Do you want to play some of the best Original Xbox games while kicking back on the sofa or heading home on the bus? Sounds like you’ll need our guide on how to emulate the Original Xbox on Steam Deck!
Ah, the Xbox. It’s considered to be one of the best systems ever by many people, with the console featuring exclusives such as the original Halo: Combat Evolved and Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic.
The issue is that it’s also a fairly old system, and technology has evolved a lot since then.
Some of the games have been ported to other systems and are easily accessible, but others are stuck, stranded on the system.
That’s where the Steam Deck comes in, allowing you to emulate all of the stranded Xbox exclusives as if you were playing them on an Xbox itself, but all from the comfort of your own bed.
But how do you set up Xbox emulation on your Steam Deck? What settings do you need to change if you want the best possible experience?
Here’s everything you need to know.
Table of Contents
1. The EmuDeck Method
The EmuDeck Method will install a wide variety of emulators other Xemu, including emulators for the following systems:
- Sega Genesis
- PC Engine
- Nintendo Entertainment System
- Super Nintendo Entertainment System
- Master System
- Neo Geo
- Super NES Widescreen
- Genesis Widescreen
- Game Boy
- Game Boy Advance
- Neo Geo Pocket
- Nintendo DS
- Nintendo 3DS
- Nintendo 64
- Nintendo Wii
- Nintendo GameCube
- PlayStation 1
- PlayStation 2
- PlayStation 3
- Nintendo Wii U
- Nintendo Switch
It’s actually not that difficult to install EmuDeck onto your Steam Deck. The Steam Deck itself is basically open-source, and you’re able to install whatever you want on it as long as you can find a workaround to any potential issues.
To install EmuDeck, just follow the steps below:
- Format one of your SD cards to ext4 or btrfs if you want to store roms on there.
- Download the EmuDeck installer using the Steam Deck browser.
- Copy the EmuDeck installer from your downloads folder to your desktop by dragging and dropping the file.
- Run the file.
- Run through the various steps that EmuDeck gives to you, including selecting exactly what emulators you want installing. It’s not too much of an extra effort to install every single emulator, but if you want you can only install Xemu.
Once you’ve done all this, all you need to do is dump all of your ROMs and firmware onto the Steam Deck. We’ll explain how to do this later in the article.
2. The Alternative Method
The alternative method to installing Xemu through EmuDeck is to find it in the discover store and install it through that.
The big difference is that you don’t get the settings automatically set for you, and have to go through it all yourself.
We’ll explore what you need to do, but if you can’t be bothered you should probably just install it through Emudeck.
There’s also the fact that EmuDeck helps to set up the BIOS files for you when it comes to Xemu, but installing it through the discover store doesn’t do that, and means that you have to find the best settings yourself.
The Best Settings For Xemu On Steam Deck
If you don’t set up Xemu through EmuDeck, then you’ll need to sort out all of the settings yourself. In that case, you’ll want to set the following settings:
- Hard FPU Emulation: Enabled
- Cache Shaders To Disk: Enabled
- Internal Resolution Scale: 1x
- Vertical Refresh Sync: Enabled
- System Memory: 128 MB
- AV Pack: HDTV
One of the more important settings here is the internal resolution scale. Setting it to 1x basically means that it’ll output exactly at the same resolution that the original Xbox would have been outputted at.
There’s no point in setting it any higher than this if you only plan on emulating your Xbox games through handheld mode, but if you own a Dock for your Steam Deck then you should mess around with this setting until the image looks sharp enough on your TV.
Be wary though, as messing around with the settings here could lead to the emulator straight up breaking, especially seeing as Xemu is open-source and completely modifiable by anybody.
Do You Need An Xbox Bios To Run Xemu?
You do. However, it’s incredibly difficult to actually get hold of a Xbox bios, so we’d recommend looking online for one.
There’s an open-source Xbox bios that you can use for emulation purposes, which makes it a whole lot easier to actually play Xemu, as otherwise you’d have to jump through a dozen different steps to get the emulator running.
How Do I Get Games For Xemu?
There’s a few methods. The first, and most immediately obvious, is to look online.
While we can’t link to any sites here, there’s plenty of places out there that host original Xbox games in the hope of game preservation that’ll help you get exactly what you need for Xemu.
You can also dump the ISO files yourself, though the process is incredibly complicated and will require you to watch several YouTube videos to work out how to do, and can obviously only be done if you happen to be a rare person with a computer with a CD drive AND who owns a copy of the game that they want to dump.
How To Have ROMS Appear On Your Steam Deck Home Screen
If you want your ROMs to appear on your Steam Deck home screen, then you’re in luck.
If you’ve installed EmuDeck, then you already have Steam ROM Manager, but otherwise you first need to find this nifty tool in the Discover store.
Once you have it, run the application and simply toggle the systems that you want the ROM Manager to cycle through as it searches for games.
Click preview, then click generate app list. Once you have this, all you need to do is wait for the application to find artwork for the game and then click save app list.
Now you can access your ROMs from the Steam Deck menu, and load them all up from that menu too.
What Games Work With Xemu?
This is the best part. Once you have the ISO’s that you need to actually play the games, you can play over 900 games on Xemu.
It’s an open-source emulator too, and as such is constantly being worked on and iterated upon, so that number just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Eventually, you’ll be able to play every single original Xbox game on the emulator providing that the equipment you’re using is powerful enough and you’re able to get an ISO of the game.
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Ryan is a seasoned retro gaming features writer with bylines at Fanbyte, PCGamesN, Lost In Cult and more. When he’s not writing, you can find him playing retro video games.