So far, Microsoft has done a great job of keeping its promise of constantly expanding the Xbox One's backwards-compatible library. Over the past several months, the available library of games has nearly doubled — what was once a smattering of Microsoft-published titles has grown into a sizable selection of games.
True, there are still a few heavy-hitters missing from the library, and not every game has made the jump in perfect condition, but that hasn't stopped backwards compatibility from being one of the Xbox One's biggest selling points.
Earlier today, Microsoft released another eight games onto the Xbox One marketplace — and as with all of the backwards compatibility updates, the quality of the titles on offer is all over the place. Granted, not every update can be as big as the Red Dead Redemption release, but the latest selection of games isn't quite as strong as some gamers would expect.
The full list of games is as follows:
• Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1
• Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2
• Fret Nice
• Bionic Commando Rearmed 2
• Crystal Defenders
• NeoGeo Battle Coliseum
• Capcom Arcade Cabinet
• Pac-Man Museum
Let's start with the big ones: Sonic the Hedgehog 4, while far from the worst game in the series, has never been held in the highest regard. Even with all of the improvements that the second game made, Sonic 4 just never caught on with fans. It's not a terrible game, but with so many other 2D Sonic games out there, it hardly stands out.
Something similar can be said of Bionic Commando Rearmed 2: the first game is considered a classic, but a number of backward design decisions keep Rearmed 2 from surpassing its predecessor. Again, it's not a bad game ... but it's not the best game, either.
Fret Nice was a bizarre, rhythm game/platformer hybrid released back in 2010, and the game's major gimmick was that it used those plastic guitar controllers that came bundled with Guitar Hero and Rock Band. It's not a bad game, and it can be fun ... if you happen to have some of those old controllers lying around, that is.
Crystal Defenders, a turn-based strategy RPG set in the Final Fantasy Tactics world, is probably the oddest choice. Considering that it was originally ported to the Xbox 360 from iOS, it makes sense that it feels like a mobile game — though whether or not gamers are looking for that sort of experience on the Xbox One remains to be seen.
NeoGeo Battle Coliseum is a two-on-two tag team fighting game from the creators of King of Fighters — which is appropriate, seeing as King of Fighters XIV is due out this August. One would assume that SNK would want to celebrate the release of its new fighting game with a re-release of something from the core series, but Battle Coliseum isn't a bad substitution.
The rest of the titles — Capcom Arcade Cabinet and Pac-Man Museum — are all compilations. These are games that everyone has played a million times before ... but at the very least, the newly-backwards-compatible titles should be one of the cheapest ways to play games like Ghouls and Goblins and Ms. Pac-Man.
It's hard to complain that Microsoft keeps updating the Xbox One backwards compatibility list, but there's not a whole lot here to get excited about. Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 is arguably the best of the lot, and Sonic 4 should suffice for anyone who's blazed through all of the other games ... otherwise, most fans will be fine with holding off until the next batch of games arrive.
All of the above titles are now available on the Xbox One, and can be found in Microsoft's official Xbox Marketplace.