In a story that blends next-gen and retro gaming, Microsoft has confirmed more details regarding the future of its backwards compatibility efforts with Xbox Series X. For a feature produced by the team at Digital Foundry, Microsoft demonstrated an OG Xbox title running at sixteen times its original rendering resolution with HDR output on its new Series X platform. While current-gen Xbox hardware can run original Xbox software at higher resolutions, and we have seen HDR patched in to supported 360 titles (e.g., Mirror’s Edge), this is the first time we’ve seen HDR implemented in an OG Xbox title. Details are still thin on the ground and only one title was demonstrated—Fusion Frenzy—but the impression from DF’s coverage is that this upgrade in fidelity would be available across the entire OG Xbox library of supported backwards compatible titles. To see DF’s coverage on this specific topic, head to around 25:08 on this video:
The unfortunate downside to all of this is that this backwards compatibility layer only supports only 39 titles as of this article; a far cry from the roughly 1,000 releases for the OG Xbox. This is par for the course when it comes to Microsoft’s backwards compatibility efforts though, which have always been implement through software instead of hardware. While the upside is that this approach can yield improved fidelity and performance, broad compatibility is rarely featured and a great many important titles are left behind. Still, remember that the Xbox One is the only console currently available that actually supports physical media from previous generations, which is an approach that has ramifications for the medium as a whole.
For those of you interested in preserving the original Xbox experience, projects from within the retro community are providing all kinds of solutions to keep your consoles running. First and foremost though, I cannot overstate the importance of removing your clock capacitor as soon as possible. On Xbox revisions from 1.0 through 1.5, the clock capacitor has a tendency to leak corrosive electrolytic fluid all over your motherboard, which can lead to irreparable damage. v1.6 motherboards don’t have this exact problem but I have seen plenty of leaky caps from every revision of the console, so check your hardware.
Console5 sells a replacement capacitor kit for each revision, which is well worth your time to install if you have the ability. I personally wouldn’t replace the clock capacitor though; it’s only real function was to maintain the clock in the event of a power outage, and I’m not that bothered by needing to re-enter the time and date every now and then.
Other interesting projects to keep an eye out for:
Chimeric Systems’ HDMI Adapter: Pulls video from the component output and layers in the optical audio stream too. IMO, the best no-mod solution for HDMI output from an original system. Currently unavailable, but it sounds like these come and go in waves.
Rhyzee’s internal digital-to-digital HDMI mod: Haven’t heard anything about this in a long time. While it should provide the best output from the Xbox, there’s no guarantee this’ll be released any time soon.
Consoles4you Xbox2Wii YPbPr adapter: Getting component video from an original Xbox at this point is a bit of a grind, but Beyonpixels covered this hardware for RetroRGB a few months back and seemed to be happy with it. If you can’t get a hold of official Xbox component video cables, there’s a good chance this will be better than the knockoff $5 eBay cables out there.
Chimeric Systems’ OGX360 adapter: A really interesting controller adapter for the OG Xbox. While it’s awesome that it’ll let you use Xbox 360 and even Xbox One controllers with the OG Xbox, my favourite feature is that you can use the Chatpad to control Steel Battalion without its massive custom interface (which still totally rules btw).