Hacking the Original Xbox and how it is the Best Home Arcade

Those of you who have followed me since the vgmastersclub.com days may remember that I had a custom MAME full sized arcade with a computer in it. The system ran pretty much anything I could throw at it, however over the years it ran into the issue that all computers do; updates bogging it down to a snails pace combined with incompatibility problems. That led me to using it less and less over the years. I even broke down the arcade into a sit down to make it more accessible, which still didn’t result in any extra play time. I’d say my last time playing it was around when I published my X68000 article, but that was short lived as well. It was a sad time.

During the winter/spring of 2014, a buddy of mine provided me with a hacked original xbox. It played NES perfectly on a CRT and could rip original xbox games to the small stock hard drive for quicker access and loading. As much as I enjoyed it, I have any NES game I could want to play on real cartridge and the original xbox was pretty far back on the list in my backlog as a console, so it was only marginally cool to me. Because of that, the xbox sat in a tote unused for months; that was until I read an article online about this crazy emulator for a hacked xbox that could emulate arcade games pretty much perfectly. Knowing that the xbox was a more powerful system then my old Windows machine the I used to have in my arcade, I had my hopes up. However I had no idea what was in store for me!

The program that I read about was called xbmc and was an all encompassing media center for the xbox that could play movies and play a handful of systems, including the arcade. The thing is that I was pretty much only interested in was the arcade and it apparently wasn’t as good as the article said. Upon researching xbox arcade emulation further I found a forum dedicated to two projects called Coinops and Vision.

Coinops is a huge database that can display and play a variety of systems all with video previews and marquees. Vision is more flashy and has tons of graphics popping up all over, with videos, but is limited on how many games are in it. Because I would rather have more games, I chose to install Coinops. I also researched how to upgrade the hard drive and it was pretty easy so I threw in a 250GB in it.

Coinops is a beast! Not only does it have every arcade game, but I was able to put in every NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, PS1, SMS, TG16 and even obscure consoles, handhelds and computers. After going through and deleting games that I’d never play, I’m at about 5000 games!

The best part of this project is that all of the games and emulators within Coinops are optimized to run perfectly on the Xbox. That is a huge upgrade from my MAME arcade with Windows XP.

I normally play this on a CRT in my gaming room, but I am meaning to try this out on my 4K UHD TV since it has a game mode. My test is using Super Mario Bros and seeing if there is any control lag at all. If not, then it will be golden!

Never before have I had such an all encompassing machine to play games on. It is so close to the actual consoles that I am very tempted to make this my method of play when I have to move next. Only time will tell…..

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1 Response to Hacking the Original Xbox and how it is the Best Home Arcade

  1. Danny says:

    Just found your article. I have an old XBOX I am looking to play around with. I would love to do this to it. I was wondering does this have the capability to play any of the golden tee games? Also I was looking to turn this into a server of sorts as well. I just got a Raspberry Pi 3 I am goofing around with and thought it would be cool to store programs and videos on the Xbox and be able to pull them off and watch them on the Pi 3. I am using the Pi 3 as a media center running OpenElec.


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