22nd Oct2009

How To Import: Famicon a.k.a. Nintendo Entertainment Center (NES)

by Kuro Matsuri

Importing for the NES or Famicom

The original NES (or Famicom in Japan):

Here’s the original NES, the one you probably know all too well:
Original NES

And here’s the original Famicom, the one released in Japan:
Original Famicom

The only REAL difference between the two (at least as far as importers are concerned) is the fact that they use a different number of pins for putting games in the console. As such, as a stand-alone, imported games will not work in your home console. What’s more, Japanese games are much smaller in size than American ones. They wouldn’t even reach the pins, unless you happen to have one of the top loaders shown here:
Top Loader

With the top loader, both the Japanese and the American models look very similar (though, since the original Japanese one already loaded from the top, the re-release was called the A/V Famicom instead, due to the fact that it could use normal A/V cables. The composite ones. The red, white, and yellow ones =P). However, they STILL use a different number of pins, so importing isn’t straightforward.

Here’s what a Japanese cartridge looks like:
Photobucket

There are a couple of options for making Japanese cartridges work. The cheapest method is a pin adapter. It simply takes the pins from the Japanese games and attempts to reroute them to the proper pins for the American console. It doesn’t always work. Also, there are a number of more sophisticated adapters, and they often have a mini-Famicom built in to the adapter itself to get more accurate gameplay. However, all of the ones I’ve seen and tried have truly crappy build quality, and they are far from recommended.

Furthermore, the original Famicom isn’t recommended. Unless it’s modded, the original Famicom only uses an RF out, and Japanese channels are at different frequencies than American channels, so you might not be able to tune in to the frequency the original Famicom produces. You might get lucky around channels 95 or 96 or so, but you don’t want to count on getting lucky.

The recommended option is unfortunately the most expensive. And that is to import an A/V Famicom. That is the only way to consistently play these games in their original quality. Sad, but true.

Options for purchasing an A/V Famicom:
Buy Famicom Console – AV Version at Play-Asia.com (rarely in stock, but you might get lucky!)

Find an A/V Famicom on eBay (in stock more often, but price can vary wildly)

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

22nd Oct2009

How To Import: Super Famicom a.k.a SNES and Nintendo 64

by Kuro Matsuri

Importing for the SNES or Super Famicom, and importing for the N64

Super Famicom is the Japanese name for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).

It’s really easy to get Japanese Super Famicom (SF) games to play on your American console, but there is a bit of risk, and it isn’t QUITE perfect.

For the vast majority of SNES/SF games only have a physical region lockout. As such, the only thing keeping you from playing these games is two little plastic pieces that block a Japanese cart from reaching the pins. Carefully break these pieces off with a pair of needle-nose pliers, and voila! You can play Japanese Super Famicom games on your American SNES!

SNES mod

For more detail plus pictures, try this site: Step-by-step Instructions for How to Mod your Super Nintendo to Play Super Famicom Games

The only catch is that a FEW games are locked out using a CIC check. Getting around this is seems to involve modifying the cart itself, and really isn’t recommended, especially if you’re a collector. Then again, if you’re REALLY a collector, you’ll want to buy a Japanese Super Famicom instead of breaking off anything in your American one, but that’s all up to you.

If you own the SNES Jr. (the smaller remake of the console), here’s a great way to mod it without actually breaking any part of the console:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm7-OZmmt7s

Modifying a Nintendo 64 is very similar, but admittedly a bit more difficult. The plastic pieces don’t break off nearly as easily, but the method is more or less the same. To do it safely, it takes a bit of work and a tool or two (most notable the Gamebit and Triwing screwdriver tools, special screwdrivers for opening Nintendo consoles and cartridges), as described here: N64 Import Mod. You could probably just use pliers to reach in and break them off like the SNES mod, but it is pretty easy to break more than what you meant to this way. Of course the SAFEST way is still to buy a Japanese N64, but that’s also the most expensive method (assuming all goes well).

Buying options:

Play-Asia:
To buy a Super Famicom, try HERE
To buy a Japanese N64, try HERE
To buy a Gamebit or Triwing tool, try HERE

Amazon:
Gamebit Tools from Amazon
Triwing Tools from Amazon

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

22nd Oct2009

Namco X Capcom

by Kuro Matsuri

Namco X Capcom for the PS2

The interesting import-only game for today is called Namco X Capcom (pronounced Namco Cross Capcom) for the Playstation 2.

Namco X Capcom Boxart
(Box art)

Ever wanted to see Heihachi Mishima from the Tekken series face off against Akuma from the Street Fighter series in a tactical battle? Or how about KOS-MOS from Xenosaga versus Rockman Juno (Megaman Juno) from Rockman Dash? Well, these and many more can happen in the tactical RPG, Namco X Capcom! Order it online today and in no time at all you will be playing this game and having a unique gaming experience.

There are over 100 characters, nearly all of which are from a variety of different Capcom and Namco games. The four previously mentioned games only scratch the surface. There are also appearances from Resident Evil (or Biohazard in Japan), Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Soul Calibur, Darkstalkers, Klonoa Heroes, Rival Schools, and many more!

Two completely new characters lead the way through the story as all the universes that these games belong in start to crash together. Characters from other games start appearing, and they don’t know why they are where they are! As you progress through the game, you get to find out what’s really going on while getting to play as many of your favorite characters. There is nothing like it in the U.S.A.!

The only problem with it for English speakers is that everything is completely in Japanese. Since it’s story based and has complex menues, a basic knowledge of Japanese (or a willingness to experiment a lot) is required to enjoy this game.

I have personally been unable to finish it as it is normally a 70-100 hour game, and it takes even longer for me since I have to spend time translating sections of it to understand it. My Japanese isn’t yet good enough to not use my electronic dictionary (which will be featured as a Interesting Import Only Game later, as it is for the DS).

Here’s a clip of the gameplay to let you see what it’s like. It goes from a grid format typical of strategic RPGs to psuedo-real-time, one-sided battles where the player either only attacks or only blocks. This video shows the attacking part (which is much more fun XD)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQtsj69NeuM

You can find out more information about Namco X Capcom by clicking HERE

You can buy Namco X Capcom (The Best version) right now by clicking HERE

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri