Xbox 360 "Hidden Gems" to Play Before Its Storefront Closure

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After the Nintendo GameCube, the Xbox 360 is the console that I have the most nostalgia for. This was the platform where I played the vast majority of multiplatform releases, namely Minecraft and Call of Duty: Black Ops, and was my first exposure to the wonderful world of online gaming. It was because of my experiences on the Xbox 360 that I found my way onto Discord, a social media-type website primarily used by gamers that has only grown in popularity since its inception.

Beyond pulling me into the more social aspects of the gaming community, the Xbox 360 also introduced me to one of the most ubiquitous skills that any gamer can acquire: modding. The zombie-slasher Dead Island is the game that got me into the modding scene, using a USB flash drive to import mods from my PC. There was something highly gratifying about shaping the world of Dead Island with weapons and armor that the original developers would have never thought to include.

When the closure of the Xbox 360 storefront was announced in late 2023 video game content creators swarmed to their respective platforms to explain what all the closure would mean and which games people should pick up before they are taken away. The storefront closure is slated to take place on July 29th, 2024. If you want to know exactly what will be removed when this happens, Microsoft has published an FAQ that goes into great detail that you can read through HERE. 

Today I want to highlight some of the lesser-known games from the Xbox 360 era that you should get your hands onbefore the digital storefront is gone forever. There were nearly five thousand games released on the console, with around two hundred of them being exclusives. It would take entirely too long to go through every exclusive so I will be breaking down my top five hidden gems for the Xbox 360.

Way of the Samurai 3

Way of the Samurai 3 is a game that I put nearly one hundred hours into, playing through the story multiple times and exploring nearly all twenty-two of its endings. In this game, you find yourself in the Sengoku Period of feudal Japan in the fictional land of Amana. There are three main factions that the player can either join or fight against: the Fujimori Clan, the Ouka Clan, and the Takatane Villagers. This was one of the first games I remember playing that utilized choice mechanics, those being dialogue and action options that the player can perform to alter the outcome of the game. 

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is not necessarily a “hidden gem” considering how big the Banjo fanbase is, but this entry in the franchise is one of the least talked about online. This 3D platformer follows most of the traditional Banjo-Kazooie conventions but adds vehicle customization. Taking place eight years after the events of Banjo-Tooie, you play as the titular duo Banjo and Kazooie as they work to save their home from the witch Gruntilda. All of the usual charm and humor from the Banjo-Kazooie franchise is here and helps to make this a game worth having in your catalog.

Lost Odyssey

Lost Odyssey is a turn-based JRPG centered around exploring the concept of immortality through the perspective of Kaim, a thousand-year-old immortal. The gameplay is broken up with tantalizing visual novels that detail Kaim’s life, creating a truly unique experience. This game has been raved about by critics and fans alike, and is often on sale on the Microsoft Store for less than ten dollars, making it a no-brainer to pick up.

Beautiful Katamari

Beautiful Katamari was the fourth entry in the franchise. The departure of series creator Keita Takahashi caused many to be skeptical going into the game, but his influence is found all over this game. The charming art style, energizing soundtrack, and general gameplay mechanic of rolling a giant ball of stuff are all still intact. The two main differences here are the transition into high-definition and the introduction of online multiplayer. If you are looking for some calming fun with popping colors, then this one is for you.

Remember Me

Remember Me was the first game created by the development studio Don’t Nod (best known for their series Life is Strange) and was not that well remembered ironically enough. This action-adventure game has you playing as Nilin, a memory hunter whose main power is remixing, stealing, and altering the memories of others. There is a solid balance between exploration and combat, but this game’s true shining spot is its soundtrack. The music in Remember Me takes this game from a six out of ten to an eight out of ten for me. If rich stories and gloomy futuristic settings speak to you, then this game is worth trying out. 

What games were your favorite from the Xbox 360 era? Do you plan to pick up any titles in anticipation of the storefront’s closure later in July? Let me know and, as always, game on friends!