1. Step 1: modify your xbox
2. Step 2: general emulation FAQ
3. Step 3: installing your emulator(s) and transferring files to your xbox
4. Step 4: adding the emulators to your dashboard menu
5. Step 5: PLAY!
6. Step 6: taking care of problems
A. Questions and feedback
This “beginners guide” is an attempt to address some of the questions that newcomers to the xbox emulation scene usually have, in addition to help you get your favourite old console games up and running. Please note that this guide (or forum) is not about emulating the xbox hardware with the goal of playing xbox-specific games on another system/computer, but a guide to emulate other console systems using the xbox hardware.
But let's start with a small warning. Most xbox-scene forum participants and moderators do not look kindly on requests for emulators, roms/iso’s or web pages where you can find these kind of files. That’s because most emulators are compiled using illegal copies of the MS XDK, and that having roms/isos that you don’t rightfully own is considered piracy. And yes, in the eyes of the law it’s still considered piracy even if the game is 10 years old and not for sale anymore. Discussion on said subjects could attract unwanted attention to this forum from “big brother”, and lead to this board being shut down. And we wouldn’t want that, would we?
So please read, follow and respect the general xbox-scene rules. Violations of the rules will usually result in your post being locked and trashed. If you repetedly break the rules, you’ll eventually end up banned from the board. Love it or hate it – it’s the rules of this forum, and crying about it doesn’t help!
That’s it for the well-meant warning. Now let’s introduce you to the wonderfull world of xbox emulation.
Step 1: modify your xbox
This point might seem given, but some apparently believe that you can use any program on your box, as long as it’s burnt on a CD and shoved into the DVD tray. The fact is that running non-MS authorized code on your xbox, which includes emulators, requires modification of the machine by either installing a modchip or flashing the onboard bios chip (called TSOP flashing, and only possible to do on v1.0-1.5 xbox). You can also do a software-modification to your xbox, which enables you to run unsigned code. More on the ins-and-outs of xbox modification are covered in the tutorial section or on the appropriate forums. You could also check out mastertito4’s Total n00b guide to everything.
Step 2: general emulation FAQ
Before we proceed any further, lets take a crash-course in emulation:
Q: What is Emulation?
A: Emulation is the process of simulating the hardware of one machine (example: SNES or N64) using a emulator on another machine (example: the xbox), so that the second machine is able to run software designed for the original machine (example: a ROM).
Q: What is an Emulator?
A: An emulator is a software program that simulate [emulates] the way a system works. This is oftem used to emulate older console game systems, allowing you to play games on your PC/Xbox. Keep in mind that emulators are specific for the operating system for which they were developed - aka a emulator for Windows XP will not work on the Xbox.
Q: What can I emulate on my Xbox?
A: At this time you can emulate most "classic (aka older) console systems, in addition to a broad selection of arcade games and systems. There are also available a 286/386 DOS emulator, that makes it possible to run older computer games. In addition there are script interpreters for older Sierra and LucasArt games, giving us the opportunity to relive classics like the Monkey Island series, Indiana Jones and Sam & Max: Hit the Road on our TV-screens. For a list of all emulators/script interpreters available, check this list.
Q: Yikes! There are several Emulators available for "my system". Which should I get?
A: With several emulators available for some of the more popular systems, you might be a little unsure which emulator to grab. To help you decied, read up on this post.
Q: Where can I find Emulators?
A: For emulators (and mostly all xbox programs), there’s a easy, one-stop-shopping solution: xbins. Please note that if your downloaded emulator file or folder does not contain the tell-tale “default.xbe” file, you either have the sourcecode or an emulator for another operating system. Make sure that you get the xbox-specific emulator in its binary form!
Q: Why can't I find a Emulator for "put the name of the system here"?
A: Several console/arcade systems, like Vectrex, Jaguar, 3DO, Dreamcast and Naomi (plus a broad range of obscure consoles) are currently not emulated.
Q: Why can't I find a Xbox/Playstation/GameCube emulator?
A: New-generation systems like the PS2 and GC will newer be emulated on the xbox. Yes, there are PC-emulators for these systems, but they require a high-end PC and does not emulate the games to a playable state ... yet! In short, that means a port of these emulators to the Xbox is technically feasible, but will not run due to the low-end specifications of the xbox (when compared to a computer). To read a more thorough explanation on why such emulators never will be available on the xbox, read this. There is no point in requesting emulators for these systems or posting a “why not”-themed post on the www.xbox-scene.com forum. Such posts do pop up frequently, and regulars are getting quite tired of these “requests”, as this example shows. If you want to play a certain game on a certain console so bad, buy them!
Q: Where can I read more about consoles and arcade systems?
A: Try A Brief History of Videogames to read up on console system history. For a guide to different arcade systems/boards, check out System16.
Q: Where can I read more about Sierra and LucasArt adventure games?
A: Try The Adventure Collective's review of adventure games of both older and newer date. Wikipedia also has a good "section" dewoted to adventuregames and their history.
Q: What are ROMs?
A: A ROM is short for Read Only Memory, and is often used when describing a "copy" of the original game files. These original files are copied onto a harddrive, a process that is also known as "dumping a ROM", from the cartridge/printboard. These ROMs are often packed into a single archive file in .zip format. This is done either to compress the file to save space, or facilitate easier handling of a ROM that is made up of several files (as many arcade ROMs are). The ROMs, as many observant readers might have guessed, is not system specific. Given their correct emulator, they will run on any platform.
For mor information about ROMS, click here.
Q: Where can I find ROMs?
A: A ROM file can be found many places. On Usenet newsgroups, on FTP sites, on IRC, and most importantly on different web sites. You will have to find the game you are looking for yourself. My best suggestion is: read, look, search, google, use your imagination. But do not ask me or others on the www,xbox-scene forum for roms.
Q: What ROMs should I get?
A: With som many games for so many systems, it might be difficult to know what ROMs (games) to get. Some people prefer to get all games available for all systems. If your not one of these, but like me prefer a "lean-and-mean" collection of the best classics, I have gathered together a couple of posts that might give you some clues to games worth getting. These are just for the most popular systems. For other systems, I suggest you use the search feature on the X-S forum or google.
General (all systems): games 1 games 2 games 3
Arcade – MAME: games 1
NeoGeo/CPS1/CPS2: games 1
Nintendo: games 1
Super Nintendo: games 1 games 2
Nintendo 64: games 1
Sega Genesis/MegaDrive/32X: games 1 games 2
Amiga: games 1
Spectrum: games 1
Turbografx-16/PC-Engine: games 1 games 2
Hope that this has given you some clue to what games are worth trying out. Just don’t blame me if you think they suck.
Q: The games are good, but using the xbox controller sucks!
A: If you are a die-hard retrogamer, why don't you modify the controller from your system of choice to work on the xbox. Read more here for details on such modifications.
Q: Why doesn't my ROM(s) work?
A: This is a tricky questions. Usually the answer lies is one of the following:
1. Is your emulator configured correctly?
2. Is your ROMs in working order (no bad dumps/missing files)?
3. Is the ROM compatible with your emulator?
Read more below and in Step 3 to find tips on ways to correct or troubleshoot such problems .
Q: How do I configure my Emulator?
A: Check Step 5 for a more thorough walkthrough on setting up your emulator.
[i]Q: What is a bad dump?
A: ROMs can get corrupted, and if so will not work properly. This is often the case when your game is supposed to run great on the emulator – but doesn’t. Such a “non-working” rom can often be identified by its name. Let me use an example to illustrate:
Banjo Kazooie (U)[!]. zip – US version, verified good dump
Banjo Kazooie (U)[ b].zip – US version, bad dump (non-working
Read more about ROM naming codes here. But the names can also be misleading, and a ROM can be a bad and/or non-working even if the name indicates that it should be a fully working good dump.
Q: How do I know if I have a good or bad dump?
A: Here you have two options. Either use a goodtool to check and possibly rename your ROMs. A GoodTool will open the zip file and check the CRC of the ROM, and then rename it accordingly. Such programs can be GoodN64, GoodSNES, GoodNES, etc. For a quick guide on installing/configuring/using Goodtools (with GoodGUI), read VampX excellent guide. You can also read more about goodtools in general on MAMEworld.
Another option is to use a ROM management tool like RomCenter or ClrMAME to sort and check the integrity of your ROMs. An added feature of rom management tools is that they can "rebuild" or convert a ROM to function on different systems (like converting NeoGeo ROMs to work on MAME/FBAxxx/Kawa-X). This is done based on information loaded in a .dat file (which often is supplied with the emulator in question).
Q: What is CRC?
A: CRC is a special 32 bit checksum algorithm which is used as a redundancy check for files. Using this system there is a theoretical chance of two different files having the same CRC of only be about 1 in 4 billion (2^32=largest 32-bit number), ensuring that the identity of the file is almost guaranteed to be correct..
Q: What is a compability list?
A: Some games, mainly on newer consoles like N64 and PS1, does have compability issues with the emulators. This can range from minor sound/graphic glitches, to the game not working at all. There are several compability lists which list games for the console in question and their compability on current emulator version. Please check these for detail if you game isn’t working.
Q: Is emulation legal?
A: I can not provide a definite answer to that, because no one knows for sure. Cases are being fought in the courts right now to decide that question. Generally, it is thought that emulators by themselves are perfectly legal. There has not been a company that I know of that has won a court battle over an emulator (yet). ROMs on the other hand are where the trouble is. You are allowed a backup of a ROM image if you own the original cartridge. However, you should not possess a ROM image if you do not own the cartridge. You are breaking the law, and there is no "24 hour rule" (which is used on many web-sites) or anything like that will protect you. But it's a well known fact that not many people follow this rule.
Step 3: installing your emulator(s) and transferring files to your xbox
You’ve gotten all your emulator files and ROMs? Good! Then it’s time to installl the emulators on your box. But first you have to extract the archive-file that contains your emulators(s). Check that the archive contains a default.xbe file. If not, you probably have the source-code or en emulator for another operating system, which will not work as-is. You can compile the sourcecode yourself, provided you have the knowledge and correct tools. But if your reading this I guess you have neither. Better get the binary file! As always, this is found in the usual places.
Gotten this far? Remember to read the readme.txt file that is supplied in the archive. This will give you vital information about the emulator, it’s capabilities/limitations and possible special considerations before installing. Afterwards decide where to put your emulator files on the xbox HD. An often used tree-structure is F:\emulators\emulator name, but this is entirely up to you.
The setup of the emulator is usually done before transferring the files to your xbox. However, this configuration is emulator specific, and might differ from emulator to emulator. For a guide to setting up the most popular emulators, please refer to Cathesdus’ “Complete Guide To Emulators, How To Set Them Up And Get Them Working”.
You can also go directly to the emulator authors homepage, and check their FAQ and readme.txt. Homepages to some of the most popular emulators are listed below.
XPort's emulators (lots and lots of them)
Surreal 64 (Nintendo 64)
xSNES9x (Super Nintendo)
When you’ve done necessary configuration/setup, it’s time to transfer your files. If you are familiar with the capabilities of your modified xbox, transferring files from your computer to the xbox should not be a mystery. But if you are not, then here’s a quick walkthrough. To transfer files to your xbox, you have two options:
A.Connecting using standard network
Connect your xbox to your pc by network or crossover cable, and FTP files over to your HD. For more information on how to set up your xbox for FTP connection, please refer to this tutorials
On the PC side, you’ll need an FTP program. There are a lot of different programs out there, some free and some not. For a selection of freeware FTP clients, see NONAGS freeware archive, or use you favourite FTP client.
B. Burning files to a CD/DVD:
Burn your files on CD-RW or DVD-RW, and use boXplorer (or other xbox file manager) to copy the content to your HD. To read more see here and here.
However, if you prefer not to put your emulator and ROMs on your HD, you can make your CD/DVD a xbox-bootable disc. This way your emulator will load when the disc is inserted. A comprehensive guide on how to burn multigame-discs are found here. This is a detailed guide that should cover most needs. If your in a hurry, and need a quick fix, look at this guide instead.
Step 4: adding the emulators to your dashboard menu
There are several good dashboards “out there” that replaces the original MS Dash. In fact, to take advantage of the "power" of a modified xbox, you have to use another dashboard than the original MS Dah. Depending on wich dashboard you choose to use, you have to make your emulators accessible through the system. For more information on how to set up your dash, go to the tutorial section here and see if you can’t find information for configuring your dash.
Step 5: PLAY!
Give yourself a slap on the back, and enjoy the fruits of your hard work. You'r now set up for hour upon hour of nostalgic emulation goodness.
Step 6: taking care of problems
Uh oh! Something doesn't work! HELP!
There is bound to pop up problems or questions from time to time. If you have a problem or question, do not be afraid of posting it on the www.xbox-scene forums. That is what the forum is here for: share knowledge, answer questions and helping people out.
Just make sure that when asking a question, you have:
1. Used the search function on the forums
2. Provide background information so that people understand what your problems is (or what you are having problem with). This is a example of how not to post a "Please help me" question.
For a guide on posting do's-and-don'ts, check "Posting and You"
Questions or feedback?
I hope that you have found this guide both helpful and informative. If you have suggestions for improvements or corrections of errors, please contact me. The same applies if you are interested in contributing to this guide or feel that something is missing. That’s it. Now go play!
A huge thanks to all contributors to the xbox-scene forum, and especially the authors of the posts and tutorials that I have shamelessly linked to. You know who you are. Also a thanks to Iriez for your input and contribution to this guide.
Edited by Zyyke, 28 November 2004 - 01:08 PM.