Monday, November 14, 2016

This Old Xbox

(cricks neck)

It's been a while, but let's see if I can still do this blogging thing. We're all frightened by what the election results have in store for us, but it doesn't have to stop us from living in the moment. Today we game, tomorrow we die!


Uh, er, anyway. You may recall that I bought an Xbox 360 E last year, since I've always liked the system and found a smaller, more reliable, less ridiculous looking version of it appealing. Problem is, I was too cheap to buy an official hard drive, and those are the only ones that offer compatibility with the original Xbox library. That machine I like a little less, but it nevertheless has a lot of cool games, and it was distressing that I didn't have access to them.

Feh. What else you got?
(image: Softonic)
So during the summer, I scoured the internet for a solution to my compatibility problem. Turns out you can get the patch you need to run Xbox games on an aftermarket hard drive... it just takes a SATA cable and a little work. Now my el cheapo drive runs classic Xbox games like a champ!

Wait, there's one other problem. All my legacy Xbox games are stranded in Michigan, and the only ones I've got here in the Southwest are Shenmue II and Sonic Heroes. No no, that won't do at all! Guess I'll have to rebuild my library with a little shopping. And there's no better place to start than Dead or Alive 3, my favorite game in the long-running series.

The perfect winter attire,
if you're a pneumonia fan.
(image: YouTube)
Dead or Alive 3 is one of the most common games in the classic Xbox library and can be had for a pittance... I scored a copy for five bucks, and I'm sure I could have paid less if I spent more time looking. More importantly, it's a fantastic fighter that somehow still looks incredible fifteen years after its release. Each stage feels like a tangible location rather than wallpaper, with ledges your opponent can be pushed off and walls they can be pinned against. The characters are gorgeously animated and only slightly artificial... you can find polygonal edges on their shoulders and clothing, but only if the camera's pretty close. For my money, it looks almost as good as the much later Dead or Alive 5, and worlds better than the crushing disappointment that was the fourth game.

(image: Wikipedia)
I also found a copy of Fable... somewhere. (Where the hell DID this come from, anyway? It's like it randomly materialized in my entertainment center.) This hasn't aged so well, but I suspect that was the result of its open world design coupled with a limited budget. Games are so polished these days that the little flaws that would easily be ignored in 2004- cheesy voice acting and an overuse of the Arial font in menus to name some examples- are a lot harder to shrug off now.

Anyway. Dated though it may be, Fable holds up better than its Xbox bunkmate Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. The characters are somewhat angular but have a charming cartoony design, with big, bulbous feet and exaggerated features. The gameplay is kind of awkward- it's entirely too easy to put away your bow when you wanted to fire it- but you see what Peter Molyneux was hoping to accomplish with this. The man promises entirely too much with his games, but at least he meets half of his lofty goals. I understand that there's a special anniversary edition with enhanced graphics. I may have to look into it, especially since the classic Xbox version doesn't play all that smoothly on an Xbox 360.

I think that's where I'll end this blog entry. Hey, I made it through the whole thing! Go me! Hopefully you'll be hearing more from me in the coming months.

1 comment:

  1. If I decide to get Fable on my 360, it'll definitely be the HD remaster I go for. I hear it's got new models, so the characters don't look so much like hideous bug-eyed monstrosities with bad skin.

    Well, I'll wait for a sale on it or get it in the $60 bundle with its sequels, anyway. $40 for Fable Anniversary alone is crazy. =/

    Anyway, I had some good times with the ol' Xbox. If you can find it, Jet Set Radio Future* holds up a lot better than Jet Set Radio does, precisely because of the changes that made it less arcadey in design. Well, pretty much anything with the Sega label on it ('cept Sonic) on Xbox is at least worth a look.

    Ninja Gaiden Black can also be fun if you don't mind a challenge from your action games, and like D.O.A.3 it still looks pretty amazing for its age. Game can be bought on 360 digitally, and the only problem it had in the conversion process was the videos looking kinda jerky.

    * Play JSRF on OG Xbox, though. Game has serious UI glitches on 360.