Xbox Hidden Gems (Part 1)

Xbox Hidden Gems (Part 1)

Five games worth revisiting

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Retrospectives on

Although the gaming industry keeps moving forward, digging up games from the past can result in some delightful surprises. Here, I'll take a look at five gems from the original Xbox's library. Maybe you'll discover some treasures to add to your collection, too.

Wakeboarding Unleashed screenshot
I don't know who Shaun Murray is but his game sure kicks ass

Wakeboarding Unleashed

You don't see that many wakeboarding games nowadays. In fact, besides this and Wakeboarding HD for PlayStation 3, I can't think of any others. Anyway, this game has you performing tricks in order to extend your Groove meter. Once you're out of Groove, your run is over so you have to keep flipping, jumping, grinding, and acting like a jerk by flipping folks out of their inner-tubes if you want to score big. The combination of impressive graphics, cheesy rock music, and tight yet challenging gameplay make this one of the best trick-based sports games I've ever played. When you compare it to its modern contemporaries; it holds up beautifully.

Dr. Muto screenshot
He should change his name to Dr. Mouse-o

Dr. Muto

With the recent 3D platformer revival including Yooka-Laylee and Voodoo Vince Remastered (which is a remake of an original Xbox game), it's a good time to play some buried treasures like Dr. Muto. It may not be the most polished game but running around as the mad scientist and being able to transform into a mouse, a spider, a fish, a squirrel, and a gorilla makes for a great time indeed. Solving puzzles and acquiring a wealth of collectibles requires you to regularly transform which results in one varied and enjoyable campaign.

Phantom Crash screenshot
It may look complex but controlling one of these machines is actually quite simple

Phantom Crash

In the year 2031, Rumbling is a sport where people battle in giant robotic war machines known as SVs. Heading to the battlefield in your very own custom mech then destroying your opponents one after the other is so satisfying. The controls are fantastically implemented, too, as you watch your mech glide around smoothly and fire an array of weaponry. One of the coolest features is optical camouflage which turns you invisible to foes and their targeting systems. After each battle, you can use your hard-earned money to purchase new weapons and upgrades for your mech and turn it into an even more capable death machine. If you enjoy Phantom Crash then be sure to also check out its sequel S.L.A.I.: Steel Lancer Arena International for PlayStation 2.

Tak: The Great Juju Challenge screenshot
Tak watches as Lok tries to wake up a sleepy rhino

Tak: The Great Juju Challenge

You may shrug Tak: The Great Juju Challenge off as a game for kids but it's actually a very cool cooperative platformer. You and a friend play as Tak and Lok who try to beat competing teams in a selection of timed platforming stages. Working together to solve puzzles and give each other boosts is a ton of fun and the sense of humour is fantastic, too. Lok is even voiced by Patrick Warburton who played Puddy on Seinfeld and also lends his voice to Flynn in the Skylanders series. He plays Lok perfectly as his clumsy nature will make even the most jaded adults at least crack a smile. When it comes to cooperative platformers, you can't do much better than this!

Taito Legends 2 screenshot
Bubble Symphony is one incredible sequel to Bubble Bobble

Taito Legends 2

If you're a North American retro gaming fan like me then you probably own a copy of Taito Legends 2 for PlayStation 2. Sure, it's full of 39 fantastic arcade classics and buried treasures that make for a great afternoon of retro gaming but it's actually missing 4 games. That's right; the Xbox version of Taito Legends 2 also includes RayForce, Bubble Symphony (AKA Bubble Bobble II), Cadash, and Pop'n Pop (although it's missing G-Darius, Syvalion, RayStorm, and Balloon Bomber). RayForce and Bubble Symphony are two of the most enjoyable arcade rarities that you'll ever play. Also, Pop'n Pop is an adorable little puzzler featuring a cast of characters from other Taito games and Cadash is a pretty awesome 2D action RPG. However, the Xbox version of Taito Legends 2 never made it to this side of the pond. Thankfully, you can import a European copy and it works perfectly on a North American Xbox! Now, you can have the complete Taito Legends 2 collection stretched across two discs. I proudly own both versions and still play them to this day.

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