When Microsoft first announced the Xbox would run Windows apps, I don’t think it was thinking of this! You can play Nintendo GameCube and Wii games with a beta version of the Dolphin Emulator built as a Universal Windows Platform app (via Windows Central).
SirMangler’s fork of the excellent emulator runs on the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, and even the lesser of Microsoft’s two modern consoles reportedly does an excellent job. In the video above, Modern Vintage Gamer shows off impressively smooth performance on GameCube titles upscaled to 1440p, even when you add HD texture packs to games like Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem and load everything off a USB thumb drive.
(Never played Eternal Darkness? Let’s just say Modern Vintage Gamer has good taste.)
While the emulator also technically runs on the Xbox One and Xbox One X, MVG shows that it’s a decidedly choppy affair there, so you’d probably best stick to the latest gen.
You do need to enable Developer Mode on your Xbox (it’s a requirement for Dolphin right now, and it’s not the only hoop you’ll have to jump through) but you don’t need to stop at GameCube and Wii games! As we wrote in 2020, you can also install RetroArch to play a wide variety of classic games — including the PS2 titles that Sony’s PS5 can’t play. In fact, I'm hearing you can even add RetroArch without Developer Mode by using a custom app store to install it directly to your Xbox.
Another increasingly great way to play these classic games is handheld: there’s a growing number of portable gaming machines that run emulators brilliantly, including the Steam Deck — my colleague Cameron found it’s one of the easiest and most satisfying ways to play the Metroid Prime Trilogy.
For all of this, of course, you’ll need to have the ISOs or ROMs. We don’t advocate stealing them! Personally, I use an old Nintendo Wii with Homebrew Channel and CleanRip to dump my own Wii and GameCube discs.
Update January 24th, 11:36AM ET: Added a line about installing RetroArch without Developer Mode.