The 11 Best Retro Games on Xbox Series X / S

There are several retro games available on Xbox Series X / S, whether it be from directly downloading old titles, purchasing remasters, or picking up bundles of classic game series.

Whatever genre you enjoy playing through, there is certainly a retro game for you to sink your teeth into here.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the best retro games on Xbox Series X / S.

11. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle

The Sonic franchise of games has shown us that the jump from 2D to 3D is not as easy as a certain plumber would have many believe.

However, for every Sonic Unleashed and Sonic The Hedgehog 2006 that we receive, absolute classics like Sonic Adventure 2 Battle are also created.

Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 Battle switch up the original trilogy’s formula drastically.

No longer are you confined to speeding through levels on a 2D plane. Now, you can fully explore your surroundings in glorious 3D!

Several playable characters are also available, depending on which storyline you play.

Sonic and Shadow’s sections are still all about speed. You will be running through levels as quickly as possible while avoiding any and all obstacles standing in your way.

Tails and Dr. Eggman stages have you playing mechanized suits and taking down tons of enemies with your advanced weaponry.

Finally, Rouge and Knuckles will have players exploring various 3D worlds searching for Chaos Emerald shards using a dowsing mechanic.

There is also tons of side content to play through here. The notorious Chao Garden made its debut in this title and will take hours of dedication in order to breed that perfect Chao.

Aside from the gameplay, we couldn’t talk about Sonic without talking about the music. No matter what game Sonic is in, one thing for certain is that the music will always be amazing.

Sonic Adventure 2 Battle is no exception and gave us a ton of new bangers to rock out to (including arguably the greatest Sonic track of all time, Escape from the City).

The gameplay of Sonic Adventure 2 isn’t the smoothest, and the less said about the voice acting, the better.

However, for any short criticisms, we have for Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, the positives far outweigh the negatives. It is one of the best platformer games on Steam, Nintendo, and Xbox Series X / S.

10. Grim Fandango Remastered

Grim Fandango Remastered is a retouched version of the fan-favorite title. Grim Fandango is an adventure game that has gained cult classic status over the years.

The game is set in the Land of the Dead. It also combines elements from the Aztec afterlife and film noir style (such as Casablanca).

The game was praised critically for its unique art design and is often praised as being one of the greatest video games of all time.

It is surprising then how this title was such a commercial failure during its first run. This is mainly attributed to the decline of the adventure genre (something that would be revitalized thanks to the Telltale line of games).

Regardless, it was enough for this title to be considered a cult classic and a great one at that.

This remastered version keeps everything mostly the same. The art has been modernized, the sound has been optimized, and the controls have been updated to ensure the best performance possible.

Thankfully, the hilarious story, complete with witty dialogue, still remains, as does the point-and-click style of gameplay.

9. Quake

The full Quake trilogy is ready and available to play on Xbox Series X / S. This revolutionary game is one that should be experienced by gaming veterans at least once in their lives.

Quake is a first-person shooter game developed by id Software. It was originally released for MS-DOS, Linux, and Microsoft Windows way back in 1996.

Eventually, the game was ported over to several home consoles, including the Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64.

The gameplay here is seemingly simple. Players will make their way through several maze-like dungeons, blasting enemies and traversing various obstacles.

However, the reason Quake is so popular is due to the impact it had on gaming culture.

Early esports tournaments centered around competitive gaming began with games like Quake.

Additionally, Quake was one of the earliest 3D games that placed players into a realized 3D world.

Not long after the release of Quake, id Software would release their next groundbreaking title in Doom.

Were it not for these early games, esports, 3D gaming, and competitive gaming as we know it today may not exist.

Quake was a pioneer of change, and it is very interesting to look back and see where it all began.

8. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind / The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

The Elder Scrolls franchise has always been beloved among open-world RPG fans.

While The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is arguably responsible for pushing the series more into the mainstream, previous Elder Scrolls games are just as addictive.

There are tons of vast regions to explore in both of these games, from volcanic mountains, poisonous swamps, and eerie dungeons.

On your journey, you will likely encounter a host of strange and hostile enemies that will have to be taken down to progress further on your quest.

Along with the Main Quest of each game, there are tons of sidequests to complete, some of which are arguably more entertaining than the central storyline.

As usual, lots of entertaining and interesting NPCs litter the worlds and are ready and waiting for you to interact with them.

Additionally, these games are much less user-friendly than Skyrim. For better or worse, it really adds to the overall immersion that there are no waymarkers for you to follow.

If an NPC tells you where a dungeon or key item is located, you will need to remember the coordinates and find the location yourself!

Both Morrowind and Oblivion have tons of replayability. Not only is there an almost endless amount of sidequests to conquer, but several classes to conquer them with.

If you somehow manage to unearth ever hidden easter egg and every last pixel of content in both Morrowind and Oblivion, you are free to complete the whole game over again as a different class.

Players will quickly learn that experiencing an Elder Scrolls game as a swordsman is wildly different than as a mage, for example.

Enemies and dungeons that were simple as a ranged caster might prove more than taxing as a melee combatant.

Both Morrowind and Oblivion have hours of content for players to chip away at while waiting patiently for The Elder Scrolls VI.

7. Doom

As mentioned, Doom is the successor to id Software’s Quake franchise. Where Quake laid a solid foundation for gaming within a 3D space, Doom built a legacy on top of it.

Doom focuses on the adventures of a space marine (colloquially referred to as DoomGuy) fighting against hordes of demons and undead in order to save the Earth from an apocalyptic invasion.

The original Doom is considered to be one of the earliest examples of first-person shooter titles.

Like Quake, Doom implemented 3D graphics, Z-axis spatiality, and online multiplayer!

Doom has become such a beloved game that fans will try and emulate it to every piece of hardware imaginable.

Not too long ago, even, a talented fan managed to port the entire game over to a pregnancy test!

Thankfully, now that Doom is available on Xbox Series X / S, players will not have to go to such lengths in order to play this classic.

Doom is still going strong as a franchise, with Doom Eternal receiving high praise from both fans and newcomers to the series alike.

If you are interested in seeing one of the earliest pioneers of the first-person shooter genre, look no further than Doom.

6. Battletoads

Battletoads is notorious for being one of the most difficult games of all time. The game appears, on the surface, to be nothing more than an Arcade-style beat-em-up (like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle series of games).

However, as you delve deeper into some of the later levels, players will quickly discover how brutally unforgiving this game truly is.

The game is playable cooperatively but also has teamkill enabled. This means that uncoordinated attacks with your partner will likely result in a lot of friendly fire.

That being said, the title is nearly impossible to be played solo and all but requires help from a partner.

From the high health and high damage of enemies and incredibly reaction-based mach-speed segments, Battletoads has since been renowned as one of the most difficult games of all time.

Gaming masochists, the world over, will love to sink their teeth into this title and will enjoy a sense of satisfaction after completing it. Additionally, there is a remastered version available to play as well!

5. Timesplitters 2

Timesplitters 2 is a cult classic game originally released in 2002. The game is a first-person shooter about space marines.

In this game, players will assume the role of a space marine as they attempt to save the world from an invasion of hostile alien forces.

In order to accomplish this, players will have to travel through various eras of time (such as the Wild West and 25th Century) in an attempt to stop these alien lifeforms from ruining our history and future.

The main gameplay loop of TimeSplitters 2 involves completing objectives and defeating enemies throughout various levels.

You will be able to use an assortment of different weapons, such as handguns, rocket launchers, flamethrowers, explosives, crossbows, and even bricks!

One of the main attractive points in TimeSplitters 2’s favor is its unique level design.

There are ten levels in the game, and each level is divided into a different time period.

Objectives are also varied and will differ depending on the time period you are playing in.

Additionally, TimeSplitters 2’s main story mode can be completed alone or cooperatively with another player.

In order to compensate for the extra help, both players’ health bars are lowered. This means you will have to rely on additional help from your teammate in order to survive through some of the more difficult levels.

There are also several other game modes in TimeSplitters 2 to check out aside from the main story mode.

There is an Arcade mode and a Challenge mode where players must complete certain challenges under specific requirements.

TimeSplitters 2 is a cult classic game that definitely deserves a play-through.

4. Disney Classic Games Collection

The Disney Classic Games Collection is a bundle of old-school 16-Bit platformers.

The games included in this collection are fan favorites such as Aladdin, The Lion King, and The Jungle Book.

Players will be able to experience these old-school gems once again as you play through a selection of games with the best graphics the 16-bit era had to offer.

Additionally, each of these games comes with multiple versions of the same game. During this time, different consoles and handhelds would have completely different level designs and gameplay styles for their exclusive Disney titles.

This collection allows you to choose your favorite or the one that brings you the most nostalgia from your childhood.

These games can get pretty tricky, and the high difficulty makes up for the overall short playtime. When it comes to old-school platforming action, you can’t do better than these Disney games.

3. Banjo-Tooie

Banjo-Tooie is a very different game from its predecessor. Rarely does a sequel live up to the same hype as the original, but Banjo-Tooie is an exception to this case.

The game manages to both stay true to what made the first game such a success while, at the same time, changing so many things (and introducing new ones) to keep things fresh.

Banjo-Tooie places much more emphasis on its story when compared to Banjo-Kazooie. There are tons more characters this time around and plenty of cutscenes for players to check out.

This allows the comedic writing Banjo-Kazooie is known for to flourish even more.

When it comes to the gameplay, Banjo-Tooie expands things drastically. Players will keep all the same moves from the original game while also being able to learn a whole host of new abilities.

Additionally, the new worlds are also much larger and even include warp points that allow for faster travel.

Speaking of these worlds, they feel incredibly interconnected. In Banjo-Kazooie, there is only one instance where players must backtrack to previous worlds.

However, in Banjo-Tooie, you will be traveling back and forth between levels all the time. Actions in one world will directly impact and open up different areas in other worlds.

Banjo-Tooie learned from the mistakes of the first game and makes sure to add even more boss battles, tons of new game modes (such as the first-person-shooter sections), more minigames, and new playable characters.

Banjo-Tooie can feel overwhelming at times due to how much disparate content is found in the game. However, the developers managed to connect it all so seamlessly that nothing ever feels out of place.

Banjo-Tooie is the perfect example of how to make a great sequel. Expanding on everything that made the original such a hit is why Banjo-Tooie is so beloved among fans.

2. Halo: Master Chief Collection

The Halo: Master Chief Collection is a catalog of the Master Chief’s greatest adventures.

This bundle comes with six unique games, including Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4.

Every single one of these games is deserving of a spot on this list, and the incredible value of a bundle that gives you access to all of them should speak for itself.

Halo revolutionized the first-person shooter genre and made online gaming what it is today.

Xbox Live is looked back on fondly by gaming veterans, and Halo is one of the main reasons as to why.

That being said, the single-player modes on Halo are just as enthralling. Before the series became a little too convoluted when it comes to its story, Halo was an expertly written saga with just as much emphasis placed on the story as the gameplay.

Adventuring through various alien worlds, trying out incredibly unique weapons, and racing/flying around on tons of vehicles is par for the course in Halo.

This franchise is what defined Xbox as a competitor back in the day and still holds up incredibly well all these years later.

1. Banjo-Kazooie

Banjo-Kazooie is the very pinnacle of 3D platformers and easily one of the greatest Nintendo 64 games ever to be released. It is also one of the best platformer games on Xbox Series X /S.

Banjo-Kazooie builds upon the strong foundation developed by other platformers, such as Super Mario 64.

The main focus of Banjo-Kazooie is the collectibles. Jigsaw pieces, Jinjos, Musical Notes, Honeycomb Pieces, and more will all be scattered around various different worlds, ready and waiting for you to find them.

However, these items are not thrown into locations arbitrarily. Each item acts as somewhat of a marker that guides you to various places of interest around the world.

Speaking of the worlds, despite using cliché zone tropes like deserts and snow, every level in Banjo-Kazooie feels incredibly unique. Furthermore, the rocking soundtrack composed by Grant Kirkhope expertly lends itself to the immersion of the game.

These tracks change depending on where you are in the world. If you enter into a cave, the track will slow down. Or, if you dive underwater, the music will become fainter as if you have your ears submerged in water.

Small considerations like this are why Banjo-Kazooie has stayed relevant more than two decades after its initial release.

We couldn’t talk about Banjo-Kazooie without discussing the writing. Unlike other 3D platformers at the time, like Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie has a lot of character writing.

Standouts include Gruntilda and Kazooie, who just ooze personality with every line of dialogue they speak.

Banjo-Kazooie’s gameplay is nothing to write off, either. There are tons of moves for the bear and bird to learn from attacks, movement options, and even game-breaking mechanics like temporary invincibility!

Gameplay will require players to do lots of things, from taking out enemies, performing tricky platforming challenges, or even competing against NPCs in several minigames.

All in all, there is so much charm, variety, and hilarity to be found in Banjo-Kazooie. The series has only two mainline entries, and yet its fanbase is so loud that the duo made it into Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.

Additionally, the game has not only seen countless releases on Xbox consoles but was also recently made available on Nintendo Switch Online.

Yooka-Laylee as a franchise was designed to satiate the public’s undying love for Banjo-Kazooie. The pair has touched so many people’s lives and will surely go down in history as two of the most iconic gaming mascots of all time.

All we can do now is wait patiently for Banjo-Threeie.

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