Munch's Oddysee Would "Cement" Original Xbox, Not Halo
First person shooters are probably the most important genre (the most profitable, at least) on consoles today, but back when the original Xbox launched, they were just starting to find their feet in the console arena. Microsoft Studios boss Phil Spencer has revealed that the Halo franchise was never expected to be a major hit or a system-seller... and that they were banking on Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee to be the Xbox's killer app.
Speaking to OXM, Spencer stated that Halo, an untested new IP from a Mac-only studio, wasn't considered to be a particularly important launch title. Rather, many of the Microsoft execs were more excited about Oddworld: Munch's Oddyssee: the surreal and profoundly excellent puzzle platformer from Lorne Lanning's Oddworld Inhabitants.
When I remember those days, the games we were really excited about, the game that had the most internal buzz was Munch's Oddysee. That was the game we really thought was going to cement us. Oddworld had such a great track record, Bungie hadn't done any console stuff, and it was unclear if these Mac and PC guys were going to make the jump.
Microsoft were apparently aware of the importance of the emerging console FPS genre, but didn't believe that it would catch on at launch. Halo's breakout success was unexpected - if thoroughly deserved.
I think people knew that the first-person shooter genre was going to be very important to us, but it was unclear given where production was whether we were going to land it at launch. So a lot of people were hanging their success of the platform on Munch's Oddysee. It was a fine game, but it was Halo that became the breakout success. And I think that happens, it's something that comes from an unexpected space that defines the system.
Bizarrely, an HD remake of Munch's Oddysee is headed to the PS3 later this year. It's a truly odd turn of events.