If you follow my channel, you know we’ve given the original Xbox a lot of attention over the past few months and deservedly so.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s my favorite console ever.
But what about the successor, the almighty Xbox 360?
That system is a very capable homebrew in emulation scene as well, and we are going to start exploring this system closer.
Many people may not be aware that you can actually mod an Xbox 360.
Now, it wasn’t as easy as the original Xbox. There were two main methods to mod an Xbox 360.
And without any type of softmodding capabilities meant it was harder for the average person to mod the Xbox 360s.
Coupled with the Red Ring of Death issues, it’s fair to say that the community is probably only about 1/4 of the size of the original Xbox community.
But only a modded Xbox 360 can be pretty awesome.
As long as you stay off Xbox Live, you can play games from any region, play homebrew emulators, run Linux and do much more.
And in this video, we’re going to talk about why you need a modded Xbox 360 in 2018.
The Xbox 360 was released in 2006, and Microsoft really learned a lot about the security around the original Xbox
and made certain it was significantly harder to exploit the machine.
Microsoft added the Hypervisor and had one job to provide security around the Xbox 360.
The simple rule about the Hypervisor is: “Nothing is going to get past it, unless the Hypervisor says so.”
Coupled with eFuses, electronic fuses that can be blown programmatically without any way of replacing them,
its purpose is to detect any tampering and remove the ability to ever downgrade a dashboard or kernel firmware.
But as we know, hackers found ways to exploit the system over time.
Early attempts came in the form of the King Kong Shader Exploit, a method to execute unsigned code from a bug found in the Hypervisor.
There was also another angle. By flashing a custom firmware on the DVD drive allowed the booting of backup copies.
But this did not allow any way to run unsigned code or Linux.
Microsoft became aware of this exploit, and took steps to check for this on Xbox Live, and promptly started to ban consoles.
So, after about 3 years or so, people wondered if the Xbox 360 was indeed hack-proof.
But then sometime in 2009, the first JTAG, or SMC, exploit was released.
So, in 2009, the very first exploit was released known as the SMC, or JTAG, hack.
Now, this was a very simple hack to perform.
It only really needed the use of two diodes to be soldered on to your Xbox 360’s motherboard.
Now, the problem with the SMC, or the JTAG, hack was it only worked with systems with Firmware 7371 or lower.
In other words, only Phat consoles were supported with the JTAG hack.
Now, history has shown us that over time,
all older Phat-model Xbox 360s are going to incorporate the Red Ring of Death issue and slowly die a painful death.
Unless you have a Jasper Xbox 360, it’s inevitable that your Xbox 360 is probably going to stop working at some point.
So, coupled with the Red Ring of Death issue and the fact that Microsoft was able to patch the JTAG exploit in subsequent firmware revisions,
this meant that only a small user base was able to experience the JTAG, or SMC, hack on the original Xbox 360.
Now in 2011, the second and more popular exploit known as the Reset Glitch Hack, or RGH, was discovered.
And this, essentially, is a very simple modification to do as well.
And what you’re actually doing with the RGH is you’re sending small electrical pulses to the CPU’s reset line
in order to glitch the Xbox 360 to run unsigned code.
Over the years, I’ve owned a few JTAG consoles, but, sadly, they’ve all died.
So, in around 2012, I performed the Reset Glitch Hack on this Xbox Silm that I use for my modded system.
So let’s talk about what makes the modded Xbox 360 with owning in 2018.
When you modify your Xbox 360, you have the ability to install a custom dashboard.
There are a few different options here. But I prefer Freestyle Dash for the most complete experience.
Freestyle Dash has a fairly simple to use interface and has the usual set of options a custom dashboard has,
including an FTP server, file manager, the ability to adjust your fan speeds.
Freestyle Dash is also skinnable and has the ability to download covers and title updates for each game you decide to play and more.
Sadly, Freestyle Dash is no longer in active development, and, unfortunately, no source code was released for it.
I’ve always had a problem with not being able to make backup copies of games that you actually own.
So, with a custom dashboard, you can easily rip your game to your Xbox 360 hard drive.
With Freestyle Dash, simply select the “Copy DVD” option and follow the on-screen instructions.
Now, keep in mind, because games are larger. Ripping them to your hard drive may take some time.
And you’ll end up with a fully playable backup without the need to keep the original disc inserted as a DRM protection measure.
One of the main reasons for modding your Xbox 360 is that it opens up the ability to play games from any region.
If you are into shooters, you probably know who cave is.
They released much of their later titles exclusively to the Xbox 360.
And, in some instances, game titles were region-locked to Japan only.
But there are other region-lock games out there as well. So, in order to play these games you need a Japan-region Xbox 360,
or, if you have a modded console, you can enjoy region-free gaming without any lockouts at all.
The Xbox 360 has backward compatibility with the original Xbox. Around 50% of titles are supported at varying levels of performance.
And you can use a hacked update of the emulator that runs many more games,
ranging from poorly to almost perfectly, if you have a modded Xbox.
Overall I’d say it’s a 70% and a 75% success rate.
Now, I made a video on this very topic in a lot more detail a couple of months ago.
So, check it out, if you want more info on how to run hack backward-compatibility files on your Xbox 360.
So, let’s be real. The main reason you probably want to mod an Xbox 360 is to play emulators and homebrew.
Now, because the original Xbox was x86-based, it was such a great console to port software to.
The Xbox 360 emulation scene, however, was not as prevalent.
But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t as good. The biggest problem with emulators on the Xbox 360 was due to the PowerPC architecture.
It meant there were significant performance implications, and those who ported code to the Xbox 360 (myself included),
found out pretty quickly that things didn’t run very well at all without significant optimization.
And remember how I mentioned that the Hypervisor was the all-seeing almighty gatekeeper of code.
Well, it made it almost impossible to allocate a block of memory and mark it as executable.
Something that’s crucial to building an emulator with a dynamic recompiler, or dynarec.
It’s fair to say that the emulation on the Xbox 360 had a very slow start.
But, once it got going, we really saw some good emulator ports. The original Xbox introduced pixel shaders,
but these were static and they were baked into the code. The Xbox 360 and DirectX 9 really takes shaders to the next level.
Pixel shaders were used in many different filters for emulation without any performance hits on the CPU.
And, once developers came to terms with the multi-threaded architecture of the Xbox 360’s processor,
that’s when we saw emulators really start to shine.
Let’s take a look at a couple of my favorite emulators for the Xbox 360 and how well they run.
Genesis 360 is a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive emulator that was ported pretty early on and supports PAL, NTSC, and plays very well.
It even supports the Sega SVP chip. So, Virtua Racing will run.
But, sadly, this emulator does not support Sega CD and 32X games.
FBA Next is a port of Final Burn Alpha to the Xbox 360.
I ported this emulator back in 2012,
and it’s a fully-loaded arcade emulator that plays in many different arcade formats.
It even supports PC Engine and Sega Mega Drive hardware, but I would recommend you stick to dedicated emulators for both.
However, the real reason to use this emulator is for the excellent emulation of Capcom CPS1, CPS2, and CPS3 hardware.
IGS PGM hardware is also included and has support for later cave shooters, such as S-Galuda, Katsui and Dodonpachi.
FBA Next also supports pixel shaders and arcade sticks, as well as Neo Geo CD and six-lock multislot Neo Geo emulation as well.
It’s a very awesome emulator and one worth checking out.
SNES 360 is a port of Snes90x to the Xbox 360.
While it is not as complete as some of the Xbox Original SNES emulators, it does maintain a high level of compatibility,
supports all custom chips, has save states and everything else you would expect for a Super NES emulator on the Xbox 360.
I ported MAME 0.72 to the Xbox 360. The reason? This was the last revision of MAME that had the DCS sound hacks,
which significantly slowed down emulation of Midway games, such as Mortal Kombat 2 & 3, and other games, such as NBA Jam.
MAME 0.72 on the Xbox 360 is a great arcade emulator.
If you combine this with FBA Next, then you have a very large list of arcade games to play.
I shouldn’t mention there is no save state support in MAME 0.72 on the Xbox 360,
but it does support pixel shaders and runs at a very good framerate, as you can see.
Earlier, I talked about backward compatibility with original Xbox games. But did you know you can also run,
with some success, original Xbox emulators in homebrew?
One of my go-tools is the X68000 emulator for the original Xbox.
Considering the price of acquiring such a unit,
emulation is a good way to get familiar with the games and system before you take the plunge.
It runs very well under backward-compatibility emulation with the hacked emulator, and this is one emulator that I use frequently.
So, what about Nintendo 64 emulation? After all, it runs on the original Xbox with 64 MB of RAM on a 733 MHz processor.
Surely, the Xbox 360 can run a fantastic Nintendo 64 emulation experience, right?
Well, kinda. Mupen-360 is a port of the open source movement emulator for the Xbox 360.
It’s compiled with a LibXenon which is the environment that targets the Xbox 360 version of Linux which is known as Xe.l.
LibXenon is a open source and completely free native development environment for the Xbox 360.
Xe.l comes standard with most RGH and JTAG firmwares, and a simple press of the Eject button, when you power on your Xbox 360, will boot to Xe.l.
Mupen-360 runs pretty well. But it’s clear that LibXenon itself, sadly, is not complete and it has an effect on the emulator.
Mupen-360 runs at a good framerate it uses their dynamic recompiler and there are some stutters and slowdown at times.
But it’s clear that the emulator is not finished. First of all, there’s no way to adjust the aspect ratio to its correct for three dimensions.
Game compatibility is lower than where it should be.
For example, the two games I tried, Turok 2 and Conker’s Bad Fur Day did not load.
There’s also a very noticeable graphics tearing.
This is very distracting at times, and it’s a byproduct of LibXenon not having a proper double buffer or V-Sync implementation.
But still even with all this, the staple games, such as Mario 64, Mario Kart, 1080 Snowboarding,
Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Smash Bros. and more all seem to run pretty well.
Mupen-360 is also open source on GitHub. So, maybe, we’ll see some updates, too, in the future.
And, finally, this isn’t a comprehensive list. There are other very good emulators that run on the Xbox 360.
If you have any personal favorites, let me know in the comments below. And, in conclusion, while the modding scene on the Xbox 360 had its problems getting started.
Once developers got to grips with the hardware, some of the best homebrew and emulators were developed for the system.
And, if you haven’t discovered the fun and awesomeness of a modded Xbox 360, then maybe you should think about checking one out in 2018.
That’s all for this video, guys. I hope you enjoyed it. Once again, let me know in the comments below.
As always, don’t forget to Like and subscribe, and I’ll catch you guys in the next video.
Bye for now.