DISCLAIMER: This procedure is performed at your own risk. Eurogamer.net takes no responsibility for malfunctioning hardware as a consequence of following this guide. The following is intended as an example of the results of procedures that we carried out using the Datel XSATA and is by no means a recommended or indeed foolproof guide to getting your Xbox saves onto an Xbox 360.
It's a bit silly, really. For all the things that Microsoft got right about the 360, there have been some really annoying oversights - two of which surround the issue of old Xbox games and the problems you have getting older games to run on the 360.
In this day and age, console owners have every right to expect to be able to run their old games on the next incarnation of the system. Sony got this absolutely spot on with the PS2, and being able to plug in old memory cards and load up old PSone games when nostalgia hits is something we've long loved about the machine. The Wii, too, will let us play old GameCube discs, and mean that we don't have to have too many machines vying for space under the TV.
But when it comes to the 360, it's much more difficult to pack away that old Xbox. For a start, more than half the Xbox catalogue still doesn't run on the 360 (including a multitude of the best games ever released on the machine - if in doubt check this official backward compatibility list), and even when support is added for your old games, Microsoft - in its infinite wisdom - neglected to give users a means of transferring their old save games. So, for those of you who've racked up five years' worth of save files, you've either got to start from scratch or simply forget about it.
But guess what? It's not actually that hard after all, but it does come at a price.
Thanks to Datel, it's possible to grab that old Xbox save data and get it onto your 360 in a few relatively easy stages - with absolutely no hardware modifications necessary.
First of all, your 360 needs to a have a hard disk - not only to download and store the patches that enable your old Xbox games to run on 360, but to also store your Xbox saves on. Then, you have to buy Datel's XSATA for around GBP 39.99. Essentially it's a little data transfer cradle that sits between your Xbox 360 and its hard disk, and acts as a cunning means of moving data between your 360's hard disk and your PC via the supplied USB 2.0 cable.
Installation is a cinch - simply clip the XSATA onto the top of your 360, plug the port into the hard drive slot, re-attach the 360's hard disk and you're done. As an added 'bonus' whenever you turn on your 360, your hard drive is surrounded by the blue neon glow of the plastic surround of the XSATA - which will probably impress fans of Pimp My Ride, at the very least.
After installing the supplied drivers on your PC, you're then given the ability to quickly and easily back up your entire 360 hard disk and move data around with ease with the Xplorer programme - but it's not really worth messing with any of the contents unless you know specifically what you're doing. Happily, the process of getting old Xbox saves onto your 360 is a relatively easy one, and requires almost zero technical knowledge - so please resist the temptation to do anything other than the steps required to get your old Halo and GTA saves re-instated.
But before you do that, the best advice is to play the old Xbox game in question on your 360 until you're able to save your progress - the significance of which will become apparent later. Once you've done that, fire up your old Xbox 1, go into the Memory section on the desktop, search for the game in question and copy the specific save game from the Xbox hard disk to the memory unit plugged into the top of your Xbox pad, or Action Replay device plugged into one of the joypad ports. From there, you must then find a means of transferring your old Xbox save game onto your PC and into Datel's Xbox Action Replay software, which is freely downloadable on Datel's site.
In order to get your Xbox save game into the Action Replay programme, your best bet is to buy the Action Replay itself, or you can plug in your old Xbox Memory Unit into a USB transfer cable that Datel sells on its site (or, if you own an Xbox Action Replay, that will also work). Once you've dragged the save game from the Memory Unit menu into the middle menu marked 'PC Database', you then click on that database, find the game again and drag the save game onto your desktop.
At this point, you'll have a zipped version of your save game (plus a bunch of other files in there as well) on your desktop, and you'll then have to right-click on it and press 'Extract Here'. This will create a folder called 'UDATA' on your desktop. Double-clicking inside that will reveal a folder with an eight-character-long file name - for example, 4d53001e - which basically is the code number for the game. Each Xbox game has its own unique ID number, which allows the 360 to suss out what the game is. Within that folder is a file we need to delete the file called 'datel.idx'. Zap it.
Now, with the folder extracted and ready on your desktop and the XSATA connected to the PC with the supplied USB cable, you're ready to fire up the 360 and transfer the Xbox save across. Providing you're not one of the people suffering from Xplorer 360 driver issues, you should be able to simply click 'Drive' on the Xplorer 360 menu (in the top left), 'Open', 'Hard drive or mem card' and a second or so later the left pane of Xplorer 360 will display the three partitions on the 360's hard disk - Partitions 0, 2 and 3. Double-clicking '3' brings up six folders, one of which is called 'Compatibility'. Double-clicking that reveals the 'Xbox 1' folder, and a subsequent double-click reveals three folders: TDATA, UDATA and CACHE. Double-click UDATA, because this is where we want to dump our save folder.
From there, simply right-click on the UDATA folder, click 'Insert folder', browse for the location of your numbered folder (remember, an eight digit folder called something like 5550005) within the UDATA folder extracted on your desktop and click 'OK'. By the magic of, erm, magic, all the files within that folder will transfer across to your Xbox 360. But we're not done yet.
One of the key stages many guides seem to leave out is that there's a spot of housekeeping to do before your old Xbox 1 save will work on your 360. Basically, what's required is that you need to carefully look inside the Xbox 1 UDATA folder of your 360 (using Xplorer 360) and check for folder names that match the one you've just inserted. If you've played the game before (which seems to be necessary for this process to work) there will be an older folder with a time stamp to match when you last saved the game. Now, despite the fact that you'll have inserted a folder with the exact same name, it doesn't overwrite it, and if you were to explore for the file it on your 360 console, you may notice that it says '0 bytes', which is clearly nonsense. In this instance, the 360 is basically confused that there are two identically named folders, and chooses the first one. To get around this world of confusion, simply make sure that when you're exploring the UDATA folder in Xplorer 360 that you identify that there are two folders of the same name (remember, eight characters, mostly numbers, but sometimes with letters), and then delete the older version that you created when you saved the game on the 360 in the first place. Confusing? A bit, but you'll get the hang of it very quickly.
With that done, you're ready to play the game. Turn off the 360, unplug the USB cable connected to the back of the XSATA and fire up the desktop - check in the memory folder on the dash that your file has transferred as expected and load the game. With luck and skill, you'll then notice your save game/profile is there ready for you, and you can merrily continue to play your old Xbox game from where you left off - only with superior visuals and with a much better pad - and wireless too! Congratulations. You're set free.
You may have the odd problem, mind you. Out of roughly 20 games that we transferred save data for, a few games decided that the files were somehow 'corrupt'. Occasionally it was because we'd forgotten to delete the older folders first, but other times it plain didn't work.
The above process may seem like a gigantic faff, but in reality the process takes roughly 10 minutes - from playing the game initially on 360 to create a save folder on the 360's hard disk, copying the original Xbox 1 save onto an Xbox memory card, transferring it onto the Action Replay programme, unzipping it on your PC's desktop and then inserting it into the UDATA folder on the 360. It might seem a little strange to have to perform some of the steps, like making sure you've played it to a save point first on the 360 and then subsequently deleting that folder once you've transferred your Xbox 1 save, but, trust me, it pretty much solves most of the teething troubles I had with the process.
Of course, some old Xbox 1 game saves were just plain locked to the console (like Burnout 3 and Call of Cthulhu) - and as such you'll not be able to transfer them. But for games like Halo 1 and 2, GTA: Vice City, San Andreas, Thief, Rallisport Challenge, Max Payne, Medal of Honor European Assault, Splinter Cell and many more, I've now got fully working old Xbox 1 saves, saving me having to slog through them again.
There is a useful video tutorial posted on 360Gamesaves via YouTube that provides a good visual guide to the steps you go through, but be aware that it's by no means exhaustive in the steps you need to take and rather oversimplifies what you need to do in order to get these save games to, you know, actually work properly.
Datel also provides a guide, but again, it doesn't provide too much in the way of in-depth info and troubleshooting - something which we have hopefully made up for here.
Now, why couldn't Microsoft simply bring out a compatible Xbox 1 memory card adaptor to let us plug into the 360 in the first place? It would have solved this headache at a stroke...