With new speculation about which games Microsoft will have available at the start of it’s Xbox to Xbox One backward compatibility program, it’s a good time to remember just how many great games were exclusive to the old platform.
Earlier today Twitter user h0x0d leaked twelve different games they claim to make up the first batch of Xbox games on Xbox One. It included Crimson Skies, the first game revealed for the program back when the head of Xbox Phil Spencer announced it at this year’s E3, as well as a number of other ones that have recently started popping up in different parts of the Xbox One marketplace. Those include King of Fighters: Neowave, Dead to Rights, Red Faction II, and Fuzion Frenzy, although it’s worth noting that Fuzion Frenzy has had a store listing ever since it was made available on Xbox 360.
Microsoft has said that the new program will be rolled out before the end of 2017, meaning sometime in the next couple of months and most likely in November, the same month it introduced backward compatibility with Xbox 360 games back in 2015.
While the games speculated about are are all good for the most part, many of them are also all currently available on other platforms. While it would be nice to be able to pop in the original Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic disc and start playing through one of BioWare’s best RPGs, the game is currently easy to get on PC, iOS, and Android. There are, however, a lot of weird and underrated games that debuted on the original Xbox and never got ported anywhere else.
Who could forget Otogi: Myth of Demons for instance, one of From Software’s earlier action games that preceded Demon Souls by nearly a decade. While Halo was what helped put Xbox on the map, games like Otogi showed its library had more depth and nuance than its marketing liked to let on. The combat was frenetic but fluid, and while it may not have been as complex as games like Devil May Cry or, later on, Bayonetta, it made up for it with the simple intuitiveness.
Also the monsters.
The Japanese version of the game came with an art book that showed just how gorgeous some of the enemy designs were. Rather than delve into the medieval European aesthetic of games like King’s Field or Dark Souls, Otogi is distinctly Japanese, drawing on ghost stories and myths from Heian period. There’s maybe no better example of this than the Crimson King fight in the snow covered forest that happens just over halfway through the game. Surrounded by bamboo and the Xbox’s limited draw distances you go toe-to-toe with a long, red-haired demon. You trade blows beneath a blurry moon while the environment around you is slowly destroyed (a breathtaking feature for 2003). The game rocked.
So much so that From Software ended up making a second one. Even fewer people played that one though, and so by the time the studio would have been in a position to release a third Otogi, it instead decided to make Ninja Blade, the not really spiritual successor that fans of the earlier series could still find some enjoyment in. “[Ninja Blade] was not intended to be Otogi 3,” said Kazuhiro Hamatani, the game’s planner, via a translator just before it was released. “But people who like action action games like Otogi will like this game.” Let’s just say they did not, at least not without major reservations.
Of course, the system had plenty of other great games that still haven’t reappeared, like Panzer Dragoon Orta and Deathrow, one of the weirdest sports games ever made. What about you? What long-forgotten Xbox gems do you hope make it to the Xbox One sooner rather than later?