The 8 top classic Xbox franchises we want to see rise from the dead

Xbox past gems that should be revived
(Image credit: Windows Central)

It’s no secret that Microsoft has been struggling with exclusives in recent years, with the latest ‘big’ release, Redfall, leaving gamers more than a little disappointed. Historically, Microsoft has relied on the big hitters to push gamers to Xbox, such as Forza, Halo, and Gears of War. However, the recent Xbox Games Showcase in 2023 has transformed Xbox's roadmap, thanks to games like Starfield, Clockwork Revolution, and more — the upcoming Xbox games list is absolutely rammed. But we're greedy, we want even more. 

Microsoft has been working hard to revive classic franchises like Flight Simulator, Age of Empires, Perfect Dark, and Fable. Fable in particular had a truly jaw-dropping showing at the Xbox Games Showcase 2023, and it made us wonder what other classic Xbox games could get that kind of treatment. Here's a range of titles we would love to see return to the Xbox Series X|S, whether that be through remasters, remakes, or even a new game to the series entirely. Many of these games are from the Xbox 360 era, and if you’ve never seen them before, we highly recommend you check them out. 

Viva Piñata

This vibrant life sim needs to make a return to the Xbox. (Image credit: Rare)

This should be a game that requires no introduction. Developed by Rare Ltd, Viva Pinata was first released way back in November of 2006. This life simulation game sees players assume the role of a gardener with the sole mission of transforming a lonely, overgrown garden into a thriving paradise -- piñatas and all. 

Clearing the garden and growing plants will attract various piñatas to it. Some may just be visiting to catch a glimpse of what you have, although if you adhere to specific objectives, you can encourage the little cuties to stay, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities. 

Gardening is just one aspect of Viva Piñata because much of the game is about caring for your newfound pets. This involves building suitable homes for them, keeping your garden to their liking, and even protecting them from predators because even piñatas have a food chain. 

This vibrant, relaxing, and incredibly wholesome game saw many of us lose countless hours in it, and we would absolutely love to see it make a return to current-gen consoles. 


This fantasy-inspired first-person shooter is still one of our favorites to this day. (Image credit: FASA Studio)

This may not have been a game on everybody's radar in 2007 when it was released, but it should be now. An adaptation of the tabletop RPG of the same name, Shadowrun is a team-based multiplayer shooter with a unique blend of magic and technology in an FPS setting. 

The first of its kind to feature cross-play between Xbox and Windows players, Shadowrun features numerous game modes and allows players to select from various races and classes, each offering unique abilities, skills, and weapons. 

Players use a range of firearms, spells, and cybernetic enhancements to gain the upper hand over their opponents and, ultimately, win the game. Some of the spells and enhancements on offer are healing circles, casting destructive spells, summoning creatures, and even boosting attributes. 

The game didn't necessarily review well, with one of its main critiques being that it was online only, with no single-player campaign. But this was one of the things that made it unique, and we can only dream that a remake will eventually come to Xbox consoles. 

Blue Dragon

It may look outdated, but it's still a great game. (Image credit: Mistwalker / Artoon)

The JRPG was released solely in Japan in 2006 before finally coming to the US and Europe in 2007; Blue Dragon is directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy series, so already you know it has great potential. 

Taking the role of a young boy named Shu, as well as his group of friends, players will embark on a crazy adventure to save the world from the evil villain known as Nene. Set in a fantasy world in which 'Shadows' exist, controlled by their human counterparts through magical artifacts, players will explore a vast open world through various biomes, defeating enemies along the way. 

Set out like any good RPG; players will explore, battle, and advance their characters through various progression systems -- and in good ol' turn-based combat style. 

If you're not sold by reading the above, I have one more for you. Blue Dragon features a beautiful, vibrant animated world that, although a little dated, would flourish if it was remade today. 

Lost Odyssey

Uh-oh, this doesn't look good.  (Image credit: Xbox)

Truly a next-generation RPG for its release in 2008, Lost Odyssey brought gamers into the world of Uhra, where magic and technology coexist—following the story of Kaim Argonar, an immortal man who, in typical RPG style, appears to have lost his memory. He and his companions are on a quest to regain his lost memories and stop the powerful Gongora from taking over their world.

One of the stand-out features of Lost Odyssey was its story-telling, with various pieces of lore and backstory into the protagonist, Kaim's past, giving you the feeling of actually learning everything about him at the very same time he is relearning this information.

Aside from the fantastic story-telling, Lost Odyssey's gameplay featured turn-based battles that allowed players to control Kaim and his companions, each with their own abilities and skills, which means that players would need to be strategic in their approaches. 

Lost Odyssey is one of the best JRPGs to have blessed Xbox consoles to this day, and we can only hope that it will one day return to Xbox Series consoles. 


Rare Replay Banjo Kazooie

They may be old, but Banjo and Kazooie are still kicking. (Image credit: Windows Central)

After purchasing Rare in 2002, fans expected Microsoft to continue bringing their fantastic games to Xbox, but sadly, this wasn't the case. One of those fantastic games is Banjo-Kazooie, the platforming game featuring two adorable and fun-loving creatures. 

In the whimsical world of Spiral Mountain, where the evil witch Gruntilda resides, it's quickly realized that Banjo's sister, Tootie, is missing -- and there's only one culprit -- Gruntilda. Banjo and Kazooie must set off on an adventure to stop the witch once and for all. 

Great platforming games are few and far between; with the latest Banjo-Kazooie series released in 2007, we're itching for another wacky adventure featuring the loveable bear and the sassy red bird. 

Come on, Microsoft -- make us happy. 


Man with claws as hands

It may look outdated, but it's still fun. (Image credit: Radical Entertainment and FunLabs)

Developed by Radical Entertainment and published by Activision in 2009, Prototype was an action-adventure game like no other. Players take the role of Alex Mercer, a genetically enhanced anti-hero with superhuman abilities in an open-world environment in New York City. Sounds cool, right? 

Players could roam around a fictional version of Manhattan, using various shapeshifting abilities, enhanced strength, speed, and agility to attempt to stop a deadly virus from taking over the city. 

Prototype focused on free-roaming and exploration and a fast-paced combat system that players could only love. Allowing players to feel free to explore at their own pace and taking on the numerous side missions really helped to make this the fantastic game it still is. 

This entry is cheating slightly, as it relies on Microsoft's big Activision-Blizzard acquisition going through, which remains up in the air. However, it would give Microsoft's an answer to PlayStation's excellent superhero games lineup, which includes Spider-man and soon, Wolverine on top. 

Playing Prototype today, though, it feels outdated, as you can probably imagine. That is why we would love to see this title remade, remastered, or a brand new game in the series returning to consoles. Fingers crossed? 


retro rig game hands with electricity

We're going old school now.  (Image credit: id Software, Bethesda Softworks, Raven Software)

Now, those of you who watched the Xbox showcase may remember seeing Phil Spencer up on stage wearing a Hexen t-shirt, and it got us thinking -- we would love to see that returned to consoles. It could be a hint. Or maybe Phil was feeling nostalgic; only time will tell. 

Released in 1995, the direct sequel to the first in the series, Heretic, Hexen: Beyond Heretic is a fantasy first-person shooter developed by Raven Entertainment and published by id Software and Bethesda Softworks. However, Activision still owns the publishing rights to some versions of Hexen, which, again, would require either a publishing deal or the big Xbox-ABK merger to close. 

Taking the role of one of three character classes; fighter, cleric, or mage, Hexen: Beyond Heretic sees players transversing across a dark and medieval world known as Cronos, set with complex levels, formidable enemies to defeat, and various puzzles to solve. 

With its unique hub-based level design, players have the freedom to explore interconnected hubs, which contain multiple levels and routes. This allows for more backtracking and replayability, which we all love. 

It would be amazing to see this once-great fantasy FPS returned to the console. We can only imagine what that would look like. 

Phantom Dust

Phantom Dust Highway

Phantom Dust was re-released on PC and Xbox as a free to play title a little while ago.  (Image credit: Xbox)

Our final pick is a game that almost did get a modern reboot, in the form of Phantom Dust

Phantom Dust launched originally on the first Xbox, as an eclectic genre mash-up between an action RPG, deck builder, complete with online competitive play. 

At the Xbox One's launch in 2013, Microsoft published a teaser trailer for a Phantom Dust reboot, complete with slick CGI that made it seem like a sure-fire thing. Unfortunately, the game was canceled without even a real announcement. Subsequent leaks from the studio working on the title showed that it actually looked pretty awesome, making this entry all the more painful. 

Phantom Dust was re-released in full on the Microsoft Store and modern Xbox consoles as a free-to-play game, using Xbox's backward compatibility tech. A small, but passionate fanbase still plays the game to this day, although the likelihood of seeing Phantom Dust return seems somewhat ethereal. 

What would you like to see revived?

These are just a select few of the Xbox exclusives that we are hoping to make a return to Xbox consoles at some point in the not-so-distant future. Microsoft has a truly exhaustive list of franchises that would probably work in the modern age, including games like MechAssault, Conker's Bad Fur Day, and much more. There are other more recent titles like Killer Instinct that remain supported somewhat but have fans yearning for a sequel. And then, there are titles like Bleeding Edge that simply weren't given the chance to deliver on their clear potential. The list of possibilities expands tenfold when you factor in the Microsoft merger with Activision-Blizzard-King, too.

What are you hoping to see revived? What was your favorite out of this list? What's missing from this list? What was your favorite announcement from the Xbox Showcase this year? Let us know!

Chelsea Beardsmore

Chelly is a part-time writer. She loves all things gaming, building LEGO and spending an inappropriate amount of money on silly things she can’t afford. Some of her favourite games are Monster Hunter, Borderlands and Pokemon. When she’s not writing, she’s probably adding another game to her ever-growing backlog.