The late 90s were many things – but for me, it was all about Pentium PCs and Windows 98. That being the case, I was delighted to learn that the DOSBox Pure RetroArch core had recently received support for the venerable OS, opening the door to a range of classic PC games that can now run on today’s Microsoft console hardware. Quake, Half-Life, Turok: The Dinosaur Hunter, Command and Conquer… put simply, any Win98 game is now available to play on Xbox Series hardware and there’s even emulated support for 3dfx Voodoo Graphics too.

Be prepared for a lot of installing, however, via a somewhat torturous procedure. That starts with an unusual workaround to get the RetroArch emulation system installed on Xbox, which in turn runs DOSBox Pure. I used this video guide to get going, without the need for developer mode. Once you have DOSBox Pure running on your Xbox console, you also need to – get this – install Windows 98 itself. It was a surreal moment to install this 20th century operating system on a vintage 2020 Microsoft console, but this must surely be the bright future that Bill Gates envisaged back in the day… but perhaps not in such a user-unfriendly manner. All software, including Win98 itself, has to be sourced and loaded via RetroArch’s support for disc ISOs. I chose the FTP approach in beaming these ISOs across from my PC to my Xbox consoles – unfortunately, the more logical approach of the Xbox optical drive isn’t possible.

Ultimately, what you end up with is a full Windows 98 OS install on your Xbox Series console, with games fully installed, meaning you can use it as you would any vintage PC – to the point where I wrote the script for the video embedded on this page using Microsoft Word running on my Series X, aided and abetted by a resurrected Clippy himself. From here on out then, things get simpler – with one exception. Unfortunately, RetroArch doesn’t currently support USB mice, meaning that the right stick on the Xbox controller has to substitute for it. As you might imagine, the use of the controller as an emulated mouse is a limiting factor for ergonomics and control. I find it perfectly usable on the desktop and in most first-person shooters, but it’s a pain for isometric titles and real-time strategy games.

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