Microsoft just approved an NES emulator on Xbox One

Microsoft just approved an NES emulator on Xbox One

As if this week wasn't already front-loaded with console news, Microsoft just approved an emulator for the Xbox One that can play classic Nintendo games.

Universal Emulator, an independent application by developer Nesbox, passed Xbox One certification today. It allows users to play ROMs of NES, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advanced titles. (Yes, this is legally dubious, and yes, TechRadar does not endorse the illegal use of emulators.)

Nesbox's emulator has been available for some time on Windows Phone and PCs. However, porting an emulation program capable of playing a competitor's games to a game console could be the final straw that lands Microsoft into hot water with Nintendo.

Also interesting to note is that Universal Emulator appears to be compatible with Microsoft's HoloLens wearable, as shared by Windows Central's Editor-in-Chief Daniel Rubino.

Representatives at Nesbox's Twitter have stated concerns that the app is taking a long time to go live on Xbox One, though it's unclear if this is due to legal constraints or if the publishing process is just taking its sweet time.


Nintendo has quite a storied history fighting unauthorized emulation, eventually spelling out its very specific legal guidelines for what is or isn't a legal way to play its games, Kotaku points out.

The company is both vigilant and litigious when it comes to unauthorized use of its intellectual property, which was demonstrated as recently as last month with copyright claims made against a fan remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus.

While uploading ROMs of Nintendo games on an emulator is illegal, it's still legitimate to use the Universal Emulator for authorized games, including those developed with the Nesbox Console, which allows users to code their own retro-styled games.

A loophole it may be, but the potential for misuse could still be enough to get Nintendo on the phone with some legal counsel. We have asked representatives at both Nintendo and Microsoft for comment, and will update this story if we hear back.

Parker Wilhelm
Parker Wilhelm is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He likes to tinker in Photoshop and talk people's ears off about Persona 4.