There were some really great original Xbox games.
While you can’t exactly call the original Xbox a failure, it certainly didn’t catch on as well as Microsoft hoped. We know how that story ended up: Microsoft ditched the original Xbox early on and placed all bets on the Xbox 360.
And it worked out for Microsoft. But what would have happened if they stuck it out with the original Xbox? The system had its flaws, but the games could have carried it through.
Fortunately for us, a fair number of those original Xbox games are available to play on the gaming consoles that followed, including the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One. Here are the best original Xbox games still worth playing this year!
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the exact point where BioWare’s transition from Baldur’s Gate developer to Mass Effect developer started.
But unlike Mass Effect, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic has a proper ending—and that’s just one of many aspects that made this game so good.
Ever wonder where the Splinter Cell series got its start? In this game, you can see Sam Fischer when he was considerably less old and grizzled—although to be honest, he’s still pretty seasoned even in this first entry of the acclaimed stealth-action series.
While Skyrim is the most popular of Elder Scrolls games—so much so that it’s pretty much a household name these days—there are many who’d disagree with anyone who says that Skyrim is the best Elder Scrolls game.
Even though its engine and tech are insanely dated, most would say that The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is the best and most important title in the Elder Scrolls series—and more than that, one of the best video games of all time.
Team Ninja’s reworking of the Ninja Gaiden games was divisive, with some players claiming it was too difficult while others saying it wasn’t difficult enough.
Ninja Gaiden Black solves this by adding easier and harder difficulty settings, plus new enemies, costumes, and other touches.
Psychonauts represented one of the two chances we got (at least on the original Xbox) to see what Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Entertainment could do with a serious budget.
Even if you aren’t a fan of platformer games, this one is worth playing just for the environmental storytelling alone.
A full generation before Red Faction: Guerrilla, Pandemic Studios’ Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction did nearly the same thing.
This open-world game featured destructible environments in a way we hadn’t seen much before. It’s too bad the game’s lackluster sequel killed the franchise.
This shooter from Criterion Games aimed to “do for shooting what Burnout did for racing.” It didn’t.
Sadly, Black wasn’t a huge hit at all. But it’s still a solid first-person shooter experience for players who prefer their shooters to have old-school trappings.
There aren’t many facts to back this up, but given the amount of Sega properties on the Xbox, there was an assumption that most Dreamcast owners moved on to the Xbox.
For those who fell into this group, Panzer Dragoon Orta was exactly the game they needed with its stunning arcade shooting experience.
While Crimson Skies was originally a PC game that didn’t make much of a splash, Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge certainly made waves when it arrived on the original Xbox.
Unfortunately, much of that was due to its online multiplayer, which is no longer available. It’s still worth playing single-player, though.
Full Spectrum Warrior had an image problem when it was released: it was a strategy game at heart, but it looked like a shooter game.
The gamers for who it was intended rarely made it past the cover to discover the great gameplay within. But for a select few, they found an in-depth tactics game with awesome online co-op.
Unreal Championship was basically a straight port of Unreal Tournament 2003. And then came Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict.
This game was built specifically for the Xbox and optimized for the system, resulting in gameplay and performance that exceeded its predecessor.
12. Jade Empire
Another one of BioWare’s game, Jade Empire takes elements from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic but moves to an action combat system.
It also wasn’t restricted by any dependence on a third-party license. Had it sold better, it could have been the start of an amazing franchise.
13. Dead to Rights
If you’re looking for an encapsulation of the Xbox/PlayStation 2/GameCube generation in a single game, Dead to Rights is it.
It’s plenty fun to play, but even more fun to examine as a sort of gaming time capsule. This neo-noir third-person action game would go on to influence many future games.
14. SSX 3
Remember snowboarding games? Outside of Ubisoft’s mountain-sports simulator Steep, they’ve pretty much fallen by the wayside.
Which is why it’s worth revisiting SSX 3 even to this day because it still plays well and it’s easy to jump into for a snowboarding fix.
Prefer your games on the less serious side? Armed and Dangerous provides plenty of third-person shooting action, mixed in with tons of jokes featured throughout its single-player campaign.
Play ‘Em on Xbox Game Pass
While the original Xbox may have caused a friend of mine to give up video games for good, it was an overall success. At the very least, it produced some of the best games of all time and launched many video game franchises that are alive and well.
Fortunately, several of the games featured in this article—such as Black—are available to play via Xbox Game Pass!
Xbox Game Pass offers 100+ games to play on PC and Xbox, plus all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold and EA Play. It’s an excellent value for PC and Xbox gamers. Try Xbox Game Pass now!