Published on April 7, 2021    Updated on March 25, 2022

How to Play Original Xbox Games On Your Windows PC - Xemu Emulator Guide

Playing Classic Xbox games on your PC is quite easy when using the right tools, in our case the Xemu emulator!

7 min    28 Comments    Views

In this guide, we will be delving into how you can play your Original Xbox Games on your Windows PC.

The Original Xbox was Microsoft’s first foray into the gaming console market. The latter competed with the PlayStation 2, the Sega Dreamcast ( which ultimately went downhill before the Xbox went on sale), and the Gamecube. Microsoft’s console introduced a handful of capabilities that made it a worthy competitor with Sony’s PlayStation 2. For example, much better graphics quality compared to the PS2, online play thanks to Xbox Live,  and the ability to play games online with or without a broadband connection.

Despite the success of the original Xbox, it took many years for an emulator capable of running games. Years after years, a myriad of emulators began to emerge. But once again, none of them was capable of running the games at a playable state. As a result, many went inactive, and nothing was heard ever since.

It was until 2021 that the emulation scene would finally witness a potential Xbox emulator capable of eventually running every title on the system. Each update brings the emulator closer to making the dream become true. The emulator which I am talking about is XEMU. Read all about the emulator down below.

Notice: I try to constantly update each emulator guide to be as accurate, helpful and fun to read as possible. Please if you notice any problem, don’t hesitate to swarm me with your input. Thank you.

What is Xemu Emulator?

Xemu is a free open-source and cross-platform Xbox emulator by Matt Borgerson continuing much of the work done on XQEMU. The emulator focuses on stability, performance, and ease of use.

Is Xemu Emulator Safe?

Xemu is perfectly safe. It’s active and always updated by the developers. The emulator has its own official website and a Youtube channel which gives the impression that we’re dealing with a legit emulator.

Is Xemu Demanding?

So far, the emulator can be demanding at times, but nothing too intensive such as RPCS3. On my i5 10400F, the usage hovers around 30% and 60%. However, if you plan to emulate titles such as Ninja Gaiden: Black, Far Cry: Instincts, Panzer Dragoon: Orta, and Blinx: The Time Sweeper you’ll see an increase in usage as well, as these games are demanding. Bear in mind that the games I’ve mentioned are not perfect as they suffer from several issues.

Xemu Emulator System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7/10 64bit
  • GPU: DirectD11 and above ( Basically from GTX 900 series and above)
  • CPU: Any CPU with more than 4 cores and 6 threads will save you from lag
  • 32-bit (x86) Visual C++ 2019 Redistributable is a necessity

Where Can I Download Xemu From?

The emulator can be downloaded from the official Github page right here. Since we’re talking about Windows here, click on the download icon that has a Windows logo on it. On the one hand, if you’re using Mac or Linux, click on the system you’re currently using.

UPDATE: The Github link has been altered and was updated to avoid confusion.  You can either download the emulator from the official website right here or Github using this link. You can choose what suits you better.

Finally, once you’ve downloaded Xemu, put it in your desired folder, extract the 7zip file, and it should look like this:

Side Note: Once you’ve extracted the 7-zip/Winrar file, you only get two things: Xemu and a License file. I created separate files so it’s easy to setup the emulator. The files I personally made are:

  • Bios
  • C-Xbox Tool
  • HDD Image
  • ISO Creation
  • ROMs

How to Setup Xemu Emulator?

If this is the first time you’re using Xemu, you should know that the emulator won’t boot up without a BIOS, an MCPX Boot ROM Image, and an HDD Image. Without those, you’ll be having a hard time running the emulator.

So, where do you get those you may ask? For the HDD Image, you can get it from the Xemu GitHub page as it’s free and legal to use. Scroll down until you see ” Hard Disk Drive Image “.

For the BIOS and the MCPX Boot ROM Image, you’ll be obliged to have the original hardware and rip all of that from it. I’m pretty sure if you’re not new to the internet, you may find the files somewhere.

Once you download the files, create a BIOS folder inside your emulator directory, and paste the files over there. After you do that, you’ll see something like this:

The BIOS files also include the MCPX Boot ROM Image which saves you from spending the time looking for it. You’re set now after getting those, but it’s not over yet.

Note: Here’s how it’s done. Go to Machine > Settings. This will show up, then browse for each file.

How To Convert ISO Into XISO?

One thing anyone attempting to play the Original Xbox games on PC should know is that you can’t run ISO files using Xemu. You’ll have to create the ISO then convert it to XISO. Check the full explanation below.

How to Create An ISO?

C-Xbox Tool is a must when emulating the Original Xbox console. Without it, you won’t play any game. The tool can be downloaded from GBAtemp. Place it wherever you want and boot it up. Next, once booted, you’ll see a screen like the one above.

The first thing to know about the C-Xbox tool is that if you want to extract an ISO, the Winrar or 7-zip file you have at hand may not be readable by the program. What you should do at this moment is follow this short explanation below you:

1. Open C-Xbox Tool
2. Go to ISO Creation as indicated above
3. A small window will pop up
4. Navigate to where your 7-zip/Winrar file is. You must have extracted your ISO in order for it to be visible.
5. Select it and the process of creating the ISO file will begin
6. Wait until it’s finished
7. Done

In this guide, I showed how I tested the method on the Gunvalkyrie game. Below, I’ll also show that it boots and plays fine.

How To Boot A Game Using Xemu?

To load your game using Xemu, simply launch your emulator. Head to Load Disc, navigate to the location of your extracted ISO and hit reset. The game should boot up afterwards.

Here is a small demonstration of me booting Gunvalkyrie after I have followed the c-Xbox tool method. And as you can see, it works fine.

Xemu’s Emulator Compatibility List

Before you try any game on the emulator, it’s highly recommended to check the compatibility list on Xemu’s official website. That way, you’ll save yourself the hardship of booting a game that is either ” Broken “, ” Starts “, or a game that will only demonstrate an ” Intro ” before it crashes.

How to Setup A Controller on Xemu?

Configuring your controller using Xemu is easy and it doesn’t require any mapping as far as my tests went. To set up your controller: Go to Machine > Input. a small window should pop up. Like this:

Alternatively, if you don’t have a controller, you can use your keyboard. One thing I should note is that if your controller supports XInput, the emulator will map it for you as an Xbox controller.

How To Make Your Games Look Great on Xemu?

The latest updates have included major features that’ll make your experience with XEMU far better than the original console. I was one of those people who were waiting for such features. Without further cackling, let’s jump into what’s new.

Render Scale

This is what you see when you’re playing at native resolution without using any enhancements. Completely pixelated and may be difficult to play for those who grew up with everything on HD. Below, I’ll show how the game looks when using the Rendering Scale put to 3.

As you can see, the Rendering Scale set to 3 makes your game look less pixelated, clearer and much better. Xemu allows up to 10x in Render Scale, but that requires a high-end GPU. If you’re using a low-end computer, setting the Render Scale to 4 is enough to provide you with a great experience.

Scaling Mode

Xemu now has a scaling mode that includes a widescreen 16:9 hack. You could also stretch the ratio to fit with your screen. Goodbye to the boxed screen that is now a thing of the past.

Full Screen

You can now use XEMU in full screen by either going to View, Full Screen. Or, press CTRL+Alt+F on your keyboard.

How to Update Xemu?

Every once in a while, Xemu receives an update. Luckily, you don’t have to go through the hassle of looking for the new version as the emulator will always make sure to let you know a new release is ready. Click Update, and you’re good to go.

Conclusion

This guide covered how to play your favourite original Xbox games on your PC using XEMU. We hope the guide helped you.

FreeckyCake

Just your average gamer who enjoys hunting hidden gems and underrated games - but still open to any game in the industry if you ask me! My favorite game is Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams and nothing comes close to it to this very day IMO. I highly recommend you to play it!

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28 responses to “How to Play Original Xbox Games On Your Windows PC – Xemu Emulator Guide”

  1. Kanra says:

    Is this guide inaccurate now? I followed every step and my ISO, both in the winrar archive, and unzipped won’t show up in the ISO creation prompt, the folders just appear empty. I can’t extract the ISO with C-Xbox Tool 2.0.7 either.

    • FreeckyCake says:

      The guide is accurate and has been updated 2 weeks ago. It solved many confusions and grammatical errors. Please, check the comment of the user called Bacon, below. He included additional info that can help you. If that doesn’t work, then I’m afraid the problem is from your end because I’ve been using this program daily for months and have had no issues whatsoever.

  2. GamingSL0TH says:

    Hey, you mention you need to extract the ISO file. How do you initially get the game file on the PC? I keep looking online but I can’t find anything, any help would be appreciated. Many thanks

    • FreeckyCake says:

      You have two choices:

      1. Either buy an Original Xbox console and get the games off eBay then dump them using various methods.
      2. Or you can look for the ROM online by googling Xbox Roms. There’s also a subreddit on Reddit titled r/Roms which can help you find any game you want. I hope I helped you.

  3. Lando says:

    Maybe there’s been an update to Xemu, but after unzipping the file I only have LICENSE.txt and xemu.exe. The picture you have in the guide looks nothing like what I actually get. Also, the main GitHub page no longer has download buttons, so that’s changed since as well.

    • FreeckyCake says:

      Edited.
      Also, I explained further in the ” How to Setup Xemu ” section that I’ve made several folders. However, I made sure to repeat that early in the guide so that it creates less confusion. I also updated the link to download Xemu. I hope it’s all good now.

  4. radar12 says:

    This doesn’t make any sense. Getting to use the C-Xbox tool flat out doesn’t work., It won’t find any 7-zip files at all. I’ve seen the replies you’ve given in the thread, followed those but each time the app won’t find the 7-zip file so I can’t proceed. Going to ISO creation and navigating to were to zip file is doesn’t work because no zipped file shows up at all.

    • FreeckyCake says:

      Please check the updated guide now. I made it as simple as I could. Let me know if your issue has been solved. 🙂

    • Bacon says:

      You extract the zipped file, and you should have a folder (normally the name of the game) and then you use THAT folder to make the ISO.
      If yours only has media and another file, make a new folder and name it whatever, and place those 2x files into that folder and then try create the ISO with C-Xbox tool.

  5. Danielthornburg1991 says:

    Tried absolutely everything, and still, does nothing. Keeps saying “Insert Disk” despite using the XBE file. The Xbox Emulator is dead to me.

    • FreeckyCake says:

      Make sure you picked the appropriate BIOS files.

    • nhf7170 says:

      Have you tried ejecting the disk(.iso) (even if there’s nothing loaded), then inserting the disk. It’s like opening the cd tray on an actual console in order to insert the disk.

  6. LazyBear says:

    Hi, and thanks for your guide!
    I have the following problem : I don’t have any EEPROM File, and when I leave it blank, Windows returns me an “Assertion failed!” error from C++ runtime library.
    Any idea where this problem could come from ?
    Thanks again

    • FreeckyCake says:

      Hello, and no problem!

      If I remember correctly, the EEPROM File is located in C/Users/yourpcname/appdata/roaming/xemu. It will show up when you boot the emulator for the first time. Without it, I’m afraid the emulator won’t boot. However, if you can’t find the EEPROM file, a quick Reddit search will lead you to it.

      • LazyBear says:

        Thank you for your quick answer. Actually, Xemu website tells you that if you don’t provide an EEPROM file, Xemu will generate one. But it doesn’t, just the “Assertion failed!” error. I tried to search on reddit or via Google, but I couldn’t find any file to download. It looks like each EEPROM file is specific to each device.
        I tried to generate one using Xbox EEPROM editor, but Xemu doesn’t even bother to try to load it. I’m a bit puzzled here, I wonder how it works for the people who can actually use Xemu. Which EEPROM file did they use ? Did Xemu generated one for them ?
        The Xemu website explains that the Assertion Failed error message might appear, but they don’t explain why, or what should be done to solve the issue…

        • LazyBear says:

          I found the problem! Xemu tries to create the file in a default directory which for me is C:\Users\Stéphane\AppData\Roaming\xemu
          In this path, you will notice the ‘é’ which is an accented character. Xemu can’t handle paths with such characters, hence the error.
          I tried to create another guest user on my computer without an accented character and launch Xemu : no more EEPROM file creation problem!

  7. Ayto says:

    I dont understand the step where you extract isos. For example I downloaded halo ce, but there is nothing I can select with the extracting programme

    • FreeckyCake says:

      1. Download your game
      2. Don’t extract using 7-zip or Winrar because nothing would show up, and even if it does, the emulator won’t be able to read that.
      3. Put your ISO in a familiar folder.
      4. Download the C-Xbox Tool as shown in the article.
      5.Click ” ADD” then select your downloaded ISO
      6.Choose where you want the XBE (the converted ISO file) to be extracted to and hit “Start” on your right
      7. Wait until it’s finished
      8.Launch your emulator
      9.Navigate to your extracted ISO and select it.
      10. Hit reset on your emulator, you’re good to go.

      If you are facing any difficulties, let me know!

      • LazyBear says:

        In my case, the latest version of Xemu (0.6.0) does ask for an .iso file.
        I was able to launch “Halo COmbat Evolved” today from the Halo .iso file.
        Actually I had the extracted version on my PC with the .xbe file, but it wouldn’t open it, so I used the C-xbox Tool to create an iso from the folder where were all my files.

        • FreeckyCake says:

          I’m glad it worked for you, and good job figuring out the problem and solving it. It feels great, eh? :p

          So, everything is working great?

          And since you’re using Xemu, I recommend Jet Set Radio Future!

          • LazyBear says:

            Yup, very satisfying to find the solution!
            I owned an Xbox back then, and Jet Set Radio Future was one of the games I had! 😉

            • FreeckyCake says:

              I’m glad, enjoy!

              I may write an article about the best & most underappreciated titles on the original Xbox in the foreseeable future. Hopefully, you’ll get the chance to see it, and who knows, maybe you’ll discover titles you missed up back then ^_^

      • Hbagz says:

        every time we extract our 7zip there is no iso file. You say to use c-Xbox tool to extract the iso, but it’s in the 7zip (I guess?) so how can I access it to cxbox it?
        Do I make sense? I have 0 iso files at all 😅
        Thankss

        • FreeckyCake says:

          Let’s say you have your game, right?. You’ll see a WinRAR/7zip file. Don’t extract it because nothing will show up. Instead, what you should do is this:
          1. Take the WinRAR/7zip file
          2. launch the c-Xbox tool
          3. Click on add, choose the Winrar file
          4. Choose which folder you want it to be extracted to
          5. Hit start and wait for it to finish
          6. Now go to where the XBE file has been extracted to
          7. Done.

          I hope this helped you.

          • ThighHiDemise says:

            Thanks for posting this guide first of all and Second, when trying to add the 7zip file to have c-tool extract it, the tool is only trying to find XDFS iso’s and the 7zip file doesn’t show up at all.

            • FreeckyCake says:

              Thank you for reading as well!

              The solution to that issue as sometimes certain 7zip files won’t show up. What you should do is this:

              1. Open c-xbox Tool
              2. ISO Creation
              3. Navigate to where your unzipped file is
              4. Create the ISO file
              5. Wait until it’s finished
              6. Now go to ISO Extraction. Click it and navigate to where your ISO is located.
              7. Send your extracted ISO to your desired folder
              8. Wait for it to finish
              9. You’re done, enjoy!

              I will be updating this guide since Xemu has gotten new features and improvements, so I hope it helps everybody. Let me know if the fix worked 🙂

  8. mkm says:

    its confusing first you said extract the iso file and then you said load disc image again, so i dont want to run .xbe file?

    • FreeckyCake says:

      It’s simple
      Launch the app that you use to extract the ISO in order for it to be readable by the emulator. Since ISO cannot be read by XEMU or CXBX Reloaded, you need the file to be extracted. So, once you extract that ISO of the game to a certain location. You boot the extracted file, and you’re good to go. Unless if you ripped the disc from your console, I don’t think you need to go through all that.

      If you’re still confused, let me know, and I’ll assist you with further help :).

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