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 Post subject: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:16 am 
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A friend of mine gave me his old Xbox a while back, and it's been sitting here until I realized people used to mod the hell out of them.

How did the Xbox perform as far as emulation? Also, is it easy/cheap to mod/hack an original Xbox?

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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:24 pm 
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In terms of emulation, it was pretty mature. However, I don't think there's any form of emulation for Xbox that hasn't been surpassed on the Wii, which is absurdly easy to mod. All you need is an SD card and a copy of Twilight Princess, and the Wii homebrew community even has an app that lets you connect to a database online--via the Wii--and download any homebrew you want directly onto the console. It also has very mature emulators (great features, compatibility, and interface), and I *think* the only one that may lag behind the Xbox version is N64.

As for easy and cheap, depends on whether you do a soft mod or a hard mod. A soft mod costs next to nothing in materials (you just need the appropriate game and adapter), and is much easier to perform. However, the 8GB internal drive won't get you too far, so if you're really looking to turn it into a media/emulation box, you'll want to go the hard mod route. However, in this day and age, once you factor in the cost of the modchip and larger hard drive, the hassle of soldering, and any other hardware you may want to add, you'll soon find that you can get a more powerful device that does the same stuff just as well (if not better) for a lower price. Bear in mind also that the Xbox isn't really powerful enough to deliver HD video at a decent framerate.

Really, if you have a Wii, or you're looking for a nice set-top emulation/media box, your Xbox is obsolete--it's not worth the cost of modding it, because you can do all those things better for about the same amount of cash. There were some good Xbox-exclusive games, but that's about all it's good for now.


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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:42 pm 
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I was mainly just interested in setting it up into a set-top emulation box(as opposed to playing my PC emulators on my TV via HDMI, a wee bit clunky with my current setup)), I let my PS3 handle all of my media.

I've heard of how well the Wii handles emulation quite well, but I'm not really willing to shell out $80-$150 for a system I'd use just for emulation, and I'm not really a big fan of the system to begin with.

Being that I got the Xbox for free, I'm just trying to see how far I can go with getting it ready for emulation.

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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 6:30 pm 
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Look into soft-modding it. You can buy a bunch of stupid shit to do it with and that is actually easier/safer. I'd make a post on craigslist and see if you can't find anybody who will softmod your xbox for 15-20 bucks or something if you don't want to do what I'm doing to suggest. Alright, so spending money on the xbox is kinda pointless now IMO. So, here is what you do: look into hotswapping. It is a way to softmod your xbox for free. It is a bit harder than doing the mech assault softmod, but it is free and you most likely have everything you need. You'll quickly find a guide to do it and it is realllly damn easy and a really easy to follow guide with pictures is awesome. If you do want to go with a modchip you can get one for pretty cheap and they even make non-solder chips that you just pop-on to your xbox.

Most emulators support playing ROMs over SMB shares so you don't even need to upgrade your hard drive. You can also play roms off a USB device. You can do that a few ways. You can buy/make a usb adapter for a controller port that just plugs in, you can change the controller port to a usb port, and you can mod a controller to have a usb adapter on it so you can just plug a thumbdrive in via your controller. If you're wanting to plugin an external HDD you probably won't want to do the controller mod :P

Also, considering the wii you can find them really cheap if you look. I got mine for 30 bucks and all that was wrong was a busted dvd drive, but I didn't need one. You can mod most Wiis with out a game disc and go with bannerbomb. If you do get a wii I'll link you to this one guide. It has literally everything you could possibly need to know/want for every single wii and method of softmodding one. Also, about the n64 emulation thing. I feel that homebrew n64 emulation sucks because you can just use the "pirate" n64 emulator. Basically, you inject your own ROMs into a ripped virtual console emulator. Theirs list of which versions work best with what games and all that awesome stuff. If you inject the roms yourself it shows up as whatever game you used to inject your own rom. You can find preinjected WAD files that have custom titles, channel icons, and even a custom manuel. So, that is pretty nice and I've yet to run into a game that doesn't play nearly perfect, but I'm sure they exist. Sorry to go off on a tangent on you.

HEY DMF. I know I could install it and find out for myself, but I'm lazy and just want to ask you. How is PSX emulation on the wii? You mentioned that basically all systems work great, but I just don't know if you've tried that one. I'll probably just install it and find out myself. I have a real playstation with a swapdisc, but I really like save states. I also like my games working fullspeed though. Anyways, Ecko you'll be happy with whatever method you choose to hack your xbox. It is a really easy process and once done you'll feel pretty happy about it :)


edit: This is all from memory, but everything should be correct.

Oh, what cables do you have to hookup your xbox? If you don't have component cables you should super get some. Since you're using it on an HDTV you'll really want those cables. I believe that the xbox can display at 720p and the emulators can be 16:9 aware so you don't get stretched games that look ugly.

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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 7:36 pm 
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I haven't really tried out the PSX emulator for Wii. The PC Engine emulator works quite well, and the Saturn emu works about as well as can be expected given the Wii's specs and the state of Saturn emulation on non-PC platforms (read: more or less complete but very slow), but I don't actually have any PlayStation discs to try. All the PSX games I currently have are PSN downloads.

The systems I have tried are as follows:

-NES (FCEU GX): VERY complete and mature emulator. Part of a set of "GX" emulators that have a very professional menu system and unified features/interface, automatically check for updates, have robust feature sets including custom optional control settings to match Wii entries of various series, etc. Emulator is full speed with very good compatibility.

-SNES: Pretty much the same as NES. Frame rate drops slightly if you turn on smoothing (i.e. HQ2X), but if you stick with unfiltered or simple bilinear filtering, everything is full speed, even SuperFX games. Very good compatibility.

- GBA: Pretty much the same as NES and SNES. GBA emulation isn't *quite* full speed, but the only noticeable impact in most games is minor frame dropping. Definitely very playable, and feature set--like the rest of the "GX" emulators--is very mature and polished. Also supports Gameboy Player features such as rumble (if using 'Cube pad or Wiimote) and GameCube screen borders, as well as Gameboy/Gameboy Color/Super Gameboy features.

- Genesis: Similar level of maturity to NES and SNES, with good compatibility and robust features. However, the UI is different from the SNES/NES/GBA emulators, and allows a little more hardware-level tweaking (i.e. FM timing) but isn't quite as dummy-friendly. For example, the GX emulators mentioned above all let you set a "primary" control scheme, but if the primary controller (i.e. Classic Controller or GC pad) isn't plugged in, you can still use any other controller that *is* plugged in and it'll automatically default to that for controls. Genesis emu actually has to have correct controller set. Again, though, compatibility is very high, emulator runs at full speed, and also supports SMS/GG emulation at a similar quality level.

- SMS/GG: (see Genesis emulator)

- PC Engine: not as polished as the emulators above, but the actual emulation itself is still full speed with high compatibility. Does everything it needs to; just isn't quite as elegant as the others.

- N64: meh. Some things work, others don't. Like PC Engine, the interface isn't quite as polished as the GX emulators, and compatibility is a mixed bag. Some games have weird graphical glitches, and not everything runs full speed.

- Saturn: latest version of the emulator has good compatibility and fixes lots of graphical issues, but isn't really playable due to speed. Some 2D titles may run at playable speeds, but 3D games (such as NiGHTS) aren't really worth playing. My understanding is that--like many console Saturn emulators--the graphics are all software-rendered, which is part of why it's so slow.

- ScummVM: very mature, behaves pretty much like ScummVM on any other platform. The Wiimote is probably my favorite interface for playing these point-and-click adventure games, period.

- Virtual Boy: surprisingly decent. Compatibility is good but not perfect, speed is not quite full but certainly playable (about comparable to GBA), and yes it DOES have options for both 2D display and 3D glasses.

- WiiMC: not technicaly an emulator but still deserves a mention. Turns the Wii into a surprisingly capable media console. Doesn't really approach PC applications (or XBMC variants) in terms of library management, but playback is pretty good. Has integrated support for local storage, network storage, and streaming media (including a built-in YouTube search), and the DVD player works quite well.

There are plenty of other platforms emulated on the Wii as well, but these are the ones I've tried. Haven't really fiddled with Atari, Amiga, ColecoVision, Vectrex, arcade, MSX, NeoGeo, DOSbox, or any of the numerous others, so I can't speak to them--though I've heard most of these are pretty mature as well.

Prominent systems that are *not* emulated (to my knowledge) are anything after the N64 (duh), as well as the Genesis add-ons (SegaCD, 32x).

There's also quite a bit of good homebrew, including some titles that have since gone on to be released commercially in the iOS App Store.


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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:18 pm 
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One thing I forgot to mention regarding disc-based systems emulated on the Wii: you have to use disc images (bin/cue or iso, depending on the program). None of them will read original game discs, apparently because the Wii's optical drive cannot read CDs.


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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:55 pm 
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I wouldn't upgrade to the Wii if you're planning on playing games from the N64 and prior. The Xbox can run most, if not all, systems from before 1996 without issue. The stock hard drive is big enough for full NES, SNES, GB and Genesis ROM sets, with a handful of N64 roms. I used to softmod Xboxes a lot in college with Splinter Cell, a memory card and a USB adapter. Load a hacked saved game on the memory card with a PC, place it on the Xbox and load Splinter Cell.

Between the Wii and Xbox, Xbox Media Center wins hands down in terms of UI and built-in features. The Wii definitely has plenty of bells and whistles, but they don't seem to work as well as the Xbox. The only thing to justify buying a Wii is enjoyed pirated Wii games.

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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:31 am 
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pixel wrote:
I wouldn't upgrade to the Wii if you're planning on playing games from the N64 and prior. The Xbox can run most, if not all, systems from before 1996 without issue. The stock hard drive is big enough for full NES, SNES, GB and Genesis ROM sets, with a handful of N64 roms. I used to softmod Xboxes a lot in college with Splinter Cell, a memory card and a USB adapter. Load a hacked saved game on the memory card with a PC, place it on the Xbox and load Splinter Cell.

Between the Wii and Xbox, Xbox Media Center wins hands down in terms of UI and built-in features. The Wii definitely has plenty of bells and whistles, but they don't seem to work as well as the Xbox. The only thing to justify buying a Wii is enjoyed pirated Wii games.


Or, y'know, NON-pirated Wii games :roll:

There's also been a fair amount of other stuff ported to the Wii--all the usual suspects (the Quake games play really well with the Wiimote, for example), as well as a surprisingly large number of original titles. There are also some noteworthy commercial downloads as well: Cave Story, the bit.trip games, and Tales of Monkey Island, just to name a few.


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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 11:48 am 
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DaMadFiddler wrote:
pixel wrote:
The only thing to justify buying a Wii is enjoyed pirated Wii games.


Or, y'know, NON-pirated Wii games :roll:


Just calling it the way I see it.

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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:58 am 
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Thanks for the help and advice. Decided to softmod it, I'll let you know how it gos. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:27 pm 
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After installing a bootable USB Linux loaded with the software needed to format an Xbox drive, I did a hotswap at the only cost of pulling my 120GB HDD out of my ancient Pentium 3 rig.

Currently, the Xbox can do about everything a Wii can emulation wise (except maybe the Saturn), or even better. It's had all of these emulation projects updated recently - CoinOps (MAME .084 with extra games), Final Burn Legends, NestopiaX, SnesXbox, ScummVM (1.4.0), and alpha 3do & Saturn emulators..

But like previously mentioned, the Xbmc4xbox media center is only good for 480p (or 720p with expensive RAM upgrade) on video playback like Dvd, Youtube, Hulu, NetFlix, AVI, FLV, MKV, MP4, MPEG, etc..

Supported audio formats for the XBMC are OGG, MP3, FLAC, Mod Tracker, Midi/Karaoke, etc..

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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:25 am 
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Not to mention there is only one guy in China doing the 128mb RAM upgrade, and it costs $160 (smiley on X-S IIRC).

The Xbox is great for emulation, but even better as a media center. These days it's a little rough around the edges... the 700mhz CPU and 64mb of RAM don't hold up too well past 480p, as Stryfe noted. I haven't used mine in a number of years now, now that the JTAG 360 is catching up to the usability of the original.

I used to use mod chips wayyyyy back, but the easiest way to do it now IMO would be King Roach's nDure method, i.e. hot swapping the hard drive. It takes a couple attempts, and you need to do some reading, but it's 100% free if you've got a computer with an IDE cable, and a couple CD-Rs laying around.


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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:42 pm 
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Eckostyle wrote:
Thanks for the help and advice. Decided to softmod it, I'll let you know how it gos. :D


You can also watch Internet content such as Netflix and Hulu through a transcoder like PlayOn. I tried the demo last night, and it actually allows you to browse through each service's categories and what not. It works with any media player that supports UPnP.

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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 10:34 pm 
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Even with the ram/cpu upgrade on an OG xbox you're not going to be able to play most 720p content. With a stock xbox you can play 480p content @ 720p with component cables which will still look great. I also believe with a stock xbox you can play *some* 720p content, but the video needs to not be insanely high bitrate (i forget what it needs to be limited at, but you get the idea) and the audio needs to be DTS. That is your bestbet no matter what you do because DTS is the only thing the xbox can decode via hardware so all of the CPU will go to decoding the video.

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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:38 am 
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My co-worker found some old Xboxs at a hedge shop that's going out of business. It has been 5-6 years since I've been active in the Xbox scene, so I did some digging on some newer software. I found CoinOPS EPIC on Underground Gamer, and it is absolutely fantastic:





It has the best menu I've seen. Other emulators have all the features, but it's hard for novices to navigate around. I had a party last weekend, and my friends had a ball playing all their old favorites. N64 games are kind of laggy, but I think it works better than Surreal64. CoinOPS provides excellent arcade emulation support. My first time around in 2005-2006, that was pretty hard to find. Most games up until 1995-1996 work great — even all the Metal Slugs run well enough.

The package I found on UG has all the videos and games already packaged together, but it's about 18 GB — or much larger than the stock hard drive. If you have an old PATA hard drive laying around, I'd recommend doing a hard drive replacement. You can do one without a hardware mod, but you will need to open the Xbox. Luckily, it's really easy to replace the original hard drive with a larger capacity drive.

I replaced the hard drives with Chimp. That requires a molex splitter, but it was my only option because my computer doesn't support PATA drives. It's much easier, too, because Chimp will clone your existing hard drive and lock the new hard drive in a few easy steps. If your computer does, I'd use Xboxhdm. That requires making a boot cd with files from your original hard drive.

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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:25 pm 
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I installed a 2TB Seagate LP drive in my xbox a couple of years ago. I did so by buying a few cheap Chinese PATA/SATA adapters that fit nicely in with the hard drive. Years later it still works great (and fast).

If you go that big, make sure to use xbpartitioner 1.1 (slightly less buggy and includes 64kb cluster size formatting). Once formatted, verify that your large partition(s) are using 64kb clusters by checking available space before and after ftping a small txt file. If the difference in available space is not 64kb, that means XBP screwed up. Open XBP again and re-format the large partition and re-test, until you verify that it's writing in 64kbs clusters.

If you don't, then at some point data the hard drive will start rewriting data over other data without your knowledge, and will corrupt/overwrite all your files.


@ pixel, great post! Even I didn't know about that.

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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:56 pm 
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DanteJay wrote:
… I did so by buying a few cheap Chinese PATA/SATA adapters …

Hurrrrr, why didn't I think of that? No matter, I guess. I found some old 40 GB PATA drives for free. Either way, I'd still recommend Chimp because of how much easier it is. I hated burning boot CDs and ripping my computer apart — especially when doing multiple Xboxes.

DanteJay wrote:
… If you go that big, make sure to use xbpartitioner 1.1 (slightly less buggy and includes 64kb cluster size formatting). …

Can you exceed the old 137 GB limit that softmodded Xboxes used to have?

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 Post subject: Re: Xbox emulation?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 3:43 pm 
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pixel wrote:
DanteJay wrote:
… I did so by buying a few cheap Chinese PATA/SATA adapters …

Hurrrrr, why didn't I think of that? No matter, I guess. I found some old 40 GB PATA drives for free. Either way, I'd still recommend Chimp because of how much easier it is. I hated burning boot CDs and ripping my computer apart — especially when doing multiple Xboxes.

DanteJay wrote:
… If you go that big, make sure to use xbpartitioner 1.1 (slightly less buggy and includes 64kb cluster size formatting). …

Can you exceed the old 137 GB limit that softmodded Xboxes used to have?


Yeah, that was bypassed many years ago. The old Xbox kernel only supported LBA-28 (limiting to 137GB), but newer hacked kernels/bioses were patched with LBA-48. In an unmodded state, the xbox ignores the F and G partitions and only sees 8GB. In a modded state, the maximum size that can be used on a partition is 1TB, due to 64kb being the largest cluster size that works (folks experimented with 128kb clusters, but it would always mess up). So since you only have two customizable partitions (F and G), realistically the maximum HD you can put in is a 2TB.

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