Has it really been that long?
Yes, this weekend sees the tenth anniversary of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 hitting shop shelves the world over, and kick-starting a sales race with the PlayStation 3 that changed the face of console gaming forever.
Who could’ve predicted that the console would remain in fair use a decade later, clung on to by thousands of gamers not yet able to make the leap to the next-generation? Over the past decade, Microsoft’s platform has accrued hundreds of amazing games that are all worth keeping hold of, some shared across other platforms, some exclusive to the Xbox brand.
But while games like Halo and Gears of War are world famous Xbox-only titles, there are many exclusives and console exclusives that have fallen by the wayside too.
It’s these games that we’ll be focusing on here, as we take a look at 10 of the most underrated Xbox 360 games you really must get into your collection. The best thing is these are all pretty cheap these days, so happy shopping!
Tenchu Z (2007)
Tenchu was an ultra-challenging action-adventure series that rewarded players heavily for being stealthy.
The last game to be released in the franchise appeared back in 2009, but this Xbox 360 exclusive spin off is a good place as any to start, being a standalone story and incorporating RPG elements like skills trees into the gameplay. It’s also the biggest game in the franchise to date, with 50 missions included.
Earth Defense Force 2017 (2007)
This Japanese franchise has you battling hordes of giant creatures in a third-person mode, and quickly garnered interested from an importing audience when it began back in 2003. By the time 2017 – the third game in the series – came about, it made sense to begin releasing them further afield, so this was the first to be.
The graphics looked bad at the time, even worse now, but the game boasts 150 weapons for you to take hold of, vehicles in certain levels, and a bonkers 53 stages of giant insectoid destruction. It’s a lot of fun.
The mech sub-genre is one often overlooked for its sluggish pace, ridiculous complexity, and stupidly pricey controller peripherals. But if you want to take a stab at giant robotic warfare, look no further than Chromehounds, a game that sits atop the Xbox 360’s staggeringly deep offering of mech combat games.
With multiple objects in each of its missions, this will get strategy buffs scratching their heads in no time.
Culdcept Saga (2008)
If you thought the mech simulator genre was niche, then say hello to card-casting RPGs, which basically play out like a boardgame on your console. This one aims to meld Magic-with-Monopoly, and because it relies a lot more heavily on luck than other deck based games, it’s a good place for newcomers to start as you won’t be spending hours memorising meaningless stats.
With no European release to speak of this will be an import jobby, but it’s worth it alone for the enchanting art style.
Lost Odyssey (2008)
It’s surprising how overlooked this JRPG has been, written as it was by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the famed Final Fantasy series.
It’s more than worth diving back into all these years later, as it boasts a typically epic storyline and the turn-based elements that made early FF entries such big hits.
Blue Dragon (2007)
While it may sound like some sort of God-awful cocktail or low-budget kung fu movie, Blue Dragon is actually another RPG from Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. Featuring a less gritty aesthetic to many RPGs, this is one that can be played by all ages, though the level of depth to the gameplay is quite staggering.
This was also the first Xbox 360 game to need to be shipped on more than one disc, so you know it’s a big undertaking!
Condemned: Criminal Origins (2005)
This cult survival-horror classic was actually one of the Xbox 360’s launch titles, but it still holds up today.
Taking place from a first-person perspective but eschewing many of the tropes of that genre (huge gun battles etc), Condemned instead focused on melee attacks and gameplay tweaks that impair the player, ramping up the tension considerably in the process.
Alan Wake (2010)
This psychological horror game was brought to us by the same people behind the ultra-slick Max Payne series, and carried over many of that franchise’s unique narrative techniques.
Gone was the fast paced shooting, in favour of tense battles between light and dark (literally), and an atmosphere somewhere between Twin Peaks and a Stephen King novel. Creepy stuff.
Viva Pinata (2006)
Before they started forcusing on dressing your Xbox profile’s avatar and kooky Kinect-based sports titles, Rare were one of the powerhouses of British game development. A final flurry of Xbox 360 console exclusives cemented this (see also Perfect Dark Zero), including Viva Pinata, where the player must tend to and restore a neglected garden on the fictional Piñata Island.
It’s as colourful and charming as it is strange, and one of the more unique Xbox 360 exclusives out there.
Shadow Complex (2009)
Before Shadow Complex came along, Xbox Life Arcade games were the sort of things you could easily play on a tablet or phone; fun and addictive, but not particularly graphically taxing or complex. Think Peggle and Bejewled and you’re pretty much there. Then this Metroidvania title changed all that.
An action packed side-scroller with plenty of the kind of cinematic scope you’d expect from your disc-based games, Shadow Complex is a must play.