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The Original Xbox: Exclusives That Time Forgot

On 06/21/2013 at 08:33 AM by Ryan Bunting

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I’m a proud Xbox owner. It’s my emulation powerhouse, my KotoR paradise, my Battlefront buddy, and it’s also home to some interesting exclusives that it would seem many people have forgotten. As a service to the community, and because I really just wanted people to know that the Xbox has a nice set of exclusives, I put together a quick list with some descriptions and prices for some of the best Xbox exclusives out there.


Brute Force (2003)

When it first came out, it broke record sales – beating out even the Xbox’s own Halo, but it didn’t come with some flaws. Brute Force is supposed to be a tactical squad-based shooter, and while it’s still squad based, the tactics are a bit lax, as you can more often than not handle the missions with whichever character you want, BUT, it’s been 10 years now, and you can pick it up for between $3-$5, so for the price, you can get a good deal of enjoyment – despite its flaws – for a perfect price point. This is one that I think at the time was a bit underrated (understandably from the things they changed/left out from their E3 demo), so give this one a whirl if you have an original Xbox.


Blood Wake (2001)

Technically not a launch title, since it came out about a month after the Xbox launch, still one of the first waves of games out for the console, and a surprisingly good one. Think Twisted Metal with boats – it’s naval combat at its finest, but instead of focusing purely on destroying other sea-bound vehicles, it’s mission based, so it sets itself apart from the arena style present in TM2. A planned sequel got squashed, so as of now, this is probably the best naval combat game out there. You can pick this one up for $5-$8, another cheap Xbox exclusive that’s definitely worth a play.


Breakdown (2004)

A stylish and innovative, if slightly flawed title from Namco broke the boundaries of the first person shooter by using that first person perspective for deeper immersion and story progression, which despite its difficulty from some of the gameplay mechanics, stands above all that and creates an awesome experience. Also, first person fist-fights, and all interactions with objects or the environment, are seen through this view, which really gets across that feeling of being there. For $5-$10, you just can’t pass it up.


Conker: Live and Reloaded (2005)

Even if it’s purely for the multiplayer, this game is well worth picking up. While they changed some of the single player elements and lacked some polish in certain areas (some of the facial animations are pretty laughable for being 2005), and the heavy censorship that even Conker’s Bad Fur Day didn’t receive, the single player campaign is still a joyful and comedic romp of slayings, and of course (censored) vulgarity. This one is a bit pricier compared to some of the others on this list – going from anywhere between $12-$60, which if you can find it on that lower end of the spectrum, snag it while you can.


Forza Motorsport (2005)

If you’re a fan of simulation racers, chances are you’ve already played, or at least heard of, the Forza games. The very first Forza blew onto the Xbox scene and started turning heads. The visuals are gorgeous, the simulation style racing is impeccable, and at the time even beat out Gran Turismo 4, and had fantastic elements like model damage that also effects performance while playing on-the-fly. The physics engine is crisp and accurate, and for $6, it’s another one you can’t pass up.



Fuzion Frenzy (2001)

Nintendo has Mario Party, and pretty much any of their sports Mario titles, as fun party games. Sony has…  I don’t know, Crash Bash? Xbox has Fuzion Frenzy. While in comparison with some of the Nintendo titles, it may not hold its own for too long, but if you’re an Xbox owner and have at least 3 friends, you absolutely need this game. There’s 45 some mini-games (the jump/duck one being one of my personal favorites), and a structured flow of play that lends itself to local 4-player multiplayer extremely well. What else can I say? Set aside $8-$10, pick it up, bring your friends over, get a bevy of alcoholic beverages and let the chaotic fun ensue!



Gunvalkyrie (2002)

This unique and stylish third person shooter published by Sega and developed by Smilebit, has an incredible visual style – “elec-punk” as the developers would call it, where the dependence and usage of electricity has been amplified beyond what we could imagine. There are 2 playable characters, each representing “Normal” and “Advanced/Hard” respectively, and each one has unique abilities and differences that alter how you’ll have to play. This has led to an issue with some people, as the learning curve can get pretty steep, but I say keep climbing, because for $5-$10, you too can enjoy blasting insectoid enemies in 1906.


Jet Set Radio Future (2002)

Another one from Smilebit in ’02! This one doesn’t need much explanation as I’m sure most of you are already familiar with Jet Grind Radio, but I’ll elaborate for completeness. Like the first game, you control a member of a gang, roller blading around, grinding on rails, tagging walls, and performing tricks to get speed boosts. Unlike the first game, all of the levels are interconnected and you’re no longer bound by a time limit. It’s one of the best games you can own for your Xbox, and it’ll offer plenty of fun and challenges, as well as that familiar badass soundtrack. You can pick this one up for around $7, but more often you’ll find the combo disc with Sega GT 2002, for around $12.


Kingdom Under Fire: Crusaders (2004) and Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes (2005)

It’s very rare that a tactical wargame translates well to consoles, with perhaps the exception of games in the likes of Kessen, which KuF is similar to. Both of these games have solid UI’s that are easy to navigate, and feature large scale battles with massive armies, and some magical/fantasy elements as well. If you like any kind of strategy or war games, then this one is a must, and you can pick up each for $12-$15 and $8-10$ respectively.


MechAssault (2002)

If you’ve soft-modded your Xbox, chances are you have this game already – if not you must have chosen the Splinter Cell route, but this game is worth far more than just the softmod exploit. I’m a mech game aficionado, and there are pretty much 3 mech series that I even bother with, the best being Zone of the Enders (totally different article), MechWarrior (BattleTech), and MechAssault (which also takes place in the BattleTech universe.) The online play WAS amazing, but obviously as the legacy Xbox live service has been cancelled, you’ll have to use the free and ever-so-awesome XBConnect to play “online LAN games” – like using Hamachi to play LAN games of Starcraft. The controls are clean and precise, the combat is hectic but calculated, it’s everything you want in a Mech game. The sequel, Lone Wolf, is just as good. You can pick up each for $3-$5 and $6-$10 respectively.


Panzer Dragoon Orta (2003)

And number three from Smilebit! The Panzer Dragoon series is one with a rich history of fantastic rail shooters, and expensive rare-as-balls RPG’s (Panzer Dragoon Saga.) Like its predecessors, it’s a rail shooter, but this really uses the Xbox controller in a comfortable and meaningful manner, allowing that 360 degree aiming and locking on with ease, and using the Xbox hardware to produce some really incredible visuals. The soundtrack is immersive and enjoyable, and the enemies and worlds are crafted with great precision to lend themselves well to the rail shooter genre. Everything about this screams “Panzer Dragoon,” and if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll appreciate it greatly. For anywhere between $5 and $15, even on the higher end of the price spectrum, it’s a worthy addition to your Xbox collection.


Xyanide (2006)

Xyanide is a unique twin-stick scrolling shooter on the Xbox. The visuals, while not super-spectacular, are clean and distinguished, which is really what matters most in a shooter, as you don’t want to be caught up in muddled effects and nonsense. Xyanide uses the Xbox capabilities pretty well, including the ability to play your own soundtrack from CDs ripped to the Xbox hard drive, so you can make your own audio experience to go along with the frantic shooting. The storyline is also pretty inventive for being a scrolling 2D/3D shooter, which is a plus. When it first came out, it received generally average reviews, but I think that it’s a fairly overlooked gem that deserves a bit more play by any shooter fans out there. This one seems to have gone up in price, as I picked it up for about $8, the average anymore is anywhere between $11-$20, so play the eBay game and make sure you can get a decent price.




06/21/2013 at 08:54 AM

Fusion Frenzy was awesome, me, my wife and our roommate at the time played the crap out of that game. And yes beer was

Ryan Bunting Staff Alumnus

06/21/2013 at 10:42 AM

It's one of the best ways to play, my buddy and I drank a bottle of Blackhaus and played the shit out of it.


06/21/2013 at 10:01 AM

I was always fond of Armed & Dangerous.


06/23/2013 at 06:24 PM

Yes! Love the humor in that one. Who doesn't love the Land Shark Gun!


06/23/2013 at 06:28 PM

One of the best weapons ever!

Our Take

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

06/21/2013 at 10:20 AM

You forgot Sudeki!

Of course, that's probably a good thing...

Ryan Bunting Staff Alumnus

06/21/2013 at 10:41 AM

Sudeki was a pretty solid action RPG type game, the only reason I forgot to include it is because I remembered the Windows port and forgot that it was originally released as an exclusive :P


06/21/2013 at 10:49 AM

I was a GameCube man, so I didn't get to play any of these (though I don't regret having just a 'Cube). I remember wanting to play Gunvalkyrie when it came out...but mainly, I think, because the main character on the cover really hot lol


06/21/2013 at 11:57 AM

I skipped the Xbox myself. It had little that appealed to me, especially in light of the offerings of the PS2 and the Gamecube, and its controllers were ass. I was interested in Panzer Dragoon Orta, Shenmue, Gunvalkyrie, and Ninja Gaiden Black.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

06/21/2013 at 02:19 PM

No love for Otogi? Great action games, for sure. Also have to give a shout out to the first Buffy the Vampire Slayer game. No, really.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Breakdown. Would have loved a sequel.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

06/21/2013 at 04:24 PM

I wanna do Breakdown on Backloggers some day. I'm positive it's even worse now than it was then but yeah, I have a spot for it too.


06/23/2013 at 06:27 PM

Man, I have Breakdown and both Otogi games. I've got to go play them. 

Cary Woodham

06/21/2013 at 07:14 PM

Never owned an original Xbox.  There were only a handful of games that looked mildly interesting to me.


06/22/2013 at 12:46 AM

Glad to see Jet Set Radio Future here. One of my favorite Xbox games only behind the two Halos.


06/23/2013 at 06:33 PM

Brute Force was funny. It was so hyped as the Halo killer, but never rose to that. I was excited by it because it had campaign co-op and, at that time, it was a rare option in console games that weren't called Halo. I picked up multiple copies on the cheap a year or so after its release and played it with a friend. It was fine by me, but my co-op buddy didn't like it much.


06/23/2013 at 06:45 PM

Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes was a fun exclusive I played cooperatively on Xbox.


06/23/2013 at 07:01 PM

Forget about Crimson Skies

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