There are very few upcoming gaming announcements that are as hotly anticipated as the news of the Xbox Mini. It keeps fans of Halo, Fable, Beyond Good & Evil, and many more of the best Xbox games on the planet on tenterhooks, lying awake at night while wondering whether their favourite home console will be the one to join the ranks of Mini Consoles in gaming stores around the globe. Microsoft fans have waited patiently while new articles on the N64 Mini, the GameCube Mini, and even the Dreamcast Mini flood their favourite gaming news and review sites. Every time that ‘new email’ sound drops or a notification slides onto their screens, they think that this could be the time, their time; Xbox Mini time.
So what do we know about the fabled (see what I did there) Xbox Mini? Well, we’ve done some digging, made a few calls, and sold the few remaining Horcruxes we had left in hiding to put together as much information as we can. From cold-hard facts to complete conjecture, we’ve put together a thought-out thesis on the Xbox Mini that could earn us an honorary degree at Harvard University (or the University of life, more likely). Strap yourselves in; if you’re an Xbox fan, then this may well be an emotional rollercoaster.
What Do We Know About The Xbox Mini?
The Xbox was the console that changed the gaming scene forever. Before Microsoft delved into the gaming world, the market was really a two-horse race between Nintendo and Sony. Gamers around the globe were either busily deciding whether to add to their collections of the best N64 games and best GameCube games, or busily kicking back in their slippers and immersing themselves in the worlds of Jak and Daxter or Metal Gear. These two gaming giants never thought that Microsoft would be able to sneak a slice of the home console pie; how wrong were they!
So, what do we know about the Xbox Mini? Well, out of all of the mini consoles on the market today, it will certainly have to be the most powerful. With 733MHz Intel CPU and 64GB RAM, the first generation Xbox was the equivalent of placing Hulk Hogan inside a plastic case when it first came out. The graphics were crisp, the world maps were some of the biggest that we had seen thus far, and the games themselves had so much more going on compared to what had come before. With technological advancements outdating each other every second, we’re confident that Microsoft can take a select number of games, bump them up to 720p, and place them inside a small box (preferably one that looks like an ‘X’) and ship it onto shelves with relative ease. Having sai that, there are a few hurdles in the way which we’ll come onto soon.
As far as connectivity goes, WiFi is a must. I know it wasn’t such a big deal back in the day, but people use their home consoles for so much more than gaming now. A games console is now synonymous with being able to watch Netflix, download movies, stream on YouTube, check your emails, connect with friends online, and much more. It might be a lot to fit into a mini console, but if the Switch can manage most of the above, then I’m sure that Microsoft can work their magic.
Let’s Talk Controllers
As far as controllers are concerned, we know that the button selection won’t be changing on the Xbox Mini, but the layout will be changing. If it is to follow the trend set by its competitors, then the controller itself will have to be resized slightly to fit in with the ‘mini’ theme. This may prove to be difficult, what with the double shoulder-buttons, L3 compatibility, rumble features, and more besides. We’re going to be looking at something more the size of the GameCube controller, which might be nice as that first-generation Xbox handset, nicknamed ‘The Duke’, was mega big. It reminded me of the little flying-computer in Jet Force Gemini, and although that’s incredibly cool, it did feel heavy in the hand and made your fingers ache (the controller, not the robot).
Now that we know all about the Xbox, there’s really no need for that massive logo in the middle of the handset either. It took up so much space, and we see no reason why it should be included in the Xbox Mini set up, especially now that Microsoft can make smaller controllers with much better features.
Better-sized controllers are one thing, but let’s just hope that they are wireless. In theory, it shouldn’t be too difficult to do, especially seen as though the Xbox 360 was wireless from the get-go. If Hyperkin can do it with the ‘Admiral’ Hyperkin Wireless N64 Remote (what is it with these high-brow names!), then there’s no reason why the newest Mini on the block can’t do it. It’s a sought after feature, especially now people have to sit so far away from their screens to be able to take everything in.
One feature that we won’t be seeing, however, is the Kinect add on. It’s just not necessary for an Xbox Mini console, especially when you can pick up a Wii for about £15 and play tennis on that. There are plenty of other, more exciting titles that Microsoft fans can sink their teeth into, which brings us neatly on to our next section.
What Games Would The Xbox Mini Play?
We’ve come to one of the main reasons why people want this console; the list of games. We might have moved into a world where online titles such as Fortnite, Rocket League, and PUBG are the ones that are selling games consoles, but it’s characters like the Master Chief, Ryu ‘Ninja Gaiden’ Hayabusa, and The Hero Of Oakvale that made the Xbox such a great success with gamers.
Let’s talk about the games that the Xbox mini will come with. Well, it only takes a quick look at the consoles best-selling titles to know that both ‘Halo: Combat Evolved’ and ‘Halo 2’ will be on there at its launch, the duo selling 13-million copies combined. Shooting games aren’t for everyone, which is why Fable, the Xbox’s answer to epic adventures like Ocarina of Time and Final Fantasy, will undoubtedly be a launch title as well. As for the rest, we can safely assume that GTA, Call Of Duty, Project Gotham Racing, and a couple of Star Wars titles will make it up onto the on-screen selection list. Splinter Cell, Dead Or Alive, and TimeSplitters 2 would certainly win me over, as would revisiting Soulcalibur 2 and taking Spawn for a spin in the ring. Man, that game ruled!
I’ve already touched upon the resolution of the Xbox Mini, and seeing some of our favourite games in HD is a must-have feature of the new console. The Xbox One X’s great-great-great-great-great-grandad only kicked out 480p. We want to see an HDMI-out on this pint-sized powerhouse, especially now that televisions are getting bigger and 480p would just get lost on the latest Samsung 4K HD screens.
So What’s Stopping This Mini Console From Becoming A Reality?
There are a couple of things that are standing in Microsoft’s way and preventing them from making the Xbox Mini as quickly as both we, and they might like. The first obstacle that presents itself is that the games themselves have ginormous file sizes. You might be thinking that this isn’t’ a massive issue, but don’t forget that Mini consoles come with all of the games pre-loaded and don’t have the option of loading discs (let’s just hope that it doesn’t come out looking like the Rodrigo Elec, one of the worst fake consoles of all time!)
In a world where we can fit 2TB of memory onto a single flash drive, you might also be wondering why Microsoft hasn’t sorted this problem already. It’s not just the save file data that we need to consider here though; there are the countless other files that make the game work, your characters move and talk, and create the immersive graphics that make the trees rustle or footprints form in the snow on your favourite maps. There’s also downloadable content to consider too; add-ons, expansions, and the like. We’re confident that Microsoft is working on a solution and one that doesn’t make the price of the Xbox Mini skyrocket. How confident? Around 96.8%.
Then there is the matter of game licenses. If you’re unfamiliar about third-party developers and how their games get onto consoles, then here’s a very quick lowdown. With regards to the original Xbox, Microsoft would have approached a number of development companies and negotiated deals in which they could sell said developers games on the console. A license is created in each instance, kind of like a trade agreement, which links the two companies and gives both the developer of the game and Microsoft money when the title is sold.
Some of the consoles more popular games may still be under license, and the creators might not take too kindly to the notion of an Xbox Mini arriving on the shelves at BestBuy with their games pre-loaded. It might be good for us, but the developer won’t make any dough, leaving them angry and liable to break into your house at night in a bid to steal your console and throw it into the nearest river.
Final Thoughts . . .
So why 2022? Well, gaming technology is rapidly advancing. We can see as much through some of the best retro handhelds and RetroPie handhelds that emulate early classics to perfection. Companies like Hyperkin are pushing the clone console boundary with their Hyperkin Ultra Retron, but there’s still a long way to go before games like Halo 2 can be emulated or cloned without loss of framerate or any unwanted buffering. Microsoft knows this and will undoubtedly wait until the problem has been solved before diverting their attention away from new console releases. Two years is a long time when technology is concerned and is plenty of time to get both the file size of these games and the emulation factor sorted out once and for all.
So what kind of money will we be parting with if we want to get our hands on an Xbox Mini? We’re confident that it will certainly be more than the SEGA Mega Drive Mini which retails at around £65.00 ($84.00), and that a cost of around £150.00 ($194.00) would be agreeable considering the number of games that would come preloaded on the device. With beefed up HD games, wireless controllers that don’t require a personal trainer to help you lift, and a more portable design that might allow you to transport the console in a backpack, I think that the guestimated price would be a steal, especially for die-hard Xbox fans who have been waiting for this console for time immemorial (that’s a cool way of saying for ages).