When you add a console to your collection, the first thing you want to do is get a handful of games to keep you busy with your new toy. However, most of us can’t spend afford to spend fat pile of cash for a few games. This budget-friendly list should help you quickly find which games will start you off well without emptying your wallet. (Prices listed are an average eBay price for US games, including shipping.) Also, if you are fortunate enough to have a 360, I have marked the backwards-compatible titles with this icon .
Jet Set Radio Future / Sega GT Combo: $4
The original Jet Grind Radio from the Dreamcast is still one of my all-time favorites, and its sequel on the XBox simplifies the gameplay a bit in some areas, bring the story forward a number of years, and puts some XBox polish on the already slick graphical style. JSRF is an incredibly unique and entertaining game that should not be overlooked. What’s better is JSRF was combined with Sega GT for an XBox pack-in disk. You should be able to find the combo disc just about anywhere for next to nothing.
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Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell , SC: Pandora Tomorrow , SC: Chaos Theory : $5 each
The original Splinter Cell was a groundbreaking game that started a powerful new series for the Tom Clancy team. These first three installments are still very relevant today and is dirt cheap due to the fact that most other gamers have moved on to the endless lineup of newer action titles. It’s also worth mentioning the XBox not only has the highest-quality ports of these games, but they are also the most afforable.
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SSX 3 & SSX Tricky: About $7 Each
The crazy, arcade-like SSX snowboarding franchise has been getting rave review for years and has had numorous installments on most of the latest platforms. SSX 3 and SSX Tricy are currently the sweet spot for the best quality-to-price ratio for the XBox. It may not have some of the bells and whistles of the newer installments, but it will still keep you entertained for a while without draining your wallet.
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Soul Calibur II: $7
Anybody remotely interested in 3D fighters should not overlook the Soul Calibur series. After the rave reviews as a Dreamcast exclusive, the original Soul Calibur was followed up as a multiplatform sequel with a great deal of hype. However, even though Soul Calibur III wasn’t much better, most gamers are selling off their copies and picking up newer installments. Now is your time to take advantage of this bargain.
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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: $7
For the longest time, Sands of Time nearly got ignored by most of the gaming community, but eventually enough people read all the positive reviews and gave it a try. Over the last few years, numerous sequels have spawned, giving this classic franchise new life. The Sands of Time may still be a frontrunner for the best in the series, and it is definately the best value.
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Project Gotham Racing 2: $4
The Project Gotham series quickly went from being a follow-up to the popular Dreamcast racer, Metropolis Street Racer, to being one of the premier racing franchises in gaming. If you have an XBox 360 you probably want to save up for PGR3 or 4, but if you are making ends meet with just your original XBox, Project Gotham 2 is still a satisfying racing experience for a price you can’t beat.
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Forza Motorsport: $6
With Sony’s racing simulation dominance with the Gran Turismo series, Microsoft knew they had to step up and create a dominant simulator of their own. Forza did not disappoint racing enthusiasts due to its realism in terms of the racing itself and its ability to realistically model damage to cars, from both a cosmetic and a performance standpoint. Teamed with the PGR series, you have an incredible pair of XBox-exclusive racers for under $10 total.
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Burnout 3: Takedown: $7
I have to admit, I’m personally not much for Forza Motorsport and those more realistic racers. The Burnout series, on the other hand, it a racing series for the rest of us that want more high-speed action and fun gimmicks such as Burnout’s glorification of high-speed crashes. While you can get most of the series installments for about the same price, I think most fans of the series would agree that the third installment was the peak of its excellence.
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Tony Hawk’s Underground: $4
When it seems like a new Tony Hawk game comes out every other month, it is no surprise when older installments are plentiful on eBay for low prices. Tony Hawk Underground was the first major upgrade from the PS1, N64, Dreamcast era so it was noticeably improved in terms of graphical quality and gameplay depth.
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Top Spin / NCAA Football 2005 Combo: $4
I’ve always been pretty partial to Sega’s Virtua Tennis series, but Top Spin actually puts up a good fighter as a compelling Tennis game that seems realistic but balances the easy-to-learn-but-hard-to-master aspect that makes a four-player doubles match a surprisingly good party game. Throw in NCAA Football 2005 on a pack-in combo disc and you have possibly the best sports party value for nearly any console.
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Half-Life 2: $7
As most gamers are already aware, Half-Life 2 is an engaging FPS that made you feel like you were part of the action, not just a spectator. The interactive environment served a purpose rather than just some add-on that didn’t really give anything back. Not only does this shooter combine great storytelling and intense action, but it also pushes the limits of what the original XBox could do.
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The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay: $6
Typically, you’ll want to steer clear of games based on a movie license, Escape from Butcher Bay is commonly regarded as being better than the movies it is associated with. This first person action title borrows from many genres such as role playing, stealth, shooter and adventure, but its strength is its immersive, story-driven environment.
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Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge: $4
If you enjoy flight action games, you couldn’t ask for much more from Crimson Skies. In additional to it’s killer dog-fighting gameplay, it has outstanding graphics, an awesome soundtrack, easy controls, top-notch production values, a fun online mode that has a huge following, and professional voice acting that adds a blend of drama, noir, and comedy.
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TimeSplitters 2: $8
If you want a high-quality FPS that is designed for consoles, you need to pick up TimeSplitters 2. Developed by the same team that worked for Rareware on the N64’s Goldeneye 007, Timesplitters 2 has killer level design, great weapons, and a variety of multiplayer and minigame options. It may not have the realism that some modern gamers crave or a fascinating storyline, but it tops Halo in my book in terms of gameplay and all-out fun.
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Dead or Alive 3: $5
DOA3 was one of the original showpieces for the XBox and is still a fast and fun brawler for those that aren’t looking for a technical tournment fighter. If you want some bouncy eye-candy while you tear into your opponents, Dead or Alive 3 will give you a cheap thrill.
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For mech action on a budget (as opposed to the pricey Steel Battalion), MechAssault will treat you to an excellent combination of great graphics, detailed Mechs and both engaging single player campaigns and great online multiplayer. Every structure throughout the game is fully destructible, so you can a great deal of fun blowing up every structure, bridge, tower, or bus that you need to.
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Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance: $5
While some MGS fans didn’t enjoy Sons of Liberty as much as the original PS1 Metal Gear Solid, part 2 was still a landmark experience, as you could expect from Hideo Kojima. The MGS2 Substance release includes some added modes and options in addition to the games that was a crucial piece of the PS2 library. While Substance on the PS2 goes for over $10, you can get it dirt cheap on the XBox.
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A Few Must-Haves Slightly Over $10
Halo : $13
While it may be overrated, there is no doubt that Halo is still one of the best console FPSs out there and is the cornerstone of the XBox library. If you are not a die-hard PC gamer with many high-end FPSs under your belt, but are interested in trying the genre out on a console, Halo is your ticket.
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Ninja Gaiden: $11
If you want intense action with a challenge that few games rival, look no further than this modern Ninja Gaiden installment. It will take a lot of work to uncover all of the game’s secrets, not to mention reach its conclusion, but chances are that all you need is to give Ninja Gaiden a look to be extremely impressed by it. Obvious care and detail went into every single aspect of this game and is still one of the brightest jewels of the XBox library.
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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: $13
Easily one of the best RPGs on the XBox, KOTOR takes place centuries before the original Star Wars story, KOTOR is a very in-depth game with a great storyline, great graphics and is wrapped in one of the best Star Wars experiences gamers have seen. And with it being the first true RPG in the saga, Knights of the Old Rebublic sets the standards for how these games should be made.
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Panzer Dragoon Orta: $12
Even though your typical XBox owner probably isn’t even familiar with the Panzer Dragoon series, that shouldn’t stop you from spending a little cash on checking this gem out. The Panzer Dragoon series is a collection of cult-classics on the ill-fated Sega Saturn, but the on-rails shooter made a stunning return on the XBox. This under-appreciated title is one of Sega’s last great masterpieces.
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Other Cheap Favorites
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
Max Payne: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
Jade Empire: $7 – eBay / Amazon.com
Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath: $8 – eBay / Amazon.com
Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
OutRun 2: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
Fight Night Round 2: $5 – eBay / Amazon.com
Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
Rallisport Challenge: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
Rallisport Challenge 2: $7 – eBay / Amazon.com
Midnight Club II: $5 – eBay / Amazon.com
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3: $7 – eBay / Amazon.com
Fable: $5 – eBay / Amazon.com
Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict: $5 – eBay / Amazon.com
Far Cry Instincts: $7 – eBay / Amazon.com
Indigo Prophecy: $9 – eBay / Amazon.com
Need for Speed Underground 2: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
Doom 3: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
Metal Arms: Glitch in the System: $5 – eBay / Amazon.com
ESPN NFL 2K5: $3 – eBay / Amazon.com
Madden NFL 2005: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
NBA 2K5: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
Major League Baseball 2K5: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
NBA Street Vol. 2: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
NHL 2K5: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
FIFA Soccer 2005: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
My Starter Picks For $50 Budget
If I only had $50 to spend on starting out an XBox collection, here would be my top picks:
- Jet Set Radio Future / Sega GT Combo: $4
- Project Gotham Racing 2: $4
- Top Spin / NCAA Footbal: $4
- Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge: $4
- Halo : $13
- Half-Life 2: $7
- Panzer Dragoon Orta: $12
- Total: $48
Keep in mind, these are my personal picks. There are a lot of great, cheap titles on the original XBox, so you could easily substitute some titles on this list to match your personal taste.