But long before the announcement was made a service called XLink Kai was already quite popular. By establishing a server on a home PC which connects your console to the Kai servers, it is possible to play pretty much any game that supports the System Link mode of play.
X-Link Kai has support for Xbox, Playstation 2, GameCube, PSP, Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. Finding a game can sometimes be difficult, but there’s a cracking little community there to help you organise and play your favourite games.
Before We Begin
The console I’ll be using in this walkthrough is Microsoft’s original Xbox. The set-up procedure is a pretty basic affair for all consoles, but the service has a trickier set of rules to adhere to on newer consoles. Xbox 360 users might benefit from reading this step-by-step and PS3 owners might want to consult this one.
The first issue I had was connecting my Xbox to my home network. As Microsoft’s chubby black console doesn’t support wireless networking, I decided to try bridging the connection with my laptop, running Windows 7.
If you’ve got metres of network cable, or your Xbox (or other chosen console) is already networked then you can skip this bit, but there’s a decent network troubleshooter on the XLink website if you run into problems.
Bridging Wirelessly With Windows 7
Connect one end of an Ethernet cable to your console (in my case the Xbox) and the other to your computer’s Ethernet port. Click on Start then Control Panel and find Network and Sharing Center. In the panel on the left hand side click Manage Wireless Networks (this may appear as Manage Connections).
In the next dialogue choose Adapter properties and click on the Sharing tab. Enable the first option: Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection and then OK.
Now you should have bridged your console wirelessly. One good way to test this is to start-up your console with nothing in the CD tray, and attempt to access an online element from the console’s dashboard.
On an old Xbox you can try to make a new Xbox Live Gamertag. Once the set-up fails (it will, Xbox Live has been shut down after all) you’ll get asked if you want to troubleshoot your connection. Agree and run the network diagnostic tool. As long as you see the “DNS resolved” message then you’re connected and good to go.
Installing X-Link Kai
Head over to the XLink Kai download page and grab the installer. Whilst it is worth mentioning that there are Windows, Mac and Linux versions, you might also need to set-up wireless bridging within your chosen OS. Linux users might want to check out Justin’s guide about doing this with Ubuntu.
Once downloaded, run the XLink Kai installer.
Once you’ve installed, there’s one last check to do before playing. Windows 2000, XP and Vista users are in luck as XLink should work perfectly and they can skip this bit.
Windows 7 users will need to find XLink Kai within the Start menu, right click on Start Kai and choose Properties. Click the Compatibility tab and enable compatibility mode for Windows XP (Service Pack 2). Last of all check Run this program as an administrator and hit OK.
Let’s Play Some Games
Use the Start Kai shortcut you just modified to launch the program. Once it’s loaded you should be prompted for a login. Click here to register for an XTag, supply all the details required and confirm your account.
Turn on your console (stick in a game, I recommend Halo 2 for Xbox as people still play it) and make sure it’s completed starting up. Log in through Kai. It shouldn’t take long, and once loaded click on the small magnifying glass icon (labelled 1 in the screenshot below) to bring up the diagnostics panel. In the game you’re playing (I chose Halo 2) don’t sign in to any online services and choose System Link as if to trick your console into looking for games.
Now click on the Switch to diagnostics view toggle button (labelled 2 in the screenshot above). Your console should appear, with a message saying it’s correctly configured. Congratulations, now you can click on the globe icon to bring up Arena View.
Choose your console, genre of game and eventually the game you want to play. Once you find a populated arena, click on it. You should instantly see the games pop up in your System Link menu. Simply join any game of your choosing through your console.
If you are having trouble then the XLink Kai community forums are full of helpful people, not to mention those organising games and tournaments. Don’t forget you’re far more likely to get a game at sensible times so don’t fret if there aren’t any servers immediately, you could always start one.
Do you play games with XLink? Had any luck getting your 360 or PS3 working? Halo 2 harder than you remember? Let us know in the comments.