The Xbox Series S and Series X can now run retro emulators through RetroArch, and performance is excellent
The Xbox Series S is by far the weakest console of the current generation, but there’s a new trick up its sleeve that may entice some gamers, particularly those interested in emulating retro consoles.
Thanks to the console’s Developer Mode, some intrepid coders have gotten the popular emulator frontend Retro Arch to run on the console. After setting the Xbox Series S into Developer Mode, users can install the Unified Windows Platform (UWP) version of Retro Arch through the console’s web browser. Once Retro Arch is installed, it’s a simple matter to configure controls and add ROMs.
YouTuber Modern Vintage Gamer tested several emulators on his Xbox Series S via Retro Arch. Highlights include the Dolphin emulator (for Nintendo GameCube and Wii games), the Beetle emulator (for Sega Saturn games), the Reicast emulator (for Sega Dreamcast games), and more. The Xbox Series S runs several notoriously difficult-to-emulate games like Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 2 (GameCube), Panzer Dragoon Zwei (Sega Saturn), and Skies of Arcadia (Sega Dreamcast) fluidly. There are some hiccups (like GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64), but it seems that most titles run at a steady framerate without issue.
There are some major caveats. First and foremost, getting an Xbox Series S into Developer Mode isn’t straightforward. Users must register their console with Microsoft and pay a one-time fee of US$20. Additionally, a console in Developer Mode cannot play retail Xbox games. While it is fairly easy to switch the console back and forth between its Developer and Retail Modes, both modes cannot be active at the same time. As such, gamers that want to play retro games through emulation and current-gen titles will have to regularly flip their console between the modes, which is cumbersome.
What are your thoughts on the emulation capabilities of the Xbox Series S and Series X? Let us know in the comments.