Many people use video game reviews to determine how to spend their hard-earned dollars. While as an adult I don’t take this as seriously and I now make my own money I am more forgiving of games that aren’t perfect. As kids or teens, we have limited money and are usually picked through gaming magazines to determine if that one game was worth the money because we only got a few a year. For me, it was only during Christmas time that my parents bought games. I mostly rented mine throughout my childhood and teen years. Even for rentals, I was picky as I didn’t want to be stuck on my weekend with a dud of a game. Even a 7/10 or 3.5/5 would be considered a waste of time. This was the last generation in which AAA title after AAA title would be considered fantastic and with so many exclusives it was hard to keep up with. The HD era of gaming would see budgets balloon to insane heights and game releases slowed down as a result.
In my eyes, 7/10 or 3.5/5 games are mostly ignored. These aren’t always considered hidden gems either. Some are, but some are just considered forgettable. Not awful or good, but just passes under everyone’s radar. These aren’t the “so bad it’s good” type of games either. A few of these games have cult followings while a few I had only heard of while compiling this list and some I played myself growing up. I compiled this list from Metacritic with games between 74-70. I feel that’s the true blue 7 range. 79 and 78-rated games usually only have about 25% of the critics giving it a 7 to bring an otherwise 8 score down some. These games are at least rated by half the critics as 7/10. While I know a lot of people don’t listen to critics and some might feel this game should be rated higher or lower is subjective. Like it or not, critic reviews drive sales and it may be the reason why you might find a few games on this list you’ve never heard of, thought was talked about worse than you remember, or something along those lines
Greg Hastings Tournament Paintball – 2004
Paintball is an odd choice for a game, but it worked. It was a popular Xbox LIVE title that blended FPS gameplay with the fun of paintball. It was low budget but worked. The series would eventually die out in 2010 due to low sales.
Most Recent Entry: Greg Hastings Paintball 2 – 2010 (PS3, Wii, X360)
Ultimate Fighting Championship: Tapout– 2002
The UFC series is incredibly popular. Maybe a B-tier sports title. It made its home on Xbox with stunning visuals, but people complained of the short length and lack of overall content.
Most Recent Entry: UFC 4 – 2020 (PS4, XONE)
Dai Senryaku VII: Modern Military Tactics – 2005
The Dai Senryaku is a hardcore Japanese tile-based strategy game and it was weird to see this series become an Xbox exclusive for a while. It was praised for its monumental amount of content, but this is a very niche crowd that’s mostly kept on PC. It was criticized for its ugly visuals and sound, however.
Most Recent Entry: Dai Senryaku Perfect 4.0 – 2018 (NS, PS4, PC)
Ultra Bust-A-Move– 2004
It seems every system had its own exclusive Bust-A-Move. The Xbox couldn’t even escape it. It’s the same game we’ve all played before. While slightly more colorful and childlike than other versions, it’s fun and you can play online.
Most Recent Entry: Bust-A-Move: Journey – 2017 (AND, iOS)
An interesting attempt at becoming the best racing sim on Xbox. It was liked for its great visuals and varied tracks but had very little content and no online mode.
Transworld Snowboarding – 2002
A one-and-done by Atari, Transworld was trying to grab at that Xtreme Sports cash and couldn’t catch on. SSX was the dominating snowboard title. While this one looked good it just couldn’t hang with the rest.
NFL Fever 2003 – 2002
NFL Fever 2004 – 2003
The third and final entry at a Madden killer, NFL Fever looked dated and on a budget. It was praised for gameplay that tried to be different, but many people couldn’t look past the dated looks.
Phantom Crash – 2002
This was a decent attempt at a mech game on Xbox before MechWarrior came out. It looked great but had a steep learning curve and was a bit on the dry side gameplay-wise. The sequel would later move to the PS2 and then end due to low sales.
Most Recent Entry: S.L.A.I.: Steel Lancer Arena International – 2005 (PS2)
Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball– 2003
This is a game that really needs no introduction. You ogle at Dead or Alive girls in bikinis playing mini-games. It was every teenage boy’s dream to get a hold of this game without their parents knowing. I wound up playing the sequel by renting it secretly from Gamefly as a teen. The series is fine. It spawned a couple of later sequels and remains mostly the same. Shallow gameplay and perving out.
Most Recent Entry: Dead or Alive: Xtreme – Venus Vacation – 2019 (PC)
Voodoo Vince – 2003
Microsoft was really pushing to get a mascot platformer on their system. While none of them were stellar Voodoo Vince was one of the most original. It was angst and mature enough to reel in the adults and teens while providing fun challenges. It had a wonky camera and some weird elements that turned people off. It got a remaster in 2017.
Most Recent Entry: Voodoo Vince Remastered – 2017 (PC, XONE)
Gunvalkyrie – 2002
This was one of Sega’s contracted games with Microsoft. It was a shooter similar to Panzer Dragoon, but involved puzzles. It looked good and felt unique, but there was something off and janky about the whole ordeal.
NBA Inside Drive 2003 – 2002
NBA Inside Drive 2004 – 2003
Microsoft really wanted to have exclusive sports franchises on their systems but they all felt the second rate. While NBA Inside Drive wasn’t awful it didn’t evolve as fast as the competition. It looked great, but everything else was falling behind. The series didn’t last any longer and was canceled.
Sega GT Online – 2004
A mostly online-only update to the Sega GT series. This $20 entry was great for newcomers, but previous players could import their save. It was too little for the final game in the series but was decent arcade fun.
The House of the Dead III – 2002
This was another contracted game from Sega. One of their promised 12 games. The improved graphics were awesome, and it was classic House of the Dead gameplay, but felt dated and was really short.
Most Recent Entry: The House of the Dead: Remake – 2022 (NS, PC, PS4, XONE, XSX)
Dungeons & Dragons Heroes – 2003
Heroes was well-liked for its fun co-op gameplay, but wasn’t fun solo and wasn’t very deep. The series struggled during this time on consoles and various reboots were hit or miss.
Most Recent Entry: Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance – 2021 (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XONE)
Hunter the Reckoning: Redeemer – 2003
Being the final game in the series and exclusive to Xbox, Redeemer was a slick-looking hack-and-slash but had a terrible camera and an unpleasantly boring story. I remember playing the demo of Wayward on my PS2 over and over again and never got a chance to play this one.
ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth – 2002
Another Sega exclusive on the system, this brought the beloved Sega Genesis/Mega Drive series back in 3D! It felt a bit wonky with some control issues, repetitive gameplay, and overall weirdness that either sat well with you or didn’t.
Most Recent Entry: ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove! – 2019 (PS4, MAC, NS, PC, XONE)
Breakdown – 2004
This is one of the first Xbox games I ever played. It’s a weirdly ambitious title with a lot of realistic gameplay elements thrown inside of a poorly balanced and frustrating mess. The unique elements and interesting story are worth it if you can stomach the problems.
Raze’s Hell – 2005
An attempt at a cutsey yet mature game full of great visuals and humor, but it doesn’t excel a lot in the gameplay department. It’s a unique game and has that “Xbox needs to have ‘X’ type of game” feeling that the system had in its hayday.
Blood Wake – 2001
A weird vehicle combat game with no online play. It doesn’t exceed anywhere, and looks too realistic to be memorable. It looked great, but that was mostly it.
Blinx: The Time Sweeper – 2002
Microsoft’s Ratchet & Clank. This was supposed to be the platformer with ‘tude, but didn’t sell very well. It came off at too kid-friendly and the adult manly console. It also didn’t help that the game was very dated and became a linear collect-a-thon. The sequel would radically change the series, but still wasn’t enough. It wouldn’t see the light of day after this.
Most Recent Entry: Blinx 2: Masters of Time & Space – 2004 (Xbox)
Quantum Redshift – 2002
This was Microsoft’s answer to Wipeout or F-Zero. It looked amazing, but fell short in gameplay. It’s fun, and not broken at all, but it doesn’t stand out from the other games. There’s no soul here.
Xyanide – 2006
This was a late entry shmup offering. The cheap price point was appealing and it looked great, but was hard as nails and very short. A lone sequel would appear on PS2 and PSP the following year, and surprisingly absent from the Xbox.
Most Recent Entry: Xyanide: Resurrection – 2007 (PS2, PSP, PC)
Steel Battalion: Line of Contact – 2004
The infamous Steel Batallion controller is a serious collectible. This game brought the series online and was best played there. It’s very niche and didn’t sell well. The series would be rebooted for Kinect and become a collosal disaster.
Most Recent Entry: Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor – 2012 (X360)
Fuzion Frenzy – 2001
A party game for a launch title is a bit risky but makes sense. Many people visit during console launches and this is a great game to play with everyone. It’s a cult classic and has been added as backwards compatible on every Xbox system. While shallow and lacking in content it’s a must play with real people.
America’s Army: Rise of a Soldier – 2005
The popular yet niche series officially endorsed by the U.S. of A and Uncle Sam. This realistic shooter wasn’t your yearly Call of Duty. It was slow paced and tactical and while dry and dull at times it made you think.