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 the most powerful console from the sixth generation.

Sega later designed the Chihiro arcade system which employed the same processing components from the Xbox among other assets.

Emulators[edit]

Name Operating System(s) Latest Version Active Recommended
PC
Cxbx-Reloaded Windows Git
XQEMU Windows, macOS, Linux Git
OpenXBOX Windows, Linux Git
Cxbx Windows Git
Dxbx Windows 0.5
Xenoborg Windows r19
Xeon Windows 1.0
MAME Windows, macOS, Linux 0.197
Consoles
Fusion Xbox 360 1.7
Fission Xbox One ?

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-Reloaded
This fork of Cxbx is built for 64-bit systems, and includes a ton of improvements to its HLE kernel, some LLE and code ported back from Dxbx and other related forks. It's had a good development momentum since mid-2016. While it has HLE support for the GPU and other parts (eg. audio) to make many games run fast, support for LLE-GPU was introduced on April 1, 2018. Note, it's just a start and will need lots more work. 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.
OpenXBOX
Beginning LLE emulator that just initializes an x86 system and runs whatever is in the ROM. Not much works for this currently. It was uploaded to GitHub on Dec 5, 2017 by mborgerson, a well-known XQEMU contributor who in early 2018 is still focused on streamlining XQEMU's QEMU codebase. So expect more progress from XQEMU than OpenXBOX in the meantime.
Cxbx
One of the first Xbox emulators, started as a converter of Xbox executables to 32 bit Windows executables. Can boot around 56 games, with around a dozen in an already playable state. See this compatibility list.
Dxbx
This is a port of Cxbx to Delphi, expanded with a redesigned symbol detection engine, and many rendering improvements, a new pixel shader converter, etc.
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. There are more information and references/video(s) about this BC support here.
  • The Xbox one is also backwards compatible with a smaller amount of games. The list will probably stay smaller than the one for Xbox 360 due to content rights issues, for example companies going defunct, licensing for branded content (like movie or toy tie-ins), music royalties, etc. All Original Xbox games run at 4 times the original resolution on Xbox One and Xbox One S consoles (up to 960p), and 16 times on Xbox One X (up to 1920p).

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][4] 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. [5][6] 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 achieved in-game status for Jet Set Radio Future with a somewhat decent framerate.[7]

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[8] 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.

The related Sega Chihiro arcade system currently has no working emulators due to the fact it is built off of the Xbox's components. Once the inner workings of the Xbox are better understood, a Chihiro emulator is much more likely to be produced.


References[edit]

External links[edit]