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10 original Xbox games we're dying to see hit Xbox One backward compatibility

Microsoft dropped a surprise unveiling at the end of this year's E3 press conference, announcing plans to expand its existing backward compatibility program for the Xbox One. While select Xbox 360 titles have been playable on the console for some time, support will soon be arriving for original Xbox titles.

With a rollout expected for this fall, Microsoft has already begun to confirm the games set to support the feature at launch. We decided to look back at our favorite games of the generation, to choose our top candidates for backward compatibility.

List of original Xbox games that are backward compatible on Xbox One

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was one of the earliest releases from now-renowned developer Bioware and generally regarded as one of the best Star Wars titles to date. Set thousands of years before the main line of movies, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic put players in control of Jedi Knight thrown into the galaxy's conflicts.

During the events that follow, you'll be forced to make tough decisions, with an alignment to either side of the force will be determined by your judgment. With a diverse set of unique locations, characters exclusive to the game and deep interwoven story, the RPG still provides one of the deepest Star Wars video game experiences on the market.

Project Gotham Racing

While the Forza series currently sits among the Xbox One's most prolific releases, Project Gotham Racing (PGR) was previously the top-dog of racing on Microsoft's gaming platform. Launched alongside the original Xbox back in 2001, the game came behind Halo: Combat Evolved as one of the best-selling exclusives on the console.

Taking influence from Metropolis Street Racer, a sleek racing title for the Sega Dreamcast, PGR's mechanics reward both speed and style. Unlike a traditional racer where players sprint from point A to point B, in PGR the way you approach the destination is just as crucial. PGR was also praised for its complexity at the time, with outstanding detail on car models and the racing locations.

It should be noted that licensing racing games for backward compatibility can sometimes prove difficult, however, due to the extensive integrated music libraries.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

With talk of a new Splinter Cell in the works, it's hard to not look back on Chaos Theory – an iconic classic which solidified the series's authority in the stealth genre. The game, which perfected various mechanics now commonplace in today's biggest triple-A titles, undoubtedly stood out with wide acclaim.

Assuming the role of covert-ops agent Sam Fisher, players infiltrate enemy territory to complete various objectives. While the game serves up an effective story and world, the focus of Chaos Theory lies solely with gameplay – making for a pure, genre-defining experience.

Although its online multiplayer offerings are no longer accessible, the single-player element of Chaos Theory alone is worth a revisit. As one of the games that shaped the third-person stealth genre today, the game will be a must-play if offered via backward compatibility.

Halo 2

Of all the games available on the original Xbox, Halo is one of the franchises that undeniably made the platform what it is today. As one of the few household names almost as iconic as the console itself, Halo's timeless gameplay reinvented both single-player and competitive online multiplayer on the console.

After the strong debut of Halo: Combat Evolved for the console's launch, Halo 2 had some big shoes to fill. Continuing the adventures of the Master Chief, Halo 2 expands its narrative to even further reaches of the galaxy. Revisiting the conflict between the UNSC, Covenant, and Flood, the game covers all the bases for a great Halo adventure.

Delivering improvements to the plot, an expansion on core gameplay and a significant graphical leap, Halo 2 builds the strengths of its predecessor in almost every way. Most notably the game also debuted online arena multiplayer to the Halo franchise and still remains a favorite for competitive players.

Shenmue II

While the Shenmue franchise is commonly associated with the Dreamcast, original Xbox owners also had an opportunity to explore Hong Kong via an enhanced port in 2002. Following its debut in Japan, Microsoft led the game's expansion into the west, with an Xbox-exclusive debut in North America.

Following teenage martial arts expert "Ryo Hazuki," Shenmue tells a tale of revenge, in search of his father's killer. Thrown in a stylized representation of 1980s Hong Kong filled with criminal gangs, players will explore the world, search for clues and uncover the mystery of behind the death of Ryo's father. Shenmue was also praised for its combat at launch, with an advanced fighting system influenced by Sega's own Virtua Fighter series.

With a sequel in the works for PlayStation 4 and PC, its revival on the Xbox platform should be an appealing addition after the series's 16-year hiatus. Just don't bother trying to hunt down a physical copy on the cheap.

MechAssault

MechAssault was one of the numerous Xbox games published under "BattleTech" – a military sci-fi franchise with roots across tabletop games, novels, video games and more. Allowing players to pilot towering walking machines known as "BattleMechs," gameplay focuses on third-person combat harnessing these robotic beasts.

With the "Word of Blake" executing an attack on the planet Helios, players must fight back and repel enemy forces. With various mechs to be unlocked and used across the campaign, players must adapt to the abilities at their disposal.

Where MechAssault truly excelled was its online functionality, pioneering Xbox Live's offerings with dedicated competitive multiplayer. Giving players access to 21 mechs across 14 bespoke maps, eight players can battle it out in the game's fully-destructible arenas.

Jet Set Radio Future

Although the first Jet Set Radio made a high-definition come back via Xbox Live Arcade, its successor, Jet Set Radio Future was left behind on the original Xbox.

Like the first game, players control a nefarious inline skater gang known as the "GGs," who aim to leave their mark across Tokyo. Bringing back the same core mechanics, players are challenged to skate around Tokyo, avoid cops and spray graffiti across the world. Rewards are also provided for style, with increased speed and agility when utilizing the surrounding world.

Although the game failed to capture the same sales as the original, Jet Set Radio Future is another classic Xbox exclusive. With a funky design, premise and accompanying music, there's no title quite as stylish on the console.

Silent Hill 2

Considered by many as the best in the series, Silent Hill 2 shows survival horror in its prime. Praised by critics for its unique and ingenious delivery of the genre, the game brings out a rollercoaster of emotions unrivaled by its competition.

Instead of traditional horror games that rely heavily on jump scares and excessive gore, Silent Hill pushes fear through psychologically-driven events. Exploiting the player's mind with events outside of everyday horror tropes, the game manages to portray tension through methods uncommon for the medium at the time. While competing franchises have since inherited similar mechanics, few capture the same emotionally-driven narrative as Silent Hill 2.

Fable

The future of the Fable franchise may look bleak, but back in 2004, it was among the flagship offerings of the Xbox platform. What started off as an ambitious role-playing game soon expanded numerous sequels and to this day it still remains closely associated with Microsoft's gaming efforts.

At launch, the first Fable stood out for the immersive traits of its world, allowing players to live complex and deep lives within a fantasy medieval setting. All decisions you made would affect your journey as a player, with help of the franchise's defining feature – a good and evil alignment system. With a visual representation of your actions, players could clearly forge their own personas in the Fable universe. Although Fable ultimately overpromised on its offerings, its depth and diversity were still praised back in the day.

Manhunt

Manhunt was a game almost defined by controversy, with widespread public outcry accompanying its launch. Following an escaped prisoner blackmailed into a killing spree, the unmatched level of violence eventually led to the game's ban in several countries. By today's standards, the title may not carry the same shock-factor but it still provides a well-crafted survival horror experience.

Manhunt kicks off with James Earl Cash, a prisoner on death row, waking up from a supposedly lethal injection. With your life in debt to a mysterious savior, you must follow his every command to protect your life. Although the dark premise isn't for the faint hearted, the game is an unmissable classic of the original Xbox era.

Your thoughts

Did we miss a game that really should be on this top 10 list? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Matt Brown
Matt Brown

Matt Brown is Windows Central's Senior Games Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

94 Comments
  • Burnout, Burnout 2.  Of course Crimson Skies.  Blitz football game too.
  • I'd be grateful if they could release Top Spin nº1 (my favorite of the series) and SSX On Tour ! ❤️
  • They were both on one disc Right?  both of those games are awesome.
  • Panzer Dragoon Orta and Jet Set Radio Future.
  • Just been playing through the original Jet Set Radio HD version via backward compat - forgot how much I love the series!
  • Cool kids are still playing JSR on the Dreamcast ;)
  • Halo 2 and Star Wars definitely belong on this list.
  • Halo 2 unlikely with MCE
  • Well, Halo 3 and Halo 4 are releasing via backward compatibility soon, so anything is possible :P
  • Otogi and Panzer Dragoon Orta.
  • No Conker: Live and Reloaded?
  • Needs more Simpsons Hit and Run
  • Thank you Mr. broke my leg. Hahahah. Love it.
  • Crazy Taxi 3! I love 1 and 2, but I've never been able to play 3.
  • There was a game for the original Xbox about aliens, I remember the game started in a farm in the 50's (maybe) the following levels would go to a city fair (I think that's how you say it) and a pool party, you could grab people with telekinesis and throw them in the air, and read their minds...
    Nice game, miss those old days
  • Oh good, that's a blast from the past - Destroy All Humans I think!
  • Yeah, I think that's the name, great game, would like to see a new version of it
  • Good one. Totally loved it too!
  • I never got to pay it but it sounds like Mars Attacks!: the videogame.
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Morrowind!!!!!
  • There had to be one Elder Scrolls person here didn't there! :)
  • Panzer Dragoon Orta
  • It will never happen but I sure would like to play Gauntlet Dark Legacy again...
  • State of Emergency is one that no one has listed. A lot of good mindless destruction. Outlaw Golf is also really good.
  • State of Emergency ftw!
  • Uh, Ninja Gaiden? Same goes for 2 and 3 on Xbox 360.
  • Mech assault and project Gotham racing!!!
  • Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volley Ball (I'm actually serious) XD and Unreal Tournament.
  • Crimson Skies for PC convinced me to purchase my first Direct X video card from a new company at the time called Nvidia (for my 386SX PC). I STILL wish they would resurrect that title. It was so much fun! It would be fantastic on the XBOX One/X with all the advancements in online play and teams, and XBOX Live (that and Mechwarrior.) Ah, memories.......
  • The Warriors
  • Kung fu chaos
  • You are missing Brute Force on that list. Many people still dream of a sequel despite that is Anvil no longer with us.
  • Not missing at all. This is just a list compiled of things the site editors would like to see. It's not a "best of" or any of that jazz. Just having a little fun.
  • I want otogi !!
  • Splinter Cell Double Agent for the OG Xbox is much more needed on BC given everyone knows and played Chaos Theory, but very few people played the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube version of Double Agent. It's arguably just as good, if not better, than Chaos Theory. Especially on OG Xbox.
  • Lol you realize a big reason for KOTOR to be so highly regarded was it's story. Your "synopsis" is basically one big spoiler Smh....barely any point playing the game if you know the ending.
  • What spoiler?
  • Way to spoil the plot of sw kotor
  • Changed the wording of the synopsis - please don't murder me 🙃
  • Oh wait, now I get it. Awesome.
  • Steel Battalion 1 in full HD
  • I wish.  I still have it for my OG Xbox.
  • Really no Midtown Madness 3 on your list? I would love if that was made into a Play Anywhere title so that after more then a dacade PC gamers that made Midtown Madness series into a success will finally get to play the last game of the series after they were screwed by Microsoft when it gave the middle finger to all PC gamers and only made MM3 on Xbox 1.    
  • Despite your "whatever" rant, I would also love to see MM3 make its way to X1, or even some kind of game with the same style of racing (open city, shortcuts galore, wonky alternate cars like garbage trucks)
  • I will never forget when someone screws me; Like Microsoft did after playing a PC only MM1 and 2 only to then be crapped on because Microsoft wanted to promote their stupid new Xbox and screw their PC gamer base that made the games into a suceess.  
  • FUSION FREZZY..............  Oh KoToR 1/2 and Off Road Racing.
  • Fusion Frenzy has luckily been announced too!
  • I look forward to play all Prince of Persia and Spliter Cell and then Black, Deus Ex: Invisible War, Morrowind, Second Sight, and Silent Hill 2.
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War, stuff like that for me. 😊
  • I agree. Those two Buffy games were pretty fun.
  • I'd want to see both Halo 1 and 2 as well as MechAssault 1 and 2. Personally I'm most excited for the possibility of the MechAssault series being backwards compatible. I'd also like to see other games like Star Wars Battlefront 2, Call of Cthulu, Call of Duty Finest Hour and Big Red One, and the list goes on. So many great games that I'd love to be able to conveniently play again on my Xbox One without having to switch to my original xbox,
  • Need for Speed Underground 2!!!
  • Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance was an original Xbox game? There's no D&D games like those anymore. Also, Drizzt.
  • Fatal Frame series, Stubbs the Zombie, Conker: Live & Reloaded, Buffy the Vampire Slayer series....
  • Ninja Gaiden Black anyone?
  • Psychonauts!!!!
  • Jade Empire, Morrowind, Brute Force, Star Wars Commando, Unreal Tournament, Def Jam Fight for NY, and Black
  • NBA Street homecourt!!
  • So happy to see mechassault in this list!!!! 😁
  • Quantum redshift. Even after I got my 360 I still went back to play this. Still haven't completed it though!
  • I loved that game! Bought it to treat myself after passing my drivers theory test back in the day.
  • Another Legend from Xbox. Agree with you, this one should be on the list!
  • Can't believe I forgot to list this.
  • Shenmue, Jet Set Radio Future, Otogi, And a little known series called Hunter the Reckoning.... Oh and Kingdom Under Fire Crusades
  • I would like to see Psychonauts.
  • I have splinter cell on disc and chaos theory digitally. Hoping those come. I also have advent rising and bloodrayne 2.
  • Shenmue 2, Project Gotham Racing, Jet Set Radio Future and Rallisport Challenge would be nice.
  • Chaos theory, yes!!
  • I just want Need For Speed 2
  • Deathrow was a cool future sports game with rpg/upgrade elements. Would love to to see that get the BC treatment.
  • Every time I see an article about original Xbox games, I always look to see if someone else mentions Deathrow. I loved that game. Glad to see others are asking for it as well.
  • Full-house poker, worms Armageddon, crash bandicoot (crash of the titans), Top spin 2-4
  • Ninja Gaiden Black, Conker: L&R, Kung Fu Chaos, JSRF, PGR2, Panzer Dragoon Orta, and Links 2004. Cheers.
  • On and XIII. Loved that cell shaded slice of loveliness. 
  • Bond,James Bond-From Russia with Love!
  • Ninja Gaiden and Deathrow.
  • How about compatibility with Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden II????  Also Castlevania Lords of Shadow, or at least the first one.  lol
  • Halo 1-4 are already available natively on XB1 in the form of the MCC. Why waste time on this?
  • Magic the Gathering Battlegrounds.  This GENRE doesn't even exist!
  • That game was brilliant. Back when they tried to re-imagine the card game for a console audience, rather than just replicate it.
  • Harry Potter 1-4 maybe. And MORROWIND of cause!
  • Sadly, Run Like Hell will never make any backwards compatible list... One of the best I palyed on OG Xbox. Soundtrack was by Breaking Benjamin, too. Every boss fight was a Breaking Benjamin song. Anyone remember this game at all??
  • Outrun2
  • Completely off topic question: Am I the only one who liked the original gigantor Xbox controller?
  • No, it was muy favorite for the original xbox, could never get comfortable with the s controller. 
  • Monster Truck Madness was awesome, but I think it was only on PC. Would live to see THAT on the Xbox!!
  • Blinx 1&2, need for speed 2 underground, the bond games(esp. Nightfire) , timesplitters, Indiana Jones, I found Apex racing better than PGR.
  • I would love to see wings of war come back for Xbox one. My husband absolutely loved that game.
  • Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter! I'm fairly certain that it was the first console game to allow a player to (relatively) seamlessly fly a ship around in space and then land and get out. It was a pretty fun game!  Mercenaries. Because I really loved being able to destroy literally everything in an open world game. I sometimes wish Just Cause had the same level of "destroy anything" that Mercenaries had, instead of just the Chaos Objects. Quantum Redshift.  Mechassault 1 and 2. Especially 2. Jade Empire.   
  • I read every comment, I shouldn't have been surprised at the lack of sports games, but this game is still considered, and when you look at the totality of video game history, and how many games are in this sub genre, to still have it be considered one of the if not THE best within the subgenre and not have ONE person mention ESPN NFL 2K5 is a travesty, I guess I should be honored to be the first.
  • Chaos Theory..yes! Great game!
  • I'd like to see max payne and also Jade empire done for xbox one as those are amazing games in themselves
  • The only two OG xbox games I want: 1) Morrowind 2) Halo 1