No one can be told what software emulation is
Fully faithful and flawless backwards compatibility is no easy feat. When the architecture is alien and outdated, as it with the Xbox 360 in comparison to its successor, it makes software emulation especially difficult and prone to erratic behavior. Even Microsoft, a giant in software development, needs time to finalize its solution: a simulation of the Xbox 360 on the Xbox One, pinned to a hope that your old games dont realize theyre living in a fake computer-generated world.
The Xbox Ones forthcoming ability to play Xbox 360 games is not only important from a game preservation standpoint, but from the interests of players, who have invested money and time in a library they love. And though not every game will be compatible from day one, the goal is to include everything from Arkham Asylum to Zuma. Sure, Red Dead Redemption and Skyrim are the obvious choices to start with, but nows the time to speak up for the weirder games too.
Sneak King - Anthony John Agnello
The Xbox 360 is truly one of the console greats, ten years after it first greened up the world but it didnt start that way. Even compared to limp launches like Wii U, PlayStation 2, and others, the game selection was rocky. By the end of 2006, though, things were really coming together for the Xbox 360 thanks to a robust selection of original titles from unlikely places. The best of that crop: Burger Kings Sneak King.
Fine. Sneak King might not be the standard bearer other 06 360 games were. It wasnt Dead Rising and it certainly wasnt Gears of War. Sneak King was just the very first game that asks you to surprise people working at a construction site. With burgers. As a man with an enormous, crowned, leering face. Who is also wearing tights. And a cape. Anyone who played Sneak King on their Xbox 360 was changed by the experience and Xbox One owners deserve to share that magic.
Rez HD - Lucas Sullivan
To say that Rez's trippy atmosphere and electronica soundtrack make you feel like you're on drugs does this one-of-a-kind shooter a disservice. Instead, it'd be more accurate to say that it makes you feel like a cyberspace hacker zooming through a wireframe world, stacking layers of rhythm onto sonically astounding beats that drive you forward like a metronomic force of nature. In other words, it makes you feel amazing.
To think that Rez was originally released for Dreamcast is mind-boggling - and the Xbox 360 port delivers all the same trance-inducing action and transcendental abstractions of technology of the original, all HD-ified. Crimson Dragon on Xbox One was nice and all, but adding backwards-compatible support for Rez HD would get us even closer to the Panzer Dragoon experience on new-gen.
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron - David Roberts
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is well, weird is putting it mildly. Designed by Devil May Cry and Okami lead developer Takeyasu Sawaki and inspired by the apocryphal book of Enoch, El Shaddai tells the story of fallen angels and the hero Enoch's quest to prevent a great flood. You wander around abstract yet gloriously cel-shaded environments, fighting off demons and receiving mission objectives from a man named Lucifel. He's your guardian angel, a snappy dresser, and he talks to God (yep, the Hebrew capital-G God) via cell phone. It's Western religion as told by Eastern game developers, and I guarantee it's unlike anything you've ever played.
But it's not just a strange interpretation of a long-abandoned book of the Bible - it's also one hell of an action game. Enoch has several weapons at his disposal, which he must first steal from enemies by weakening them with basic attacks. Different enemies are weak against specific weapons, and your weapons even degrade over time, requiring you to either purify it mid-battle or snag a new one off your foe. It's frantic yet nuanced, and hopefully backwards compatibility will help give this cult title a new lease on life.
Vanquish - Ludwig Kietzmann
Vanquish is the delirious climax in a game of cross-continental telephone, played between star designers in America and Japan. First, designer Shinji Mikami directed the future of third-person action games with Resident Evil 4, a deft blend of shooting, exploration and moments that compressed just the edge of your couch. It also inspired the stop-and-pop mayhem of Gears of War, which upped the pace and spectacle, and ultimately completed the groundwork for Mikamis big post-Gears game for Platinum, called Vanquish.
Though Vanquish is a cover-based shooter in classification, its a chaotic robo-skateboard assault game in execution. As a nimble man strapped inside an iPod-white rocket suit, you crash to the floor and slide back and forth between bits of cover, piercing through enemy lines and making hasty retreats as the shootouts oscillate. Its an electric game of three-dimensional navigation, balanced on the edge of survival: blast around too much and youll overheat, stay too still and youll get crushed. That central tension has yet to be replicated in any other modern shooter, giving Vanquish a clearly defined space to fill on the Xbox Ones back-compat roster.
Lost Odyssey - David Roberts
While Square Enix has been gallivanting about with Lightning and friends for the past few years, fans looking for a more traditional Final Fantasy experience have gone wanting - and yet the best Final Fantasy game in years has been under our noses this whole time. Helmed by series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, Lost Odyssey follows the voyage of Kaim, an immortal man struggling to regain his vanished memory. Many of these memories are revealed through short stories written by award-winning author Kiyoshi Shigematsu, and they're equal parts gripping and heart-breaking. The gameplay may adhere to traditional turn-based JRPG tropes, but the narrative is one of the best in the genre.
The shift to backwards compatibility might even do it some favors, too. Most of the biggest gripes about Lost Odyssey were focused on its exorbitant load times between the world map and random battles, though they're largely mitigated if you install the discs to the hard drive. Since backwards compatible games are downloaded to your Xbox One directly from Microsoft's servers, everyone should get the best Lost Odyssey experience regardless of whether they own a physical or digital copy of the game.
Crackdown - Paul Taylor
Before you play Crackdown on Xbox One some time in 2016, you have to play, er, Crackdown on Xbox 360. On paper it sounds like A Generic Videogame super-soldiers from the Agency roam around an open world leaping up and over buildings, picking up collectables and shooting bad guys but Crackdown is the twist in the double helix of videogame DNA. Its also the closest youll come to feeling like a superhero without being hemmed in by a crummy licence. Crackdown paved the way for Prototype and the sillier, less-mean Saints Row games, and will still leave you feeling like youre about to lose your lunch while you bound up and over and down down down the other side of a skyscraper. Theres even an achievement for scaling and then leaping off the highest building in the game, but youll have to max your stats out to get up there in the first place by hunting orbs.
Playing original Crackdown will also ready you for the orb collectathon which sounds about as appealing as picking up every single piece of confetti from a confetti festival that erupted across your neighbourhood, but nevertheless leaves you wide-eyed at 2am while your muscle-bound Agent slams into the concrete, hours after playing hopscotch on the citys skyscrapers and rooting out over 500 of those glowing gems. Do we have to spell it out for you, Agent? Your. Xbox. One. Needs. This. Game.
Child of Eden - Ludwig Kietzmann
Though it may as well be called Child of Rez, Tetsuya Mizuguchis blaring return to the rhythm shooter gave the Xbox 360 an eclectic, truly modern mash-up of music and visual combat. Child of Edens wildly colorful, freeform environments pair with the upbeat backing from Japanese electro-pop group Genki Rockets to form some kind of emotional shortcut to happiness even if it all becomes nonsensical given more thought. In the moment, with the room swimming in neon colors and uplifting music making you buoyant in it, every level makes complete sense. It makes all the sense in the world to shoot the barnacles off a bedazzled space whale, which then transforms into a flaming phoenix.
Just so were clear: Youre shooting the barnacles off a bedazzled space whale, which then transforms into a flaming phoenix. That is something you can and must do in the video game called Child of Eden. We, the human race, could not be more compatible with the concept, so lets get the darn thing working on the Xbox One.
50 Cent: Blood on the Sand - Paul Taylor
The premise of 50 Cent Blood on the Sand is ridiculous: Fiddy and G-Unit are hired to play a concert in Some Middle Eastern Country (cultural sensitivity lacking somewhat in 2009) but instead of being paid, theyre given a human skull thats peppered with diamonds and pearls. The skull is promptly stolen from them by a nefarious chap called Kamal, with Misters Cent and Unit giving chase. Guns battles and fist fights ensue.
Blood on the Sand plays like a hip-hop version of Gears of War or Army of Two, replete with satisfying co-op, but more arcadey. Fiddys own music plays in the background, and when you dont have an automatic rifled glued into your hands, you battle up-close with the bad guys. Jackson also provides quips and one-liners that are far too expletive-laden for us to publish here. While the story is utter tripe, the cutscenes are hugely entertaining in a B-movie sort of way and that, really, roughly sums up the whole game. Take a look at the Xbox One's upcoming release schedule: between the polished sequels and the hyperactive indie buffet, the middle ground is a wasteland. 50 Cents riotous, overblown ego trip is the game thats like nothing else out there.
Nier - Anthony John Agnello
Nier looked like the very embodiment of Square-Enixs weaknesses during the height of its fallow period that just so happened to coincide with the Xbox 360s heyday. Convinced it had to chase the almighty bro dollar, Squares Japanese studios eased off making idiosyncratic fare like Radiata Stories and started licensing its best properties to underfunded Western studios (Front Mission Evolved) and adding stoic, dull-eyed beefcake leads to its RPGs like it did with Nier. This action RPG is ugly. It opens with alienatingly boring, mechanically limp quests that last for hours. Its enemies literally look like mad, unfinished notebook doodles. It then blooms into one of the most affecting, beautiful games available on the console.
All the things that initially seem like weaknesses in Nier turn out to be strengths bolstered by the games hazy, surreal story of survival and its weirdly endearing characters. Grimoire Weiss is like a persnickety, snide cousin of C-3P0 who also happens to be a book. Kaine is a vicious, honorable trans champion that struggles with an evil spirit living inside her. They hang out with a puppet in dungeons that shift between bullet hell shooter challenges and text adventures. It takes a long time to get to Niers sweetest meats, but when you do its an incomparable experience that plays best on Xbox 360 compared to a rickety PS3 version. Fingers crossed that the backwards compatibility support keeps it that playable.