How the Universal Windows Platform let an N64 emulator sneak onto the Xbox One

In previous generations, if you wanted to emulate one game console on another, you’d generally have to use some sort of jailbreak or hack to install unauthorized homebrew apps on the system. Today, thanks in part to Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform, you can download a Nintendo 64 emulator to your Xbox One directly from Microsoft’s official store.

W64e10 (a port of the GNU open source Mupen64plus) has been available for Windows 10 and Windows Mobile devices for a few months through the Windows Store. The latest v 2.1.0.0.1 update to the $10 app extends that platform support to the Xbox One. That’s possible thanks to the UWP program, announced earlier this year partly as a way to let developers easily bring PC apps to the Xbox One without much in the way of porting effort.

The “w64” emulator can download ROMs from a user’s linked Microsoft OneDrive account, making it quite simple to import and play homebrew titles or copyrighted games (which we’re sure you’ve personally ripped from your personal collections for completely legal backup purposes). The emulation quality is far from perfect, though. Simple games like Super Mario 64 run pretty well, but other games we tested suffered from very noticeable sound and graphics problems and struggled to run at a full frame rate.

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