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Porting Your Compatibility Problems
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 05, 2005   |   Episode 85 (Show Archive)  

   

The Warriors is just one of the many Xbox games you can't play on the Xbox 360!
Since E3 the question on every Xbox fan's mind is whether or not their favorite games would be playable on the Xbox 360 when it launches. Now that Microsoft has released their next generation super system and the first group of backwards compatible games has been listed, it's left a lot of us gamers scratching our heads over what is playable and what isn't. Immediately I noticed that personal favorites like Phantom Dust, the Warriors, and Panzer Dragoon Orta were left unplayable, while Barbie Horse Adventure and Drake of the 99 Dragons worked without a hitch.

As a gamer with a lot of Xbox games I was initially disappointed, frustrated that it seemed like there was no rhyme or reason to their selections. How is it that Frogger Beyond and Sonic Heroes could make the list but not Beyond Good & Evil and Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition? Did they just choose games at random or was there some thought put into these games? But it was while looking for an answer to these questions that I stumbled on something that both made a lot of sense and made me very mad. Of course there's reasoning behind this list, especially when it comes to recent games.


Sure it's a great game, but aren't there any other wars to turn into videos games?
As you've no doubt noticed the first generation Xbox 360 games are a mixture of PC first-person shooters (Quake 4, Call of Duty 2), racing sequels (Project Gotham Racing 3, Ridge Racer 6), and ports of existing Xbox games. Nearly everything Activision released at launch was a remake in some form or another, and Electronic Arts had no problem trotting out their high powered sports franchises when it came to day one. But don't think you can just stick with the cheaper Xbox version of these launch games, as I've quickly discovered these companies want you to buy their 360 offerings or not play the game at all.

We've already called Activision out so perhaps they're the best to demonstrate what I'm talking about. Gun, Neversoft's super-short western shooter, came out on the Xbox, PS2, and Xbox 360 at roughly the same time, but don't think you're going to play the Xbox version on your 360. Neversoft's other big game, Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, is the same thing, you either buy the Xbox 360 version or you're not going to play it on Microsoft's next generation console. It's that simple.


After the success of TV shows like Deadwood you'd think Gun would be pretty good, but you'd be wrong!
I'd like to say this is just Activision but this is happening across the board, no matter what company the game is published by. Electronic Arts conveniently decided not to make the Xbox version of Need for Speed: Most Wanted compatible with the Xbox 360. And don't even get me started on Peter Jackson's King Kong: the Official Movie of the Game, because the fact that you can't play it on your 360 is probably the least of its problems (that name should definitely have been shortened before it launched on EITHER system).

Now all this may seem kind of obvious; after all, these companies don't want you to buy their current generation games when you can spend $10 extra for the full-on Xbox 360 version. But there in lies the problem, most of these ports aren't worth the extra $10 ... especially when you consider how limited most of those titles really are. Tony Hawk's American Wasteland barely looks like a next generation title, has the same levels, and is still as disappointing as ever, yet it will run you $10 more than the PlayStation 2 or Xbox version. You don't get any extras; it's just the same bare bones release you could buy cheaper elsewhere.


I can only assume that this part of Tiger's live was taken out of PGA 06 in order to stay away from the AO rating!
Sports games have been hit by this especially hard, since most of EA's sports line up are shrunk down versions of what you can buy on other systems. Madden NFL 06 is a perfect example, gone are the extras, the popular modes, and things that the fans bought the game for ... in its place is the same old gameplay with better graphics. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 is another casualty of EA's rush job, while the normal Xbox version gives you 15 courses, the Xbox 360 version only comes with six. You're getting less game for more money; it makes a lot of sense why somebody would prefer to wait for next year's model and just stick with the cheaper, bigger current generation experience. But you can't, because neither of those games is compatible with the Xbox 360.

But that's not the worst of it, when NHL 2K6 was released on the Xbox it carried the budget price of $20. Apparently 2K Sports decided not to extend this good price to the next generation, because the exact same version on the Xbox 360 (with pretty

This version of Burnout certainly looks better, but will it have the same tracks?
much exactly the same graphics) will run you a whopping THREE TIMES as much as the Xbox version. Want to play that $20 version in your 360? You can't, the best you're going to be able to do is play NHL 2K4.

Unfortunately this does not just extend to games that launched alongside the Xbox 360; apparently this mindset is rooted in all current generation ports. In 2006 Electronic Arts will release the Xbox 360 version of Burnout Revenge, a retooled and upgraded version of what you can find on the current generation Xbox and PlayStation 2. The current version of the game is easily one of the best games of the year, adding some new modes to the mix and offering a fun multiplayer online experience ... but don't expect to play it on your Xbox 360. Considering that Burnout

Say what you will about the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, at least they didn't launch with a ton of ports!
Revenge 360 isn't even going to be available until next spring at the earliest, what would the harm be to just let us play the current generation version until it comes out? Are they afraid nobody will buy the Xbox 360 version if they can buy the current generation version now? Perhaps that's more EA's problem than it is ours, since they should be adding whatever it takes to get people to buy it more than once.

I have no doubt that all of these current generation games will at some point be playable on the Xbox 360, but by holding them off until the more expensive versions have dropped out of sight seems like a sneaky maneuver. When it comes to a system launch maybe the emphasis should be on new games and not ports of current generation hits, that way you can get people to buy your new stuff and your old stuff all at once. Nobody wants to pay $10 more for exactly the same product or, in the worst case scenario, pale imitation of what is already available. When we're talking about next generation games we want them to be bigger than life, we want them to be worlds ahead of what we can get on other systems ... and if they aren't, then you might as well forget about anybody paying the $60 price tags.
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