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Yikes. I bought PAL games for my NTSC 7800. Is there any way to play them?


jgkspsx

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Soooooo… I am reviving my 7800 collection. I got out my collection from storage and realized I was awful close to completing the collection. I saw a UK seller on eBay with appealing prices on the games I really wanted but didn’t have (e.g. Midnight Mutants, Motor Psycho, and a few others) and ordered them.

 

It didn’t occur to me at all that there might be region locking. I saw a reference to a “PAL 7800” in the thread about the returning 7800 owner and with a growing lump in my throat I’ve been reading about how PAL carts don’t work on NTSC consoles and how NTSC carts are messed up on PAL consoles. As of 2012 it seemed like the only option was to switch the console bios to PAL, but that would presumably mess up many of the games I own. Ack.

 

I got complacent because I freely bought Lynx and Jaguar games without regard to region and assumed 7800 would be the same. I also have gotten to take for granted playing EU and JP Mega Drive, Master System, and Game Gear games with the Mega SG or with adapters on a real Genesis; or PC Engine games on my Turbografx with an adapter.

 

I am wondering if there’s any decently easy way to play them. I might be able to beg the seller to cancel if I do it quick, but I’m wondering if I might be able to mod my console to be able to play them without ruining my ability to play my existing collection. The cost differential between what I paid and what the NTSC versions are going for might well pay for a mod :)

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The new BIOS developed by both RevEng and PacManPlus will allow PAL 7800 games to be played on the an NTSC console. But as Mitch stated above, there are caveats to this with some games not playing properly or loading up properly at all. Hit and miss really. But the BIOS would still allow you to play your current NTSC games without issue. I thought the BIOS versions provided by Best and The Brewing Academy still allow normal NTSC games to play correctly on NTSC consoles though?

 

 

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7 hours ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

I thought the BIOS versions provided by Best and The Brewing Academy still allow normal NTSC games to play correctly on NTSC consoles though?

One of my consoles has the Universal/Euro BIOS offered by Best Electronics.  All NTSC games play fine.  There is no encryption check or wait, games run immediately, and if no cartridge is inserted, Asteroids runs.  Off the top of my head, the only NTSC ROM it has issues with is the Diagnostic Test Cartridge.   But as Mitch stated, PAL games will be a mix bag (at best).  For instance, PAL Commando runs about halfway through the copyright message and then the system completely freezes.

 

Looking at the hardware facts, NTSC containing 263 scanlines per frame, while PAL has 313, as soon as a PAL title looks to leverage anything above 263, it will be a sure crash on an NTSC system.

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6 hours ago, jgkspsx said:

How hard is the install? Just socketing a new IC or something more involved?

Per the Best Electronics section on the BIOS swap:

 

Items required for this 7800 Euro Operating Modification:
General Soldering:  25 Watt Soldering Iron
Solder
Needle Nose Pliers
Xacto knife
Small pair of Diagonal cutters
VOM Meter
Phillips Screwdriver
A good Solder Sucker or a lot of Solder Wick
The ability to follow written installation instructions
The ability to read chip pin numbers
This upgrade is so simple no schematics / prints are supplied.
About 1/2 to 1 hour installation time. 

 

Items Supplied with the Best 7800 OS Upgrade Modification:
8 page Installation Instructions with 9 color photos
New 7800 OS chip
Jumper wire
New 7800 28 pin OS I.C. Socket
New Interface I.C.         

 

Atari 7800 US Consoles OS Upgrade Kit CB102669  $17.95

Phone: 408-278-1070 (1:30-5 PM, PST, M-F)
E-Mail: bestelec@bestelec.digitalspacemail8.net

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1 hour ago, Trebor said:

Looking at the hardware facts, NTSC containing 263 scanlines per frame, while PAL has 313, as soon as a PAL title looks to leverage anything above 263, it will be a sure crash on an NTSC system.

Aha, so that’s why Motor Psycho dies. I wonder if Midnight Mutants and Food Fight work. Those are the games I want the most, though I guess the NTSC Food Fight isn’t too expensive. I would still love to know what PAL games are compatible.

 

I sent the seller a message begging to cancel. I guess if they don’t I’ll worry about it then.

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1 hour ago, jgkspsx said:

...I would still love to know what PAL games are compatible...

While there have been a few threads listing NTSC games running under a PAL system, this one probably the most thorough, coupled with another, running PAL under NTSC doesn't seem to have had the same breakdown listing.

 

Nonetheless, there is much more luck running NTSC games on PAL consoles than PAL games running on NTSC consoles, even with a swapped BIOS, due to the hardware differences between the consoles' graphics chip (MARIA).  A PAL 7800 MARIA chip is running 50 frames @ 313 scanlines. An NTSC 7800 MARIA chip is running 60 frames @ 263 scanlines.  PAL MARIA can handle 263 scanlines, NTSC MARIA cannot handle 313 scanlines.  The color palette is also different between the two chips.

 

Even if the PAL game runs without crashing on an NTSC console, the best experience will be the game contains a wrong color palette with an image positioned higher or lower on the screen than it should be while running at the wrong speed.

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1 hour ago, jgkspsx said:

Aha, so that’s why Motor Psycho dies. I wonder if Midnight Mutants and Food Fight work. Those are the games I want the most, though I guess the NTSC Food Fight isn’t too expensive. I would still love to know what PAL games are compatible.

 

I sent the seller a message begging to cancel. I guess if they don’t I’ll worry about it then.

I've got a PAL Food Fight and can confirm that it doesn't work at all in the NTSC 7800.

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Also it seems that Scrapyard dog will begin and then crash when you try and start the actual game?

 

I also have what I believe is a PAL Ikari Warriors cart. It comes up but everything is shifted down on the screen. When you start the game, there is a lot of graphic corruption mainly on the upper portion of the screen and the entire game runs at a snails pace.

 

 

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4 hours ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

Also it seems that Scrapyard dog will begin and then crash when you try and start the actual game?

 

I also have what I believe is a PAL Ikari Warriors cart. It comes up but everything is shifted down on the screen. When you start the game, there is a lot of graphic corruption mainly on the upper portion of the screen and the entire game runs at a snails pace.

 

 

Title screen of PAL Scrapyard Dog is playing within the 263 scanlines limit of NTSC.  Once the game is started it is likely going greater than 263, causing the crash.

 

Definitely PAL on that Ikari Warriors cart.  On a PAL machine, the screen would be better centered and that garbage would not be seen as it would be outside the visible area.  Due to the NTSC MARIA calling for 60 frames and the game is only providing 50, you see similar slowness with the initial copyright text for PAL Commando, it appears at a much slower pace than its NTSC counterpart under an NTSC console.

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I've long suspected this copy of Ikari Warriors I have was PAL given it at least plays. The Scrapyard cart I wasn't so sure of. Now that I think about it, I think scrapyard actually comes up on a stock NTSC console but still crashes at the title screen. I will need to check that but at this point I no longer have a 7800 with a stock BIOS in it given the past few days LOL!

 

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  • 2 years later...

I have an NTSC 7800 with an AV mod that I bought online.  It came with a US wall adapter.  I live in the US by the way.  I have it hooked up to an older smart TV that has an AV port on the back.  The console is able to play the only PAL game I own.  Which is Mission 3000 but it shows up in black & white.  I didn't think a US model of the 7800 was able to play PAL games.  I'm glad it does though, because the game won't fit into the cart slot on the 2600+.  Unless the prongs inside the cart are removed.

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