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The Zune HD has a powerful internal processor so it was just a matter of time before an emulator was made to allow Zune owners to play Nintendo games on their devices. The Visual Boy emulator came out in 2004 and has recently made its way to the Zune platform in the form of OpenZDK.
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Downloading the Emulator
Before you can begin putting games on your Zune you have to download two programs, Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.1* and Visual C# 2008 Express Edition. I’ve placed links to these in the resource section at the bottom of the page. Install Visual C# first then install Microsoft XNA (you won’t actually use any of the functions in XNA but the interface is required for an of the ported games to work).
Open Visual C# and add the Zune to your devices list. To do this click on the monitor icon with a red X in it in the top left hand corner of the menu. This opens the device menu. Click on the Zune icon to add it. If the monitor with the red X isn’t shown you will have to activate it by right clicking in the top menu bar and choosing XNA Game Studio Device Management 3.1. You will also need to download Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.1 Zune Extensions if you want to play the latest games on your Zune HD.
Now that you have set up your Visual C# program you are ready to start finding OpenZDK (the program that converts games for use with the emulator) games for your Zune.
* If you have Microsoft XNA Game Studio 4.0 you will have to uninstall it and install version 3.1. 4.0 disables the Exploit Deployment Tool and application installation packages that use DeployKit.
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Looking for games isn’t too hard, all currently available OpenZDK applications are available through the "Download OpenZDK Applications" section at ZuneBoards (I’ve listed this in the resources as well). This includes all of the games that are currently available including all of the Nintendo games you are looking for (for instance all of the Pokemon games except Black and White are currently available).
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Putting Games on the Zune
Once you have found the games you want and have downloaded them to your computer you will need to unzip them. Most of the games are zipped in an .RAR format which can be unzipped by WinZip or 7-Zip. Both of these programs are readily available with a Google search. The following steps will install most games on your Zune (if you have a game that is available only in source code format then you will have to consult the developers tools).
- Attach your Zune to your computer.
- Run the installation package by right clicking the “deploykit.exe” file and choosing run. If there is no deploykit.exe or a single .exe file then you will need to move the .SNL file into your Visual C# program to open it, in this case see the alternate instructions.
- Select your Zune and click “Deploy.”
- Unplug your Zune and wait for it to reboot.
- Your new game will now show up in the Apps section of the Zune.
- Open Visual C# and look for the “Solution Explorer” at the top right of the screen.
- Open “Solution Explorer” and select “Build”
- Choose “Deploy Zune Copy” of whatever the name of your game file is.
When you have finished playing the game your Zune will reboot. This is because the game emulator turns off the DRM features as part of its programming. The reboot was required specifically so that the DRM features for audio media are kept in place to deter music piracy. Other popular applications that run on emulators will do the same.
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