Mod an NTSC SNES game to work with PAL SNES

Started by BreakingBread, April 13, 2011, 01:00:57 AM

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Ive heard alot about modding a PAL SNES to play NTSC games, but I have heard they all have problems of some sort, and I don't want to break my PAL SNES. So would it be possible to mod an NTSC game to play on a PAL system?

I have opened up the NTSC SNES game I want to mod and it has no special FX chips or DSP1 chips or anything, just the ROM chip and lockout chip, (and some resistors and stuff).

So would it be possible to mod a simple game like this to work by simply pulling up a pin of the lockout chip, or something similer?

Thanks in advanced.


To get it to work (beyond the physical issue of getting the US cart to fin in the the PAL machine's slot) you would have to remove the lockout and replace it with one from a PAL donor cart.

IMO it would be probably easier to just mod your SNES with the lockout switch AND 50/60Hz switch.  Once done you can just switch the lockout off, switch to 60Hz, insert the cart (somehow,  a import adapter without a key cart would work) and enjoy the game as if you were playing on a NTSC machine.  You could try asking your local TV repairman to do the job if you don't feel up to it.

Swapping the lockout would be practically the same as using a import adapter, ugly 50Hz borders and (usually) unoptimised speed, sometimes to the point of putting the music out of sync with the action.
Formerly 'butter_pat_head'


Thanks for the info, so if theres no easy solution like pulling up a pin from the lockout chip in the game, would it be possible to somehow build an adapter, so it passes through the pins that lead to the ROM chip, but it ignores and replaces the pins that lead to the lockout chip, with another games lockout chip? The good thing with this would be that it could also play the game that had it's lockout chip inserted into the adapter since it wouldn't need the lockout chip as it would just replace it anyway.

I know this is not what you would recommend from your previous post, but I would like to keep my SNES as it is if possible, I will only really mod it if I've tried everything else and it's the final thing left to do.

If I do get the adapter to work and it is horrible as you mention:
QuoteUgly 50Hz borders and (usually) unoptimised speed, sometimes to the point of putting the music out of sync with the action.

Then, I will mod it.

Once again thanks.


Ok sorry for the double post but...

In my last post I don't think that I was clear enough, so just to make sure I am clear:
(View attachment)

Anyway, if this is possible can anyone find a diagram showing where exactly the lockout chip would need to be soldered to?



Quote from: BreakingBread on April 13, 2011, 04:48:52 AM
Anyway, if this is possible can anyone find a diagram showing where exactly the lockout chip would need to be soldered to?
You are asking if you can perminently attach a PAL lockout chip to an adapter, so that you just have to put the game you want to play in the front slot. While this is possible (you would just solder the 6 required pins on the lockout chip to the relevant pins on the back socket) there seems little point as it means butchering a PAL cart that you may as well just leave in the back slot of a pre-built adapter, and as imparanoic said, they are relatively cheap to buy.

Alternatively, if you really want to keep your snes stock, I would recommend buying another snes and doing the lockout and 50/60Hz switch mods to it and using this snes to play imports. If you have never played on an NTSC snes, when you see your games without the 50Hz borders that you are used to, you will be blown away!

Even better than the manual switches, you could do the SuperCIC mod that ikari_01 over at NESDev developed. It requires flashing a PIC and soldering it inside the snes, but no switches adding externally. This also has the benifit of running ALL games, even SA-1 titles that otherwise complain when the lockout chip is disabled.

Anyway, here is the CIC chip connection info:

Signal            Cart pin  CIC pin
CIC data I/O      24        1
CIC data I/O      55        2
CIC CLK           56        6
IC slave reset    25        7
GND               5 or 36   8
+5v               27 or 58  16

EDIT: corrected first pin info


I didn't mean edit the cart, I ment build an adapter to fit on the cart, or in the snes.
Anyway, I would like to build my own one but thanks anyway.

So I opened up a PAL snes game, and a NTSC game. (I don't have a camera here, so no pictures) and I can see that the first 6 pins on the left side lead to the lockout chip, so on my adapter, where you would put in the NTSC game, I snipped off the pins which would lead to the NTSC game's lockout chip and insted soldered on some wires. Then I took out the lockout chip of a PAL game, and that's it so far.

What I next plan to do is find out which pins on my adapter, would need to lead to which pins on the PAL lockout chip, and solder them on. Then attach it to an NTSC game on inside my SNES, so everything is conected, and test it.


While I was typing, I got another reply.


Ok, I read your reply, and as I previously mentioned, it would not in fact reuin the snes PAL game which had it's lockout chip removed, because it would still be playable with the adapter.

QuoteI would recommend buying another snes
But then what would be the point? I may as well just get an NTSC snes if I'm going to do that.

Anyway, thanks for the diagram for the other method, but I am going to stick with this method I have already started thanks. Oh wait, or is that diagram for the method I have already started? By CIC pin do you mean the pin on the SNES, (which would have to go through my adapter?)


Quote from: BreakingBread on April 13, 2011, 07:41:11 PM
...Oh wait, or is that diagram for the method I have already started? By CIC pin do you mean the pin on the SNES, (which would have to go through my adapter?)
Just noticed, I mistyped the first pin cart connector, it should go to 24, NOT 55...

The 'CIC pin' is the pin of the lockout (CIC) chip and the 'cart pin'  is the pin on the edge connector of the cart. So, for example, if you trace from pin 2 on the CIC chip, it will go to pin 55 on the cart edge connector.

This document by neviksti might be useful to you, it lists lots of pin out info for the snes.


Wow, thanks so much! That post pretty much exlpains everything now!

Ok, I'm going to start soldering as soon as I get back, I'll let you know how it goes after it's finished.

Wait... I'm comfuesed, as the snes cart has two sides, which pins have what number? And the same with the CIC chip.


The pins are usually numbered if you look at the PCB carefully  ;)

Also, I dont think what you are suggesting is really the best method for what you want ???

There is now a SNES CIC clone available using a PIC 12F629, thanks to ikari_01:-
The PIC can be either the lock or the key, so you could replace the lock CIC in the console with a PIC clone and then it will play all SNES/SFC games from any region (I'm ignoring the game shape/cartridge slot 'lockout')

You can also use the key version in your game to allow it to play on any region SNES, but that seems kind of redundant if you can modify the console to play any game.

There is also a 'SuperCIC' version which is similar to the above but allows for a switchless SNES that can swap between 50Hz and 60Hz:-


Now that I think about it more, it doesn't really seem like that good of an idea. Would it be possible to remove the lockout chip of a PAL snes game, and replace it with a socket? Then do the same for the NTSC game, and put the PAl lockout chip in the one you want to play via the socket in each game?

BTW I am thinking that I will mod my snes now anyway, I have been convinced! So what would be the easyest and simplest mod to perform, it only has to be compactible with about 50% of all NTSC games, but I still want it to play all 100% PAL games too just like it is supposed to. Is such a mod possible so that it doesn't affect PAL games compactibillity at all, but is compactible with a few NTSC games too?


You could socket the CIC, but once again whats the point? The links I provided in my last post allow you to make a replacement CIC that will work on all region consoles so there would be no need to swap any CIC's.

If you want a 'simple' region mod that will work with most games,  but not any games that use an SA-1 or S-DD1 chip:-
Then you want  the 'old' lockout chip disable and 50Hz/60Hz switches:-

If you want the 'ultimate' mod which will play all games and is also switchless you want to use the 'SuperCIC' mentioned previously:-


Are those the only two possible mods?

They both look complicated and I don't know where to get the chips you would need. ???

Thanks for all your help, but this would be the first console mod I would have done, and I really need alot of help.


The 'old' mod is just wires and switches and a couple of resistors - no chips to buy at all, i'm afraid most mods dont get much simpler than that. The trickiest part is lifting the SNES PPU and CIC legs without snapping them off.

If you have never modded anything before then I would recommend you practice a lot on a dead circuit board first (e.g. old PC graphics card, broken motherboard etc) Pretend one of the chips on the dead circuit board is the SNES PPU and practice lifting up a leg using a soldeirng iron and a needle, then soldering a small wire to it, and finally practice soldering that wire to a switch with a resistor. Do this over and over until you are confident you can do it on the real thing. Even then I would recommend performing your first mod on a spare SNES that you dont care as much about (Perhaps one that has horribly yellowed or has a cracked/chipped/marked case) and not your own SNES console that you have owned since you were a child. If you are successful you can just do the mod again on your own SNES, or swap the motherboards.

If you still dont feel comfortable after practicing then its probably best to get someone else to do the modding for you, or else you will just end up with a broken SNES. Even modifying the game as you originally suggested is not 'safe', if you accidentally short some pins you could blow the fuse in the SNES console or worse.

I'm not trying to put you off modding at all, but if you have never done it before then you should definitely practice first. I remember being shocked when I first saw the actual size of the chips and their tiny legs - from the pictures online I had assumed they would be quite a bit bigger!

Good luck ;)


Thanks alot for all your help.

I will practise on the circuit board of my old and crappy printer that I was just going to throw away anyway. I have desided to go with the simple mod, but before I do, I just have one more question:

When you say it wont work with games with special chips, do you mean it wont work with PAL and NTSC games with special chips, or just NTSC games that have special chips?

Because as I previously mentioned, I don't want it to scratch PAL compactibility what so ever, but I don't mind if it can only play a handful of NTSC games.


If you fit a switch as suggested in the guide I linked to then you can play all PAL games by re-enabling the consoles CIC lockout chip. If you disable the lockout chip then about 95% of NTSC and PAL games will play (Assuming you can fit the cartridges in your SNES)

So just to clarify you can use the switch to swap between:-
CIC enabled - SNES console works exactly as normal and can play all PAL games, but no NTSC games.
CIC disabled - SNES console can play 95% of PAL and NTSC games (Exceptions being SA-1 and S-DD1 games)

I hope that helps :)



Ok, so now that I have started I am a little comfuesed.

Where does the first 2.2K resistor go?

In the picture it is between the 2 switches:

But the diagram he links to shows it being placed between one of the switches and the regulator:

I am really stuck!!!


The diagram is just for the 50Hz/60hz switch and doesnt include the lockout switch - you want both so the picture is the correct way.

You could even use 2 x 2.2Kohm resistors and just use one for each switch with each going to +5V, that way both switches would be completely separate - the guide only shows one resistor linking the two switches because its easier and requires less wires. You have to understand that both switches require one side connected to ground, and one side connected to +5V with a resistor between the main +5V source and the switch.

If it helps think of the 50hz/60Hz switch and CIC lockout switch as being completely separate, because basically they are two entirely separate mods - although you need both of them to get the best compatibility with NTSC games.

I would suggest you read the guide a few times so that you can make sense of  how this mod actually works, rather than just copying what was shown in the pictures (Oh and btw, you cant directly link to the pictures - it doesnt work!)


Thanks for your help, your great at explaining things.

One more thing though, the switches I bought have only two pins coming from them, where as in mmmonkey's, it has six. Did I buy the wrong type?


Thanks for the compliment :)

Unfortunately it sounds like you have the wrong type of switches :( Switches come in many different types...

The first thing you need to consider is how the switch is activated, for instance you can have:  slide, toggle, rocker, momentary, push button etc. These terms tell you how you will physically use the switch. The switches used in the guide are 'slide switches' because you slide the small plastic part that sticks out, however most people (Including me) prefer 'toggle switches' because the are easier to fit to the consoles casing and make a neat looking job. Take a look at this picture for examples of different types of switches:-

The second thing you need to consider is how the switch contacts are arranged. For instance a 'simple' switch is called SPST which is short for 'Single Pole Single Throw'. This type of switch only has two contacts, so if you have two wires connected it would either make a connection between them, or break the connection - in other words its just 'on' or 'off' just like a light switch. Its this type of switch which you probably bought.

However that is not the only type, next up would be SPDT or 'Single Pole Double Throw', this type of switch has three contacts and whichever wire you connect to the middle contact can be 'swapped' between the signals on the two end contacts - its this type of switch you want for this mod. You connect the middle contact to the PPU or CIC leg, and the end contacts to +5V or Ground so that you can switch between the two. If you take a look here and scroll down slightly:-
You will see lots of little diagrams which show how different types of switches work.

In the guide mmmonkey used a DPDT which has six contacts, but this is not necessary for this mod. mmmonkey says at the start of the guide "As usual mmmonkey has chosen small sliding switches, and can only get hold of double pole switches (that's with 2 rows of contacts to solder onto, only solder onto one of the rows)". A SPDT switch has one row of three contacts as standard.

The third thing you need to consider is how the switch mechanism is configured - this can get quite confusing, but a SPDT switch is available in ON-ON or ON-OFF-ON configurations. An ON-ON switch only has two actuator positions (An actuator is the part of the switch you move with your fingers) with both making a connection. An ON-OFF-ON switch adds an extra middle position that disables all connections, so if you moved the actuator on an ON-OFF-ON switch you could move it to one side, then to the middle, then to the other side. For this mod you need an ON-ON switch.

So simply put, you need 2x SPDT toggle switches in an ON-ON configuration, just search on eBay for "SPDT toggle switch ON-ON" and choose your favourite type, I recommend 'mini' or 'miniature' toggle switches since they are smaller then full size ones and will be less obvious when fitted.

I dont mean any offence, but if your really interested in getting into modding then there are loads of beginners guides available online than can help explain electronics terms even better than me, and will help you get a good understanding of how things work. Simply put in google "beginners guide to electronics" to find loads of great guides - if one is too confusing just find another one until it starts to make sense. Here is quite a good site:-
That tells you all about different switches (For this mod you dont really need to worry about ratings) and if you look along the top it has links that go into detail about all sorts of electronic parts.

Good luck ;)