(Full disclosure: I was writing this article to make another case for one of my all-time favorites, Guardian Heroes, to be backwards compatible… without realizing it actually happened back in November! Wha? Silly me.)
The recent addition of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance to the Xbox One backwards compatibility list got me thinking… “How many quality titles are there left that need to make the jump to this console generation?” Certainly, there can’t be too many.
Boy, was I wrong! Just when I thought that Microsoft had dug through the pile and found the last gem worth cultivating, I discovered that there are plenty of excellent titles still waiting for their chance to shine on the Xbox One! Too many to give a detailed description on each and every one, so I’ll settle for just a few of my favorites before listing the rest and sending you on your way.
Bionic Commando: ReArmed
Still the owner of one of the greatest trailers of all time, Bionic Commando: ReArmed survives as not only one of the best remakes you’ll ever play but also just a solid game in its own right. That’s the hallmark of any good remake, isn’t it?
I don’t think ReArmed‘s graphics hold up so well, especially next to the original’s eternal 8-bit sprites, but Grin obviously poured so much love and genius level design. The studio took a beloved classic, kept the gameplay and level design primarily intact, and yet, added lots of secrets and retooled the boss fights into genuinely smart encounters. Bionic Commando: ReArmed was originally seen as a side project to the much larger AAA grand revival Capcom had in mind for the series.
Now, it is clearly regarded as the superior of the two products, and it helped solidify the retro revolution and establish smaller, digital games as a force to be reckoned with. (Although to be fair, that big budget Bionic Commando game is sorely underrated, creepy ending and all.)
Ummm… how is it that we’re still asking for this one? Crackdown is one of the greatest and most bombastic urban sandbox games ever made. Originally pitched as “a game you can buy to get into the Halo 3 beta,” Crackdown eventually superseded Microsoft’s mega-budgeted shooter as a surprise hit that we are still clamoring for today.
Crackdown is more than just a high-flying, super-human shooter game. At its core, it understands fundamental ideas that boil all the way down to city layouts and interesting architecture, basic principals that many open world games miss out on. It also scores high marks for its progression, letting players advance at their own pace without the need for scripted and restrictive missions.
Add to that the addiction of collecting green agility orbs, the sensation of flying through the air, the rock solid weapon selection, and the exhilarating combat and targeting system.
This game is a masterpiece, and my guess is, given the delay and troublesome rumors hovering around the upcoming Crackdown 3’s development, is that Microsoft hasn’t put this one on the backwards compatibility list because it doesn’t want expectations set sky high for new comers. It also doesn’t want comparisons to be made. Crackdown 3 would probably lose in that fight.
Resonance of Fate
Tri-Ace has staggered its way through a tough decade. The JRPG studio’s first two games on the Xbox 360, Infinite Undiscovery and Star Ocean: The Last Hope, were genuine flops that many regard as “best forgotten.”
This third attempt on the Xbox 360, and also on the PlayStation 3, was met with equally negative reception upon release. Over time though, Resonance of Fate has become much more appreciated and highly regarded now that the RPG crowd has had a chance to dig through it.
The genius of Resonance of Fate is found in its deceptively deep battle mechanics. While it might appear to be John Woo, anime shlock, there is a system and a setup behind these stunts that takes hours upon hours to perfect. Those who love to dig and prod their way through RPGs would find their latest rabbit hole with this underappreciated gem.
The story is nonsense, the characters are weird, and yes, the combat itself can get repetitive even if the numbers behind it are infinitely intriguing, but Resonance of Fate is a JRPG that deserves another chance on a larger audience.
The polar opposite of Resonance of Fate, Eternal Sonata is a game that gets by on light gameplay and emotional, thought-provoking storytelling. In a way, this is what Bandai Namco’s Tales of series would look like if its writers would branch away from their comfort zone and tried writing a story that wasn’t pure anime fluff.
Granted, Eternal Sonata is by no means a narrative masterpiece, but by creating a world within the mind of classic pianist Frédéric Chopin and setting it to the tune of a dying female lead, players have plenty of motivation to stick around and soak in the melodrama as it unfolds, just to see how the mystery plays out.
As said, the battle system isn’t exactly deep, borrowing heavily from the Tales of games, but it does have a few fun gimmicks like incorporating music and shadows into the battlefield. All around, it’s just a nice game that deserves a new audience.
Awwww yeah! With Guardian Heroes now safely locked into the Xbox One’s eternal infrastructure, it’s time to find a new arcade classic beat ’em up to prop up for future generations. We have to look no further than this classic, which comes straight to us from the coin drop days of arcade gaming. Yes, playing X-Men again on the Xbox 360 reminded us that this is in no way a deep game and is actually a very repetitive and tedious affair, and without the risk of having to drop more quarters, the tension while playing X-Men totally evaporates…
…but who cares! With graphics like that and six players huddled around their favorite mutant fighting force, this one is a retro party for the ages. I’m always torn between Colossus, Dazzler, or Nightcrawler as my pick, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. They all play the same. It’s mostly an aesthetic choice, but aesthetics are all that matter in this big-budget, flashy beat down.
And still many more!
I singled out five, but I strolled through the entire list and found plenty of other games deserving of eternalization beyond the Xbox 360’s limited reach. Here is just a brief sample of games that Microsoft should look into. Feel free to add your own in the comments below.
Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation
After Burner Climax
Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Driver: San Francisco
Dust: An Elysian Tail
Final Fantasy XIII
The Last Remnant
Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions
Ninja Gaiden II
Persona 4 Arena
Prince of Persia
Spec Ops: The Line
Tomb Raider: Anniversary
Tomb Raider: Legend
Zone of the Enders HD Collection