sweepers exploring open environments and problem-solving with those self same time mechanics from the unique, whereas the Tom Tom Gang (biker pigs, clearly) sections are extra like stealth shooters as you attempt to run interference with the cats, for some purpose. Blinx himself barely even exhibits up… you as a substitute use your individual customized cats and pigs throughout gameplay, with the star of the present solely turning up (alongside a number of others) in cutscenes and dialogue. Of which there’s lots — this recreation loves the sound of its personal voice. It is fascinating how a lot of a shift that is from the unique each by way of gameplay and tone, and whereas I am unsure it is for the higher, it is definitely a totally different expertise and one I discovered oddly gratifying.

Metal Battalion

Metal Battalion was maybe the very definition of area of interest when it launched for Xbox in 2002 — a mech sim with its personal bespoke (and large) cockpit controller together with sticks, levers, buttons, switches, dials, pedals, and even an eject button that you just had to make use of to forestall your save file being wiped in case your mech obtained taken out. This unwieldy customized controller was naturally solely made in restricted numbers and that made it each costly and uncommon, so I would wager quantity of individuals studying it will have by no means identified the embarrassment of dropping billions of faux {dollars}’ price of mech tech after unintentionally hitting the button for the wipers slightly than the hearth extinguisher. Remarkably, Metal Battalion did really get a sequel that very same era, with Line of Contact being an online-only providing that allow fanatics use that costly peripheral to compete with mech-heads all over the world. The cult legacy of the model additionally gave Capcom a launchpad for a Kinect-based follow-up in 2012’s Heavy Armor, however the shift to imprecise movement management did not finish properly. The sport obtained completely panned for controls that had been barely match for function — Metal Battalion was at all times a greater expertise than it was a recreation, in all honesty, so taking away the enjoyable of dozen of buttons and levers solely to switch it with summary, non-functioning gestures was a recipe for catastrophe that possible means this collection is on the scrapheap ceaselessly.

The Dishwasher: Useless Samurai

Ska Studios got here up out of the Xbox Stay Indie Video games (XBLIG) scene, with The Dishwasher: Useless Samurai being the one-man crew’s first ‘correct’ launch on the shop after an early model picked up high honours within the first ever Dream-Construct-Play contest to win a $10,000 prize and an XBLA publishing deal for the complete recreation. In what we now know as Ska’s signature model, Useless Samurai is a gritty 2D hack-and-slash recreation that takes cues from character motion video games like Satan Might Cry, rewarding fast-paced, trendy fight and brutal executions. 2011 sequel Vampire Smile would enhance nearly each facet however appears just a bit extra well-known, therefore why we settled on the unique for this record. Billy’s gigantic robotic was proper — Ska will not be lifeless, and the success of latest video games like Salt & Sanctuary simply exhibits this tiny crew going from power to power. You like to see it.

Voodoo Vince

Tom requested, nay demanded that this make the reduce, so I am going to let him clarify why: “Voodoo Vince inhaled his first breath of life in 2003, when the moronic henchman duo Jeb and Fingers lined him in zombie mud on the OG Xbox. For these of you too younger to have loved Vince’s exploits, the sport takes you on a platforming journey to rescue Madam Charmaine from the diabolical Kosmo the Inscrutable. The journey takes us throughout New Orleans, battling it out with Piggy Banks of Doom, fuel pumps, and skeletal dinosaurs through the use of Vince’s voodoo powers. It was remastered in 2017 by Beep Video games for Xbox One and PC, and nonetheless affords the identical humorous, wacky, and absurd journey — nevertheless it appears even higher! Truthfully, Voodoo Vince actually is a hidden gem, which is a disgrace as a result of the little zombie dust-huffing, pin-pricked doll deserves one other outing… it’s not too late, Beep Video games.”

Misplaced Odyssey

This one is right here not as some type of obscure recreation you have by no means heard of, however as probably ‘one which obtained away’ for Microsoft. Courting Mistwalker — an RPG-centric studio headed up by Ultimate Fantasy legend Hironobu Sakaguchi — was a masterstroke, giving MS a leg-up in a discipline the place it had no expertise or experience and resulting in some nice 360 exclusives in Blue Dragon and this, arguably the stronger of the 2 JRPGs. However after Misplaced Odyssey, Mistwalker was gone, turning its consideration to Nintendo platforms and later cellular when this might have been the proper studio to fill a gaping gap in Microsoft’s portfolio on an ongoing foundation. We’ll by no means know precisely what occurred behind closed doorways, however this — or certainly Blue Dragon — could possibly be a preferred collection as much as its fourth or fifth releases by this level, and I at all times surprise why that early blast of two high-profile JRPGs was such a flash within the pan, particularly contemplating MS nonetheless does not have any first-party groups in that house to this present day. File this one as forgotten by Microsoft, slightly than gamers.

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The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay

Again in 2004, film licenses had been dangerous. That was the rule, that was legislation, and exceptions had been extraordinarily uncommon. Hopes weren’t precisely excessive, then, for a comparatively inexperienced Starbreeze to buck that pattern, however oh, what a feat of trend-bucking occurred. That is exactly what makes Escape From Butcher Bay our subsequent port of name right here, with this first-person journey shocking many with its tight gameplay and unbelievable visuals for the time. Though cutscenes, conversations, and sure gameplay components would pull the digital camera again to see Vin Diesel reprising his position, the first-person perspective of common gameplay proved a far cry from the standard celeb-pandering of which licensed video games like this had been often responsible. If you happen to weren’t round on the time, you won’t realise that Escape From Butcher Bay is, not like the overwhelming majority of ties-ins/cash-ins of the period, really actually good. You may additionally not know that 360 follow-up Assault on Darkish Athena got here with a remake of the OG Xbox recreation, though sadly it is not backwards appropriate and the stupidly grindy multiplayer achievements make it one thing a variety of people in all probability would not be blissful to placed on their tags anyway. Nonetheless, Vin for the win. One thing one thing household.

1 vs. 100

This was included on the shortlist lengthy earlier than information broke earlier this month about a possible revival, however I believe it deserves a spot all the identical. You see, if I used to be to try to clarify to somebody new to Xbox gaming {that a} spotlight of the 360 period was enjoying a web-based model of a TV recreation present, they’d in all probability suppose I used to be a fairly easy fellow. But it surely was. And perhaps I’m. No matter. 1 vs. 100 was a kind of ‘you needed to be there’ moments, so gamers who missed out on it might possible wrestle to know why the MMO trivia recreation is so fondly remembered by those that obtained to expertise it throughout the pretty transient two-season window that it was energetic. Till we hear one thing extra about this rumoured comeback, I believe it is definitely truthful to name it ‘forgotten’ as properly, if once more on the Microsoft facet slightly than by the quizzers who would like to see it return. It was lauded as such a giant deal on the time, solely to rapidly fall out of favour as new developments changed it, and I do surprise how a contemporary model would even work with right this moment’s tighter playing legal guidelines when folks in some US states weren’t even eligible for prizes the primary time round.

Prime Spin

Between the likes of the Hyperlinks video games, Sega’s newly-homeless sports activities collection, and a few motorsport titles like Climax’s ace MotoGP video games (and one other we could or could not focus on imminently), Microsoft began out on fairly first rate footing with sports activities video games — one space wherein different platform holders do not actually excel other than the odd (often arcade-style) launch. So when it printed Prime Spin in 2003 beneath the XSN Sports activities label, it added yet one more string to its racket, probably organising a console-exclusive line of tennis video games so as to add one other differentiator between Xbox and the competitors, if one eerily just like Sega’s personal Virtua journey. Alas, that was to not be. Good as Prime Spin was, that solely attracted the eye of different publishers, with 2K later selecting up the franchise and the next common releases outpacing the recognition of the game till the collection was milked into non-existence by the discharge of the fourth recreation in 2011. The market apparently merely wasn’t (and doubtless nonetheless is not) there for tennis video games on that type of turnaround, and the promising collection possible is not coming again any time quickly.

Dance Central

This one fell on Kinect’s sword a very long time in the past, however latest information of Harmonix being purchased out by Epic means the possibilities of us ever seeing a brand new Dance Central recreation on Xbox are actually slim-to-none. It is a real disgrace, too, as Dance Central was a uncommon dancing recreation that truly correctly tracked and gave suggestions on full-body motion. As talked about in our fall of Kinect entry within the defining Xbox moments collection, that preliminary wave of success for Kinect noticed Microsoft lean into the add-on just a little too closely, with 4 Dance Central video games in 5 years burning out shoppers in the very same method that peripheral-based music video games had finished. Harmonix did really put out a brand new VR model of Dance Central after that Kinect honeymoon interval was over, so it will be fascinating to see if Epic perhaps does let the crew out of the Fortnite dungeon sooner or later to proceed the collection…

RalliSport Problem

DICE wasn’t at all times a Battlefield manufacturing unit, having risen to energy off the again of some kick-ass 16-bit pinball video games (of all issues), and the Swedish crew was nonetheless very a lot in its selection section again when this unique landed within the early days of Xbox. It was a technological tour de drive, exhibiting off what Microsoft’s first console might do and with its unique nature suggesting that this sort of graphical constancy would not be discovered elsewhere within the console sphere. Which, to be truthful, wasn’t totally inaccurate. The 2004 sequel would go on to proper a few of the wrongs of the unique recreation, equivalent to introducing a cockpit digital camera, however releasing a racing recreation in the identical 12 months as Burnout 3 and OutRun 2 can be a take a look at for even the best developer, and DICE drew a line beneath the collection there as its Battlefield march started.

Each Prolong Further Excessive

I beloved E4 again within the day, and its journey is sort of as fascinating as its premise. Each Prolong began life as a PC puzzle-shooter made as type of a love letter to the video games of Rez creator, Tetsuya Mizuguchi. Nicely, Mizuguchi would later decide up on this, along with his agency Q Leisure getting on board for the next PSP and 360 revisions of the sport. E4 — Each Prolong Further Excessive — can be the final of those, and whereas it arguably took the idea of blowing issues as much as set off chains just a little far and made issues too simple, it stays one in all my favorite XBLA titles purely due to how completely nonsense it’s. It isn’t going to be toppling Rez any time quickly, however the affect was clear.

That’ll do it for this rundown of forgotten Xbox gems, however in the event you’ve obtained a few of your individual, drop them in that useful field down there. That is what it is for. What Xbox classics do you miss? Something right here you’d forgotten about? Use your phrases under!

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