Brief notes on which systems have regional protection
and compatibility issues. Most consoles from the NES to the PS2 have some kind
of regional protection in order to maintain control over when
games are sold in the different regions.
||One of the few disc-based systems to have no regional lockout (or copy protection)
|Atari 2600 / VCS
||Cartridges do not contain lockout chips. However, the
cartridge sends the TV line sync pulses so using an NTSC cartridge
in a PAL console, or vice versa may cause the TV to "roll" the picture.
This can sometimes be corrected using the vertical hold.
||The majority of NTSC 7800 cartridges will not work in
a PAL 7800, typically just hanging the system.
||Fully compatible. Cartridges are exactly the same
||Fully compatible. Cartridges are exactly the same. Jaguar
games should detect the system (e.g. PAL or NTSC) that they are running on, and set the
50/60Hz mode accordingly.
||Fully compatible, cartridges are the same.
||No region protection. Look at your TVs settings or aerial for black & white or other picture problems.
|Nintendo Famicon / NES
||NES cartridges do have lockout chips within them. These guys actually invented the concept of region lockout with the NES - hence the Nintendo Seal of Quality. Converters
are available. Cursiously, European PAL B games wont run on PAL A consoles (UK/Italy) without mods or adapters.
||Fully compatible, cartridges are the same. Will all
run on any gameboy including gameboy advance
||Discs are regionally coded for USA, Japan or Europe.
This is checked by the system. 'Convertor' discs such as 'Freeloader' overcome that.
|Nintendo Super Famicon / SNES
All consoles have a lockout device for stopping foreign
cartridges from being used. Converters (e.g. Gameshark) are easily available; they trick
the console by accepting two cartridges, the import one which you
wish to play, and a local region one so that the console can pass the lockout.
The Japanese and US lockout chip is the same but American cartridges
are squared at the corners preventing them from being used without
cutting a hole in the cart slot (or using converter).
A few games will have trouble even with a converter.
Similar story for the N64. Swapping the cart back doesn't overcome region chip. You need an Ultra 64 SFX or Universal Games Adaptor v4. Early adaptors only work with early games.
||Fully compatible. Cartridges are exactly
the same. Note however, that the ICA expansion module does not work
on UK Intellivisions and therefore ICA carts are not useable in the
||PC-Engine CDs will play on a Turbo-Grafx without problems,
however HuCards will not work on the 'opposite' system without an
adaptor or internal hardware modification. Adaptors are available.
||The games have some region encoding - compatibility depends alot on which player is used. See this article
|SNK Neo-Geo AES/ Pocket
||All Cartridges are compatible, nice.
||DC-X swap disc overcomes protection
|Sega MegaDrive / Genesis
The Megadrive uses country coding for protection.
Some carts are coded to specifically look for the country code, and
refuse to run on a system with the "wrong" code. Adaptor cartridges
are available to allow Japanese cartridges to fit in a PAL/USA Megadrives.
70% of USA carts will run on a PAL system without a convertor.
Sega Retro has a great compatibility list here.
The Sega CD (Mega CD) uses a lockout chip, converters are available but hard to come by.
32x: about half of USA 32X games need a convertor to work on PAL consoles - more info here.
|Sega Master System / Sega GameGear
||Cartridges are compatible. Master systems have a country
code stored in them but this is used for by some SMS games display
different titles or logos. The US/Euro SMSs are also compatible with
the Japanese Sega "Mark III".
||Has inbuilt lockout for foreign CDs. Lockout defeator
cartridges are available but hard to find.
||Discs are regionally coded -checked by the
system. Older consoles with the parallel I/O socket accept cartridges (Game Hunter, Action Replay etc) which allow swapping of discs to play imports. Swap CDs (psx-change) work with other consoles/PSones. Mod chips used to be available, notably causing legal battles in
many countries! The basic mod chip defies region protection but imported games will still play in b&w unless the circuit board itself also modified OR a NPAL signal converter is used.
||Modding the PS2 took soldering to another level with intricate wiring needed onto each leg of mainboard chips. Non intrusive mods include using HD Advance software on the chunky PS2 with a harddrive and network card installed or Swap magic sofware with a slide tool or fliptop lid.
||The Philips Videopac is the european version of the
american Odyssey 2. Videopac and O2 cartridges are fully compatible
with the 'other' console version.
||Fully compatible. Cartridges are exactly the same.