Any good console is going to have it's share of bumps in the road and failures. Experimenting with products and ideas is a must, even if it often ends in bad reception and poor sales. The Xbox 360 is my console of choice, but I'm not blind into thinking it's a perfect gaming platform. Looking back at the half-decade reign of the 360, I cringe at some of the peripherals I paid money for and new features I anticipated. Take in mind this is not an article simply bashing five video-games I disliked due to hype, but rather a retrospective glance at the console's fallacies.
5) Avatar Awards
First of all, I really like the Xbox 360 Avatars. They're a hell of a lot more visually pleasing than those damned Nintendo Miis, and thanks to several Xbox Live Arcade and Indie games they can be quite interactive. Around the same time the Avatar Marketplace and Props were announced, Avatar Awards were revealed to be a new and exciting incentive to exceed in games. Achievements are fine and dandy for some, but wouldn't you rather unlock something with a bit more visual flair? Well that was two years ago, and to this day there are only around 60 games with Award support; most of these games being obscure XBLA games. My main problem with Avatar Awards is not that we do not get enough free clothing or accessories for our virtual selves, but that they simultaneously have the marketplace raping our wallets for things once believed to be free. For instance the “Halo RC Warthog” prop was initially a Halo 3: ODST Avatar Award, but now costs a not-so modest $4.
This one might not be quite so obvious as they aren't often referred to as “Applications” by Microsoft or the Xbox 360 brand. I consider downloadable features like Netflix, ESPN, Zune, Last.fm and Twitter to be applications. These are widely touted by Microsoft to be grand features packed with quality and reason enough to purchase an Xbox 360- so much so they are the explained reasoning behind the $10 price hike of Xbox Live Gold. Disregarding Netflix's pathetic collection of instant-stream titles and Last.fm's varying quality of music these are the best two apps. But when using the Twitter or FaceBook apps, you're simply wasting your time. They may be convenient in the sense that they don't require a PC, but the actual amount of features you get is abysmal. Especially considering both the PS3 and Wii have a browser for free. Microsoft's paranoia (or monopoly) that keeps them from surfing the internet via console is a beyond strange, even more so when I'm reminded of my Xbox 360 Chat Pad. Some other thrilling apps you might remember from back in the day are Photo Party (look at pictures, with friends!) and “Cool Room.” Cool Room was never actually released, but was set to serve as the Playstation Home counter movement.
Faceplates are those gaudy things a dozen or so gamers bought to try and spice up their 360's boring white design. Now almost completely obsolete due to the Xbox 360 Slim, Faceplates cost around $15 and were essentially new covers to your 360. Many of them looked quite appealing, and Microsoft was confident they'd catch on like trading cards. Except, something about an over the top, colorful image of Marcus Fenix looks terrible in contrast to a dull white box. Uniformity is more visually pleasing than what Faceplates offered. Possibly the most disappointing thing regarding Faceplates, is that the very best ones were limited edition, custom made, or ridiculously rare for another reason. If you don't think good looking Faceplates exist, definitely check out the Prey, E3 2005, or BioShock Faceplates.
2) Game Room
Oh Krome Studios, can't you do anything right? You butchered the Viva Piñata license, created the annoying protagonist Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, and Hellboy: The Science of Evil still has really messed up Achievements. But without realizing Krome's botched history of development, I actually looked forward to Game Room. Now, I have no concern with the $3 price tag on decade old games- I can look past that. I'd gladly pay the money to have sixteen different versions of Centipede, one of the only games I could actually find myself enjoying. But when “games” like Venetian Blinds are released, I do begin to wonder what evil person terrible developer would try and charge for such a thing. Issues include horrible control schemes on some of the Intellivision games, confusing trial methods, an arcade you can't actually maneuver through and expensive mascots. The most notable disappointment though, was the initial claim of someday offering "over 1000" games. Krome's dissolution will prevent us from seeing even 100 games get released.
1) Xbox Live Vision Camera
Before the Kinect was even in the works, Microsoft released the Xbox Live Vision Camera for a humble $40. Offering video chat, the ability to take pictures of yourself and set it as your gamer picture (pretty exciting before Avatars) and in-game integration; Microsoft really pushed this peripheral hard when it released. One thing they seemingly failed to do was test the damn product. Games like Rainbow Six Vegas and FaceBreaker allowed gamers to take pictures of themselves and create characters in their own likeness. Naturally, this only worked well if your head was completely still, preferably bald and matched a perfect set of dimensions. Not only did this always look awkward upon success, getting this feature to even work was always more trouble than it's worth. Games like UNO took a more passive route and simply allowed others to see what was going on in your living room. Usually this was just a bored looking man playing UNO, but other times you might get a woman to flash you her pair. Of breasts, not UNO cards.
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