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!
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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 around $50 for a boxed copy, which at the least is going to make your money back.
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.
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.
And it’s only really valuable if you have a copy in mint condition, with prices allowing you to make your money back and some over the original RRP.
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 $89 online at the present time.
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 $99 online these days, with even unboxed and incomplete copies being reasonably expensive.
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 $168.
Metal Wolf Chaos was a Japanese only release designed to get Japanese audiences interested in the Xbox.
The theory of making a game look and feel similar to the famous Gundam Wing series was sound enough. The fact that that game was so Americanised, however, was a little bit of a faux pas to say the least.
Needless to say, this Japanese release ended up being imported back to the US and was played more there, and because it remains a bit of an elusive title it has a high cost price for just the disc alone.
Boxed copies in great condition will end up bringing in a price of around $193!
Spikeout Battle Street is definitely one for the nostalgic arcade fans out there. It’s based on the 90s arcade phenomenon, but sadly this game never had the same appeal as the classic cabinet.
The thing about Battle Street is that it’s super hard. If you die, there’s no continue, which fans of games like Returnal will absolutely love. Still, if you’re looking for a user-friendly fighting title, this isn’t it.
Because of poor reviews on release, the game went below the radar and didn’t get much attention back in the day, falling by the wayside in favour of other fighting titles. Now, because collectors are a curious bunch, the cost for a boxed copy in great condition is now $219!
Prices vary wildly for this, another Konami game to make the list, with 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.
Teen Titans is up next in our list of rare Xbox games, and is definitely one for fans of the TV series to try out id they have a spare $238 available.
Sometimes critics can give game a good review but the general public still snub it. Players found the gameplay to be really boring and incredibly repetitive, and while it was true that it stayed true to the happenings of the show, it just didn’t have that same wow factor.
In terms of gameplay, it feels like a Ratchet & Clank game with a little bit of TMNT action thrown in for good measure. Whether that’s a combo that is worth $80 for the disc alone is a choice only you, dear reader, can make!
The only way to make a Capcom fighting game any better is having Marvel characters joining the fray. The Hulk and Zangief is a match that everyone wants to see whether they like fighting games or not, and the question of whether a ball of web can beat a Hadouken is one that needs answering immediately.
This game will never stop being boring, and as more and more people find out about it and want to get their hands on a copy, then the cost price will continue to go up and up.
At $242, it’s still better value for money than that last Dr Strange film that I sat through. I will never ever get that time back.
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.
Futurama might never have been as popular as the Simpsons, but you wouldn’t have expected it to have been in a list of rare games. Surely this would have sold like hotcakes, right?
Well, because the game came out after the show was cancelled and at a time where audiences weren’t as keen on Fry’s adventures as they are now, it kind of went unnoticed and didn’t receive the attention it deserved.
It was a ‘wrong place, wrong time’ problem, and the new material meant to wow fans just faded into obscurity.
It’s a shame that the series eventually coming back didn’t bring the game back to our attention, but the universe works in mysterious ways. Now, you can pay around $279 for an Xbox game that would have cost $30 back in the day.
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).
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.
1. Steel Battalion Line Of Contact Pilot Test – $1,250
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. But the ‘not for resale’ pilot is one of the rarest examples of them all, with one copy recently selling for $1,250.
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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.