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Gaming Hacks by Simon Carless

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Play Import Games on American Consoles

Defeat regional lockouts with extreme prejudice.

I can see it in your eyes. You’re hardcore. Not only will you wait no longer than necessary for your games, you want the best versions available, without censorship or missing features. You also want to play the games that you could only dream about as a child—Japan-exclusive titles that never made it to the NES or Genesis. Well, you’re in luck: we’ll now explore how to bypass the regional lockouts that prevent you from running Japanese games on your American video game hardware.

The easiest (if hardly cost- or space-effective) solution is to buy the Japanese hardware. Japanese and American televisions use the same NTSC standard resolution, so there are no problems there. Although U.S. power outlets provide 120 volts versus Japan’s 100, an extra 20 volts won’t damage a PlayStation; I’ve had my Japanese PS2 plugged in here for years and nothing’s happened. (If you’re concerned, however, buy a step-down adapter. Good luck finding one at Radio Shack, though.)

What about games from across that other ocean? In general, Europe sees its games much later than the United States and Japan. They’re usually not optimized for the continent’s PAL television format, so it’s rare that anybody wants to hunt down European titles. It does happen, though. For example, Sega’s adventure epic Shenmue II was an Xbox exclusive in the United States, but saw a Europe-only, English language Dreamcast release.

Playing PAL games ...

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