With the release of the Sony PlayStation Classic, as well as the recent release of the Nintendo NES and SNES Classic consoles, more focus is being shone on the retro games of yesteryear. Classic games such as Crash Bandicoot, Super Mario Kart and Tomb Raider are some of the biggest examples of hit retro games making a comeback with these miniature remakes of old gaming consoles.
We all have our favourite retro games, particularly games from the 90s such as Street Fighter and Super Mario Kart. No matter what console these games were released for, anything that old would fall into the “retro” category. However, since the original Xbox console was released after the turn of the 21st century, its games don’t quite qualify for retro status. Instead, we’ll call them “classics”. The difference in classification shouldn’t distract from the fact that these games can still be enjoyed now, offering players hours and hours of fun.
Probably the first game that springs to everyone’s mind, Halo is a game that made the Xbox and its successor consoles as popular as they are. Halo’s sci-fi universe and smart, fun play made the game an instant classic, which has gone on to have several just as successful sequels. Halo 2, the aptly-named second installment in the franchise, helped to launch Microsoft’s online multiplayer platform “Xbox Live”, which has been an undeniable success and changed the face of console gaming.
Microsoft’s answer to Sony’s Gran Turismo, Forza is a realistic racing simulation game. The game is now on its 7th iteration, and it has become ever more realistic with each release. The game features real-life manufacturers and race tracks, and players are able to tweak their car’s setup (with major changes to the smallest of adjustments) to gain time advantages over their competitors. Gran Turismo has been a game that has allowed gamers to become real- world race drivers through the GT Academy, and the Forza franchise is loved by many professional race drivers.
Project Gotham Racing
To counterbalance the ultra-realism built into Forza, Project Gotham Racing has a more arcade feel. Instead of just racing, the game used a “Kudos” system that rewarded players for driving with flair and pulling off “combos”. The game was another major success and has had a number of sequels released on later Xbox consoles.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Although not released exclusively to the original Xbox, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory was one of the best iterations in the franchise. In contrast to the many military shoot’em-up-type games, such as Call of Duty, this game required the player to use a lighter and more considered touch to undertake covert infiltration missions.
Grand Theft Auto Double Pack
Released in North America at the end of 2003 and in Europe in early 2004, the Grand Theft Auto Double Pack contained both of the Grand Theft Auto games that had been previously released on PlayStation 2: GTA II and Vice City. The Double Pack was the first time a Grand Theft Auto game had been released on the Xbox, and it included improvements to polygon models, reflections and the games’ audio. This also provided better load times, smoother frame rates and no glitches in road drawing. Grand Theft Auto III reinvented the franchise; 3D graphics helped to turn the game into a raging success, giving the players the freedom to do what they want, when they want, all in their own world.
The Xbox itself was not a huge success; its direct competitor, the PlayStation 2, remains the best-selling gaming console of all time. However, it did lay the foundation for the very successful Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and it gave birth to a number of incredible game franchises—Halo and Forza to name but two. The original Xbox console had some great games, many of which have become classics. Perhaps in another 5 to 10 years we’ll be calling them “retro” as well?