Andrew's Blfog

I am a huge fan of the original Xbox; the controller design, console design, and games are, IMO, some of the best of all time. The Halo series (not counting Marathon) started here, the best versions of many cross-platform releases were released on the objectively faster Xbox hardware, and it was the only console of its generation to actually contain a hard drive.

But it's not without its flaws. Inside every Xbox (even, to an extent, the 1.6 revision) are three ticking timebombs:

  1. The hard drive. All of them are past their manufacturer's suggested lifespan.
  2. The disc drive. The belts and plastic gears are wearing out and breaking, and the lasers are getting weaker every time they're used.
  3. The clock capacitor. This one is a killer - it's a capacitor that's placed near vital traces on the motherboard, it is guaranteed to leak (even the 1.6's eventually) because it's a cheap electrolytic cap, and the effects are catastrophic.

The clock capacitor

The clock capacitor is easy enough to fix. On all revisions except 1.6, you can simply (carefully) snap it off the board. Its only purpose is to keep time . Use gloves when removing it or handling it, as the acid it leaks is pretty aggressive on human skin.


Tony Hawk's Underground (1 and 2)

I played through Tony Hawk's Underground 1 and 2 on the original Xbox, so here's some words:


This game follows you and Eric Sparrow, two friends who skateboard from Jersey, as you both try to go pro. There's some plot twists and turns where Eric betrays you, but overall the plot definitely just exists to get you from level to level and to naturally unlock parts of levels as you progress. It's a good system! The cutscenes have some funny dialogue, really good animations, and pretty good voice acting that makes watching them a pleasant experience.

Very nice graphics for the time, runs at 720p on the OG Xbox which looks pretty good! Almost always a solid 60fps except when there's particle effects taking up most of the screen.

Controls pretty well, althought wallplanting is significantly harder to do in-the-moment than sticker slaps from THUG 2, so I found myself failing some combos due to hitting a wall.

I really enjoyed the story, though the last mission where you have to ride Eric's line is disproportionately harder than all the other missions before it. But I definitely felt compelled to actually complete the story.

The locations, while they mostly felt same-y, were all great, pretty large, and had plenty of secrets to find. Looks like each level has at least a secret tape, and possibly an unlock for a retro level from previous games (though I'm bad at video game and only found 1)

One oddity is that there's a pretty decent amount of "driving" you have to do in the story. I found it a little clunky for a game about skateboarding, but it's limited to like one forced segment per level, so it's not annoying.


Jade Empire

After 15 years (since I last played the game), I've finally completed Jade Empire.

[Image: Xbox "limited" edition]

The game drops you into a "mythologic chinese" setting, where chi is a real force and spirits and gods directly affect the world. It's made by Bioware, known for creating the Mass Effect games. Just like Mass Effect (and KOTOR), Jade Empire features a good/evil choice system.

That said, it doesn't have a whole lot of meaning on the overall story of the game, with most of the "evil" choices having the same result as the good choices, just with extra bonuses like more money given or slightly faster route through a mission. In fact, I'm pretty sure the final good/evil choice can be made regardless of your alignment.


The difficulty curve is pretty fair through the entire game, with fairly rewarding combat. There are two points in the game that I believe are unfairly difficult, especially compared to the fights directly leading up to them:


I dug out my original Xbox, and realized that many of my games lacked cases. While I didn't have any spare full-size Xbox-style cases handy, and my local game store doesn't yet have a shipment of Xbox-like cases in, I do have a lot of cheap jewel cases. A ton with front artwork spots, so that was the main focus, but also some with a spot for rear artwork.

So I created a Photoshop template to help make it all consistent. The end result...

[Image: The front cover for Republic Commando] [Image: ...and the back!]

The templates include all of the ESRB ratings already in the correct spot, so you can just show/hide the layer for the rating you want.

The fit of the back template is snug, some trimming may be required. It ends up looking a little something like this: