Xbox emulators

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The Xbox console and controller
The Xbox is a sixth-generation console released by Microsoft in 2001. Known originally as the DirectXbox, this console is notable for essentially being a PC, as a result of using components from both Intel and Nvidia as well as being x86-based. It is disputably the most powerful console from the sixth generation.

Emulators[edit]

Name Operating System(s) Latest Version Active Recommended
PC
Cxbx Windows Git
Cxbx-Reloaded Windows Git
XQEMU Windows, macOS, Linux Git
Dxbx Windows 0.5
Xenoborg Windows r19
Xeon Windows 1.0
MAME Windows, macOS, Linux 0.190
Consoles
Xbox 360 Xbox 360 Patch-based

Comparisons[edit]

Note: xboxdevwiki's own list of emulators contain over 20 different emulator projects, most of which were abandoned not long after they started. Only about 2 or 4 emulators have been making progress.

PC[edit]

Cxbx
Can boot around 61 games, with around a dozen in an already playable state. See this compatibility list.
Cxbx-Reloaded
This fork is now built for 64-bit systems instead, and includes a ton of improvements from various Cxbx and Dxbx branches that were never merged back into Cxbx. It's had a good development momentum since mid-2016. See this compatibility list.
XQEMU
An LLE-focused emulator that's also gradually advancing. It can emulate the BIOS and many games at very slow speeds, but is sometimes faster than Cxbx with acceptable graphics. Audio has not been tested but has been assumed to be emulated, just not forwarded to the audio hardware for some reason. See this compatibility list that was taken from John GodGames' 2015 list.
Xeon
This one can emulate Halo CE to the point where the first stage is semi-playable. The walls and ground are pitch black, and the game crashes after you complete first stage or right after you select the difficulty on modern versions of Windows.
MAME
Existing x86 emulation in MAME has given way to an xbox driver... that they've marked overall as not working and sound as unimplemented (graphics are OK though).

Consoles[edit]

  • The Xbox 360 is backwards compatible with a specific list of games that, while some work right off the bat, may need additional patches to play properly. It also requires your console to have system storage. Some games still have issues from graphical glitches and slowdowns to errors that can make standard gameplay basically impossible.

Emulation issues[edit]

The pratfalls of Xbox emulation
Due to a lack of interest, a lack of console-exclusive games, or in some case very toxic behavior or potential legal threats towards developers, the Xbox emulation scene has remained dormant until recently. For the projects currently available, there is a high barrier to entry for the effort involved. In spite of its very PC-like hardware, the Xbox has enough proprietary elements to make emulation non-trivial. Many aspects of the Xbox's CPU, GPU, audio and BIOS are undocumented and not fully understood[1][2][3]. Reddit threads with more links to other threads & many detailed comments by JayFoxRox, with the explanations that XQEMU is the best suited emulator for developers to focus on in terms of improving accuracy and portability: [4][5]. Also of note is the fact that the APU, one of two sound processors on the MCPX southbridge chip of the Xbox chipset is incredibly powerful and uses complex processing steps.

However, as of May of 2017, serious strides have been happening in the Xbox emulation scene with CXBX-Reloaded and XQEMU making some games run at half a stable framerate or at a stable framerate with the game Smashing Drive. CXBX-Reloaded was also able to go ingame in Jet Set Radio Future with a somewhat decent framerate. Things are looking up for the Xbox emulation scene.

JayFoxRox, a contributor to the open-source XQEMU emulator team and regular commenter for that emulator's foundation and progress, has appeared at a Reddit thread[6] stating the fact that many more original Xbox games have been able to get in-game and, in some cases, at decent speeds on XQEMU. The first of the many bullet points on that original post has a link to the extremely large and growing XQEMU compatibility list.

CXBX-Reloaded's example videos: (An unofficial CXBX-Reloaded focussed video channel is available [7].)

[8] [9] [10] [11]

XQEMU's example videos: (John GodGames keeps making so many new XQEMU recordings. Please be sure to check them out at his channel [12].)

[13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]

Images:

  • XQEMU's shots of various Xbox games booting to load and title screens.


References[edit]

  1. Why is XBOX emulation premature?. ngemu (2010-02-15)
  2. /LTCG (Link-time Code Generation). Microsoft
  3. Under The Hood: Link-time Code Generation. Microsoft
  4. Why is there a lack of Original Xbox emulation?. Reddit (2017-05-29)
  5. Do you prefer low level emulation or high level?. Reddit (2017-06-04)
  6. XQEMU - more games ingame. Reddit (2017-05-23)
  7. CXBX-Reloaded - Youtube channel (Unofficial). Youtube (2017-08-20)
  8. (Cxbx-Reloaded-Emulator)- Xbox - Smashing Drive #1. Youtube (2017-05-11)
  9. Cxbx Reloaded (Xbox Emulator) - Jet Set Radio Future (Semi-Playable / 35~60 FPS). Youtube (2017-05-10)
  10. EMU-NATION: Cemu Rage, RPCS3 and PJ64 goes clean?. Youtube (2017-07-04)
  11. Testing CXBX-Reloaded: JSRF Improvements. Youtube (2017-07-29)
  12. XQEMU Xbox Emulator / Testing / Gameplays / Progress. Youtube (2017-07-17)
  13. XQEMU Xbox Emulator - 187 Ride or Die Ingame - realtime! (5cf8131). Youtube (2017-05-17)
  14. XQEMU Xbox Emulator - Darkwatch Ingame - realtime! (5cf8131). Youtube (2017-05-19)
  15. XQEMU Xbox Emulator - Destroy All Humans! Ingame - realtime! (5cf8131). Youtube (2017-05-20)
  16. XQEMU Xbox Emulator - Wallace & Gromit in Project Zoo Ingame - realtime! (5cf8131). Youtube (2017-05-20)
  17. XQEMU Xbox Emulator - Star Wars Jedi Starfighter Ingame - realtime! (5cf8131). Youtube (2017-05-20)
  18. XQEMU Xbox Emulator - Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 3 Night of the Quinkan Ingame - realtime! (5cf8131). Youtube (2017-05-20)
  19. XQEMU Xbox Emulator - Test Drive Eve of Destruction Ingame - realtime! (5cf8131). Youtube (2017-05-20)