15 years ago today, Microsoft joined the console race by releasing the original Xbox console and with it some exclusive games. Microsoft had an uphill battle as it was known mainly for Windows and business software even though it made some excellent games on PC. Microsoft put a lot of money behind the Xbox getting it recognized as a console to be considered especially since SEGA had dropped out of the console race by ending the development of Dreamcast.
To mark 15 years of Xbox, here are 10 games from back on that original Xbox platform that we’d like to see again either as a reboot, a remaster or simply in some kind of backwards compatible capacity.
The games all come from a time before everything was a military shooter, when new game IP was abundant and when DICE made games that wasn’t Battlefield.
So here we go, in no particular order.
Blinx: The Time Sweeper – Artoon and Microsoft Game Studios
Blinx: The Time Sweeper was advertised as “the World’s first 4D action game” with the 4th dimension being the ability to affect time. Blinx was a cat that worked as a Time Sweeper at the Time Factory and carries around his TS-1000 Vacuum Cleaner which provided him the ability to manipulate time in various ways. Slowing down time, speeding it up, recording himself, reversing time, and stopping it entirely via pausing were all possible.
Blinx: The Time Sweeper did see a sequel that also appeared on the Xbox platform but now is the time for this little time travelling feline to make his big re-entry.
Since Blinx, other games have used time manipulation in similar ways including Xbox Live Arcade titles like Braid.
RalliSport Challenge – Digital Illusions CE and Microsoft Game Studios
Microsoft dropped its excellent XSN Sports (Xbox Sports Network) titles to secure Electronic Arts’ games for its new console. While it made business sense due to SEGA missing out on EA titles with the Dreamcast, the games under the XSN brand were impressive for their time.
A mix between SEGA Rally and Colin McRae, Rallisport Challenge games were easy to pick up but difficult to master. Through the XSN website, you could create asynchronous leagues where players could race and set their best times within a week. The times were automatically posted to the leaderboard and the winner announced after the time was up. This was perfect for events that could run globally and didn’t require everyone to be online at the same time.
The game also had your more usual multiplayer and timed events where you could unlock bronze, silver and gold skins for your car if you placed high enough in the events.
Project Gotham Racing – Bizarre Creations and Microsoft Game Studios
While Project Gotham Racing started life as Metropolis Street Racer on Dreamcast, the franchise picked up through numerous releases on the Microsoft platform. Project Gotham Racing introduced the racing world to not only driving fast, but driving with style. Something which the Forza series later picked up especially in the Horizon spinoff.
While Bizarre Creations doesn’t exist anymore, it’d be great to see the racing series get a new lease on life.
And it didn’t even have anything to do with Batman.
SEGA Soccer Slam – Black Box Games and SEGA
The over the top football title gave us a break from the likes of FIFA and instead offered cartoony characters, fast hectic gameplay and powered up athletes. SEGA Soccer Slam allowed the kind of play that would get a normal player red carded including punching your opponents.
Unlike most sports games, Soccer Slam included a campaign mode which saw you pick one of the nine teams and play every other team including a mirror of your own. Each win would award you with currency you could use to buy power-ups and character art. Not one microtransaction was possible back then so everything could be earned in game.
SEGA Soccer Slam was also release for PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox 360 and even saw a mobile version released in 2003.
Midtown Madness 3 – Digital Illusions CE and Microsoft Game Studios
Another game from the developer of Battlefield, Midtown Madness is a racing game within a city
The game originally started out being developed for PC by Angel Studios, now known as Rockstar San Diego. Angel Studios went on to develop another game for the Xbox, Midnight Club.
Multiplayer had a host of game modes including Capture the Gold, Checkpoint, Cruise, Hunter, Stayaway and Tag.
It was also the first game I remember being called out by some American kid over the voice channel for being British. Informed I should go back and drink tea and go drive my Flea (the in game name for a Smart Car like vehicle) because apparently Europeans are known for small cars.
Amped – Indie Built and Microsoft Game Studios / 2K Sports
Amped took the formula of games like the older Tony Hawks Pro Skater series and put them on a mountain under the XSN Sports banner.
Working your way through a campaign, you completed objectives and challenges on the mountain to progress to more of the mountain and open up more challenges. The goal, to increase your reputation and go from Local Rider up to #1 status. When you reached #1 ranking, you had the ability to ride for Legendary status on each level/mountain.
Amped 2 added multiplayer for up to eight players to chill out and ride the mountain together in modes like, Just Ride, Trick Race, High Score, Best Trick and King of the Mountain.
Amped 3 later made its way to Xbox 360 but ever since then the world of snowboard games, and good snowboard games, have been few and far between. This version was picked up by 2K Sports after Microsoft dropped XSN Sports to bring in Electronic Arts to the platform.
Conker – Rare and Microsoft Game Studios
While the foul mouthed squirrel originated on the Nintendo 64, Conker Live & Reloaded made it to the Xbox before Microsoft bought out developer Rare.
The good version of Conker was that found on the Nintendo 64, Conkers Bad Fur Day as Microsoft and Rare felt that it needed more multiplayer and toning down of the language. Basically taking away everything that made Conker who he is and replaced it with a military shooter to appeal to the multiplayer audience.
Conker has been teased in other games like SPARK but never had a true sequel or reboot where his toilet humour is used to it full effect. The little guy has so much to offer and we’d love to see him reach his potential if Microsoft just allow Rare to make such a game.
The Sims – Maxis and Electronic Arts
Yes, back in the day, the life simulation was available for consoles with The Sims 2 making its way to the Xbox.
Including everything the PC counterpart had, The Sims 2 console allowed you to create and live the life of your Sims. Make friends, fall in love, build and furnish your house, it was all in there and played pretty well for a PC to console port.
Of course, the most important part, you could dispatch of your Sims in new and impressive ways depending on how much you wanted them to suffer. Removing ladders from swimming pools anyone?
Later, The Sims 3 made it to Xbox 360 but since then, the market for life simulation titles just hasn’t been filled on consoles which is weird since more people own consoles for gaming than they do Mac’s but The Sims 4 appears on Mac but not consoles.
Outlaw Golf, Outlaw Tennis and Outlaw Volleyball – Hypnotix and TDK for Golf and Volleyball, Global Star Software for Tennis
Outlaw was a series of sports titles including Outlaw Golf and Outlaw Volleyball. We have combined the two games in to one entry in this list.
The games were aimed at teens and adults as they featured crude humour and over the top characters. Neither things being anything you can find in todays sports games like PGA Tour Golf. Outlaw Golf features Steve Carell as the commentator, the sequel had Dave Attell take over those duties.
Volleyball obviously has the likes of Dead or Alive Xtreme if you ware willing to import from Asia but it was in a totally different realm to the Outlaw series.
The games, regardless of sporting event featured characters including a stripper, failed rapper, biker, and hippy. Even though they had different names between games, the characters all had similar backgrounds and jobs.
Fuzion Frenzy – Blitz Games and Microsoft Game Studios
Like the TV show Gladiators but in videogame form, the sofa competitive game included a number of mini games, 22 of them in fact.
Offering both a “Tournament” or “Mini-Game Frenzy” game mode, Mini-Game Frenzy allowed you to pick the game types you wanted while Tournament auto selected the games climaxing in a final Fuzion Frenzy event.
Earning your orbs throughout the game, you can bank or gamble your orbs in the final event. Fuzion Frenzy includes picking up orbs and depositing them in the goal, or attacking opponents to take their orb before it is deposited and stealing their points.
Fuzion Frenzy 2 did get an Xbox 360 release but it was no where near as good as the original. So if any version were to be made backwards compatible or rebooted, they should use the original in the franchise as a starting point.
Happy 15th Anniversary Xbox