Deleting Memories: Ode to an Xbox 360

It’s Monday, and for the dozenth time I find myself staring blankly at the TV in hesitation, unsure if I should delete an old, unfinished game to make room for something new. Today it's Dead Space 3.

“Hey,” I tell myself, “maybe in a few months I’ll go back and finish it.”

I won’t. Just like I won’t nab the final achievement in Braid or master Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. But I still can’t press Delete. It sounds silly, but I can’t help but think of all the memories that lie within this old Xbox 360 -- and this isn’t even my first one. (Thanks, Red Ring of Death.)

Something stays my thumbs from pushing the buttons on this special silver-and-black-edition controller -- an impulse purchase because the d-pad transformed like some third-rate Voltron homage, which seemed vitally cool at the time. When I was an Xbox-only owner, I proudly bought a myriad of accessories and junk. My loyalties aren’t so easily defined these days -- now I spread my purchases among two current-generation consoles and a PC.

No, I think I should clear everything out, make my peace and give the bone-white Arcade model a proper burial. My Xbox One arrives today, and space is at a premium in the entertainment center.

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A week earlier, on a violently windy Saturday, I’m swaddled by sweats and blankets, alone and excited to try the Xbox Arcade port of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. A few days earlier it had its 10th anniversary, and I felt gripped by nostalgia; trying to relive that winter in 2004 when, between my freshman college classes, I spent much of my free time soaking up GTAHalo 2 and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. What a term. I passed, by the way.

But just a year later I’d be moving on to an Xbox 360 with little remorse for shelving my then-last-generation PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube. I was ready for the “next gen” hype with its promises of high-def graphics, greater use of the Internet and exciting, new franchises.

This time, I don’t feel the same level of anticipation. Perhaps it’s age, or perhaps it’s a consequence of an underwhelming first year for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Either way, I’m still staring at my Xbox 360, unsure if I should keep it plugged-in on some kind of electronic life support.

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This never happened when I bought a PS4 in January -- I didn't even think twice about unplugging my PS3 and bidding it safe travels on its journey to obsolescence.

Maybe it’s a tenure thing: after all I had a PS3 for about half the time I had my 360. My first foray into the last generation was through my original pro-model Xbox 360, while the PS3 was a distant concept until I was given one by a charitable former boss. So for years, my impression of the last console generation was shaped exclusively by Microsoft’s vision. The Wii, though thoroughly enjoyed in my household, kinda just existed on the sideline.

Attaching emotions to consumer hardware feels odd, but I can’t ignore the solemness with which I’m waiting for the Xbox One to arrive.

I turn away from typing and, unsurprisingly, the 360 is still plugged-in. I browse my files again. At this point you might recognize my incessant scrolling through game saves as a mild form of obsession, but I think it stems from anxiety.

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OK. Here’s what I’ll do: I’m going to share my graveyard of never-to-be-finished Xbox 360 games to unburden any feelings of remorse I may have for giving up on them for good. Let’s try that, in alphabetical order:

  • Aegis Wing
  • Alien Hominid HD
  • Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
  • Beyond Good & Evil HD
  • Bionic Commando: Rearmed
  • Carcassonne
  • Comic Jumper
  • Darksiders
  • Dead Space 3
  • Dragon’s Dogma
  • Final Fantasy XIII
  • Forza Horizon
  • Forza Motorsport 3
  • Halo Wars
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Outland
  • Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 2
  • Splosion Man
  • SSX
  • State of Decay
  • Super Meat Boy
  • Trials HD
  • Undertow

Huh.

Actually, I’m not sad anymore. Those games, the ones I’ll probably never finish now, are either kinda shitty or at least available on Steam -- a library I acknowledge has ballooned out of control.

I derived years of enjoyment from my Xbox 360. Be it three Mass Effects or hours of shenanigans in Call of Duty and Splinter Cell, there was a lot to love. Yup, I should let this old workhorse rest.

I won’t miss its deafeningly loud idle sounds. I can do without the menu lag. And, at the very least, it looks like all my favorite franchises are going to do the same thing they did last gen but on new hardware.

Maybe, in a sense, I’m apathetic because it’s not like this system is going away -- it’s simply getting an upgrade and a new life as an Xbox One.