Play LAN-Only Console Games Online

Official console services don’t support your preferred game? You can play online anyway.

Suppose you want to play a console game online, but the box claims the pesky so-and-so supports only LAN play. That game could be anything from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! on the GameCube to the classic Halo on the Xbox. Are you stuck without any way to play with anyone further away than a few yards?

Fortunately, a variety of clever PC-based utilities allow you to route your console traffic through your computer and over the Internet.

Why Do You Need Console Tunneling?

Before explaining these programs, let’s discuss why console tunneling is even necessary. Simply put, these games use too much bandwidth or send too many packets to work reliably over most Internet connections. Console manufacturers have fairly stringent rules about acceptable performance lag for playability, and Internet-based console gaming has only recently taken off. Some older, unoptimized, or just plain stubborn titles are only officially available for local area network (LAN) play.

Clever coders decided to tunnel, pretending that the local console is talking to a LAN-connected friend while actually shipping the packets back and forth over the Internet. This, of course, requires a computer to mediate. The tunneling utilities have grown increasingly sophisticated; they support chat channels, private or public servers, voice support, homebrew support, and plenty more options. Best of all, most ...

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