24th Mar2013

How to Import for the PlayStation 2

by Kuro Matsuri

PlayStation 2 with Box

Much like the original PlayStation, the Sony PS2 is completely region locked.  While it is backwards-compatible with PS1 games, those are also region locked on the console. If you only want to play some import PlayStation 1 games, take a look at the guide for How to Import for the PlayStation 1.

Since the PS2 will not play import games by design, you have to find a way around it.  Here’s a layout of the options.

Option 1: Buy a Japanese PlayStation 2

For long-term reliability, and for ease of setup, this is the best option.  It also tends to be the most expensive.  At this time, a Japanese PS2 from Play-Asia runs a hefty $350 plus shipping.  Amazon has some for under $200, but only from third-party sellers.  If you get lucky, you might be able to get a JP PS2 for under $100 from eBay.

If you have some extra money and you like collecting rare things, you can look into the PSX.  Despite American shops labeling PS1 games as PSX games, the PSX is actually a PS2 combined with a DVR and a built-in hard drive.  It looks like this:

Official PSX DESR Model Console

They can typically be identified in online listings by the model number, which always starts with “DESR”, like DESR-5700 or DESR-7000, with the number mostly differentiating between hard drive size (160GB and 250GB respectively, in this case).

You can pick up a DESR PSX for around $400 to $500 from eBay right now, which is definitely expensive.  It’s even more expensive if you are a collector who likes to have the box.

Finally, since the first version of the PS3 was backwards compatible, you could go the route of picking up an import enabled launch PS3.  Check here for more information on How to Import for the PlayStation 3.

Option 2: Install a Mod Chip

This option is very tricky, and requires different mod chips depending on the model of your PlayStation 2.  Overall, I recommend against installing your own mod chip unless you are very good at soldering wires onto tiny points on a motherboard, because that’s exactly what’s required.

What’s worse, it can slightly alter the power traveling through the motherboard and to the laser, which can cause it to burn out early.  Due to the modifications made by the mod chip, it is more difficult to repair as well.  Replacing the burnt-out laser sometimes just causes the new laser to immediately burn out as well.

That being said, when it is working, it is pretty great.  You have one console that plays both local and Japanese games, and you don’t have to think about it.  You just put the game in.  If you really like this idea, and you’re willing to try to install one, you should research all of the currently available mod chips and find highly detailed and picture oriented guides.  If you want these benefits, and you’re willing to risk the long-term reliability of your console, but you don’t have the skills to install it yourself, you can look at Option 3.

Option 3: Buy a Pre-Modded PS2

Most of the usual vendors for this are no longer available, but if you dig deep enough, you should be able to find one.  However, even if you do find a vendor, you’ll likely be dealing with someone shady.  Your best bet is probably to try to find one on eBay or Craigslist, but you’ll have to get lucky even there.

It will be more expensive than picking up a local model PS2, and it will be almost as expensive as buying a Japanese one.  However, if you don’t yet have either, it can be a very economical option overall.

Option 4: Use a Swap Disc

Swap Magic 3.6 Plus

The swap disc of choice is the Swap Magic.  The good news is that Swap Magic is well supported by its creators, and they even have a full Swap Magic guide.  The catch is that you will need to find a way to make your PlayStation 2 think that it has never been opened during the swap process.  How to do this varies based on the model of the PS2, and the Swap Magic guide above helps you select the right tool.  It usually provides more than one option for a given model as well.

Some notes, though: the slide tool for fat PS2s is convenient because it requires very little modification, but it does damage the disc tray motor over time, so it’s honestly not recommended.  For the slim version, however, either option should be fine, as long as it is installed correctly.

If you don’t want to buy directly from Swap Magic because you don’t trust them, Swap Magic discs occasionally show up on Amazon, albeit from 3rd party vendors.  But, at least then you have the buyer protection that Amazon provides.

Where to Get Games

The usual sources apply here.  Play-Asia is the most reliable source in terms of both price and availability, whereas NCSX Shop is a valid US-based alternative, but they tend to be more expensive.  Amazon has some Japanese PS2 games from third part vendors, but very few.  You can always take a shot at finding the JP PlayStation 2 game you want on eBay.

Interesting Game Highlights

Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix Plus

Some of the best games available on the Japanese PlayStation 2 have to be the Final Fantasy International Versions (X, X-2, and XII) and the Kingdom Hearts Final Mix Versions (I and II).  These versions have new systems, new gameplay elements, new items, and new secret bosses added to them, making them an enjoyable play-through, even if you’ve already played the American versions.

Another fantastic game that never made it across the oceans is Namco X Capcom (spoken as “Namco Cross Capcom”), a turn-based tactical RPG in which over 100 characters from lots of different games come together to fight against one another.  It seems that only the fighting game crossovers seem to make it to our shores, but here’s an RPG crossover!  I even have a post about Namco X Capcom as an Interesting Import Only Game from several years back, and it still hasn’t made it out of Japan.

Enjoy your PlayStation 2 imports!

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Disclaimer: use any of these methods at your own risk. Some of them can damage your console.

Endorsement Policy: while some of the links in this post are affiliate links, others are not, and we strive to provide the best options out there, regardless of affiliate status.

11th Jan2010

How To Import for the PlayStation 1

by Kuro Matsuri

Japanese PlayStation 1 Box

Updated March 23, 2013. For the other Sony home consoles, try How to Import for the PlayStation 2 and How to Import for the PlayStation 3.

The original PlayStation is, unfortunately, completely region locked.  By design, a US PS1 cannot play Japanese games.  As a result, importing for the original PlayStation is pretty tricky business, at least if you want to play the imports on an original US console. We’ll start off with the most reliable method, buying a Japanese PS1.

Option 1: Purchase a Japanese PlayStation

Unfortunately, even going the straightforward route and buying a console is tricky due to the age of the console. At the time this guide is being written, Play-Asia, the usual go-to import vendor, doesn’t have any in stock. You can always try an eBay search for a Japanese PlayStation, which will most likely be the cheapest route, but you never know if you’ll get one in good condition or even if there will be one in stock. Lately, the most consistent source to buy a Japanese original PlayStation is on Amazon.

Option 2: Action Replay or Similar Cheat Devices

This option is limited to PlayStation consoles that have the Parallel I/O port, because the cheat device has to be separate from the disc tray. To see if you have one, look on the back of your PlayStation, on the far left. It looks like this when covered:

PlayStation 1 Parellel IO Port Closed

And like this when opened:

PlayStation 1 Parallel IO Port Open

Depending on the cheat device, you also might need to stick something in the lid sensor (the little switch that tells the system whether or not the disc lid is closed) so that it thinks that the lid is always closed.

At this time, the best option I could find is this Power Reply Game Enhancer sold through Amazon, which has a couple of reviews that confirm that it works for backups. In general, if a solution lets you play backups, it will usually let you play imports too, even if it means that you have to create a backup of your import in order to do it (though, usually, you don’t even need to do that).

This method isn’t 100% reliable, but it’s easy to use and works on most of the original PlayStation consoles. It will not work on the later PS One, though.

Option 3: Raw Disc Swap Method

In this method, the only modification required is jamming the lid sensor so that the system thinks the lid is always closed. Unfortunately, it only works on the oldest consoles, so it’s unlikely to work on a random console you happen to have or happen to pick up. However, it’s practically free to attempt it, so it’s very low cost. Here’s the method:

  • Insert an original and local PlayStation disc
  • Turn on the system, leave the tray open
  • Listen carefully to the disc motor – it will start off “slow” at 1x
  • When the disc motor speeds up to 2x, quickly swap it to the disc you want to play
  • The system should then show the black PS screen – if it didn’t, start over
  • It will slow down to 1x, wait longer
  • It will speed up to 2x, wait longer
  • It will slow down again to 1x, swap the disc out for the original and local PlayStation disc
  • It will speed up to 2x once more, swap it back to the disc you want to play
  • If everything was done correctly, AND your console is one that is old enough, it should play the game normally from there. This should also work for backups. At this point, you can close the lid.

On top of being compatible with only a few consoles, there is also the small chance that you can accidentally damage the disc motor during the swaps. Compared to modern consoles, the disc motor spins much slower, so there’s only a low chance of damaging it, but it is a chance you have to be willing to take in order to attempt this method.

Option 4: Install a Mod Chip

If installed correctly, this method becomes very convenient. You will have one console that plays both Japanese and American games just by putting them in, and the mod chip handles it from there. However, installing a mod chip requires some soldering. The original PlayStation is one of the easiest mod chips to install, but you still have to be brave enough to open up your console and try to attach some wires to the motherboard.

If you’re willing to try this method, this guide is below your level. I recommend researching the different mod chip options out there, as well as looking up some guides with images for where to attach the mod chip. Or, alternatively, you could look for a second-hand pre-modded PlayStation on eBay.

Option 5: Acquire an Import-Enabled PlayStation 2 or PlayStation 3

All PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 consoles can play PS1 games, so you can generally play import PS1 games. The only exception is games that have “expansion discs” that require swapping, because the PS2 and PS3 behaves differently when you open it, messing with the process. There are very few games like that, though, so it generally won’t be a problem. The Beatmania Append games come to mind, but outside of those, it should be fine. To find out how to get an import-enabled PS2 or PS3, take a look at How to Import for the PlayStation 2 or How to Import for the PlayStation 3.

Where to Get Games

Play-Asia is generally my go-to source for import games, and they do have a decent selection of Japanese PS1 games still available, though most are Ultimate Hits or Legendary Hits versions. They are well-priced, though, particularly compared to most of the Japanese PS1 games available through Amazon sellers. If you’re worried about whether or not Play-Asia is reputable, you can check out the Play-Asia review as well. And, as always, you can always search eBay for some Japanese PS1 games, which is often quite the mixed bag of random selection and random prices.

Interesting Game Highlights

Of course, the Final Fantasy series is a favorite on the original PlayStation, but let’s focus on games that are only available in Japan. Pepsiman is one of the most bizarre and interesting ones, featuring the character from the Japan-only Pepsi commercials, and here’s a quick video of it:

As you can see, it plays a lot like Temple Run, but from a long time before Temple Run ever existed. It’s definitely a great collector’s item. At this time, you can find it on Amazon for around $60-70 used, or for way too much new. ebay seems to have them for around $80 right now.

For a music game experience from way before Guitar Hero, you could check out the Beatmania series, several versions of which are currently available from Amazon and eBay. Just keep in mind that you have to have the original Beatmania first before you can play any of the Append versions, because they actually operate as a swap disc, which also means that only some of the methods listed here will work.

Beatmania DJ Station PRO Controller

Also, for the best experience, you’ll want to pick up the special controller, the best version of which is called the “Beatmania DJ Station PRO Controller” (pictured above), and is currently only available from eBay, and there’s only one left right now.

Enjoy your PlayStation imports!

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Disclaimer: use any of these methods at your own risk. Some of them can damage your console.

Endorsement Policy: while some of the links in this post are affiliate links, others are not, and we strive to provide the best options out there, regardless of affiliate status.

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