We’re less than a month away from the next console generation. Holy Crap! We haven’t gotten our hands on either of the new consoles yet, so while preview and hands-on content is out there, we’re still in speculation city. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun! One of the biggest features out of the gate for Microsoft’s new Xbox Series X/S platform is backwards compatibility. The marketing line is “thousands” of games playable, running natively on the new hardware. So that got me thinking about what that could mean for legacy titles.
If thousands of games from the original Xbox and Xbox 360 days are natively playable on the Xbox Series X/S, that’s a huge deal. Even without individual optimizations, that gives older games access to significantly more power. It also seems like the floodgates are wide open, with the Xbox One’s limited backwards compatibility list a thing of the past (with plenty of exceptions, we’re sure). The possibilities here are a great source of optimism in these trying times, so I grabbed Morgan and Jesse to collab on a wishlist.
I’ve asked the team to namedrop one original Xbox game, and one Xbox 360 game that they want to try once they have their hands on the new hardware. These games may end up not working, but they’re the titles we want to try first. For the sake of the exercise here, let’s assume we have access to a physical copy of each game we mention here. So, what legacy Xbox games does the Prima games crew want to try first, once they’ve cracked open (and set up, and updated, and configured) their new Xbox Series X/S units?
Morgan Shaver: Editor-in-Chief, Sleep Paralysis Demon, Tetris Tyrant
The Xbox has come a long way from its edgy days with a giant "X" on the top of the console, to its upright successor the 360, and our most recent consoles with the Xbox One, One S, and One X. Visually, the Series X is strikingly different from all of them, though it does seem to channel some of its early Xbox days. It's like the original Xbox and the One X had a really tall, hole-covered baby.
Meanwhile, the Series S is pretty much a clone of the One S except smaller and capable of being tucked away in a bookshelf apparently. As enticing as putting my console in a bookshelf is, I decided to pre-order the Series X. I'm looking forward to testing the graphical performance of the console with new games like Assassin's Creed Valhalla, but I'm also looking forward to revisiting some of my favorite older titles.
It's hard to pick one from the Xbox and one from the 360, but after giving it some thought, these are the two games I'm hoping to be able to play on my shiny new Series X.
Original Xbox Game: Silent Hill 2
Picking an original Xbox game is tough as my memories of the original Xbox are foggier than my memories of the 360. That being said, I'm extremely familiar with the Silent Hill franchise and I'd love the opportunity to go back and play through one of my all-time favorites again, Silent Hill 2.
I may be a little biased in my love of Silent Hill 2 given the game's fictional setting of Silent Hill, Maine and myself being a Maine resident. I also realize there are other references to Maine in the Silent Hill series, but the town in Silent Hill 2 has always felt real to me thanks to the way it's presented in the game. It's a place that I would (and wouldn't) want to explore in real life.
Adding to this, there are aspects of Silent Hill 2 that remind me of other things I adore like the film adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist which yes, came out six years after the game. Despite that clear disconnect, I can't help but think of Silent Hill 2 when I watch The Mist and The Mist the last time I replayed Silent Hill 2.
Fog World, and the way the fog rolls in across Toluca Lake, is such a perfect parallel for The Mist and no one can tell me otherwise. Who knows, maybe director Frank Darabont is a Silent Hill fan himself and that's where some of the visual inspirations came from in The Mist. Speaking of Darabont, there's a tweet for everything if you do enough digging. Back in 2012, Hideo Kojima said, "Talking of Silent Hill, I really liked Mist directed by Frank Darabont, the OTAKU-genius movie."
Great minds think alike, and all that jazz. One other thing I have to mention about Silent Hill 2 and my love for it is the soundtrack. The soundtrack for Silent Hill 2 is one of the best video game OSTs ever made. It adds depth to the game, and serves as yet another reason why Silent Hill 2 is one of the greatest Silent Hill games ever made. If I see that it's backwards compatible on the Series X it'll be the first thing I play on the console. Old or not, Silent Hill 2 is gold.
360 Game: F.E.A.R. and F.E.A.R. 2
It was easier for me to pick a 360 game because of the impact that F.E.A.R. and F.E.A.R. 2 had on me the first time I played them on the 360. I've played and replayed both countless times, and I never get tired of either. I know we're only picking one game here, but I'm lumping them both together because I'd be happy to see either of them as backwards compatible titles. I also couldn't pick.
As iconic as F.E.A.R. is and even though it's clearly the best game of the trilogy, I really liked F.E.A.R. 2 for its cringeworthy dialogue and visually I think it holds up a lot better than F.E.A.R. does. The aforementioned Silent Hill 2 has a nostalgic charm to its design that helps it feel less dated.
However, if you watch clips of F.E.A.R. nowadays you're apt to think, "Oh yeah, that looks like a game from 2005, no doubt about it."
It's one of the reasons why F.E.A.R. is top of my list when it comes to games I want to see remade. I want to play F.E.A.R. with the graphics of the Resident Evil 3 remake for example. I want it so badly it hurts. I know it'd take a lot of time to get right both in terms of visuals and gameplay performance, but I think it could be done. The ball is in your court Monolith Productions.
While I wait for a F.E.A.R. remake that may or may not happen (probably not, but I can dream), I'd love to replay the game on the Series X and rekindle the feeling I had playing it for the first time on the Xbox 360. If I see that it's backwards compatible, it'll be the second thing I play on the Series X... right after Silent Hill 2.
Jesse Vitelli: Accrues the News, CMS Crime Captain
I never owned an original Xbox back in the day. I used to go over to friends and family's houses to play this foreign console because my small child brain didn't understand why someone wouldn't have a PlayStation 2. That being said I was the first of my friends to get an Xbox 360 and that's only because my birthday was first. After picking up the 360 my small child brain wondered why anyone would own a PlayStation 3. It's funny how things work out. I have a fondness for both consoles. Memories of a much simpler time, but I digress.
Original Xbox Game: Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure
Ok, hear me out. It's not the flashiest game, or even the most popular, but I think that's what makes it a fun choice. So many of my memories of playing the original Xbox stem from nostalgia, so I don't want to go back and play a game with cutting edge graphics or increased framerate. I want to play a simple game where I can be Buzz Lightyear on a hoverboard racing through Tarzan's jungle.
I am a simple man with simple pleasures. Sure, games like Halo would be fun to go back and play the original versions of, but have you ever played Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure? There's also split-screen co-op, which I'm a huge sucker for.
360 Game: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent
Yeah yeah yeah, I know what you're going to say. "Choas Theory is better", well my friends, you're wrong. This is the best Splinter Cell game to date because not only does it have an incredibly fun single-player campaign with a secret ending that the game doesn't tell you about, but it also has the best multiplayer in the series. Playing Double Agent multiplayer with a group of friends are some of the best memories I have with the 360.
Spies vs Mercs is a simple concept. If you're a spy you have to hack the objective without being killed. If you're the Merc you have to kill the spies. It's an incredible game of cat and mouse akin to playing hide and seek with friends. I can't think of a single game I'd rather play through again on the Xbox 360 more than Splinter Cell Double Agent.
Lucas White: Commandant of Anime, Musou Mainstay
For a long time, the Xbox was this horrible, unweildy machine my friends lugged everywhere that I was forced to play Halo 2 on if I wanted to have a social life. Later on I eventually got one of my own, and realied there were cool games on it too, like Phantasy Star Online and The King of Fighters: Neowave. I mostly continued seeking out the weird stuff, since I had already been using a PS2 and Gamecube for years at that point. Most of my original Xbox collection was lost to poverty GameStop trading, so I'm super hopeful for what the Series X/S can do here. My 360 history was more mundane, since it was such a dominant platform at that time. I had one, most of my games were on it, my Wii was underused and I got a PS3 later when it finally picked up steam. Me and everyone else.
Backwards Compatibility is seriously the main reason I'm invested in the Xbox Series X. Game Pass is great, and I'm curious about the future exclusives. But as far as day one is concerned, I want to just pop as many discs in as I can and see what works.
Original Xbox Game: SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos
This was one of the games I got when I bought my Xbox secondhand, and it took me totally be surprise! I had no idea what the hell this thing was, and turns out it was the only SNK/Capcom crossover fighting game that was ever developed by SNK. Seeing the Street Fighter crew and characters from freakin' Red Earth represented in the King of Fighters sprite art style was something I had never seen before, and it blew my mind as a longtime Capcom junkie. Add some seriously wild unlockable characters and its bizarre Xbox exclusivity in North America on top of that and you have a game that occupies a special spot in history. SVC Chaos has never been re-released, so I want this game to work on the Series X/S so it can be more accessible to fans and people who might be curious.
360 Game: Sonic Unleashed
Listen, in this house we put respect on the Werehog's name. I always liked Sonic Unleashed, but preferred it on the PS2. Despite being a very different game it ran so much better, and the werehog levels were a ton of goofy fun. On the 360 and PS3, the werehog levels were miserable piles of frame rate. But when the game showed up as a backwards compatible title for Xbox One, I saw magic happen. On the Xbox One X, damn near the whole game was maintaining its frame rate, only severely dipping during really intense werehog combat scenes. That was what Microsoft achieved with software emulation, but now that backwards compatibility is native and gets to use all the juice available in the console? I see a world that lets me play a true Sonic Unleashed experience, over a decade too alte for it to mean anything. But I want it so bad, damn it!
And here we are. Thank you, readers, for joining us an a journey down the deepest depths of our tastes and... lack thereof in some cases. We're all on board for the Xbox Series X, and these are the games we want to try first, when it comes to testing out the backwards compatibility. What do you all think? Which original Xbox or 360 titles are you going to pop in first, and why? Let us know over at the Prima Games Facebook and Twitter channels!