The do-they don't-they care about backwards compatibility saga has been something of an ongoing soap opera for Microsoft ever since the 360 launched nearly eight months ago.
First Peter Moore explicitly suggested that it was no longer a priority in a recent interview and that they'd "under promised and over delivered".
Cue much ranting from the Eurogamer masses, ever mindful of contrary comments made by Microsoft execs. But to his credit, Moore caught the mood and set about hastily backtracking on those allegedly "misinterpreted" comments this week, insisting "of course we care, and we're going to continue to try and get as close as we can to our stated target of every Xbox game being backcompat to the 360, and I'm hopeful we get there." So do we, Peter.
In fact, a day after those comments, a further 21 Xbox titles were made fully compatible with the 360, including such highly-rated games like Doom 3, Rallisport Challenge, Lego Star Wars, FlatOut and Grabbed by the Ghoulies.
But, as usual, the update list features a depressing catalogue of mediocre nonentities, such as Bad Boys 2, State of Emergency, Minority Report (nurse!) and Spawn Armageddon. And does the world really need to be reminded about 4x4 Evo or Zapper? Scanning the full compatibility list (GB version), it's quite clear that there are an extraordinary number of titles on there you couldn't pay us to play.
Yet, the list of great titles (and some interesting curiosities worth checking out) is vast, and if Microsoft's 'emulation gurus' were to work on getting most of these emulated, then the 360 would instantly have a vast back catalogue of quality Xbox titles that European gamers would be able to appreciate in their full glory for the first time.
With that in mind, we've been trawling the archives and our own collection to come up with our 'Most Wanted' selection of Xbox titles that we'd love to see achieve compatibility with the 360. At the very least, it might serve as a reminder of some great games you might have missed out on the first time around.
The Eurogamer Most Wanted
Panzer Dragoon Orta
SEGA/Smilebit, Gamepage, 16:9 and 480p support
A simply magnificent shooter that takes the core gameplay of Rez, pinches a bit of Space Harrier and overlays it with some of the lushest environments and most spectacular effects ever seen. Years ahead of its time, the game emerged at a time when the post-Dreamcast SEGA was in disarray, but our review back in January 2003 remarked "[this inspires] the kind of excitement that SEGA used to be synonymous with," and that it was the company's "most important release since Sonic".
It certainly gave the press the belief that SEGA was once again a force to be reckoned with, even if the buying public almost totally ignored the game. But to be fair, its failure was more down to total lack of PR or marketing campaign, and the limited number of copies released might make this a tough one to track down. Described by us as a "beautiful game" and a "landmark 3D shoot 'em up" that was a "real progression in the genre".
There's not been a game like it since. Come on Microsoft, you can do it.
Burnout 2: Point of Impact
Acclaim/Criterion, Gamepage, 16:9 and 480p support
Regarded by many long-term fans of the series as the definitive Burnout title, we were blown away by the game's initial PS2 release back in October 2002. Our opening salvo reckoned "[this] will change your perceptions of the driving game genre," and we'd stand by that almost four years on; no-one has come up with a driving game since that has had the same immense impact.
The superlatives rolled off the tongue: "the most compelling arcade driving experience we've ever had the pleasure of undertaking" that was "a visual master class", "supremely playable", with "huge replayability" and "will restore your faith in videogames to generate excitement".
We then waited a torturous eight months to get our hands on the Xbox port, and came away slightly frustrated that Criterion missed the opportunity to add Xbox Live functionality. Sure, it had 15 extra Crash mode junctions and better visuals, but that wasn't enough for our demanding tastes. Nevertheless, it's the best version of Burnout 2 around, with proper surround sound, custom soundtracks and better, more detailed 480p visuals - and as a result we really want Microsoft to get around to making this face-wobbling masterpiece work on our 360s.
Rallisport Challenge 2
Microsoft/DICE, Gamepage, 16:9 and 480p support
Yeah, we know the first version's just been emulated (rather well, as it happens), but two years after its release, DICE's incredible sequel remains the finest arcade rally game ever made. Pushing the capabilities of the Xbox to near-breaking point we commented at the time that "no other title comes close to its startlingly lifelike environments" and cooed over its "impressively realistic yet fun handling system" and made pleasurable noises about its use of Xbox Live. "Just buy it," we demanded. You didn't, and now we're wondering if we'll ever see another Rally game from the DICEmen. Happy now?
Majesco/DoubleFine, Gamepage, 480p support
The Eurogamer game of the year 2005 distils all the best things about platform games and narrative-based adventuring into one hilarious, delicious package that makes us chuckle just thinking about it. Ok, so it wasn't the best platform game ever, but it was certainly the funniest and is worth buying for some of the drop dead funny lines that fall like confetti from every corner of the Rock summer camp, and the minds of the addled folk that Raz has to journey into. As Tom noted with uber wisdom: "Whether you get on with its sense of humour is crucial, obviously, to getting past the few flaws that are inherent," forgetting to add that if you don't get on with the humour that you're probably dead inside. In the later PC review, the final reckoning was that "the good points are so exceptional that they almost drown out most of the grumbles". Double Fine main man Tim Schafer's desperate to see this game running on the 360, and so are we. All Microsoft needs to know is that it's the best platformer released on the Xbox, and one of the funniest and most charming games of all time.
Question to Peter Moore: are you going to make Psychonauts compatible?
How about now?
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