Xbox 360 emulators

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Xbox 360
Xbox 360.png
Developer Microsoft
Type Home video game console
Generation Seventh generation
Release date 2005
Discontinued 2016
Predecessor Xbox
Successor Xbox One (X)
Emulated ~
For emulators that run on the Xbox 360, see Emulators on Xbox 360.

The Xbox 360 is a seventh-generation console released by Microsoft on November 22, 2005, and retailed for $399. It had a triple-core PowerPC Xenon CPU that ran at 3.2 GHz with 512 MBs of RAM and an ATI Xenos GPU. The console's life saw the option of a motion-sensing camera called the Kinect.

The Xbox 360 had a relatively strong modding scene (although compared to the Xbox it was hindered by the need to physically modify the console) and homebrew documentation of the console's GPU, file format, and various other APIs was performed early. Due to the complexity of the system and PCs of the time lacking the needed performance, emulation was slow to develop for this console compared to previous generations, with Xenia being the only serious option since 2013 and developing steadily since then.

Contents

Emulators[edit]

Name Platform(s) Latest Version Hardware features
and peripherals
Enhancements Compatibility FLOSS Active Recommended
x86
Xenia   v1.0.2817
canary
canary-netplay
canary-nukernel
~ ~ 18%
308 out of 1710 tested titles
[1]
(Master branch)
ARM
Xenia WindowsARM pull request ~ ~ ? ~
Consoles
Fission     Patch based ~ ~ 29%
633 out of 2155 titles
Xenia   1.1.5a ~ ~ 18%
308 out of 1710 tested titles
[1]
(Master branch)
~

Comparisons[edit]

Xenia
Xenia is the leading hybrid approach Xbox 360 emulator that's made it the furthest. While it isn't nearly as compatible as RPCS3 is for PlayStation 3, impressive performance outshines RPCS3 due to RPCS3's extremely challenging SPU emulation resulting reasonably higher CPU demands. Another reason for performance difference is Xenia utilizes very high-level emulation (HLE) approach for the CPU, while relying heavily on Low-Level Emulation (LLE) for the GPU[2][3]. Due to these approaches and other reasons/optimizations (see Emulation accuracy page): it's making Xenia more reliant on GPU performance instead of CPU (especially compared to RPCS3). But keep in mind that, it's still depends heavily on CPU single thread performance due to graphics API-related calls and focusing solely average CPU utilization percentage numbers may give you false impression[1]. So in summary: just like most other software emulators, CPU's with better single threaded performance will give you better framerates than before (considering you're not hitting GPU bottleneck)[2]. Xenia supports various enhancements and some of the hardware features. For more information about Xenia emulation on Linux, Android or macOS, see this page.
For checking if your games works or needs any fixes, tweaks, or settings, see these sources;
canary builds compared to the master builds offer improved performance (thanks to chrisps/chrispy, disjtqz, Gliniak, AdrianCassar and other contributors), it has experimental changes that may or may not work, but it also has more functions/tends to work better. Also some of the hardware features and enhancements are currently only available in this fork and its branches mentioned below. Use this repository for game-patches which some of them may fix graphical or performance issues.
canary-netplay; this branch is used for online play, see Xbox Live page Xbox 360 section. Also supports some of the system link titles.
canary-nukernel branch emulates: The six individual hardware threads on the original Xbox 360 CPU, certain kernel timing quirks (clock interrupt update every 1millisecond, "background scheduling"), the kernel's thread scheduler, deferred procedure calls, asynchronous procedure calls (done more accurately than on normal canary, plus kernel ones are supported), much more accurate and portable emulation of synchronization primitives, supports guest objects without creating host objects for them. So certain games that do not work on normal canary can be played on this branch, because the features/quirks they expect are implemented here, but nukernel branch mostly focuses on reimplementing parts of the threading subsystem of the kernel, not io or memory, which are also messed up. Developer of this branch said that: "It really felt like starting from scratch on the kernel side, because for a long time nothing booted on it".[3]
Fission
The official emulator on the Xbox One (X|S) and Xbox Series X/S consoles. There is no "Xbox Live Indie Game & XBLIG" support. Load times are faster, but emulation suffers from input lag due to forced v-sync. Beyond this, Fission supports some of the hardware features.
Xbox One X and Xbox Series X further improve on the emulation with enhancements like better loading times, framerate, texture filtering, higher resolution and auto HDR in some games. Note that an Internet connection is required to download each game on its first run.
However, with an November 2021 update Microsoft ended the program and said: "This latest and final addition of 70+ 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."[4]

Hardware features and peripherals[edit]

Name xenia Fission
Xbox 360 system software Dashboard and apps ~
TrueSkill ?
Achievements ~*
Xbox Live ~
System Link ~
DVD Drive ~
Xbox Emulation (Fusion) * ~*
Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) *
Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG)
Development Kits
Peripherals
Camera Xbox Live Vision TBD
Kinect [N2 1]
HD-DVD Player ~
Xbox 360 Memory Card *
Rock Band 3 MIDI Pro Adapter TBD
Microphone * [N2 1]
Drums and Guitars [N2 1]
Big Button Pad TBD
uDraw GameTablet ~* *
Wireless Racing Wheel *
Chatpad and Keyboard ?
Xbox 360 Media Remote ?
Portal Skylanders Portal TBD
LEGO Dimensions Toy Pad TBD
Disney Infinity Base TBD
LightGun Top Shot Elite TBD
Top Shot Fearmaster TBD
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Games like the original Guitar Hero and Rock Band series won't work as they require proprietary accessories that aren't compatible, nor do any that require the original Kinect motion camera. Even if you have an Xbox One Kinect still, it is not compatible with previous Xbox 360 Kinect games using Fission.

Dashboard and apps[edit]

tcrf: Xbox 360 Dashboard revisional differences
Wikipedia - List of Xbox 360 applications

The Dashboard is a graphical user interface developed for Xbox 360. You can launch various applications from this interface as well. Also supports media streaming (music, photos and videos) with PC using Windows XP MCE with Xbox 360's built-in version 2 Media Center Extender functionality and app. This functionality shouldn't be confused with other standalone Windows Media Center Extender devices or original Xbox Media Center Extender version 1 add-on.

System Link[edit]

Wikipedia: System Link

Offline multiplayer gaming on the Xbox 360 home console over a LAN (local area network) multiplayer games, just like LAN tunelling for PlayStation systems. Over time, most private game servers have been shut down. However, computer programs such as XBSlink, SVDL and XLink Kai allow users to play multiplayer for LAN supported games by using a network configuration that simulates a worldwide LAN.

TrueSkill[edit]

TrueSkill python package
Microsoft TrueSkill/TrueSkill 2
Wikipedia - TrueSkill/TrueSkill 2

Achievements[edit]

Xenia-canary latest builds support Xbox 360 achievements but only partially; because there is no support for achievement progress, only achievement unlock notifications works, see the demonstration. Although there is a pull request for saving unlocked achievements and restored in the next session, also adds a basic UI dialog for viewing achievements.

For activating notifications for achievements and using sound and custom font you need to change settings from "xenia-canary.config.toml";

[UI]
show_achievement_notification = true
custom_font_path = "C:\\Users\\USERNAME\\AppData\\Local\\xenia-canary\\YOURFONTNAME.tff"
[General]
notification_sound_path = "C:\\Users\\USERNAME\\AppData\\Local\\xenia-canary\\YOURSOUNDFILENAME.wav"

DVD Drive[edit]

free60: Xbox 360 DVD Drive
consolemods: XGD3 games
redump: Microsoft Xbox and Xbox 360 Dumping Guide

Xbox 360 DVD drive supports Audio CD, PhotoCD, DVD-Audio, DVD-Video and XGD3 discs.[5] Optical disc drives for PCs usually aren't capable to read XGD3 discs. More info in ripping games section and reverse engineering section. For reading HD-DVD discs you need #HD-DVD Player peripheral/drive.

See this dedicated page for more information about home media playback support for emulation softwares.

Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG)[edit]

List of all Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG)

Peripherals[edit]

Kinect[edit]

The Kinect was Microsoft's version of the EyeToy, a camera that also doubled as a motion tracker and microphone capable of detecting gestures and voices in order to play games without a controller. This was in contrast to the Wii with its Wiimote and the PS3 with its PlayStation Move. Despite getting native support on Windows, users have made open-source drivers for it.

HD-DVD Player[edit]

Wikipedia: Xbox 360 HD-DVD Player
Xbox support: Play DVD-Video and Xbox 360 DVD-ROM on your console
  • Xenia has no HD-DVD support at the moment.
  • Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles has no support for HD-DVD.
See this dedicated page for more information about home media playback support for emulation softwares.

Chatpad and Keyboard[edit]

mktplassets: Chatpad_EMEA_ENG_0803.pdf
Wikipedia - Chatpad as part of the Xbox 360 Messenger Kit

Chatpad attaches to the back of your Xbox 360 wired or wireless controller to enable in-game text messaging, instant messaging, and other text entry. The Chatpad can also be used in certain games for text input. USB HID-compliant keyboards can be plugged directly into the console to perform the same function.

Xbox 360 Media Remote[edit]

Wikipedia: Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote and Xbox 360 Media Remote

Just like PlayStation 2's DVD Remote Controller and PlayStation 3 Blu-ray Disc remote you can even play games with it other than multimedia along with being able to navigate the dashboard functionalities. The remote control allows for controlling portions of the interface of the Xbox 360 via infrared.

Enhancements[edit]

Name xenia Fission
Graphics Resizable Internal Resolution
Ultrawide hack
Widescreen already supported on Xbox 360 system.
But there is no support by system for render games in other ratios such as ultrawide 21:9 and 32:9.
[N2 1]
Texture Replacement *
Ray-tracing
(DXR, VRT and MRT)
Implementing ray-tracing in an emulator is unfortunately quite challenging and unlikely to be feasible in the near future.
However you can try "Screen-Space Ray Traced Global Illumination" shader using ReShade.
Demonstration
Pre-rendering AA
(MSAA, SSAA)
[N2 2] ?
Super-resolution techniques
(DLSS, XeSS and FSR 2+)
Requires access to the depth buffer and temporal data like motion-vectors so it's quite challenging and unlikely to be feasible in the near future.
RTX Remix Implementing RTX Remix technology in an emulator is unfortunately quite challenging and unlikely to be feasible in the near future.
You can use ReShade for post-processing.
Performance Internal Framerate Hack
Frame generation technologies
(LSFG, DLSS-G, ExtraSS and AFMF)
Implementing frame generation technology in an emulator is unfortunately quite challenging and unlikely to be feasible in the near future, however post-processing techniques such as motion interpolation is quite possible. Input latency will be a crucial factor, but its impact likely varies depending on the specific technique employed, it's recommended to use after applying the "Internal Framerate Hack".
While AFMF or LSFG can be used with xenia, please be aware that some visual glitches and artifacts may occur at this time.
Overclock
Preload optical disc image to RAM
For users with sluggish multi-platter HDDs or plagued by horrible seek times, this enhancement might offer smoother experience, potentially reduced power consumption; it also shines when disc images reside on a network drive.
Although keep in mind that preloading image would take some time, and it will require additional amount of RAM capacity.
[N2 3]
Rendering latency reduction technologies
(LatencyFleX, Reflex and Anti-Lag+)
While most emulators offer frame pacing or framebuffer latency control options, implementing rendering latency reduction technologies isn't currently feasible. This is likely doesn't offer enough benefit to justify the development effort.
Post-Processing Post-rendering AA
(FXAA, TXAA and MLAA/SMAA)
* ?
Post-rendering scaling
(Sharp bilinear, Lanczos and FSR 1)
* [N2 4]
Filters
AI-powered filter compatible
(Freestyle)
?
Shader Chain
Inverse tone mapping compatible ? *
TAS features Macros/Scripts/Lua
Rewind
Fast-Forward/Turbo Speed
Savestates/Snapshots
Movie recording/playback
Controls Mouse Injector Compatible *
Input lag-mitigating technique
Quality of life Streamable compression format
Built-in mod editor and manager
Built-in Cheat Manager
Built-in Patch Manager
Per-Game Profiles ~[N2 5] ?
Command Line Options ?
Built-in Custom resolution/CRTSwitchRes
For using this on Windows OS you need CRT Emudriver.
Another option is using EDID editor tool such as "Custom Resolution Utility".
Variable Refresh Rate compatible ?
Big Picture Mode
Misc RetroAchievements *
EmuVR support Exclusive to libretro cores. So there is no support at the moment.
AI Service
With the help of OCR and other techniques, the AI service can provide a live translation of a game, or text-to-speech capabilities for the visually impaired among other things, either on demand or automatically.
Exclusive to libretro cores at the moment. So there is no support.
Free Look
Free Look is a enhancement feature that allows manipulation of the in-game camera.
While freecam would be technically possible, it will require per-game patches.
Said patches would require a significant amount of time to reverse the game's engine, which means that only someone talented with enough dedication to a single game could do it.
Debug features ~[N2 6]
  1. Only supports official 16:9 widescreen supported titles, no support for 21:9 or 32:9 ultrawide enhancements.
  2. This enhancement feature shouldn't be confused with Xbox 360's native 2x/4x MSAA.
  3. Fission has no Preload image to RAM enhancement but it has better loading times than the original hardware as mentioned in #Comparisons section.
  4. It uses bilinear filtering resulting blurrier image.
  5. Using per-game setting for each game in Xenia requires creating a separate "xenia.config.toml" file for each one and launching them manually through a batch script or command line.
  6. Xenia has debugger but there is no documentation, and it is very difficult to understand how it works. See xenia discord dev channel for more information about debugging.

Emulation issues[edit]

[Xenos] was a playground for experiments — it was developed near the end of the Direct3D 9 era, but still before Direct3D 10, and contained many features not standardized or even available at all on the PC, but when they ended up on the PC, the actual implementation could be significantly different; it also included completely unique features. [...] Contrary to a common misconception, the Xbox 360 [isn't] just a “DirectX 9 box”. It essentially contains a [tile-inspired] mobile-like GPU with much more raw power than a comparable mobile GPU. If you compare the registers of the Xenos and the Qualcomm Adreno 200, you can see that most of them are the same, as they are almost the same GPUs — the Adreno 200 was called the AMD Z430 before having been acquired by Qualcomm and was even referred to as the "mini-Xenos"!"
-Triang3l[5]

Despite being one of the most popular seventh gen home console, due to requiring a large number of resources as well as the hardware not being properly documented yet[6], Xbox 360 emulation currently isn't at a point where people can reliably emulate most of the game library. Xenia is making slowly but surely progress on that front, but development has unfortunately lost momentum in recent years, with updates becoming less frequent. That, plus the fact that Microsoft's own implemented official emulation (Fission) of the system through the Xbox One and Series S/X ended with an November 2021 update. So, as mentioned above: while playable titles exists, Xbox 360 software emulation hasn't yet reached a point of something like PlayStation 3 or Wii U emulation, currently remains in its early stages, with limited compatibility and requiring patience/experimentation.

For more information about Xbox 360 system and reverse engineering;

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]