|Type||Home video game console|
The Xbox is a sixth-generation console released by Microsoft on November 15, 2001. Known as the DirectXbox during development, it is notable for the specs having similarities to a PC due to using familiar components around the x86 architecture. It had a custom Pentium III CPU at 733 MHz with 64 MBs of RAM, and a custom Nvidia GPU codenamed NV2A at 233 MHz. The Xbox was often said to be the most powerful console from the sixth generation, and Sega later designed the Chihiro arcade system with the same components. It retailed at $299.99.
The Xbox was a modest seller and helped create a brand for Microsoft that would give its successor a stronger market share in the west. Despite Microsoft's best efforts, the original Xbox and succeeding consoles from the company never gained a foothold in Japan for various reasons. It had a number of advantages over other sixth-gen consoles at the time; it was the only console to include a hard disk,[N2 1] meaning it was the first to be able to rip CDs, and it was the first and only console of the lineup to include a unified online service called Xbox Live,[N2 2] prompting Sony to create the PlayStation Network the next generation.
Early in its lifespan, the Xbox had an unusually active modding scene compared to the other consoles (often vindicated by the incredibly short warranty). Upon the first jailbreak by Andrew Huang, the scene ultimately delivered no comprehensive emulation until the mid-2010s[N2 3], as Xbox homebrew typically relied on stolen XDKs rather than true reverse engineering work. Although developers have continued to have issues because, alongside the poorly documented hardware and repeated uses of the simpler but largely failed HLE approach, there has been little motivation to develop an emulator because many of the Xbox's games either came from Windows or were then released for Windows afterward (though it does retain a few exclusives). However, the Xbox emulation scene has been resurging with two emulators at the forefront since mid-2017. Their developers continue to say there's no competition between them, as they're both open-source and have different goals and methods.
- Note: xboxdevwiki's own list of emulators contain over 20 different emulator projects, most of which were abandoned not long after they started. Only 2 emulators have been making progress.
|PC / x86|
|Mobile / ARM|
|Fission||Patch based||✗||~||✗[N 1]||✗||✗||~[N 2]|
- XQEMU (compatibility, compatibility#2)
- A low-level emulator based on QEMU. 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 is assumed to be emulated, just not forwarded to the audio hardware for some reason.
- xemu (compatibility) (servers)
- A low-level emulator by Matt Borgerson continuing much of the work done on XQEMU. Focuses on stability, performance, and ease of use. 810 out of 1025 tested titles (79%) can be reasonably played from start to finish; an additional 36 (4%) perfectly playable without any minor issues. Beyond this, xemu supports system features like "Xbox Dashboard, Xbox Live and System Link" and peripherals like Xbox Memory Units but no support for Xbox Live Communicator and Xbox Cam for Xbox Video Chat at the moment. For more information about peripheral support use this link.
- Cxbx (compatibility)
- One of the first Xbox emulators. It started as an ahead-of-time compiler for Xbox executables. It can boot around 56 games, with around a dozen in an already playable state.
- A port of Cxbx to Delphi, expanded with a redesigned symbol detection engine, many rendering improvements, a new pixel shader converter, etc.
- Cxbx-Reloaded (Compatibility)
- A fork of Cxbx that's been having a good development momentum since mid-2016. 166 out of 1032 tested titles (16%) can be played from start to finish without major issues; an additional 509 (49%) reaches game-play, but has issues preventing completion. It's built for x86_64 machines and includes a ton of improvements to its HLE kernel, some from code originating in Dxbx and other related forks. While it has HLE support for the GPU and other parts (e.g., audio) to make many games run fast, XQEMU's LLE implementation was introduced in April 2018 and is expected to help even further. Beyond this, Cxbx-Reloaded supports system features like the Xbox Dashboard, peripherals like the Xbox Memory Units (just like xemu), lightguns and the Steel Battalion Controller (for the latter, both emulated and the real hardware device). Roadmap for more information about CXBX-Reloaded emulator.
- Beginning low-level emulator that just initializes an x86 system and runs whatever is in the ROM. Not much works for this. It was uploaded to GitHub on Dec 5, 2017, by mborgerson, a well-known XQEMU contributor.
- Can emulate Halo: Combat Evolved to the point where the first stage is semi-playable. The walls and ground are pitch black, and the game crashes after you complete the first stage or right after you select the difficulty on modern versions of Windows.
- Existing x86 emulation in MAME has given way to an Xbox driver. However, it's been marked as not working and sound as unimplemented (graphics are OK, though).
- Fusion (compatibility) (unofficial compatibility)
- The internal name for backward compatibility on the Xbox 360. It supports 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 with graphical glitches and slowdowns to errors that can make standard gameplay basically impossible. There are 463 (46%) games made backward compatible out of 996 that are released for Xbox, but with hack 644 (65%) games made backward compatible out of 987 games. There is more information and references/videos about this BC support here.
- Fission (compatibility)
- The internal name for backward compatibility on the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. With a smaller amount of supported games; 63 (6%) games made backward compatible out of 996 games, likely due to issues surrounding licensing,[N2 4] it allows the ones that do work to run at twice the Xbox's standard resolution (480p) on both Xbox One (S) and Xbox Series S consoles (up to 960p), and more than quadruple on Xbox One X and Xbox Series X consoles (up to 2160p).
- However with November 2021 update Microsoft ends the program and said: "This latest and final addition of titles to the backwards compatibility program was only possible through the passion and feedback from the community," Microsoft said. "Your constant requests for specific titles and enhancements encouraged the Backwards Compatibility team to partner with the original creators to preserve thousands of games from over four generations of Xbox. While we continue to stay focused on preserving and enhancing the art form of games, we have reached the limit of our ability to bring new games to the catalog from the past due to licensing, legal and technical constraints. Thank you for being part of this journey with us."
Hardware features and peripherals
|Xbox Live||✓[N3 2]||✗ (WIP)||✗[N3 3]||✗[N3 3]|
|System Link||✓[N3 4]||✓||✓[N3 5]||✓[N3 6]|
|Pressure Sensitive Buttons||~[N3 7]||~[N3 7]||✗||✗|
|Xbox Memory Unit||✓*||✓||TBD||TBD|
|Xbox Live Communicator||~*||✗||~[N3 8]||TBD|
|Xbox DVD Movie Playback Kit||✗[N3 9]||✗||✓*||✓*|
|Steel Battalion Controller||WIP||✓||TBD||TBD|
|Dance Dance Revolution Game Pad||✗*||✗||TBD||TBD|
- Feature Request: Adding missing peripherals for xemu
- Xbox Live emulation is possible with Insignia: Free replacement for Microsoft's servers for the original Xbox console, allowing online functionality to be restored for the first time since 2010 which is allowing you to play online with friends and strangers. For more information about other revive projects use this link.
- Insignia FAQ: Insignia is not able to support Xbox 360/One/Series consoles in any capacity; we may look into supporting Xbox 360's backwards compatibility feature in the future, but that is not planned at this time.
- Xemu and XLink Kai Setup
- Xbox 360 XLink Kai Setup
- Original Xbox on Xbox One XLink Kai Setup
- Xbox controller is supported by USB passthrough technology for xemu and Cxbx-Reloaded. Other controllers with pressure-sensitive buttons like DualShock 2, DualShock 3 or Steam Deck touchpads are not supported, but developers plan to implement their support via SDL library.
- With Xbox 360, only the headset without the communicator piece works.
- Just like DuckStation for VCD movies, PPSSPP for UMD movies, RPCS3 for DVD/Blu-Ray movies, PCSX2 for DVD movies and xenia for DVD/HD DVD movies; xemu has no DVD movie support *via Xbox DVD Movie Playback Kit at the moment.
|Resizable Internal Resolution||✓||✓||?||✓|
|Streamable compression format||✗*||✗||✗||✗|
The Chihiro arcade system was produced by Sega in 2003. It consists of an Xbox motherboard (with double the RAM as with devkits) with additional boards for handling arcade I/O (Sega JVS standard).
As the inner workings of the Xbox are better understood, Chihiro emulation support and accuracy will improve. Feature Request: improving Chihiro emulation for xemu.
The Xbox is infamous in the emulation scene for being the worst case of false advertising. For the projects currently available and active, there's a high barrier to entry for the effort involved, and it's the same reason why consoles using off-the-shelf hardware (or reused hardware) are easier to emulate. To users, being "basically a PC" and "x86-based" is a selling point despite that not being the case, as the Xbox has a number of proprietary elements that are nothing like standard PC hardware (like the eighth-gen "x86-based" consoles). Many aspects of the Xbox's architecture aren't openly documented, making it a major pain to figure out. For example, the APU; one of two sound processors on the MCPX southbridge chip of the Xbox chipset, is incredibly powerful and uses complex processing steps that are difficult to figure out using clean-room reverse engineering.
For more information about Xbox system and reverse engineering;
- XboxDevWiki; for Xbox hardware documentation.
- Rodrigo Copetti: Xbox Architecture - A practical analysis
- MVG:Original Xbox Emulation on the PC (Jul 29, 2019), Original Xbox Emulation on the PC (Oct 4, 2021), Xbox System-Link works across four console generations, Secrets of the Original Xbox DVD Playback Kit, Revisiting Original Xbox Backward Compatibility (Fusion) on the Xbox 360, Secrets of The Scene: How Cracking Groups Ripped Original Xbox Discs
- CXBX-Reloaded Discord server, xemu Discord Server (For general and development discussions on OG Xbox emulation, especially for xemu, Cxbx-Reloaded and any legacy emulators.)
- The PlayStation 2 also had a hard disk accessory, but the Xbox had it built-in on all models. Consoles in the seventh generation and onward began to include internal storage in varying forms.
- The Dreamcast had Sega Net in North America and Dreamarena in Europe, but Xbox Live was the same for all regions.
- The Xbox would have been too difficult to emulate at the time anyway, as its specs often rivaled that of consumer PCs. It was alleged that many developers received legal threats from Microsoft to dissuade them from trying.
- There are a number of reasons, including but not limited to developers and publishers going defunct, movie and toy tie-in licenses for branded content expiring, and music royalties.
- Why The Xbox Failed In Japan. Youtube (2018-07-16)
- JayFoxRox's statement (representing XQEMU). Reddit (2018-07-14).
- SoullessSentinel's statement (representing Cxbx-Reloaded). Reddit (2017-07-13).
- Personal Remarks about the Xbox Emulator by Michael Brundage
- FrameRater's 360's Xbox Emulator EXPANDED!, Unlocking MORE Xbox Originals on 360 videos about this hack.
- MrThunderwing's video: Outrun 2 - Chihiro Beta
- Emu Gamer: Chihiro emulation YouTube videos
- Why is XBOX emulation premature?. ngemu (2010-02-15)
- /LTCG (Link-time Code Generation). Microsoft
- Under The Hood: Link-time Code Generation. Microsoft
- Xbox Emulation: The History & Roadblocks. Youtube (2018-03-08)
- Why is there a lack of Original Xbox emulation?. Reddit (2017-05-29)