The modding community, a ravenous bunch of carnivorous gamers, waited anxiously for the timid new creature - the Xbox 360 Slim - to come out of hiding last summer. They've left a devastating trail behind them; they've torn apart consoles like helpless prey; they've re-wired their innards with modchips, only leaving the choice of complete submission to their masters; and they've subjected their consoles to being decorated at the whim of their owners. The Slim has the same fate awaiting it, although the faceplate is non-removable this time. Let's take a look back at some of the various mods the Xbox 360 Elite and earlier endured.
Creme de la Creme:
photo by wlodi/Flickr
Popular games are often honored in the modding community with lavish artistic designs. Gears of War, Halo, and Half-Life are among the most inspirational franchises stirring the imagination. This Lara Croft Xbox is a mosaic decorated with 43,000 glistening crystals; it's valued at 11,000 dollars; no one actually bought it - it was given away as a promotional for the Tomb Raider: Legends game - but if you subscribe to the belief that crystals have healing properties - rooted in Hinduism - and develop carpal tunnel, then this is your machine. Otherwise, I'm sure you'd keep it under lock and key.
Let There Be Light:
photo by PDP_Candace/Flickr
If you didn't have a creative flair but still wanted your Xbox looking cool, installing colorful lights were always an option. Not only could you illuminate the console, but the controllers too. There are companies like Performance Designed Products (PDP) that sell LED lit controllers in either red, green, blue, or purple. And although they provided a fun gaming experience, they still came with problems. Most notably was the joystick sensitivity being out of whack. This was generally a major frustration for those who played Modern Warfare 2, Halo Reach or any other FPS games. They'd be good enough for platform/children games, but the hardcore gamer who required pinpoint accuracy was often disappointed.
mod and photo by Almight Sturge/Flickr
Letting your Xbox shine was good, but keeping it cool was even better. The Talismoon WhisperFan, an internal fan replacement for the Xbox, had been well received by customers. They come in red, green, or blue - sorry ladies, no purple this time. As long as you weren't worried about the warranty, cracking it open and installing one usually prevented the dreaded Red Ring of Death (RROD). This is often used in combination with LED or cold cathode lights - immensely improving the gaming experience. As for the Slim, RROD is history; Microsoft solved the overheating problem. The single, larger fan installed in the 360 Slim is said by experts to be a sufficient venting system, and only one fan is needed because Microsoft combined CPU, GPU, and eDRAM onto a single chip titled "Valhalla".
Time to Face Facts:
Gameface 360 from Nyko was another way people customized their consoles. This was the most limited way of modding your Xbox since it only affected one panel - the faceplate - while leaving the rest in the original style. You were given 15 pieces of paper fitted to the size of the faceplate, plus 6 pre-printed designs. You were also given a base plate, a clear faceplate (to encase the paper in), and software you used to create original graphic art. This was good since it usually cost less than a Microsoft faceplate. You could have one 10 dollar Microsoft faceplate, or 21 different faceplates for 25 dollars - definitely one of the best Xbox 360 deals of the week.
design by smallstuffstudio/Flickr
Some faceplate designs transcended the 2D realm in favor of a more complex 3D model. And not just the faceplate, the whole console. If you browse the internet you can find tons of elaborate designs with cars racing out of consoles, landscapes portrayed in detail - waves crashing, mountainous regions - and even eerie creations like Joker's face sinsiterly protruding from a grungy console or one ornamented with menacing skulls. And the best part is, no glasses required!
Da Vinci Modders:
painting and photo by artistpavel/Flickr
Spray painted case mods were set apart for the really gifted players. If the designs were especially pleasing to the eye, you could find a modded Xbox 360 for sale on an auction site. A struggling artist could make a decent amount of cash while doing what they loved. But I'm sure not every artist cashed in. Again, pleasing to the eye is subjective since "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Either way, posting your art online was tons better than hosting an old fashion garage sale - it's always better to get rejected anonymously than face to face.
Modders are already figuring out ways to change and manipulate the Xbox 360 Slim's design. They lie in wait as unsuspecting consoles graze at nearby retail stores. Only time will tell what concepts and designs they'll come up with for this newest generation. One thing's for sure, with the simultaneous release of the less expensive $200 console and the next Halo game, Microsoft's profits will definitely get a bump, ensuring this species won't be found on the endangered list anytime soon.