Nintendo dislikes emulators. Except for the ones it uses and ships itself, that is. It also dislikes people hacking into its consoles to make them do things the gaming giant could have never imagined nor permitted. Those two don’ts, however, have collided on the Nintendo Switch, as hacker and modder Voxel9 demonstrated the handheld gaming console running an Xbox game played with a PlayStation controller via an emulator running on the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Let that sink in for a while.
The Nintendo Switch was almost one of the most difficult Nintendo hardware to break into. Thanks to an unpatchable hardware bug on the NVIDIA Tegra chip, however, the doors were cracked wide open, allowing even a full-blown Ubuntu Linux desktop on it. And when you can run Linux on something, it’s only a matter of time before you can run so many other things.
That time has come as far as Xbox emulation goes. Voxel9 explains that the XQEMU emulator for Xbox successfully compiles on a modified Linux4Tegra Ubuntu. Amusingly, the vanilla version of Linux4Tegra is developed and released by NVIDIA itself, just not for the Switch. But while XQEMU does build and run, it is not compatible with the Switch’s Joy-cons, hence the need for an external wireless controller. Like the PS4’s controller.
They say that just because you could doesn’t mean you should. It’s definitely interesting, even exciting, to see games like the original Hero or Jet Set Radio Future running on a device it was never intended for. The quality of the experience, however, means you won’t be using it to play Xbox games any time soon.
Fortunately for this hackers and modders, they may have all the time they need to improve it as much as technically possible given the hardware. Nintendo won’t be able to do anything to close up the exploit that makes this possible and the most that they can do is threaten people with legal action.