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The Xbox 360 Deserves Better
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on February 16, 2007   |   Episode 65 (Show Archive)  

   

It's been fifteen full months since Microsoft sold their first Xbox 360 unit, and already there are dozens of great games available for the platform. Regardless of whether you're a fan of action games, first-person shooters, adventure titles or sports games, the Xbox 360 has you covered. But not every genre is getting equal respect; there are a lot of different types of games that are being misrepresented thanks to crummy games or no games at all. It's not a lot of genres, but there are certainly enough to make us feel like the Xbox 360 deserves better.

But maybe the problem isn't that nobody cares, maybe it's that nobody knows there's a problem. To help Microsoft (and their third-parties) determine where the holes are in the Xbox 360's game library, Defunct Games has decided to offer up this handy list of ten genres (and sub-genres) that are woefully under represented. If nobody knows there's a problem then how can anybody go about fixing it? So in order to help everybody involved, Defunct Games is proud to present our newest multi-page feature, The Xbox 360 Deserves Better!

The Xbox 360 Deserves a Better ...
Traditional Role-Playing Game
The Story So Far: While Xbox 360 owners will no doubt point to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion as the one great role-playing game on the system, the truth is that fans of the traditional (Japanese) RPG have so far been left out in the cold. To date American Xbox 360 owners have only had one option, Enchanted Arms, a Final Fantasy-clone that lacks the depth, story and character
Blue Dragon (XBOX 360)
development. One could certainly argue that Enchanted Arms isn't the worst RPG of all time, but there's nobody who will be able to claim that this is the best you can do. To make matters worse, it seems like every other system is getting their fix of traditional turn-based role-playing games. The PlayStation 2 had Final Fantasy XII, the Nintendo DS had Final Fantasy III, and there were two Final Fantasy remakes recently released on the Game Boy Advance. But the Xbox 360 only has Enchanted Arms, a game that can't quite deliver the excitement and intrigue role-playing gamers are looking for.

Future Prognosis: Although the first year and a half has been slow for traditional RPGs, things appear to be picking up a little bit. This June Microsoft will release their three-DVD RPG Blue Dragon, the first game from new developer Mistwalker. Blue Dragon has already been a success in the land of the rising sun, selling out at most stores on the very first day. And just what makes this game so appealing? It's being developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, one of the leading forces behind many of the Final Fantasy games, Super Mario RPG and Chrono Cross. Will this one game be enough to keep traditional RPG fans busy until the next great game? Maybe, but at least we won't be able to suggest that the Xbox 360 deserves better.
The Xbox 360 Deserves a Better ...
Party Game
The Story So Far: When it comes to Xbox 360 party games your options are pretty much limited to Fuzion Frenzy 2 or Bomberman: Act Zero. Unfortunately neither of these two games is a viable option, especially if you're looking to have a good time while you're hosting the party. Fuzion Frenzy 2 is probably the closest you will get
Fuzion Frenzy 2 (XBOX 360)
to having a good time, but even that is marred by a terrible announcer, boring mini-games and a general lack of variety. And then there's Bomberman: Act Zero, what may just be the single worst Xbox 360 game ever developed. It's hard to even consider this a party game since you can't actually play multiplayer on the same TV (a staple of the long-running series). What's more, both of these games were developed by Hudson, a company known for their solid line of party games. Maybe it's just me, but I'm starting to wonder if Hudson is here to help or hurt the Xbox 360.

Future Prognosis: If the original Xbox is any indication, Fuzion Frenzy 2 may be the first and only "real" party game on Microsoft's next-gen console. So far no company has announced (or even hinted at) a true party game, something along the lines of Mario Party that includes a lot of easy to play mini-games. But not all is lost, Xbox 360 owners. Thanks to the popularity of the Xbox Live Arcade service you will be able to buy cheap games that are great for up to four players. For example, a game like Worms is perfect when you have a bunch of friends over. In the end it really all depends on how you classify a "party" game, but as it stands the Xbox 360 feels like the last place you would want to go for this subset of games.
The Xbox 360 Deserves a Better ...
3D Platformer
The Story So Far: Unless you count Open Season, currently the Xbox 360 only has one real 3D platformer. This once hot genre is now completely forgotten by Microsoft, instead relying on third-party companies to fill in the gaps. Unfortunately right now the only
Voodoo Vince (XBOX)
third-party platformer on the system is Sonic the Hedgehog from Sega, the worst entry in a series that has been going downhill for a number of years now. You know you're in trouble when Shadow the Hedgehog is considered a better game, and I don't think anybody is going to argue that this Sonic redesign is a step in the wrong direction. Sadly this is no different from the original Xbox, a system that only had a handful of instantly forgettable platformers (does anybody remember Voodoo Vince or Scaler? I didn't think so).

Future Prognosis: If it wasn't troubling enough that Microsoft has essentially given up on developing a proper 3D platformer, it's even worse when you consider what has been coming out (and what is still scheduled) for the PS2, PS3, PSP and Wii. Although Nintendo won't have a lot of 3D platformers, they will have one very important one: Super Mario Galaxy. And Sony seems to be supporting their systems with new games staring Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, and Sly Cooper. The good news is that Rare is hard at work on a new Banjo Kazooie game, but if it's anything like the Nintendo 64 game (which was really just an excuse to go around and collect everything you can find) then you can count me out.
The Xbox 360 Deserves a Better ...
Japanese Import
The Story So Far: If there's one thing the Xbox 360 needs, it's good Japanese games. While there have been a few solid titles from Japan, most of the best games are American made. Instead we get Bullet Witch, Enchanted Arms, and Bomberman: Act Zero. At the moment there is only one Japanese developer who is pulling their weight on the Xbox 360, and that's Capcom. But are Capcom's offerings even Japanese? Not to sound totally elitist, but so far they have developed an
Woman Dressed in Katamari Damacy Costume
action game where you're killing zombies in an American mall. It's hardly the kind of quirky game the Japanese are known for. And Lost Planet is essentially aping a first-person shooter, a genre that isn't popular in the land of the rising sun. Where are the games like Katamari Damacy, Gitaroo Man, Shenmue or even Yakuza? We don't need ports of those specific titles, but it would be nice to have at least one or two games that feature that famous Japanese sensibility. Instead we get Bomberman and Bullet Witch. What did we do to deserve this?

Future Prognosis: Lately things appear to be turning around for the Xbox 360, the U.S. is finally going to get a fun Japanese RPG and more and more Japanese action games are starting to show up on these shores. Unfortunately the Xbox 360 is still underperforming in that part of the world, but games like Blue Dragon and Gears of War have broken into the sales charts proving that you can have successful games on a Microsoft system. One can only hope that this is the start of a better relationship with the Japanese and Xbox 360, but at this point it's probably best to be guardedly optimistic. Either way, I certainly hope that companies like Capcom and Tecmo are able to convince others that there is a market for Japanese-made Xbox 360 games.
The Xbox 360 Deserves a Better ...
Flying Game
The Story So Far: For a company known for their flight simulators, you would think that Microsoft would be excited to have as many flying games (be it air combat or simulators) on the Xbox 360. But so far there are only a couple of games, and not all of them are dedicated flying games. At the moment the best example would be the recently released Battle Stations:
Crimson Skies (XBOX)
Midway, which offers airplanes, boats and submarines. If you're looking for a dedicated flying game, then really your only other options are going to be Over G Fighters or Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII, neither of which is very good. You would think that a console that is as powerful as the Xbox 360 would be the perfect place for a great flying game, but so far every company that has tried has squandered the opportunity. They may not be the most popular console games, but there's little doubt that the Xbox 360 deserves some better flying games.

Future Prognosis: Believe it or not, this is something Microsoft can fix with one simple announcement: A sequel to Crimson Skies! When it was released on the original Xbox, Crimson Skies was a success due to the popularity of the Xbox Live service. How cool was it to finally be able to gun down your friends online? Well, it's still cool, and it would be even better thanks to the power of the Xbox 360 and the updated Xbox Live service. Yet Microsoft announced that they do not intend to release a Crimson Skies sequel, something that defies all logic. Perhaps they are fine with Over G Fighters and Blazing Angels taking over control of the genre, but you would be hard pressed to find real gamers who are happy about this change of events.
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