Xbox 360: The Video Game System That Truly Has Gone “Full Circle”
I remember reading video game magazines before the launch of the Xbox 360 in North America back in 2005, and there were so many amazing features that really enticed me to buy one as soon as possible.
There was also a strong game launch line-up, including games such as Amped 3 (which was a phenomenal and hilarious snowboarding game including references to Final Fantasy VII and other video games), Kameo (underrated action-adventure game), and Perfect Dark Zero (the multiplayer was fun, especially seeing old maps, such as Facility, re-done), and Dead or Alive 4, which was released a few weeks later.
There were also further enticements: details of the next Lumines game, (which is one of my favorite video game series) Lumines Live! (which was supposed to have music videos in the game, such as Madonna’s “Sorry”), were to be released soon, along with other great Xbox LIVE Arcade games.
I ended up purchasing an Xbox 360 a few weeks after the system launched, when I returned back to Florida at the time for holiday break. Many of my friends who had an Original Xbox quickly upgraded to an Xbox 360 within a month or two of the console’s release. This was an easy choice to make, as Microsoft quickly abandoned the Original Xbox.
I became further involved with the Xbox community at the time, even becoming an Xbox Ambassador (a volunteer position assisting others on the Xbox Forums and on Xbox LIVE, as well as introducing to them a positive environment) before Halo 3 was released.
Despite all of the new games being released on Xbox 360 (such as Prey, Dance Dance Revolution Universe, Gears of War, N3: Ninety Nine Nights, Phantasy Star Universe, Guitar Hero II, Halo 3, Blue Dragon, Eternal Sonata, The Orange Box, Scene It?, Beautiful Katamari, Mirror’s Edge, Left 4 Dead, Bioshock, and Mass Effect, to name a few), I still went back to playing the Original Xbox from time to time. I still enjoyed playing games such as Halo 2, Dead or Alive Ultimate, and the DDR Ultramix series online.
When Microsoft announced that Xbox LIVE was being discontinued for the Original Xbox in early 2010, I recognized that there were many Original Xbox games I had not even played before and wanted to download all of the content before they disappeared. I spent the next three months playing many Original Xbox games such as Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes, Operation Flashpoint: Elite, Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, Project Snowblind, Outrun 2006 Coast 2 Coast, Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War, Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, Steel Batallion series (well, the sequel was only online), Pariah, Raze’s Hell, and Ninja Gaiden Black (I believe there was some LIVE functionality, perhaps online leaderboards).
There were also other Original Xbox games that did not have Xbox LIVE features which I also ended up playing, which included Black, i-Ninja, State of Emergency, Voodoo Vince, Malice, the Otogi series, The Bard’s Tale, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, Blinx 2: Master of Time and Space, Red Ninja: End of Honor, Mad Dash Racing, Winback 2: Project Poseidon, Gunvalkyrie, and Xyandine.
I then also recognized I had not finished Jet Set Radio Future, Syberia II, Phantom Dust, Fatal Frame II, and Dreamfall – so I made a note to go back and play them too. I then realized I had abandoned the Original Xbox a bit too early. I had played Halo 2 so much that I missed out on so many Xbox LIVE online games (such as Timesplitters: Future Perfect and many others). There were also other Original Xbox games that I had missed out on that had no Xbox LIVE features (such as Still Life and many others). Thankfully, there was still some time to play any online-enabled game before Xbox LIVE was discontinued in April 2010.
When Xbox LIVE was discontinued for the Original Xbox, I became even more sentimental. I created an XboxConnect account which allowed me to play Halo 2 online again, though the online community had dwindled by then, with only a handful of people still online. Later on, XboxConnect would shut down, leaving only XLinkKai as the only way to play online. There are still a few hundred people playing Halo 2 via this option at this time of writing in February 2016, though they apparently seem to be more located in South America than in North America.
As I re-emerged from playing heavily on the Original Xbox, I recognized that the Xbox 360 was probably nearing its last years as well. The Kinect, which Microsoft had hoped to have a longer life-span, ended up not meeting full expectations. As an early beta-tester for Kinect (and yes, we got to keep the Kinect – thanks Microsoft), I immediately realized that the device was not as good as it could have been. While early concepts such as Project Milo intrigued me, its failure to emerge as a released game was disappointing. Moreover, many of the games that utilized Kinect were difficult to control and lacked accurate sensory input. At the end of the day, I also still preferred to play with an Xbox 360 controller – though the younger generation (and perhaps the more casual gamers) certainly were more receptive to the Kinect than I.
I was looking forward to the next Xbox console until its terrible pre-E3 unveiling and news that there were no backwards compatibility and other bizarre features (always online/Kinect console, inability to play used games, and a focus on making the Xbox One an entertainment device focusing on television features and show productions) left a sour taste that still lasts until this day.
When I decided to buy a video game console for my cousin (who is eight years old), I did not think of getting her an Xbox One. Not just because of its sour past, but because there was a lack of “couch games” (games that could be played locally with four people on the same screen). I did not think of the Wii U or the Playstation 4 either. Instead, I thought of the Xbox 360 immediately. As Xbox 360 is now a lower price (thanks to the Forza Horizon 2 bundle), this option was most appealing as I could allow my cousin to experience so many games that I enjoyed. Moreover, I owned so many digital games (Xbox Live Arcade and Indie games), along with quite a few retail discs. The Xbox 360 became the most affordable option – and not just because of so many games I can now share with her and play with her, but because there were many games that had local multiplayer and an even longer longevity thanks to many Xbox 360 games now becoming backwards-compatible with the Xbox One.
The Xbox 360 has become “full-circle” to me – what started as one of the best video game consoles of its time has now seen a whole new life for many more years, over ten years later since its release. The Xbox 360 has become a console that keeps on giving. With more than 1,000 disc-based games, 700+ Arcade games, and thousands of Indie games, there is still more life to the Xbox 360. Long live Xbox 360!
For anyone else thinking about getting a newer video game system for a family member, think about buying them an Xbox 360, especially if you previously owned and purchased many digital Xbox 360 games. All you have to do is download your Xbox LIVE gamertag profile and you can download all of the games to the new Xbox 360 console for them to enjoy. I have one Xbox 360 in Florida, and one in Canada. I can play online on either console and play all of the games I previously purchased.