Shacknews remembers the original Xbox
by Shack Staff, shacknews.com, Nov 15, 2011 12:45PM PST
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the original Xbox. While team Microsoft celebrates by offering discounted Black Eyed Peas music videos, the Shacknews team decided to take a look back at our favorite Xbox moments.
I wasn't completely sure what to make of the Xbox when it launched. I was still lamenting the fate of the Dreamcast, and wondered how the odd black box with its ridiculous looking controller would fare any better. Yet, there was Dead or Alive 3, and I wanted to believe. Not that it was easy early on. There was Azurik--so bad, and not the sort of go back and chuckle at it bad but outright bad, the tech demo-tuned-fighting game Kakuto Chojin (later to also be the subject of controversy), and Microsoft's lackluster attempts at sports games.
Halo's role in anchoring the Xbox so it could weather this swirling mess almost cannot be overstated. Not only for its single-player, but for the shift it started in multiplayer. I remember the first time I packed up my Xbox, a TV, and CAT-5 cables to head to my buddy's place for Halo. A couple cases of beer later it was sunrise and the eight or so of us who played had been trading off on the four linked consoles all night.
It was enough to carry the Xbox over until studios could catch up, which they eventually did. Before I knew it my imported 'S' controller was collecting dust because Microsoft came to its senses and made that the default controller, and I had a stack of good Xbox games to play--and Live.
I never actually owned an OG Xbox personally; I was in college and as the provider of both the PS2 and GameCube, Xbox duties belonged to my roommate. My strongest memory comes from the winter of KOTOR, when the five of us sharing an apartment all created our own Jedi (with varying degrees of evil) and spent a month swapping stories about our adventures. That was the first time I really took notice of the Xbox, and Crimson Skies helped the system continue to impress me. For whatever reason, I missed the Halo boat by a few years.
Given all the wonderful things that were happening on PC around that time, and my perpetual penniless state, I never actually played the original Xbox. In fact, I'm not certain I've even seen one in person. However, for better and for worse, it brought PC and console development closer together, helping shape the past decade of the industry. So that's a thing that happened.
I was a huge Gamecube fanboy back when the original Xbox had launched. I remembered looking at Microsoft's machine, scoffing at its size, telling myself that the diminutive Gamecube was just as powerful, and had better games. The console was a monstrosity--but even funnier was its controller, which was better served as a tool to bludgeon people with, not play games on.
Honestly, I wasn't swept away by Halo. Moving through the same corridor over and over again got tiresome, and the Xbox wasn't going to take me away from the likes of on PC. I had written off the Xbox entirely, until a system seller came along:
Otogi 2 was unlike any game I had seen--it was a beautiful, quirky brawler with destructive sensibilities that no game since has matched. Sega decided to bring the game over to the States--an odd decision because its niche appeal guaranteed lackluster sales. With Otogi 2 in hand, I could enjoy some of Xbox's lesser-sung titles: Jet Set Radio Future and Panzer Dragoon Orta, to name a few. In the end, these sadly-forgotten classics have made Xbox one of my most beloved consoles.
Xav de Matos
Working at retail for Halo 2 was a strange experience that really shifted the way video games were released. I had never seen such a craze for midnight launches to grab Bungie's second installment in the franchise. I remember people clamoring for the game's 'Limited Edition,' which--unlike today--was rarely ever seen at retail. As a gamer, I remember being disappointed by Halo 2's infamous campaign ending. Online multiplayer dulled the pain, though, as Halo 2's implementation and circumvention of Xbox Live features (like 'fake' clans) was amazing. Between online marathons of Halo 2 and Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War, I'm not entirely sure how I made it out of school.