Xbox Series X is still missing a few potential backwards compatible gems
The Xbox Series X has incredible backwards compatibility. Microsoft has played up this feature ever since it first announced the new console, and the hype is justified. Not only can the Xbox Series X play just about every Xbox One game, dozens of Xbox 360 games and a handful of original Xbox games; it also often upscales their resolutions and frame rates far beyond what their original consoles allowed.
Still, while we can play just about any Xbox One title on the Xbox Series X (save for Kinect fare), there are still a ton of gaps in Xbox 360 and original Xbox backwards compatibility. The Tom’s Guide staff has pored through the archives to find some favorite older titles that we’d love to revisit. Just being able to play them on the Xbox Series X would be a boon, but if they get a graphical revamp somewhere along the line, we wouldn’t complain.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance has very little to do with the hit Baldur’s Gate series on PC — and that works in its favor. Whereas the PC games are rich, complex and long, Dark Alliance on the Xbox is a much faster, breezier hack-and-slash adventure. Not only is this game a great introduction to the larger Dungeons & Dragons mythos, but it’s also just a fun game in general, particularly if you can find a local co-op partner. Basically, bad things are afoot in the high fantasy city of Baldur’s Gate, and you can fight back with a bow, an axe, or a bevy of magic spells. There’s also a thoroughly decent sequel, which should also be playable on modern Xbox consoles. – Marshall Honorof
Imagine Mario Kart, but with real cars. That’s the premise behind 2010’s Blur. Developed by Bizarre Creations, the same team behind the Project Gotham racing series, this game garnered critical acclaim, and currently sits at an 82 on Metacritic. Unfortunately, Blur was a commercial dud, only selling 31,000 copies in its first week. Bizarre Creations pinned poor sales on the game being released alongside Sony’s ModNation Racers and Black Rock Studio’s Split/Second. As a racing game, Blur is absolutely chaotic. Not only do players have to navigate complex levels and tracks, but enemies are also relentless with landmines and missiles. While we love Mario Kart, Blur is a darker, grittier take on the formula, and we’d love to be able to experience it again. – Imad Khan
Tie-in games for TV shows often scrape the bottom of the barrel (24, The Office, Survivor — this list goes on), but Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the original Xbox got the formula right. This third-person action game casts you as, well, Buffy, where you slay various vampires, demons and other supernatural horrors all around Sunnydale. In addition to rock-solid combat and platforming, Buffy the Vampire Slayer features an original story that plays out like a lost episode of the TV show, complete with a fan-favorite villain whom fans hadn’t seen in years. The sequel, Chaos Bleeds, follows a similar tack, but also lets you play as Willow, Spike, Faith and other characters. They’d both be welcome additions to the Xbox Series X library. – Marshall Honorof
We get a new Dragon Ball Z fighting game every other year or so, and there’s no shortage of them on Xbox Series X. But back on the Xbox 360, we got Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit, which is arguably still one of the best entries in the franchise. With gorgeous cel-shaded graphics, a big cast of playable characters and surprisingly tight fighting mechanics, Burst Limit paved the way for a game like Dragon Ball FighterZ, which made a big splash on the professional tournament scene. Of particular interest is a mechanic which lets you charge up your ki and transform into a Super Saiyan — if your opponent gives you enough time to do so. – Marshall Honorof
At a time when Microsoft was trying to define a tone for its brand new Xbox console, Sega was there to help bring some much needed software. Jet Set Radio Future is a reimagining of Jet Grind Radio on the Dreamcast. It offers the same in-line freedom and spray paint hijinks, but with a tighter feel overall. While Jet Set Radio Future has aged well, with its cel-shaded graphics, it’s still stuck on a 480p machine. Given how the Xbox Series X handles backwards compatibility, the internal upscaling would make this classic look incredible on 4K displays. – Imad Khan
J.R.R. Tolkien’s magnificent world hasn’t translated all that well to video games, with a few notable exceptions. Among those exceptions, The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age stands out in my memory. Released in 2004, this game takes place during the titular Third Age, as the playable characters follow the Fellowship of the Ring. The game has several memorable moments, such as fighting the mysterious Watcher in the Water, or teaming up with a Dúnedain ranger. The Third Age took a Final Fantasy-style approach to gameplay, with a rich overworld to explore and turn-based battles to fight. Party composition dictated success, as did proper leveling and equipment selection. I loved The Third Age so much on my original Xbox, and it would thrill me to see it once again. – Jordan Palmer
There was a healthy degree of skepticism surrounding the launch of Max Payne 3 way back in 2012. Not only was the game arriving nine years after Max Payne 2, but the original series devs, Remedy, were out, and Rockstar Studios was in. Nevertheless, the third Max Payne game was a triumph. Violent, gritty and darkly comic, it sends you on a breakneck journey of blood-soaked carnage, coupled with a laser-sharp story and some wonderful noir motifs tying the whole package together. Slow-motion diving through the air at 60 frames per second on the Xbox Series X would be bliss! – Rory Mellon
It may be pretty rough around the edges, but The Saboteur shouldn’t be locked to the 360, for historical preservation, if nothing else. Pandemic Studios’ last project before being shuttered, The Saboteur sets you loose on Nazi-occupied Paris and asks you to cause as much havoc as possible. Remembered most fondly for its creative use of colour – the game played in black and white until you liberated an area, after which it would flood with vivid color – The Saboteur was brash and fun. How many other games have a button solely dedicated to letting your character smoke? – Rory Mellon
Yes, Skate and Skate 3 are currently available via Xbox backwards compatibility. But like all great gaming trilogies, the Skate series needs to be experienced in its entirety. Skate 2 is, quite simply, the best game in the franchise, and has held up remarkably well for a title that is now over a decade old. Skate 3 may control slightly better, but the first Skate sequel has the best city to explore, as well as the most engaging campaign. Hopefully, one day, I won’t have to plug in my Xbox 360 in order to spend a few hours skating around New San Vanelona – Rory Mellon
In the early 2000s, extreme sports had taken over the cultural zeitgeist of middle schools all across America. The X-Games had launched on ESPN; Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater ruled the console charts; and Brink was the coolest Disney Channel Original Movie on the network. Snowboarding games were also popular, like the SSX series. While SSX 3 is available via Xbox backwards compatibility, weirdly, fan-favorite SSX Tricky is not. This game offered wacky levels with late-90s character archetypes, which stuck around with gamers who grew up in that era. The fact that I can’t load up SSX Tricky on my Xbox Series X and listen to Run-D.M.C.’s “It’s Tricky” is a travesty. – Imad Khan
In 2019, Team Ninja demonstrated that superhero hack-and-slash RPGs aren’t dead, with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. While you can play all of the Ultimate Alliance games on modern consoles, the series that started the whole trend — X-Men Legends on the Xbox — is missing in action. X-Men Legends, and its better follow-up, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, are some of the finest Marvel games out there. In the first game, you assemble a team from beloved characters like Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast, Jean Grey, Storm and Psylocke, then lead them through an original story, leveling up their stats and skills as you go. The second game has the same pitch, but this time, you can also add villains like Magneto, Scarlet Witch and Juggernaut to your team. – Marshall Honorof
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