Xbox Game Pass includes a truly mind-blowing amount of content. If you’ve ever scrolled through the service, you’ve probably experienced the same delusion as me. The idea that anyone can play table tennis between Gears of War 5, The Master Chief Collectionand Rainbow Six: Siege in a single session it is difficult to conceptualize. It makes me think of the first time I checked an iPod. After years of dealing with unreliable CD cases and Walkmen, I suddenly had… all the albums I would ever need? In the palm of my hand How did we live before?
But honestly, what attracted me most to Game Pass is not access to supergames like Destiny 2. While it is really revealing that the hostel subscription Infinite Halo Day one, a remarkable tactic indicating a broader change in the industry, what I like the most is stepping into the dark belly of the cloud to track down the most interesting Xbox detritus I can find.
Case in point: Rice: Son of Rome
it’s on Game Pass. Remember Ryse? He finished with a 60 on Metacritic but it looked really pretty at E3 when they introduced the Xbox One. In other places there are Fuzion Frenzyabsurd replacement Mario Party clone with a stranger Radio Jet Set Art Style, which is best known for being one of the most complementary launch titles of all time. If you opened an Xbox on Christmas morning with a copy of Fuzion Frenzy instead of aura you probably still carry trauma to this day. That’s the kind of thing I’d love in a possible all-in-one catalog – it would allow me to touch on the hits, but it would also allow me to explore the things that immediately evaporated a month after release.
Which brings me to my most important point: Phil Spencer, if you’re reading this, put all the old and midsize Xbox platformers on Game Pass. Don’t make the streets wait any longer.
You know what I’m talking about if you were playing at the turn of the millennium. Microsoft entered the market with a desire to compete with Sony and Nintendo, two companies that had earned their reputations, in part, on 3D platforms. That’s funny in hindsight: imagine a market built on the basis of Crash Bandicoot
instead of an endless set of loot triggers designed to keep you playing for 10 years in a row, but those were the marching orders at the time.
As such, Microsoft ordered a ton of studios to produce their own incarnations of Mario, hoping that would help their new system fly off Walmart shelves. The results are like a rogue gallery of terrible pets. Who could forget Blinx the Time Sweeper? O Vince voodoo? Or the sad and diminished three-dimensional incarnation of ToeJam y Earl? O Tork: prehistoric punk? (Do not confuse with Tak and the power of Juju, a different Platform game from the 2000s set in the stone age). Long before Marcus Fenix and the Horizon Festival, this was the face of Xbox.
Neither of these games was particularly good. I’m pretty sure I played Vince voodoo and I have no tangible memory of doing it. (You could set fire and make enemies do the same, if I remember correctly.) Instead, they represented the ultimate flotsam in Blockbuster rental aisles and GameStop bargain bins everywhere. Nobody played Blinx on purpose; you ended up with that record after an unsuccessful trip to the mall. “What? They have no copies of Burnout 3? I suppose Metal arms is.” The last decade has completely destroyed the video game middle class. There are no publishers like Sierra left, churning out mid-budget scraps to bridge the gap between triple-A returns, and I can’t be the only one who has gotten a bit nostalgic for that bygone era.
The story is best understood by the forgotten straw on the margins, which is why modern archaeologists dig into the ancient garbage piles of the proletariat rather than drawing actual bloodlines. I subscribe to WWE Network, another all-encompassing database from a wildly inconsistent company, and while it’s fun to revisit the classics, it’s camino more entertaining to give random clues Raw from 1995 to see the terrible mess Vince McMahon was chasing. The video game industry should give us that same opportunity.
I emailed Xbox HQ for this story, to see if it could offer any hope that someday soon we could all play ToeJam y Earl with the push of 16 gigabytes of RAM. Basically he told me to kick rocks with “nothing else to share right now.” I understand where it comes from. Game Pass is a fledgling service and also Microsoft’s best hope for taking the lead in the console wars, so naturally you’re probably focusing on more important features, such as optimizing. Skyrim for its debut.
That being said, I hope that as publishers approach our inevitable future of subscription-based gaming, they understand how much good they could do by preserving the glorious and scattered entirety of their previous catalogs. In fact, there is a market for this! Yes, most people use Game Pass so they don’t have to pay for the next one. Gears or whatever. But I can’t help but think of a YouTuber like Nitro Rad, who devoted his career to documenting the midsize platformer games of the 2000s. If his video review analyzing the precise handling of a modern developed by Konami Frogger the game can accumulate more than 150,000 visitsSo clearly I’m not alone
We are already starting to see some movement here. EA Play offers like six different random games To get madYes, and I dream of a timeline where I can look up, like, the 2003 edition when I want to race like Michael Vick. AND Kameo: Elements of Power, a game with one of the most tortured origin stories in memory, can be installed on the X Series hard drive at any time. Hopefully, publishers will double and everything old will be renewed again; I’ll log into Game Pass and spend an afternoon playing Blood awakeningO Greg Hastings tournament paintball, with my idiot friends, like we used to, so many years ago. No publisher should be afraid of all these fun, old-fashioned failures, ha-has been and never has been. Believe me, they are far more charming than IP holders seem to give them credit for, and you would find many curious and even appreciative gamers today.