Rare Xbox games are not unheard of, but are a much smaller selection overall compared to those in demand on other formats from the same time period.
The reason for this is simple: Microsoft have generally been committed to keeping backwards compatibility going, with many of the best original Xbox games working on the console’s successor, the Xbox 360 – and this continued into the following generation, at least once the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility program kicked off.
With many original Xbox titles added to the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility list in 2017 and even now playable on current generation Xbox consoles (Series S and Series X machines), it’s still relatively straightforward to play games that released as far back as twenty years ago.
However, the list of compatible and available games isn’t anywhere near 100% – and some original games were dogged by low print runs or a lack of interest on their initial release, with rights issues sometimes preventing the addition of certain games to the backwards compatibility list for Xbox consoles.
So there definitely are games that are still highly sought after for the original Xbox – but which ones are they? Let’s find out!
Note: As with other lists of this nature, I’ve tried to steer clear of one-off special editions or limited releases of games that had standard editions readily available. Games bundled with hardware or peripherals aren’t included (so no Steel Battalion or Steel Battalion: Line of Contact make the list this time!).
Though it never set the world on fire from a critical perspective, third-person vampire assassin adventure game Bloodrayne was popular enough to spawn comic books, films (three of them, all directed by infamous purveyor of terrible video game movie adaptations, Uwe Boll) and this 2004 video game sequel.
Met with mixed reception by critics, it was followed by a download-only, less ambitious side-scrolling sequel. Though still available digitally due to backwards compatibility on Xbox, the boxed copy is rare enough that it fetches decent prices these days – with mint, sealed copies offered at around $100 at the time of writing.
The demise of Sega’s ill-fated, under-appreciated Dreamcast console led to many of the company’s games receiving new entries on other consoles.
Jet Set Radio – known as Jet Grind Radio upon its initial American release – was a unique third person adventure with a compelling electronic soundtrack, stunning cel-shaded visuals and tons of attitude to spare; due to it being a one of the best Dreamcast games, it never reached the wider audience it deserved.
The Xbox-exclusive sequel failed to catch on with a new audience either, bringing the series to a premature and undeserved end (at least, so far – with demand still high for a remaster or further sequel from a dedicated fanbase).
It’s still not backwards compatible with new Xbox consoles – this, along with its originally low sales and relatively small print run has seen its value remain high, with sealed copies selling online for around $80.
Here’s a game I hadn’t even heard of until I started looking at the most valuable Xbox games – and there’s probably good reason for that; it is, reportedly, an absolutely dire game (John Walker savaged it in a Eurogamer review in which he gave the game the lowest possible score – 1/10) and, with it being published by the little known Akella, the print run was likely very small indeed.
A first person shooter with RPG elements, Gene Troopers is one of those games that’s valuable because of its rarity – definitely not because of its quality.
Though this doesn’t seem like a reasonable price (most are listed around the $80 mark) there’s currently a copy on eBay for close to $400. Which is likely very baffling to non-collectors and becomes one of most expensive on this rare Xbox games list.
Another Sega gem, this updating of arcade classic OutRun followed the original game’s well received sequel (OutRun 2), sharing beautifully sunny design, a lovely soundtrack and gloriously straightforward driving with its predecessors.
Additionally, OutRun 2006 featured online competitive play, though the servers are no longer active.
With Sega no longer holding the expensive Ferrari license, there’s very little chance that we’ll see it again – and the price reflects its desirability, with sealed copies going for as much as $500 on eBay (and non-mint copies selling at the $200 mark).
Toho’s perennially popular walking atomic bomb has never been particularly well served in video game form, but his games have generally been pretty popular despite this (the same could be said of many Godzilla films, many of which are campily hilarious but not always what would be thought of as ‘good’ movies – though there are some notable exceptions).
This port of a 2002 GameCube game was silly, mindless fighting fun and supported up to four players competing to smack the living daylights out of each other.
With Godzilla still being huge (pardon the pun) thanks to the current run of MonsterVerse movies (the latest of which, Godzilla vs Kong, is imminent – and highly anticipated by Kaiju fans), it seems that this rare Xbox games title is going to hold its value – with copies fetching up to $280 online at the present time.
The final TMNT game from Konami, Mutant Nightmare was given mediocre scores by critics upon release, but there was a very clever addition included: after completing the game’s first episode, players unlock the classic early 90s arcade beat ‘em up TMNT: Turtles in Time.
That game has long languished due to lapsed licensing rights – and Konami don’t seem interested in renewing them.
This has meant that Mutant Nightmare is currently a highly sought after collector’s item; almost unbelievably, a graded copy on eBay right now is being offered for an eye-watering $470.
Until last year’s Maneater was released, very few games offered the rare delight of embodying a hungry, bloodthirsty, rampaging shark. Fourteen years earlier, however, Jaws Unleashed did exactly that, putting players in the role of the eternally hangry ocean dweller. Despite mixed reviews, it sold well in its day – but licensing issues are likely the reason that it eventually became scarce. Boxed copies can go for as much as $170 online these days, with even unboxed and incomplete copies being reasonably expensive (you’ll still pay around $50 for the disc alone, it seems).
Prices vary wildly for this, another Konami game to make the list, with US versions seemingly relatively sane (though not exactly cheap) and EU (PAL) copies reaching prices as high as $200. Perhaps it suffered from a low print run in Europe than elsewhere; as with many other 3D Castlevania titles, its response was mixed at best – but with the brand still holding great sway these days (helped by the excellent Netflix animé series), perhaps this rare (in Europe at least) title will hold its value.
Another one of those games that I’d never previously heard of, Room Zoom is a fairly generic, Micro Machines-esque game in which players race toy cars around a house. It’s not a great game, but it is very rare – and due to this it has an incredibly high price.
Though a ‘standard’ boxed copy will fetch around $230, a sealed copy on eBay right now is selling for close to $1800.
What is the most wanted game on this rare Xbox games list? Well…
Like Castlevania: Curse of Darkness and TMNT 3: Mutant Nightmare, Xiaolin Showdown demonstrates that perhaps Konami didn’t have much faith in the Xbox – each of these games is available for PS2 even now at reasonable prices, whereas the Microsoft console versions are stuck at incredibly high values comparatively.
Based on a now-forgotten animated series, Xiaolin Showdown was the last ever original Xbox game to be released in Europe – and it’s a beat ‘em up in a similar vein to the Dreamcast’s Power Stone.
Though critical reception was overwhelmingly poor and its value isn’t high in the US (a copy autographed by one of the cartoon’s voice actors is selling for ‘only’ $90 on eBay as of this moment), the print run in the EU must have been shockingly low – because prices for a PAL copy are reaching $685, with no sealed copies currently on the market right now.
OK, I lied. How could I put together a rare Xbox games list and not include these two unbelievably self-indulgent, crazily ambitious mech simulator titles from Capcom which just so happen to feature the best original XBOX accessories… ever.
The two Steel Battalion titles are notable for including hugely complex, giant controllers featuring an array of switches, sticks and pedals (the red eject button even came with a safety cover that had to be flipped open for the button to be pressed).
Punishingly difficult but hugely immersive, Steel Battalion is the very definition of a limited, rare collector’s edition game – and boxed, used copies can fetch $1600 or more with ease.
Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.