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Thread: SNES/NES (Fami/Super Fami) Region Lockouts

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    Default SNES/NES (Fami/Super Fami) Region Lockouts

    I've recently been interested in starting to hunt for import games, both for resale on my store and my personal collection in the case of japanese games which were never released in the US.

    Can somebody help me with a list of ALL the possible region/lockouts for the NES/SNES (Famicom/Super Famicom)? The following is what I'm aware of:

    Super Nintendo/Famicom:
    1) NTSC - North American format: Square cartridges, only work (officially) on North American consoles.
    2) NTSC - Japan format: Rounded cartridges, will only work (officially) on Japanese consoles.
    3) PAL format: Rounded cartridges


    Nintendo/Famicom:
    1) NTSC - North American format: 72-pin carts. Will only work (officially) on North American consoles.
    2) NTSC - Japan format: 60-pin carts. Will only work (officially) on Japanese consoles.
    3) PAL format: 72-pin carts (please confim).


    Will PAL games work on ANY PAL console, or is there an additional regional lockout?


    Please share your knowledge so I can make sure I buy the right formats for myself, and so I can help others buy the proper formats for their systems.
    Last edited by Eleuthria; 04-04-2011 at 05:03 PM.
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    I'm pretty sure PAL carts use 72 pins like the US carts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eleuthria View Post
    Will PAL games work on ANY PAL console, or is there an additional regional lockout?
    I don't know how much digging you've done or how much pre-existing knowledge you have so I'll just lay it all out (cue the human beat box).

    NTSC and PAL are names for two different standards for TV. Different number of lines of resolution (PAL has more, but not by much) and different refresh rates (50hz in PAL unless your equipment supports PAL60 and 60hz for NTSC).

    NTSC and PAL are also names commonly used to refer to Europe as well as North America. That said Japan also uses NTSC and France uses SECAM as well as a smattering of other nations around the world using one or the other and sometimes an odd amalgam of them.

    The SNES does its lockout job not just through the phsyical cartridge shape but also through a chip that can be disabled entirely HOWEVER some SNES games can detect when this has been disabled and will refuse to boot. The NES has a similar chip that can also be disabled. The SNES also apparently checks to see if it is in 50hz mode or 60hz mode which leads me to believe it works as a secondary check for region. Assuming that is accurate I'd wager Nintendo thought someone might transplant the lock out chip from one region's SNES to another leaving everything else in place.

    tl;dr version: If it was released in Europe and the cart advertises itself as a European version then it should work in any SNES originally sold as European compatible. I can't think of any lockout that worked on a per-country basis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by APE992 View Post
    I don't know how much digging you've done or how much pre-existing knowledge you have so I'll just lay it all out (cue the human beat box).

    NTSC and PAL are names for two different standards for TV. Different number of lines of resolution (PAL has more, but not by much) and different refresh rates (50hz in PAL unless your equipment supports PAL60 and 60hz for NTSC).

    NTSC and PAL are also names commonly used to refer to Europe as well as North America. That said Japan also uses NTSC and France uses SECAM as well as a smattering of other nations around the world using one or the other and sometimes an odd amalgam of them.

    The SNES does its lockout job not just through the phsyical cartridge shape but also through a chip that can be disabled entirely HOWEVER some SNES games can detect when this has been disabled and will refuse to boot. The NES has a similar chip that can also be disabled. The SNES also apparently checks to see if it is in 50hz mode or 60hz mode which leads me to believe it works as a secondary check for region. Assuming that is accurate I'd wager Nintendo thought someone might transplant the lock out chip from one region's SNES to another leaving everything else in place.

    tl;dr version: If it was released in Europe and the cart advertises itself as a European version then it should work in any SNES originally sold as European compatible. I can't think of any lockout that worked on a per-country basis.
    Thank you, that's a good summary and confirms what I thought, although I wasn't aware of France/SECAM. I just wanted to have some confirmation before I started looking for/selling international cartridges.
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    For the SNES, the lockout chip used in the US and Japanese carts is the same. So if you can bypass the shape of the cartridge slot (most people cut the tabs out of the US SNES slot or use a bridge adapter on the SFC) then you can play the other region fine.

    As for the NES, in Europe there are TWO PAL regions, labelled PAL-A and PAL-B. And the cartridges DO NOT work between these two PAL regions, so you can't use a PAL-B cartridge on a PAL-A console, and vice versa.

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    I believe NES region A is UK, Italy, Australia and New Zealand, and everywhere else is region B.
    The top-loader NES doesn't have a lockout chip (mainly because it was so sensitive it would regularly misfire and block carts its supposed to play), so any 72-pin cart will work on it (though some PAL games might be glitchy).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mayhem View Post
    As for the NES, in Europe there are TWO PAL regions, labelled PAL-A and PAL-B. And the cartridges DO NOT work between these two PAL regions, so you can't use a PAL-B cartridge on a PAL-A console, and vice versa.
    Is there a clear way to tell the difference between PAL-A and PAL-B carts for the NES?
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    Should be an "A" or "B" right on the bottom corner of the label.
    Also some text that says like "This Game Pak is (not/only) for Mattel or NES versions of the Nintendo Entertainment System."
    I guess one region is "not" for Mattel... and the other is "only".
    I think "only" is region A and "not" is region B.
    Last edited by SparTonberry; 04-05-2011 at 10:55 AM.

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    Indeed. PAL-A is UK and where Mattel released the NES for the first two years here before Nintendo took over in 1989.

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    PAL-A and PAL-SCN doesn't really matter. I have no idea why it was even used. I know both were used often during the NES era, without any specific reason other than that the SCN games had Swedish on the cover box. Collectors love it though. NTSC-J Rockman, NTSC Mega Man, PAL Mega Man, PAL-SCN Mega Man.

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