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Developer Works on Emulator for Forgotten Zeebo Console from Wii Era

Last update: Aug 23, 2023


An ambitious developer is breathing new life into a forgotten gem of gaming history. Going by the handle Tuxality, a YouTuber has posted a video showcasing early progress on an emulator capable of running games from the little-known Zeebo console. Released in only two countries as a competitor to the Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3, the Zeebo is set to make a nostalgic comeback.

Chances are you've either never heard of or completely forgotten about the Zeebo gaming console. Back in 2009, this Qualcomm-backed system, priced at around $170 in US dollars, had big dreams of capturing markets like Brazil and Mexico where its more famous rivals were out of reach for many due to high prices. With built-in cellular 3G functionality and a library of approximately 40 games, prominent game developers such as Activision, Capcom, EA, Disney Interactive Studios, and id Software were onboard to create software for this up-and-coming platform.

In a year that marked the launch of the iPhone App Store, the Zeebo took a unique approach by ditching traditional discs and cartridges, making it the first console to exclusively rely on digital downloads. Think of it as a precursor to later homebound mobile-game consoles like the now-defunct Ouya.

Sadly, the Zeebo's strategy didn't unfold as planned, and by 2011, the company announced the end of its operations in its two existing markets. Despite teasing potential launches in China, Russia, and even an Android-based system, these plans never materialized. It seemed as if the company vanished overnight. Today, the official website that once catered to Zeebo users redirects visitors to a supplements advertisement.

As demonstrated in the video below, Tuxality showcases the initial stages of emulating the Zeebo's operating system and successfully running Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D. Early builds of emulators often come with graphical glitches, and this one is no exception. Nonetheless, the fact that a skilled software engineer is taking on this project as a personal endeavor is a welcome development for video game preservationists. Even lesser-known and short-lived projects like the Zeebo played their part in the relatively brief history of gaming hardware. Preserving their libraries is crucial to keeping their legacy alive, and this emulator could achieve just that.

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