Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Modding a SNES

I mod my UK SNES to run Japanese and American games in 60Hz. (Previously this post also spoke about the DSi, but I've edited it out since it's dated quite a bit)

Region modding a SNES

(click the images for higher resolution versions)

Modding a console is a quintessentially British thing to do; Americans have little need to do so, since by default they have things better than Europeans.

Since the beginning your systems have run at 60Hz, which meant full speed and fullscreen gaming, instead of nearly a 20% reduction in game speed and thick borders at the top and bottom of a squashed screen. You also tended to receive a hell of a lot more games than us, with maybe a few small exceptions. Recent years have seen a few more Euro exclusives, but really, unless you speak fluent Japanese, America is still the country to live for great gaming. Oh sweet glorious America, with your better weather, lower taxes and full speed gaming, how I wish I were there.

Because I hate region locking, today I modded a UK SNES. I could just use my American SNES, but this seemed like a fun thing to do. I used Mmmonkey's website, which features a collection of system mods taken from a variety of other websites,. What's great about it is, Mmmonkey redid all the photos, made the guides very easy to follow with a clean layout, and brought all of them together under one site.

I recommend everyone visit it and mod their systems.

Modding a SNES is quite tricky. It required the lifting of 3 pins, use of a 2.2K resistor, and a lot of patience. But now my system can be flicked between 60 and 50Hz, plus country regions. Of course some games like Mario RPG still won't work, but it's a nifty system to have, especially since I can now run cheaper domestic games in 60Hz!

I also had to widen the cartridge slot to accept US cartridges, which included taking my dad's power drill and removing the internal side tabs as shown in the photos.

In all, about 2 hours worth of work for the whole system, but damn, if it isn't one sexy bit of region free kit. The same aesthetic design as the Japanese Super Famicom, but able to play US cartridges, and running off a domestic power supply. Plus it runs nearly everything!

Very nice!


  1. I fully agree, region locking is a practice that should hav died out years ago. I didn't know about the DSi being region locked though. however Nintendo have made it very clear that the DSi is not for serious gamers as the frst thing they did was remove its backwards compatbility with the GBA. Its for the casual market, a market that Nintendo seem to be puttng more and more effort into dominating at the expense of their traditional customer base.

  2. I've stayed away from the DSi mostly because it's part of a baffling trend (along with the PSPGo) to reduce functionality and then raise the price. I guess they must assume the casual audience they're marketing these toward are total fools.

    I'm not gonna shed any tears about not being able to play The Idolmaster, but it doesn't bode well for the future games. As I understand, it only does it for Idolmaster because there's some expanded DSi functionality, although it'll still work with regular DSes of any region. But more and more games are likely to incorporate crap like this, and that's in addition to the stupidity of region locking downloadable titles, which I've growsed about before.

    It's been said before, but Nintendo are really assholes when they're the market leader.

  3. I didn't know this. Yet another reason to dislike the new direction Nintendo is taking...
    catering to the casual gamer + region locking = epic fail.

  4. Hold on a sec, though. I don't think its something to get all that angry about just yet. You can still play Ouendan and Tingle on a DSi. Imported old DS games work. When you start getting into DSi-exclusive stuff, thats when region-locking happens. Which doesn't seem like that big of a deal right now honestly.

    When they make a DSi-exclusive Ouendan 3 though, yeah then maybe I could get mad about it. I've dealt with region locked consoles and I'll deal with region locked handhelds.

  5. Hang on: I think your getting rather bent out of shape a bit too drastically

    DSi still plays any import game, but currently it looks like anything using the DSi's extra features is region-locked. I picked up Starfy in america last month and it runs a charm

    Sonys doing practically the same thing but even more strictly considering everything on PSP-Go is digital, and I bet PSN will be as region-locked as it currently is! (and still believe Sony'll nickle and dime on the digital content to boot). Don't get me wrong I love my PSP and it's got FANTASTIC games, but the PSP-Go feels like a much rawer deal next to DSi

    I mean I know both systems have stripped and replaced. But at least on Nintendo's part they tweaked the innards, added the camera and actually showed apps on announcement. PSP-Go loses the UMD drive for memory and that's about it, there's nothing to suggest Sony's got much planned for PSN yet.

    Regional Lockouts are uncool but all the systems still have them to some degree. Even the Xbox360 and PS3 have a certain amount of regional lock depending on title and online content. So this is not just Nintendo or even just the Japanese developers

  6. ps3 and 360 lockout is a title to title basis, meaning whichever step, publishing or developing phases, lockouts get placed, its a decision of the dev/pub. I am firmly against lockouts, my 360 library would triple if I could play the games, and i cant justify a jap 360, its like telling me not to give them my money when i really really want to. also just because a console does have region lockout, DOES NOT mean its justified for others to have it, it sucks for all of them to have it. as far as the psp go goes, i am more than moderately interested, I dont think i need to say much about the umd being propriatery etc, and I wont defend the price raise, but when I bought my 1gig memory stick for my first gen psp it as was 50 bucks, so does the current price of sony's also propriatery memory stick multiplied by the size of the Go's internal memory atleast account for the raise in price?

  7. Hey why don't you find a way to blame Obama for it too? Holy sheezus.

  8. Hey, I'd trade countries with you in a hot second.

    Sure your taxes might be higher, but here you'd be paying even more in health insurance premiums. And if you get seriously ill you have worse than a 50/50 shot of being denied treatment. Oh, and there's no such thing as job security. So your ability to be treated at a hospital is pretty well tied to your employment (and as a games journalist odds are your employer wouldn't be offering any anyway) and if it's anything expensive you've got to pray that your insurance company doesn't find any unclaimed acne in your medical history.

    tl;dr: Count your blessings, there are people in the US who would kill you and wear your skin to get what you get.

  9. i would own a lot more xbox 360 games if they didn't have region lockout.
    all it does is stops consumers from playing games, and companies from making money off their games.
    it's bizzare that anyone would want to keep region locking in place.

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  11. @Red: You clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

    Anyway, I'd rather stay away from this little debate, and note that I modded my SNES a while back. Of course, mine was a US one, and was modded to play one specific game: Terranigma. The Brits and Aussies got lucky on that one. I know that doesn't compensate for missing out on other awesomeness, but hey, Terranigma is one of the greatest action-RPGs of all time.

    As for the DSi, I don't like the region encoding, but I own one for DSiWare, which looks like it will no longer suck with Shantae coming out for it. Can't do that on a DS Phat / Lite.

  12. The only thing I have to say for region-locking is that perhaps, PERHAPS it will actually help keep cultures separate and independent from each other, which could be a good thing to anyone who likes the cultural differences of different parts of the planet (Japan vs Western, et al), rather than all cultures kind of coming together to form one giant boring planet. Anyone with me on this? Just a thought...

    but yeah, I'd rather have consoles/dvds without regions :]