After reading my reasons to buy an Xbox 360, you should've seen this coming: I finally ordered myself an Xbox 360. It was the holiday bundle, coupled with a 15% (or $45) off coupon (hat tip to ChatterBox), that finally did me in.

But the arrival of this new hardware will put me in an awkward position. I have 50 games for the original Xbox, and though it was the previous-generation console I played the least, I always figured I'd go back and start or finish some of its games. That's where backward compatibility comes in. Unlike the Nintendo Wii which has GameCube hardware, ensuring 100% of old games will work on the new console, the Xbox 360 must be coded for each of its predecessor's individual titles. That list stopped evolving in November 2007, two years after the console's launch. I went through my personal gaming library to see which were on the list. These 24 titles were:

Armed and Dangerous
Dead to Rights
Genma Onimusha
Jet Set Radio Future
NCAA College Basketball 2K3
NFL Blitz 2002
Panzer Dragoon Orta
Pitfall: The Lost Expedition
Sega GT 2002
Sega GT Online
Sega Soccer Slam
Shenmue II
Shrek Super Party
Sonic Heroes
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Street Fighter Anniversary Collection
World Series Baseball
Wrath Unleashed

I'm reassured by some notable games on the list, such as Panzer Dragoon Orta and Shenmue II, but there are also a lot of sports games that I care nothing for.

Here are the 26 games that won't work:

Arctic Thunder
Beatdown: Fists of Vengeance
Capcom Anniversary Collection
Capcom Classics Collection
Capcom Fighting Evolution
Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO
Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller
Dino Crisis 3
Group S Challenge
Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The
Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance
MTX Mototrax
NCAA College Football 2K3
NHL Hitz 2002
Otogi: Myth of Demons
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
Prisoner of War
Pro Cast Sports Fishing
Silent Scope Complete
Spy Hunter
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Tenchu: Return from Darkness
Terminator, The: Dawn of Fate

There are some significant games on that list! Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance? Lord of the Rings? Some of them are multiplatform titles, but it's the original Xbox versions I own. And I'm not going to download them as Xbox Originals. (Buying games I already own is reserved strictly for the Virtual Console)

There's no room in my entertainment center for two Xboxes, so I've little choice but to forsake more than half of my original Xbox software library in favor of the newer console. In reality, I'd probably never go back to those older games anyway, and I know that even 52% backward compatibility is better than what I had when adding the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and GameCube to my setup. But it's still frustrating for a retrocomputing enthusiast such as myself to leave history behind in the name of progress.

9 thoughts on “A Backward Compatibility Reason Not to Buy an Xbox 360 (but I did anyway)

  1. Congrats on the new system! I'm rather pleased; you and another good friend of mine (from college) both just bought 360s. Looks like I need to finally splurge on a Gold membership and get in some online multiplayer. :)

    Yeah, the backwards compatibility is a bit annoying, but hey, at least some of the games work correctly. And generally, if they work correctly, they look even better on the 360 thanks to the upscaling. Upscaled Panzer Dragoon Orta is glorious.

    Oh and just a heads up, if you pre-order the upcoming Banjo-Kazooie game (which actually sounds like it could end up being awesome since the vehicle customizer sounds like it could open up some intriguing possibilities), you get a free download of the XBLA version of the original N64 game. Preorder from Amazon and it's only $36 plus free shipping. :)

  2. I have an Xbox 360 now as well. Right now I just have a few games. Rock Band 2, Bioshock (this game is a whole lot of good), and a few older xbox games that I picked up for a song. (Halo, Fable: The Lost Chapters). Unfortunately, my Taito Collection is not backward compatible. If you sign up for online service drop me a line with your Gamertag. Mine is OverNiven.

    A good demo to try once online: Pure (reminds me of how fun a racing game can be).

  3. Ken Gagne

    Thanks for the congrats, Rob! I hope I use my 360 more than I did my original Xbox. I'm already behind on my Wii games (World of Goo, anyone?). I think I'll be passing on Banjo — the Mario games suit my platforming needs. Plus I have a lot of downloadable games to try before I buy any retail products!

    Speaking of downloads, I've never been much for online multiplayer. I took my Dreamcast and PS2 online once each, and I've played some Mario Kart and Bomberman on the Wii. Is it annoying to coordinate meeting up online on the 360? (I should mention that I probably won't actually be seeing the 360 until Christmas… :-)

    Also, does upscaling of games like PDO work only on certain quality video connections or televisions? I'll be playing my 360 using the same A/V equipment as my original Xbox.

  4. Speaking of World of Goo. I picked this up on WiiWare. Seems fun so far. Nice to see a stream of great games on Wiiware and Virtual Console. There are a lot of good games out there now.

    Parenthood has really cut into my gaming time. That's why I'm still in the middle of playing BioShock a year later.

  5. Yeah, upscaling only works if you have your 360 hooked up to a nice screen. If you're just using regular SDTV-era cables, there won't be any upscaling.

    As for online multiplayer, yeah, it's extremely easy to coordinate on the 360. On the 360, you can easily make a friend's list since all you need is their username, much easier than the whole friends code thing that the Wii does. Once you have a friend on your list, it's very easy to see if that friend is currently playing something on their 360. Send a quick invite to your friend if he or she is online and poof! Multiplayer gaming!

    Note that multiplayer gaming is only available if you have a Gold membership which you need to pay for. Gold memberships give you online multiplayer, instant access to demos (you need to wait a week if you're on the free membership) and Netflix support if you have a Netflix subscription. Silver memberships (the free membership) still lets you download & purchase stuff off the marketplace, you just can't play online. I noticed that Amazon is currently selling the 13-month subscription cards for $39 so I went ahead and ordered one when I preordered Banjo-Kazooie.

    Anyway, if you decide to pick up a gold membership, let me know and we'll have to get together for some online XBLA gaming (N+, Heavy Weapon, and Bomberman Live are all great for multiplayer).

  6. Ken Gagne

    No upscaling for me, then.

    And I think I can wait a week to download demos, since I already have a three-year backlog to work through. :-) But what's you're handle, just the same?

    No Netflix for me — I use the local library. It's like Netflix, only about twenty times slower and free. :-)

  7. One of the cool things I like is that when you add friends to your list, many games create high score lists based on your friends, so you can see how you stack up. I'm a rather mediocre gamer, but I certainly find that more interesting than seeing the insane high scores the rest of the world can put up :)

    I'm interested in what the new Xbox interface is going to look like. It's supposed to change pretty drastically the middle of this month.

    Ken, there is also an application you can get for the Macintosh called Connect360. This application lets you push "supported" video types and pictures to the Xbox for viewing on your television.

  8. Ken Gagne

    Dain, a program that appears similar to Connect360 is Rivet. I wonder how the two compare? An April 2008 review at TUAW suggests Rivet has identical functionality but more convenience, such as browsing your Mac via its inherent folder hierarchy. The comments are from users who have had bad experiences with the publisher of Connect360.

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