One of the biggest surprises at E3 2017 came during Microsoft’s press conference when Xbox boss Phil Spencer announced backward compatibility for games from the original console was coming to Xbox One. The announcement came with the revelation that when played on Xbox One, original Xbox games will run better, giving added value to one’s collection of OG Xbox games.
For those wondering which original Xbox games they will be able to play with improved performance on Xbox One, Microsoft has so far only revealed two games that will be a part of the service. The first game revealed for original Xbox backward compatibility was Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge, a well-received original Xbox exclusive from the now-defunct FASA Studio, and the party game Fuzion Frenzy, which was a launch title for the system.
Microsoft surely has other original Xbox games that it plans on bringing to Xbox One through its backward compatibility program. The original Xbox had a strong library of games to choose from, but since Microsoft’s selection is limited compared to Xbox 360 backward compatibility, we hope the following 10 games are given precedence over others.
Blinx: The Time Sweeper
Blinx: The Time Sweeper may not be the most universally loved game in the original Xbox library, but it would still be a fitting addition to the backward compatibility lineup due to its significance to the console. If Blinx: The Time Sweeper had launched to stronger reviews and sales, it seems likely that the titular Blinx would have been positioned as the Xbox brand’s mascot, akin to Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog.
While Blinx: The Time Sweeper‘s reviews were fairly average, the game still had some good ideas that made it a rather unique platformer and something worth checking out for fans of the genre. In the game, Blinx has access to a special vacuum that can manipulate time, and players have to utilize these time-bending powers to defeat enemies in a variety of timed stages.
As a multi-platform, third-party game, Freedom Fighters is a bit of a wildcard on this list. However, we believe Freedom Fighters to be one of the most underappreciated games of its time, and by adding it to the original Xbox backward compatibility program, it could reach a whole new audience of gamers.
Freedom Fighters is set in an alternate timeline where Soviet Russia has taken over New York City, and players have to fight in the resistance to take it back. Its main gameplay hook is the ability to recruit soldiers to command in battle, which results in thrilling single player missions as well as intense multiplayer skirmishes. The squad commands in Freedom Fighters work surprisingly well, and it would be nice to see an updated take on the concept. Perhaps if the original Freedom Fighters was successful enough in the backward compatibility program, we would finally get that sequel we’ve been waiting years to see.
Before BioWare was best known for Mass Effect and Dragon Age, it developed a risky game inspired by imperial China and ancient martial arts called Jade Empire. One of the most unique RPGs BioWare has produced to date, Jade Empire earned widespread critical acclaim at the time of its release, yet we still have yet to see a sequel. Like Freedom Fighters, it’s possible a successful run in the original Xbox backward compatibility program could finally convince BioWare to move forward with the long-awaited Jade Empire 2.
One of the first games to feature online multiplayer through Xbox Live, MechAssault is an original Xbox classic. Unfortunately, Microsoft shut down the servers for original Xbox games years ago, meaning that its online multiplayer has been lost to the void. If Microsoft decides to enable Xbox Live support for original Xbox games once the titles are added to the backward compatibility service, it could give a whole new generation of gamers a chance to see what all the fuss was about with MechAssault.
Ninja Gaiden Black
The Ninja Gaiden reboot on the original Xbox is considered one of the hardest video games of all time, so director Tomonobu Itagaki decided to ratchet up the difficulty even further with the reworked Ninja Gaiden Black. Sporting even more enemies for Ryu to deal with and other additional content, Ninja Gaiden Black is a more fully-featured version of the critically-acclaimed game, and stands as one of the highest-rated titles in the original Xbox’s library.
Panzer Dragoon Orta
Speaking of highly-rated original Xbox games, Panzer Dragoon Orta released to very strong reviews back in 2003. A rail-shooter known for its distinct challenge and engrossing storyline, Panzer Dragoon Orta is so far the last game in the long-running series, though Sega could be convinced to move forward with a sequel if it’s successful as a backward compatible title.
Project Gotham Racing 2
When it comes to racing games, the Xbox brand is associated almost exclusively with Forza, a franchise that sees a new game release every single year. However, there was once another Xbox-exclusive racing franchise that earned high praise and strong sales called Project Gotham Racing, with Project Gotham Racing 2 standing as one of the most beloved entries in the series.
Project Gotham Racing 2‘s online multiplayer was a real selling point for it back in the day, though its single player content is also enough to make it a worthwhile entry in the backward compatibility lineup. The game also introduced Geometry Wars to the world, which became a well-received arcade franchise in and of itself.
Well over a decade since Shenmue 2 launched for the original Xbox, and Shenmue 3 is finally in development. There are likely many gamers that haven’t experienced the original Shenmue games, and original Xbox backward compatibility could provide the perfect opportunity to give players a chance to play Shenmue 2 without having to dig any old consoles out of the closet.
Shenmue 2‘s Xbox port was criticized for its poor English-language voice acting and weaker graphics compared to other Xbox games. However, it still features the same highly praised gameplay and story that made Shenmue 2 a hit with fans.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
The second BioWare game on this list, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is known for its epic story, shocking twist, and cast of memorable characters. Some of the gameplay may feel dated compared to more recent BioWare releases, but the game world is still engrossing, and gives players a chance to become fully enveloped in the Star Wars universe. After playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Xbox One gamers will understand why fans have been clamoring for a third game in this series for years.
The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
Since Bethesda would rather re-release Skyrim for the umpteenth time than remaster Morrowind, perhaps gamers can relive the adventure through original Xbox backward compatibility. The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind was a technical marvel at launch due to its expansive open world and impressive graphics for the time. The game established The Elder Scrolls as a premiere video game franchise, and paved the way for the epic open world adventures that would follow.
While we know that original Xbox backward compatibility won’t be as comprehensive as Xbox 360 BC, it would be great if these 10 games could make the cut. There are other original Xbox games that are deserving as well, so hopefully the Xbox One has a healthy number of original Xbox games available once Microsoft gets the service going.
Xbox One backward compatibility with original Xbox games will launch at a later date.