It is not lost on me that just a couple weeks ago I was all like Pish posh! What am I to the future of gaming? Now, as I stare at my permanently dead Xbox 360, I can’t help but wonder if the future isn’t taunting me in some manner.
Truth be told, I knew my beloved 360’s (the “S” model) days were numbered. Last year during another go round with the Mass Effect trilogy, the console began overheating regularly. In response, I cut back on my sessions with it and, when I did use it, I also used an external fan to help keep it cool. That worked well enough at the time to help me see things through again with another Commander Shepard.
Earlier this year, I decided to play the original Fable again. Recalling how things went with Mass Effect, I used again an external fan on the console. Fable wasn’t a game as laborious for the console Mass Effect, but I figured I’d play it safe anyway. Things started out fine, but I eventually noticed that the overheating seemed to get getting worse, even with the fan and me cutting way back on how often I played.
And then, one day out of the blue, the console didn’t turn on at all. Well…darn.
After dealing with a mild panic attack, and in the hopes that the thing hadn’t burned up internally, I went online to see if there were any solutions. Thankfully, it seemed that unplugging all the cords and peripherals, waiting, and then plugging everything back in again may result in everything working again. As well, it was worth plugging the console directly into a wall socket (as mine wasn’t) to ensure that there wasn’t an issue with the power brick. I followed all the instructions, and indeed, much to my relief, the console began working again.
But, partially out of fear, I left the console alone for awhile. (And I never did finish that playthrough of Fable.) And then, COVID-19 hit, quarantine ensued, and I found myself with time. And with that time, I eyed a “new” game that had recently its their way into my stash of Xbox 360 games: Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, Dragon Age II with DLC, and the ultimate edition of Fallout: New Vegas. In all cases, I was most interested in DLC, none of which I had ever touched for any of these games.
I was nervous about using the 360 regularly again, but that nervousness faded as I became engrossed in all the new (to me) Dragon Age stories at my disposal. With every session, I carefully monitored the 360 and kept is as cool as I could. It did swimmingly well, I must say, during my Dragon Age adventures.
It went under, however, with Fallout: New Vegas.
In hindsight, maybe I should have guessed that this issue of the game, two discs and designed to be played on the Xbox One but suitable for the 360, might be a problem. As I said, I was really only interested in the DLC, but I knew I had to actually play some of the base game to get up to a suitable level first before attempting the first new chapter I had in mind (“Honest Hearts,” I believe.) Well, my intentionally limited adventures in the Mojave Wasteland barely started before trouble ensued. Previous to New Vegas, I could play the console for about 60 to 90 minutes before it would really start to get uncomfortably warm, even with the external fan on. With New Vegas, I couldn’t play for more than 20 to 30 minutes without the thing becoming flat-out hot. Not only that, but the game played poorly and was even glitchier than I recall the PlayStation 3 version ever being.
Somehow though, I managed to get to a point where I could start the “Honest Hearts” DLC. And that, of course, was when the thing truly, really died.
Oh, I tried all the tricks I had a year ago when the console “died” for the first time. But it remained completely unresponsive. As it was, drastic times called for drastic measures, and so I dove into an Xbox autopsy, the results of which were…inconclusive. I gave the console’s innards a good cleaning, at least, but my expectations of finding melted circuits and burnt wires weren’t met. Everything inside the Xbox looked perfectly fine. Upon putting the console back together, and then plugging it back in, it still didn’t work.
Sigh, sigh again.
In a strange way, I feel as though I’ve been saying goodbye to my beloved 360 for some time. As it now is sits back in its spot, unplugged and unlit,I hope it know just how much of a good time we had – from the wild ride that was Borderlands 2 to traversing the wild west in Red Dead Redemption; from enjoying sarcastic puzzling in Portal to laughing at witty banter in Dragon Age; from saving the galaxy in Mass Effect to rescuing history in Tomb Raider.
To my dear Xbox 360, just know that no matter what – even if your space does go to, say, an Xbox Series X one day – you always be remembered.
Lede image taken by author.