XCAT – A Huge Win for Xbox Preservation

XCAT Start Screen

Imagine, if you will: You are hosting a get-together with a bunch of college friends that you haven’t seen in 20 years. The group always used to get wild drunk and boot up your then-new Xbox to play “Karaoke Revolution”. The highlight of these nights was always your friend Jessica absolutely nailing Girls Just Want to Have Fun with the confidence of an American Idol finalist and the singing skill of an alley cat. You take the Xbox out of storage, hook it up to the TV, and make sure it properly turns on — since you had heard so much about the original Xbox’s issue with the clock capacitor killing motherboards. After spending the rest of the day cleaning your house, guests finally arrive and the party goes swimmingly. Eventually, it’s time to turn up the fun with some karaoke and show off your new singing “skills” you had practiced in the shower for the last week. The game boots up and you expertly navigate the menus on auto-pilot, using the muscle memory of yesteryear. But something is amiss. You can’t seem to find Cyndi Lauper’s smash hit anywhere. A couple minutes of frantic double checking goes by and you sheepishly tell the group you can’t find the song. The night takes a somber hit, your friends are disappointed, and Jessica is sobbing into her pink margarita. Did you take wrong turn in the menus? Was the song on another game? No. You’re a victim of unarchived DLC!

Although an extremely specific example above of a missing DLC song, it’s not hard to imagine yourself in a situation where you want to play content that was only ever offered as online-only DLC. In most cases, you could wave the black flag and a five minute Google search will turn up a copy of the DLC (that you had previously purchased, of course) for you to download and put on your modded Xbox. But what happens if nobody ever bothered to save the DLC? Or if you are French and the game had French-specific DLC? Or if you have the DLC but not the correct title update installed? This is the case with many pieces of content for the original Xbox since the original incarnation of Xbox Live was shut down in 2010. Enter, XCAT.

What is Xbox Content Archive Tool (XCAT)?

XCAT is a brand new tool that allows anyone to participate directly in preservation for the original Xbox. With a modded or unmodded Xbox, you can run the app and, by following the on-screen prompts to start it, it will scan your hard drive for unarchived content (DLC, dashboard skins, Xbox Live MOTD files, and game mods) and upload only unknown files to the XCAT team for processing. I want to emphasize that this process is extremely simple and requires no technical knowledge to run.

You may be wondering how a homebrew app such as this could run on an unmodified original Xbox. Put simply, you run it from a memory unit and it utilizes the new ENDGAME exploit to run XCAT without actually installing any mods to the system. Once the Xbox is rebooted, it is still a completely stock console.

The latest version of XCAT can be downloaded from the release post on Digiex.

What’s still missing?

Harcroft, the main man behind the drive for Xbox DLC preservation, has been cataloging Xbox DLC and updates and creating offline installers for them for over 16 years. He created a large list of known DLC on the ConsoleMods wiki which is actively updated when a DLC is located.

Beyond officially-available data preservation, there is an unknowable amount of community created dashboard skins, mod packs, and trainers from back in the day which are also being catalogued.


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Whether you are just a regular person with a single Xbox or a game store owner who sees many consoles in a week, consider taking a few minutes to download and run XCAT to check if you have any long-lost files. With some luck, we’ll be able to find all known DLC and maybe next time Jessica can give her signature performance.