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Original Xbox Tricks

Preamble

Modding a gaming console means you make some changes to its system. This usually boils down to running pirated games, but there’s much more to it. For example the original, unaltered Xbox only allows you to run games from the DVD which is waaay too slow and inconvenient compared to the hard drive. Also, certain alternate dashboards offer great multimedia capabilities which make these decade-old boxes a great jukebox even today. Traditionally they used to install a specific chip on the console motherboard but some clever bastards found a way to hack the system without any modchip. Since the modding only requires software to be added it’s called softmodding.

Once you softmodded your Xbox, you’ll need games and apps to make use of it.

If you’re using an LCD TV, chances are, you want HD display, which is also possible.

Once you start to utilize the console you’ll need a good amount of hard drive storage for which I’ll show you how to upgrade it.

And lastly, if you want to play some good old NES games, you’ll also have the chance to do that.

Softmodding

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time to complete: 30 min

To softmod your original Xbox you’ll need the following hardware:

  • An original, first-generation Xbox. It needs to have a working DVD drive.
  • An old USB stick. This is really a trial-n-error procedure, for me it took 7 (!) thumb drives to finally find one that actually works. The SanDisk Cruzer Edge 4GB is said to be supported.
  • A female USB to Xbox converter cable. The Xbox controllers use the USB protocol but connect via a non-standard port so you need an adapter.
  • An original (not “Platinum”, “Classics” or any other re-issue) copy of the very first Splinter Cell. The cover is supposed to look like this. You also need to make sure the format matches your Xbox (PAL vs NTSC). MechAssault or 007:Agent Under Fire should also work but I only used Splinter Cell so I’m only gonna cover that.

On the software side you’ll need the following:

Once you obtained all this stuff, you can proceed with the actual softmodding.

Games and Apps

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time to complete: 15 min

So now you have softmodded your Xbox but it obviously needs games and apps to be usable. The utils you’ll need:

  • Qwix: Xbox ISO management application used for uploading games from the PC to the Xbox.
  • DVD2Xbox: app for ripping game discs to the hard drive.
  • Total Commander: file manager and FTP client.

HD Display

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time to complete: 10 min

The Xbox is capable of 720p but you’ll need a special cable and some configuration to make it work. Grab the following gear:

And the following software:

Hard Drive Upgrade

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Time to complete: 45 min

Upgrading the Xbox hard drive requires some technical skills but don’t be afraid, I’ll show it to you step-by-step and it’s well worth the effort. On the hardware front you’ll need:

And the following software:

  • Chimp: disk cloning utility.

Nintendo NES Games

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time to complete: 10 min

The Xbox can play NES games just fine. You only need an emulator and some game ROMs:

  • FCEUltraX: Nintendo NES emulator for the Xbox.
  • NES ROMs: the actual games – you may find something here.
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