The Best Undiscovered XBox Games

The Best XBox Games You Haven't Played

Usually, when you get a new-to-you console, you can usually find or remember the major games to check out. But what happens when you need something different to play? This is where the “Hidden Gems” come in.
Read More About My Criteria For Hidden Gems
See All The Hidden Gems Articles

Not only are all these games great additions for an original XBox game library, but many of them are playable on the XBox 360 as well. If you are fortunate enough to have a 360, I have marked the backwards-compatible titles with this icon XBox 360 Compatible.

This list will be a bit of a work-in-progress. I may add to these as I go along and find new games.
If you have some recommendations to add, please do so in the comments section below.

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Platformer

Obvious Choices:
Sonic the Hedgehog, Spyro, Blinx, Conker: Live & Reloaded
Featured Game: Psychonauts XBox 360 Compatible
 Psychonauts is, at its core, a platformer. However, unlike the typical platformers of the current generation, this is a free-roaming adventure that removes almost every restriction. The camp grounds in which Raz can explore are large and there are a number of hard to reach areas which will challenge your platforming acumen. And if you hope to collect everything in Psychonauts, you’ll need to explore every inch of the campgrounds. And there’s a lot to collect…

As much fun as I had with the gameplay, it’s the humor of Psychonauts that really makes it worthwhile. The first half of Psychonauts is unbelievably funny… The only problem with making a funny game is that the minute it stops being funny, it becomes glaringly obvious. The last few hours of Psychonauts, while dotted wth some humorous moments, just isn’t as off-the-wall laugh-so-loud-you-wake-up-your-girlfriend funny as the earlier moments.

Actually, Psychonauts is an attractive game, even if it’s best described as having “a lot of personality.” Though some of the texture work isn’t that hot and Raz isn’t exactly overflowing with sly animations, the environments are vivid and original. Though I miss the boring gray walls of endless buildings and rehashed environments in every first-person shooter, I just love the look of Psychonauts. Each level is so unique that there’s little that could be re-used from one level to the next. There’s absolutely no sense of repetition here and each environment perfectly fits the situation. Art is about more than hi-res textures and specular highlighting — it’s also about design and Psychonauts has design out the wazoo.
IGN’s Review of Psychonauts
Find Psychonauts: eBay / Amazon)
Featured Game: Voodoo Vince
 “Voodoo Vince is a fun-loving and solidly built action/platform game in search of a little magic. You guide a cute little voodoo doll who’s on a quest to rescue his creator from an evil magic man and restore order to the secret world of magic in New Orleans. The Big Easy locales help the cartoon visuals score major style points, and they set the stage for some great Dixieland-style jazz licks in the audio score, too.

The game plays like an homage to the platform action made popular by a shipload of titles before it, including Donkey Kong. But so much of it is familiar that it walks a tightrope between being fresh and being too derivative.

Vince, however, features one-of-a-kind combat action in keeping with his voodoo-doll origins. Beat him up in all manner of goofy, insane ways, and you don’t hurt him, but you will damage his enemies. For instance, summoning a magic anvil smashes Vince, but his foes wind up flatter than yesterday’s pancakes! The 30 voodoo attacks are a little masochistic but they’re a ton of fun. The controls do a masterful job of keeping that voodoo you do in order, too. Vehicle races with mini-jets and fanboats, and a nice array of mini-games round out Vince’s challenges.”
GamePro’s Review of Voodoo Vince
Find Voodoo Vince: eBay / Amazon)

More Great Games:
Whiplash (eBay / Amazon)
Vexx XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth (eBay / Amazon)
Grabbed by the Ghoulies XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)

Action

Obvious Choices:
Ninja Gaiden, Spiderman, Star Wars, MechAssault, Advent Rising, More

Featured Game: Jet Set Radio Future XBox 360 Compatible
 “The gameplay in Jet Set Radio Future, much like the story, mixes old and new elements. While the game’s core gameplay is unchanged–you’ll still get around the streets with magnetically charged skates and collect spray paint cans that you’ll use to spray graffiti on your surroundings–some of the mechanics and control have been tweaked. You’ll find the same basic control layout as in Jet Grind Radio, but with a few more control options. The left analog stick gives you analog control over your skater’s speed. Pressing down on the stick also lets you perform a controlled grind that is useful when tagging….
If you’ve played Jet Grind Radio, you’ll notice several changes to the way the new game handles. Tagging has been simplified to a single press of the R trigger when you’re near tagging icons. Holding down the trigger will automatically tag the larger pieces of graffiti made up of multiple icons. The mechanics for dashing have also changed–the basic dash used in Jet Grind Radio has been replaced by the much more potent “boost dash.” Essentially a turbo boost that uses up 10 cans of paint, boost dashing can be useful in many situations. Aside from the obvious increase in speed, the boost dash will also serve as an offensive attack that’s vital to dealing with Rokkaku forces later in the game.

Jet Set Radio Future also includes a complete trick system that is actually integral to gameplay. Performing tricks will increase your speed when grinding, which is essential for making some of the seemingly impossible jumps you’ll have to make. Trick combos are also vital to your success in other ways, as they will often let you reach new areas… Visually, Jet Set Radio Future stands as one of the Xbox’s best-looking games yet, and that’s saying a lot. The game’s cel-shaded graphics and distinct art style are incredibly beautiful–a definite improvement upon those of the Dreamcast predecessor, which also looked spectacular for its time…. Jet Set Radio Future’s sound is almost as good as its graphics. In keeping with the game’s massive size, Smilebit has assembled a truly eclectic mix of music that mingles tunes by JGR Vets Hideki Naganuma and Richard Jacques with pieces from the Latch Brothers and Cibo Matto. The end result doesn’t provide quite as cohesive an auditory experience as that found in the original Jet Grind Radio, due to some dissonant and sometimes grating tunes that stick out, but the music still suits the action very well overall, and there’s plenty of it.
GameSpot’s Review of Jet Set Radio Future
Find Jet Set Radio Future: eBay / Amazon


Featured Game: GunValkyrie
 “I have a deep appreciation for GUNVALKYRIE in the same way that a boxer respects an opponent that he just KO’d in the 12th round. It’s about respect. It’s a game that will test your skill as a gamer because it’s so unforgiving and requires you to learn its deep and sophisticated philosophies. If you come into GV thinking you know how to handle it, you’ll spend a lot of time spinning your wheels playing the same levels over and over again. I like how GUNVALKYRIE smacks you down time and time again if you don’t learn the proper techniques that it’s trying to teach you and then perfect them. That’s immersion in a game at its finest….I don’t want to be overly critical of GUNVALKYRIE’s steep learning curve because all of the answers are right there in front of you, somewhere, while you’re playing and it all makes sense once you get the hang of it. But, in fact, that is the game’s one shortcoming: just an overall feeling of making things difficult for you. Even though it’s done on purpose and with good reason, I can easily see how this can turn off many gamers these days. With so many easy choices out there and so many instant gratification games on all systems, gamers have no reason to bang their heads against this Xbox game.”
IGN’s Review of GunValkyrie
Find GunValkyrie: eBay / Amazon

Featured Game: Breakdown XBox 360 Compatible
 “At the heart of Breakdown’s gameplay is the fantastic first-person perspective from which the action and story unfolds. The 3D, first-person view goes much further than a traditional FPS title. Instead of just using a first-person “camera,” Breakdown provides more of realistic viewpoint as seen through the eyes of Derrick himself. Beyond the viewpoint of Derrick, players will also experience various physical effects that he undergoes. When you are attacked, Derrick will lose his balance as he suffers the force of a hit or kick from a deadly T’lan warrior. As Derrick falls to the floor, or is flipped upside down, players will also suffer a distorted and blurred view before they must right themselves and regain their position. This makes for some tricky combat situations because often times an attack could come from behind, so on top of being blindsided on your ass, you will also have to pick Derrick back up as well as turn to face the attacker to prevent a second ass beating.

It’s the subtle attention to detail that makes Breakdown such a fresh look at the first-person genre while also adding a more realistic experience than you may expect. For instance, as Derrick moves, he will grow tired, and as he runs he will breathe more heavily. This will make his body move slightly up and down as he breathes, which will be noticed by the first-person view. During the initial training exercises players will notice that even simple moves like climbing a ladder or traversing side to side while dangling from a ledge require a good deal more effort than expected. Most games simply require the player to look up and push forward to move up a ladder, but Breakdown deliberately incorporates the various steps actually taken to do so. Players will have to first reach their hand out with the action button and again hit the action button to grab the first rung of the ladder. Then as Derrick begins making his way up or down the ladder, the viewpoint can be controlled to look to the sides and up and down while moving. Rather than just shimmying up or down, players will watch as Derrick grabs each rung and makes his way along each step of the ladder, no matter how tall or short it may be.”
TeamXBox’s Review of Breakdown
Find Breakdown: eBay / Amazon

More Great Games:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
American McGee Presents Scrapland XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
Otogi (eBay / Amazon)
Otogi 2 (eBay / Amazon)
Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without A Pulse XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
Rogue Trooper XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
I-Ninja XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
Armed and Dangerous (eBay / Amazon)
Robotech: Battlecry XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
Spartan: Total Warrior (eBay / Amazon)
Red Dead Revolver XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
Phantom Crash XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
Nightcaster (eBay / Amazon)

On-Rails Shooter

Featured Game: Panzer Dragoon Orta XBox 360 Compatible
 “A shooter with a solid storyline, stunning graphics, and great sound, Panzer Dragoon Orta looks to carry on the tradition of its predecessors. For many, this will be their first real introduction to the series. But don’t worry, Panzer novices can still enjoy the game and those who played the earlier versions will almost certainly be pleased. Panzer Dragoon Orta is the perfect way to start the new year and is the best rail shooter of all time. Period…
Panzer is heavy on shooting. In fact, you’ll have trouble finding many games where you do as much shooting as you do here. But unlike most shooters, where you must always kill to survive, many of the enemies in Orta don’t have to be shot in order to progress. The point of Panzer isn’t simply to beat a level or beat the game. It’s partly about experiencing the sights of Panzer’s world and partly about replaying levels to attain better rankings. There are plenty of creatures in Orta you won’t have to kill. But if you want a good rating (and you will want one, if this game is going to appeal to you), you’ll need to shoot down as many enemies as possible.

That’s, perhaps, what makes the Panzer formula so addictive. For all of its beauty and dazzle, the gameplay is pretty simple. You destroy and you try to avoid dying. There are no pits to leap over, no puzzles to solve. Your goal is to shoot down as many enemies as possible. Orta is, essentially, a throwback to old school gaming when a game only took a few hours to pass, but the gameplay was so addictive that you played it again and again. Like Frogger, Ms. Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., Contra, or the original Sonic, Panzer Dragoon Orta has an intangible extra that makes it worth playing again and again.

Old school gamers and fans of that brand of gameplay and feel will probably be able to enjoy Orta a bit more. Anyone who expects to get total control of a dragon, who wants to fly about like they’re playing Crimson Skies may be disappointed at first. This is a shooter on rails, not a dragon flight sim. It’s a fantastic game and as long as you go in knowing that the game is about multiple play-throughs, beating your own rankings, and enjoying a well-crafted world, then you should be able to enjoy and love Panzer Dragoon Orta.”
IGN’s Review of Panzer Dragoon Orta
Find Panzer Dragoon Orta: eBay / Amazon

Featured Game: House of the Dead III XBox 360 Compatible
 “Actual gameplay is very engaging and a whole gaggle of fun. Immediately after entering the house, zombies, bats, and other creatures waste no time lunging at you with their claws. The heads-up-display is overly simplified and gives information like how many bullets you have left in your chamber and your current health. As you blast away at the screen, you need to continually “reload” your chamber by shooting off-screen. If you take a hit, your health meter goes down by one. You have a certain number of lives until you need to use a continue. You’ll have to keep an eye on how many continues are left, as they are limited too. When two players are playing, the game makes up for the easier difficulty by splitting the continues between the two players..

Branching paths depending on your shooting accuracy are more plentiful in HotDIII. The truth is very simply that the game is NOT very different from its predecessors. However, it is important to note some very important changes developer WOW Entertainment has implemented.

All right, I’ll admit it. I spent almost fifty dollars on HotD was in the arcades. The game is just TOO much fun. It really gives the sensation of an adrenaline rush as you play this game. The fast-paced combat and somewhat interesting story manage to keep your attention for the time until this game is over. Overall, an extremely exciting and fun (and sometimes homework push-offing) title from Sega rejuvenates the series with the fresh twists it needed. I recommend this game for any fan of the series or the genre alike—there is just too much nostalgia to pass up.”
TeamXBox’s Review of House of the Dead III
Find House of the Dead III: eBay / Amazon

First-Person & Third Person Shooters

Obvious Choices:
Halo, Half-Life 2, DOOM 3, Far Cry, Timesplitters etc

Featured Game: Metal Arms: Glitch in the System XBox 360 Compatible
 “Metal Arms has a welcomed style and color to it. There are some genuinely funny lines in the cinematics, some of which are littered with unexpected, bleeped profanity. This character carries over into the play scenarios too. Glitch encounters robots that sell him weapons and gadgets along his quest and they’re always full of comic one-liners. After completing an intermediate level, Glitch seems proud of himself until his commander comments, “Let’s not break out the joy lube just yet.” Meanwhile, when the hero shoots at enemy droids they will run around as if on fire and scream in sheer terror. The delivery is well done. The game has many play elements to it, but the core revolves around fast and furious gunfights. Glitch can carry an impressive arsenal of different weapons from laser fire to automatics, shotguns and rockets, slingshots and grenades, sniper rifles and more, and all of them are entertaining and serve their purpose in battle. (He can also arm either hand with these weapons and use R and L to shoot/throw/sling them simultaneously, which just feels fantastic.) So Glitch explores the large, open 3D environments the game dishes out, enemies run out, and mini-wars ensue. And this is the meat and potatoes of the experience.

It’s solid and refreshingly fun. Each of the game’s 40 areas is presented with different goals and objectives in mind and there are a wide variety of scripted events that bring the sequences together. Glitch is usually accompanied by friendly droids in his infantry, who fight and die — in canned, but nonetheless dazzling routines — all around him. The geography of levels is saturated with realistic physics, semi-dynamic and constantly changing — it crumbles, explodes and can occasionally be blown apart by Glitch’s weapons. The world has a tangible layer of interactivity to it, which is a feat that few competing developers can claim to have also achieved. And because structures fall apart and explode as droids are blasted to bits and bombs erupting, the levels are convincingly intense.”
IGN’s Review of Metal Arms: Glich in the System
Find Metal Arms: eBay / Amazon

More Great Games:
Brute Force XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
Psi-Ops (eBay / Amazon)
Destroy All Humans! XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
Destroy All Humans! 2 (eBay / Amazon)
The Punisher XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
Pariah XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)

Action Adventure

Obvious Choices:
Prince of Persia, Spinter Cell, Grand Theft Auto, etc
Featured Game: Beyond Good & Evil
 ” In one sense, it’s easy to describe Beyond Good & Evil, the latest game from Rayman creator Michel Ancel. Its core game play is very similar to recent Zelda titles, especially the generally excellent The Wind Waker, with puzzle-laden “dungeons,” vehicular transport to different parts of the game world, an intuitive combat system, and even heart containers. Add to this plenty of stealth levels, hovercraft racing, classic shooting sequences, and even some platformer-style elements (though somehow without the frustrating jumping). Then wrap it all up with a sophisticated story involving rich characters in a vivid, beautifully realized game world. Quick summary? It’s Zelda for grown-ups, without the annoying fetch-quests….

It’s easy enough to tally up Beyond Good & Evil’s accomplishments in game play, level design, and outright eye candy, and declare it a success. But there’s something more here to which all of these technical and design accomplishments are only a means to and end. You see, BG&E is one of those rare games that shines from all points with an unmistakable quality of intelligence and personality. It’s in the sharp writing and excellent voice acting. It’s in the constantly inventive yet believable world of Hyllis and in the story’s intriguing twists and emotional impact. Or in little details, wonderfully presented: Pey’j and Jade leaping into an embrace after a big fight, or Jade’s face registering pity and horror with the subtlest change of expression. It’s one thing to create a game full of pretty graphics and big action; it’s something else to give us a story worth caring about involving characters we believe in.Ultimately, for all its similarities to Zelda, this is where Beyond Good & Evil finds its own ground. Not only does it avoid many of the frustrations of the games it draws from (and yes, that includes Zelda’s flat story and tedious item-chasing), but it is pierced throughout with humor, intelligence, and humanity. While it’s over a bit before you’d want it to be, Beyond Good & Evil tells its story with amazing pizzazz and polish. Even better, it’s a story well worth telling.”
IGN’s Review of Beyond Good & Evil
Find Beyond Good & Evil: eBay / Amazon

Featured Game: Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath
 “Oddworld Inhabitants, the creator of the Oddworld universe, has turned out a few fairly different types of games set in the same unique universe… The Oddworld series now sees its most drastic change yet with the release of Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath. The new game’s emphasis on action and its attempt to combine third-person platforming and first-person shooting means that this new Oddworld has little to do with previous games to bear the name, but regardless of its place in the franchise, Stranger’s Wrath is a great game that brings together a few styles of gameplay startlingly well.

Stranger’s Wrath may take place in Oddworld, but it also starts out with an Old West theme. You play as Stranger, a bounty hunter of unknown origins. You seem to be the only one of your kind around, and you’ll spend most of the game taking on outlaws who are terrorizing various towns full of chicken-men. Why? To pay for your operation, of course… The game’s plot, conveyed through the occasional cutscene, is definitely one of its strong points. It starts slow, but the gradual buildup pays off at the end of the game’s roughly 15-hour adventure, which makes up for a lack of extras or alternate modes of play.

Stranger’s Wrath combines a few different methods of control for a nice hybridization of multiple styles. The game’s third-person perspective is where you’ll do most of your jumping and rope climbing. It’s also where you’ll execute your melee attacks. Stranger can ram foes with a head-butt maneuver or knock them around with a Crash Bandicoot-like spin punch. You can also drop into a first-person view by pushing in the right analog stick. While it’s nothing new for third-person games to allow you to get into first-person for a more-controllable view, Stranger’s first-person view essentially turns the game into a full-fledged first-person shooter. You can still double-jump while in this view, but you’ll move a bit slower, too…

There are a lot of great things going on in Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath. The game manages to combine its third-person and first-person viewpoints extremely well, and the little things, like using bugs and rodents for ammo, really give the game a unique flavor. It’s always interesting to see new twists on old action formulas, and it’s even better when the new twists pay off and combine to form something that’s better than the sum of its parts. While the disappointing voice work gets in the way fairly often, it’s still minor in the grand scheme of things. If you’re looking for an exciting action game with a unique sense of style, then Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath is a perfect fit. ”
GameSpot’s Review of Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath
Find Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath: eBay / Amazon

More Great Games:
Freedom Fighters (eBay / Amazon)
Thief: Deadly Shadows XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
Galleon (eBay / Amazon)
Second Sight (eBay / Amazon)
Futurama XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)

Adventure

Obvious Choices:
Pirates!, Myst IV, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee

Featured Game: Indigo Prophecy XBox 360 Compatible
 “From the moment you turn the game on, you’ll probably realize that this game more resembles an indie film than your typical game, which is probably why it’s called “interactive cinema”. In fact, the game reminds me more of movies such as Se7en, Memento and certain David Lynch movies, than it does most other games. You’re presented with a narrative from Lucas Kane, the main character of the game and soon you’ll find out why. This game takes a seemingly real-life experience and adds a surreal twist to it. The game begins with Lucas sitting in a bathroom stall in a diner on a chilly January day. Instead of your typical bathroom business, we watch Lucas carving into his wrists while apparently in a trance. Lucas Kane emerges from the stall and walks over to a man washing his hands, surprises him and then stabs him to death. How’s that for an introduction? After killing a total stranger in the restroom for no apparent reason, you awaken from your trance and are now in control of Lucas…

This is an adventure game, but there sure is a hell of a lot of tense moments that rival or surpass many action games, so for those who think adventure = boring, you’re dead wrong. The gameplay has a focus on exploration, investigation, intrigue and most of all, choice. Indigo Prophecy puts you in the shoes of Lucas Kane with a vast immersion factor. You, the gamer, know only what Lucas knows; you just killed a total stranger in cold blood for no reason, only “you” really didn’t do it. There is a huge amount of interaction from the get-go, what do you choose to do now? If you’ve ever read one of those choose your own adventure books, you’ll find Indigo Prophecy to be somewhat similar, as you get to choose your actions. Each choice you make affects the outcome of the game. Interacting in the game couldn’t be easier, because when you can perform an action, an icon pops up indicating the direction of the right thumbstick that you push in order to interact with the object. Some decisions to make include: do you walk Lucas over to the sink to clean yourself up; do you try and hide the body; how about mopping up the blood; and what about the bloody knife you used as a murder weapon?’

This game puts a unique twist on the adventure genre, a genre that has needed a breath of fresh air like this one for a long time. Its gameplay is innovative, unique and fun. I do wish that the QTEs happened before-hand, because sometimes youl’l miss out on some great scenes, but that’s really a fairly minor complaint. The graphics are highly detailed and the motion captured animation is superb. I can’t say enough about the impeccable audio and while it doesn’t control perfectly, it has a considerable amount of replay value for a single player adventure game. I really liked how a surreal twist was put on reality, it really added to the intrigue and mystery of an already suspenseful game, which compelled me to play nonstop. The characters are memorable and the storyline is great, even if it gets a bit “out there” towards the end. It’s games like this that deserve to be called art, instead of just “games”.”
TalkXBox’s Review of Indigo Prophecy
Find Indigo Prophecy: eBay / Amazon

Featured Game: Syberia II
 “Truth be told, the whole game is beautiful. Subzero conditions have never been so gorgeous. Sure, stills make up most of the environments, but who really cares when they look this good? Plus, the developers employed a variety of graphical touches that turn each still into a living postcard. You’ll often see animals scurry about frozen ponds, or watch birds and white owls dart around the screen.

Trees sway in the freezing wind and snow lazily drifts on top of hills and buildings. Character animation looks equally impressive. As Kate Walker makes her way across the landscape, she’ll leave footprints in the snow. Leave her alone for too long, and she’ll shudder and cough. All characters, regardless of importance, appear to have been animated with utmost care. With a story populated with well-written characters, it would have been a damn shame to have them look bland and lifeless.

Through its faults, Syberia II conjures a little bit of that magic common during the golden days of adventure games. It has a great, albeit short, storyline that grips you from the get-go. Plus, the story’s sense of urgency does a nice job balancing the languid pace of its gameplay. It’s a bit too slow-paced for consoles, enough that it may frustrate some gamers. Superb graphics, sound and music push Syberia II above being good, and just short of being great. During an adventure game drought though, Syberia II is a real winner — a refreshing game rich in narrative, gameplay and style.”
IGN’s Review of Syberia II
Find Syberia: eBay / Amazon

More Great Games:
Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon (eBay / Amazon)
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey XBox 360 Compatible (eBay / Amazon)
Still Life (eBay / Amazon)

Survival Horror

Obvious Choices:
Silent Hill, Fatal Frame

Featured Game: Obscure
 “Though the idea certainly isn’t new, the heart of Obscure’s innovation is its two-person co-op gameplay. But unlike past titles that have tried to benefit from a leapfrog system when approaching the concept of two-player survival, Obscure goes a more practical route by making everything simultaneous. In this adventure, Character A won’t have to stand on the secret switch while Character B acquires the Sacred Gem of Amara — they’ll have to decide what to do together and just go out and do it. This simultaneous “one-screen system” works a bit like a buddy cop movie: with one protagonist providing backup and another one trying to complete an objective at the same time. The end result is a pretty fluid and fast-paced escapade that can quickly turn into a great two-person party game…

ome additional bits of gameplay have pushed the envelope as well. In a nod to DOOM 3 players that were begging for a feature just like it, for example, users can tape flashlights to their weapons so that they don’t have to switch between illumination and firearm to see what they’re killing before pulling the trigger. The dated and frustrating typewriter save system made popular by the Resident Evil series has been nixed too, in favor of a much handier ‘save anywhere’ system that’s only limited to the number of discs that you find to use it. Other little details, like the more realistic recovery items (first aid kids, energy drinks) and an interesting light boost feature (a way to attack a swarming cloud of darkness with your flashlight to keep enemies away), add a distinctive flavor to the game that I haven’t really seen anywhere else. There’s even a handy quick-select menu system that allows players to bring up weapons and items independently on the fly (no need for sloppy menus anymore). When coupled with the cool co-op goodies mentioned above, you could see why Obscure could be a compelling pick-up for horror fans.”
IGN’s Review of Obscure
Find Obscure: eBay / Amazon

Featured Game: Cold Fear
 For what it is–a glossy update on Resident Evil 4–Cold Fear is remarkably effective. For one, the setting is unique. You begin on a storm-drenched whaling ship that lurches to and fro endlessly. This swaying heightens the tension by limiting your vision (as well as your aiming abilities). Same goes for the curtains of pounding rain; Aside from being a wonderfully atmospheric visual effect, the constant downpour jacks up the suspense by concealing your foes. And what foes they are…Cold Fear’s jaw-dropping visuals steal the show, oozing high-res malevolence at every turn. It’s enough to make you wonder why Sony and Microsoft are so obsessed with hurrying expensive new consoles to market–these amazing graphics will do just fine, thanks. The rusted-out derelict whaling ship boasts so many disturbing details and dark corners that it’s practically a character unto itself.

That said, the Xbox version offers the superior visual experience. Its advanced lighting system casts advanced real-time shadows (much like Doom 3), a high-tech feature the PS2 hardware simply can’t match. Cold Fear also looks great on the PS2, but its comparatively primitive lighting (the flashlight and shadows look far simpler) can’t inspire the same level of primal dread. The freaky sounds help pick up the slack, pumping out dynamic music that reacts to the action.

Cold Fear is an impressive achievement, and the first game to offer a serious alternative to the venerable Resident Evil series. Resident Evil 4’s massive arsenal gives it an edge, but Cold Fear’s maneuverable controls are a huge advantage.
GamePro’s Review of Cold Fear
Find Cold Fear: eBay / Amazon

RPG

Obvious Choices:
Fable, X-Men Legends, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Baldur’s Gate

Featured Game: Phantom Dust XBox 360 Compatible
 Phantom Dust was… a unique blend of RPG, action, and collectibility struck a chord with Japanese gamers, and it managed to build up a respectable following overseas… It’s hard to classify Phantom Dust‘s gameplay. It’s part role-playing, part third-person shooter, part strategy, and part collectible card game. No matter how you slice it though, it all adds up to a lot of addictive fun. The majority of the game consists of squaring off against a group of enemies within the confines of the rubble of the surface world. Players will enter combat armed only with some quick reflexes and a customized collection of psionic powers.

Powers from a player’s arsenal will appear randomly on the battlefield as a colored orb or energy. Up to four powers can be equipped at one time by running up to an orb and assigning it to any of the four face buttons. This made for even more frantic gameplay, as there were times that I found myself unarmed, outgunned, and across the room from my next available power. Early in the game, I found myself on the receiving end of a beatdown fairly often, due to Phantom Dust‘s unusual controls. After some practice, I started to get the hang of things and the controls felt a lot more natural, though I still can’t stand having to click the left thumbstick to jump.

After playing Phantom Dust‘s single player mode for a while, I was already sold on the game’s value. However, once I signed on to Xbox Live, I was floored by the number of options available for players. It’s easy to tell that Microsoft had really gone out of its way to create a solid online community for the game. From Phantom Dust‘s online lobby, I was able to buy, sell, and trade any number of available powers to tweak out my arsenal. Once I built what I thought was a respectable arsenal I took it for a test run online, where I quickly learned that my arsenal needed more of an overhaul than I thought. Still, I can honestly say I can’t remember a time I’ve had that much fun losing a game. And thanks to Phantom Dust‘s downloadable content, the possibilities for expansion are endless.

After my time spent with Phantom Dust, I can safely say it would have been a shame if American gamers never had a chance to experience it. There is so much packed into this game that it’s a steal at twice the price. Phantom Dust is a unique “must-have” title that should be a part of any Xbox owner’s library.”
GameSpy’s Review of Phantom Dust
Find Phantom Dust: eBay / Amazon

Featured Game: Shenmue II XBox 360 Compatible
 “Shenmue II is not a terribly difficult game, but it requires a certain amount of hours to play through. Some segments later on are nearly 100% cut scene, which cannot be skipped or sped up in any way. When it’s all done, Shenmue II leaves you hanging even more so than part I, and right up until that point, you’ll feel like the game is just finally starting to pick up pace. Overall, the game while much larger than the original, should take just a little bit longer to play through. Assuming of course, the little extras don’t suck up too much free time.

At heart, Shenmue II is really just a jazzed up next-generation, graphical adventure. There is plenty to see and do, and Ryo’s quest is captivating, interesting, and even occasionally educational. While the Xbox version is more polished than the Dreamcast original, as mentioned earlier, I definitely would have preferred to play this game a year ago on inferior hardware if it meant Shenmue III would be released in the more immediate future. Dreamcast gamers who played the Japanese import game still could benefit from the English localization, but may be disappointed to find the game essentially the same. Regardless of whether you experienced the first Shenmue, Xbox owners who are craving a good, epic adventure game should absolutely grab a copy of Shenmue II. It has a few annoying flaws, but overall, it’s my pick as the best Xbox adventure game of the year. ”
Gaming Age’s Review of Shenmue II
Find Shenmue II: eBay / Amazon

More Great Games:
Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes (eBay / Amazon)
The Bard’s Tale (eBay / Amazon)
Sudeki (eBay / Amazon)
Arx Fatalis (eBay / Amazon)

Fighting

Obvious Choices:
Dead or Alive 3, Soul Calibur II, Street Fighter Series, Guilty Gear X

Featured Game: Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus
 “Tobias has long wanted to implement his full vision of a fighting game, but never had the console or the backing to do so. With Tao Feng he has both. So what was this vision? A more open fighting game, with large environments, rewards for aggressive play, removal of the traditional “round” system, and a heavy reliance on combos. And, for the most part, Tao Feng is a smashing success.Gamers who choose to pick up Tao Feng and give it a whirl will find a tough fighter (really, about as hard as they come) that does its best to counter many of the cheese moves fighting experts have come to rely on the past decade. While Tao Feng doesn’t necessarily look like the next evolution of fighting games, it’s certainly a good start. Once you get used to leaping off walls when you’re backed into a corner, it’s hard to hop back to another fighting game that leaves you trapped and at the mercy of your buddy’s cheese moves.

Using the environment to swing off poles and beams, utilizing your Chi powers to wreak powerful (and easy to perform) attacks on your enemies, and staying aggressive to wear down your opponent’s defenses and eventually break their limbs creates a unique and new fighting gameplay experience. And so does a lack of timer or official rounds. Tack on the graphical successes and more voice over dialogue than I’ve remember hearing in a fighting game, and you’re on the road to something fresh and exciting. And Tao Feng is certainly that.”
IGN’s Review of Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus
Find Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus: eBay / Amazon
More Great Games:
Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee (eBay / Amazon)
Barbarian (eBay / Amazon)

Sports

Obvious Choices:
Madden, NBA Live, 2K Sports, etc

Featured Game: Sega Soccer Slam XBox 360 Compatible
 “Those who were always tempted by sports games, but never had the patience for endless menus and realistic nitpickings, will find Soccer Slam to be an addictive, fast-paced blast. Even punters of the GameCube version will find a host of new options in this Xbox incarnation, most notably extra players and multiplayer games.

A great deal of Slam’s appeal is its simplicity. Playing three-on-three, the controls are easy to learn and include flashy slow-motion power shots, dekes, and passes. You can even hit other players in an endless contest to possess the ball. At times, the game resembles more of a surreal slugfest, where a ball happens to be on the field, than an actual soccer game. Additional multiplayer contests?including a free-for-all brawl and hot potato game?add some diversity, but they become stale after a few plays.

Slam’s graphics shine. The visual highlight is the cartoonish players, which look as if they just clawed their way out of Tex Avery’s reject bin, complete with distinctive theme music and victory chants. Smooth controls keep the gameplay consistently exciting, the sole hitch is a clumsy passing system, the control stick that moves your player also directs your pass.

In Soccer Slam, it’s more gratifying to kick an opponent in the head than the ball into the goal, so if you?re expecting a sim-heavy, FIFA-style approach, look elsewhere. Sports games like this are much more exciting when reality stays out of the way.
GamePro’s Review of Sega Soccer Slam
Find Sega Soccer Slam: eBay / Amazon

69 Comments

  1. racketboy says:

    Just a few things worth noting…
    Yes, I realize that the XBox isn’t as retro as most stuff I cover, but I have had requests for this and I need to round up the series.

    Also, I have an “other” section that WordPress doesn’t seem to like right now. I’ll try to get that added later.

  2. gnome says:

    It’s amazing just how many of my favourite -and consequently of objective quality too- games managed to make the list! Psychonauts, Beyond Good ‘n’ Evil, Fahrenheit, Shenmue… Gems, they are, all shiny brilliant gems!

    Top post. Again.

  3. Visionnerz says:

    Spikeout Battle Street by Sega is another Xbox favorite of mine. A 3D beat em up sequel to the original arcade game. It’s almost what I would have imaged a 3D Streets of Rage on Dreamcast to be like. Very much worth checking out.

  4. bonefish says:

    Beyond Good & Evil just played through it. It really is great, although a little short. This game NEEDS a sequel.

  5. D says:

    These lists are totally awesome. Even for people who do not even own the specific console. Keep up the good work. These contributions rock. I have nothing to add except. Would it be possible to start certain lists for certain genres. Like for instance a list of all known light gun games for every system. I know for instance that there is packed to bring compilation for the xbox of Silent Scope from Konami and that there is a really big green light gun ‘gun’ for the system as well. I’d like something like that. Specifically for genres that get little coverage on the net like: light gun shooters.

  6. D says:

    I meant to say a packed to the brim compilation for the xbox of Silent Scope from Konami.
    (I think it has like 4 versions or something)
    Sorry for 2 posts, I will check better next time before I post my comment.

  7. racketboy says:

    That’s a good idea — I’ll be keeping that in mind.
    Thanks!

  8. zann says:

    thanks for this article. i’m about to buy a 360 (my first xbox, la de da) and was hoping to dig up more than 5 games to please me as an RPG/adventure gamer. looks like you’ve done it for me 🙂

  9. retrogamer says:

    Great article. Don’t forget to add the two Outrun games though. They are the only reason that I am still keeping my XBOX.

  10. rattboi says:

    D: Don’t get Silent Scope for Xbox. It is seriously messed up. I think the conclusion people have come to is that nobody can get it to work with ANY light gun correctly. It uses weird light levels to figure out where you are aiming, and it’s glitchy as crap. I got a gun to specifically play that game on xbox, and it was totally a waste of my money. The only other light gun game worth your time (maybe) on xbox is HOTD3, although I haven’t tried it with MAME yet. That might be fun.

  11. Gamerforlife says:

    X-box may not be retro, but it’s good to show people a list like this so they know that the system has more than just shooters, PC ports, racers and sport sims(which are unfortunately, the bulk of its titles though).

    I disagree with one or two suggestions, but overall this is impressive. I really think Kingdom Under Fire should be on here, unless that game got more attention than I thought when it was released.

    Some of my faves on here include Beyong Good & Evil(which is frankly better than Zelda is some ways, and set a nice high standard to be later matched by Okami), Panzer Dragoon Orta(forming my holy trilogy of rail shooters with Sin and Punishment and Starfox 64)and of course the brilliant Psychonauts

    There’s a few games on here I need to actually check out(I’ve yet to play any House of the Dead game, and I didn’t even know there was a third one)

  12. racketboy says:

    The third one is great — although, I’ve mostly played it in the arcade with the big blaster 🙂

    There is actually a fourth one in the arcade as well. Love to see a home port (Wii, maybe?)

  13. sv650touring says:

    This is the Racketboy list that differed most from what I expected. It does show me that the Xbox had more worthy native titles than I thought though. Good list

    First off Shikigami no Shiro 1 & 2 should have been on the list, along with Xyanide (Xbox exclusive for home consoles), because this is a retro gaming site and those are good shmups – the MOST retro genre.

    I think Halo 2 and Morrowind should have been mentioned for the available mods. The games might be common, but the homebrew mods and maps give them cool undiscovered qualities.

    No driving games? The Xbox controller S isn’t great for most retro gaming, but it is wonderful for driving. The Xbox Burnout games are wonderful, and if you like sims, Sega G 2002 and Forza are both very good. Of course, these are common games.

    While I haven’t tried it, Jade Empire (from BioWare) is alleged to be excellent and is Xbox/PC-exclusive.

  14. racketboy says:

    I’m sorry for missing the shmups — I should have known better than that.

    As for the racing games, I left them off on purpose. My thoughts were that all of the best racing games were pretty well-known and those that weren’t were too overshadowed by the popular ones.

    And Jade Empire I thought was overhyped and well-advertised.

  15. pm5k00 says:

    My personal fav 3rd person shooter, didn’t make the list. Raze’s Hell, if you haven’t played, you need to. Its kinda unknown and underrated.

  16. Endsville says:

    No mention of Enclave? It was one of the best underrated games on the box. Psychonauts isn’t quite a hidden gem, I distinctly remember the buzz about it during its release, not to mention commercials. Beyond Good & Evil is definitely a hidden gem. Great list, keep it up.

  17. Shane says:

    I can’t believe you did not mention KOTOR on the RPG list. That is just a crime. You should of also listed The Chronicles of Riddick somewhere too. Other than that good job!

  18. racketboy says:

    Actually, I was thinking about Riddick, but KOTOR is far from Undiscovered…

  19. Scott says:

    Great list. Thanks! I hope “The Cheapest Xbox Games Worth Your Time” is coming soon.

  20. Evil Smurf King says:

    Great job!

    But cracked me down that the list missed the all-time exclusive japanese-only gem for the xbox “Metal Wolf Chaos”.

  21. Hdhntr23 says:

    Dude,

    I love your website. Thanks for all the hard work youve done.

    On a different subject but XBox related… do you know or, does anyone know if Virtua Cop 3 was ever released for ANY of the systems either in the US, Europe, or Japan?

    I heard a rumor that it was released in Japan but I cant find any offical word on it. Also if it WAS released, is there a light gun for the XBox?

    Thanks!

  22. racketboy says:

    It was supposed to come out on the XBox, but it never made it out the arcades. A real shame…. The Wii would be a good fit for it 🙂

  23. Hdhntr23 says:

    Did it ever come out in Japan?

  24. racketboy says:

    Not according to Wikipedia and other sources I’ve seen

  25. Hdhntr23 says:

    I DO love the game in the arcade tho!!!

  26. StarsCream says:

    You can make your driving section with one really good and very underappreciated title – APEX

  27. Red_Beard says:

    I bought both Breakdown and Cold Fear when they first came out. I’ve been trying to get my friends to play them ever since. Looks like I’ll have to send them this way to read your reviews. Maybe then they’ll listen.

  28. glarg says:

    you forgot Deathrow

  29. TrackSol says:

    Hey RacketBoy, thanks for making these lists. I’m quite surprised how many of the games I like are featured listed as other good bets. Jet Set, Shenmue, Oddworld SW, Psychonauts, man you’re hitting the nail on the proverbial head.
    Keep up the good work buddy!

  30. Thanks for this article! There is so many undiscovered games for Xbox.

  31. WarGames says:

    Hey racketboy, long time no see (remember saturn torrents). Anyway I like the list, I loved indigo prophecy. I’ve been playing Mafia tonight on the Xbox, it’s a solid port of the PC game and looks good for 2004, I think it’s a little cooler and more genuine compared to the Godfather game from EA.

    Well keep the retro games alive man, peace.

  32. WarGames says:

    Oh another I forgot to mention was Predator: Concrete Jungle, it came out on Xbox and PS2 but the Xbox version I thought was superior. Nothing like ripping out someones spine using all those bad ass predator weapons.

  33. racketboy says:

    Hey WarGames — I remember you 🙂 Good ol Saturn Torrents 🙂
    Glad you enjoed the list.
    I’ll look into your recommendations — thanks!

  34. Corkadile says:

    Something in the Survival Horror genre you should look into is Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth. Think of it like Eternal Darkness and it’s sanity effects mixed in with First Person Shooting and a good amount of frightening stuff.

  35. racketboy says:

    Sounds cool — thanks for the suggestion!

  36. Vihn says:

    I think advent rising needs to be somewhere on this list. Had good, not great, gameplay and story. Isn’t that all you need (other than multiplayer)?

  37. andrew says:

    i think mecassault 2 lone wolf is the best

  38. noobtastor says:

    A game gear gems section would make me very happy

  39. racketboy says:

    I’ll have to think about that one 🙂

  40. cj_iwakura says:

    Love the lists, but a shmup aficionado like yourself HAS to show Xyanide some love. 😛 It’s arguably the most unappreciated Xbox game ever.

  41. racketboy says:

    Never heard of that one — I’ll have to look into it — thanks! 🙂

  42. jordiway73 says:

    I played a ton of games for the the xbox and by far Indiana Jones was my favorite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  43. Ryan says:

    Nobody’s mentioned Kung Fu Chaos?
    That’s a great multiplayer game that one. A lot like the Power Stone games, its only downfall is the slight hint of racism in the game. Besides that, it’s a winner!

  44. MrEco says:

    I’m thinkin’ you forgot The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

  45. slowslow325 says:

    Better article:

    BEST UNDISCOVERED XBOX GAMES

    Every Genre:

    Obvious Choices: Halo, Halo 2

    Featured game: Any game that’s not Halo1 or 2.
    Yes, I know. I bet you didn’t know there was more to the XBox than Halo. Well, a lot of these games are actually good.

  46. Ben says:

    BREAKDOWN IS A FUCKEN AMAZING GAME

    EVERY AND ALL XBOX OWNER SHOULD HAVE THAT GEM AT THE TOP OF THEIR DAMN PILE

  47. Schmattakopf says:

    Someone needs to feature Otogi and its sequel and make my life complete.

  48. will says:

    Perhaps someday we will see a sequel to Phantom Dust. The gameplay was so ahead of its time. I’ve never played anything like it.

  49. DaveC says:

    After having Otogi and Otogi unbeaten for a couple years, I decided to boot them up, and it is freakin hard, but still a beautiful game. Ive decided to hunt down Phantom Dust, Breakdown, and Oddworld.

  50. Henry says:

    Have any of you heard of Gladius? It’s a gladiatoral combat RPG/Turn based strategy game, and personally, i think its the best game I’ve ever played.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladius_(video_game)

    Check it out! It gets my “best game you never played” award.

  51. Lord_Santa says:

    great list, but I would (also) say that you missed out on: Raze’s Hell and Otogi 1+2

  52. Lord_Santa says:

    great list, but I would (also) say that you missed out on: Raze’s Hell, Otogi 1+2 and Enclave

  53. Oveneise says:

    … Great list but … WHERES KUNG FU CHAOS?! That game was awesome.

  54. Scott says:

    If anyone likes off the wall sports games, they have to try “deathrow”. Super fun with great action and you can add your own soundtrack with makes the game badass.

  55. SixtySixHundred says:

    ‘Black’, the best FPS on the Xbox, and ‘Futurama’ is an awful, awful game. You also failed to include ‘Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Rebublic’ from the list of obvious RPG choices! Otherwise, a fairly solid list.

  56. Big Thank’s for this article! There is many undiscovered games for Xbox.

    James

  57. Sietesoles says:

    Hey, what a great list, you had me on your side at the first two titles, psychonauts and voodoo vince are two of the greatest findings ive made! I havent played dragoon panzer orta & shenmue II yet but i have heard some really great stuff about the.

    I am most shoked, though to not to have seen a couple of my all times favorites (wich also include psychonauts and voodoo vince of course) on your list:

    Starwars: knigths of the old republic I & II (but mostly I): GREAT story (i actually liked it much more than the story in the movies… not that i dislike that one or anything, its just so enveloping!), awesome character development. LOOOOOOONG play time(it took me around 75 hours the first time i played kotor I and around 70h kotor II, (Kotor I is probably the single best game i’ve ever played).

    Jade Empire: Breath-taking graphics, stunning storyline fun & challenging figths (at higer difficulties) and marvelous philosophy involved.

    I hope that you chek them out and add them to your list (if you want to, of course)!

    Enjoy!

  58. Sietesoles says:

    I just realized! both the kotor series and jade empire are rpgs by bioware!

  59. Hoiberg says:

    I really think you should add Deathrow to the sports section. It is a blast of a game especially with multiple people playing at once.

  60. Jason says:

    Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus? That isn’t a “gem”, its a dried up lump of poop.
    That game sucks.

  61. Zechs says:

    I’d say that Advent Rising DEFINITELY need to be added to the main part of the list. It’s WAAAAY less of an obvious choice than say….Panzer Dragoon Orta (which I own and love). Advent Rising just never got the love it deserved from anyone. In my opinion…it may just be the most under-rated game of all time. I’m playing it currently (again) and never get tired of it.

  62. Alex says:

    nice article im looking for some titles. Beyond Good and Evil have it on PS2 never liked it.

  63. ChessCar says:

    A couple of years back, when i just to play xbox, i found the game thet have the biggest learning curve and bizzar story that i ever played, i lost all my games and the years past, and the game name went to oblivion, till now, phantom dust is one of the best game i ever play in my life, maybe the only one not popular enogh to be found in game reviews and game, im glad that you intruduce it in the list first, cos it tell me that im not crazy as mi friends tuoghts when they watch me play that strange thing that i called “game” and second i can finally look for it and pla it all over again.

  64. Axel'sVirtue says:

    Suggestions
    -Blinx: The Time Sweeper
    -Star Wars: Republic Commando (only First-Person shooter I’ve actually enjoyed, but it is unfornately baried under all the other shooters and Star Wars properties)

  65. Aaron Charron says:

    I agree with Blinx: The Time Sweeper.

    Also have to second Kung Fu Chaos. Was glad to see some commenters beat me to it…by a couple years at that.

    Indigo Prophecy is amazing, was first shown it on XBOX and found it later on PC as “Fahrenheit”.

    I was really hoping to see Otogi as a featured game. But at least it was mentioned and that’s saying something. Funny, you and I have very different tastes in games in general…but also have a lot of crossover tastes. You recognize ambition, execution and originality. It’s unfortunate how unwilling to take risks companies are nowadays.

    I loved it back in the day when a worm could don a super-suit and launch cows. Or an eccentric millionaire could defeat his enemies with snot.

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  67. Shenmue was my all time favourite game for a time. Still a great game!