Modding consoles is a daunting task when you’re not familiar with soldering chips and wires on a console, but the benefit is playing all of those Japanese games that were never released here. The farthest I’ve gotten to modifying a system was installing a new pin board on my original Nintendo, but that was pulling one piece off and replacing it with another. In addition I grew up in Midwest which meant there wasn’t anywhere that modified systems either. Only options to a broke teenager were to either enjoy the video games that were released in the United States or purchase a very expensive import system online. After a lot of research it turns out there was a third option. Software based mods.
How to Play Famicom Games on Your Nintendo
Known as the Famicom in Japan. There are two ways to play Famicom games on your Nintendo, using Retron 5 like systems or an adapter. For myself I purchased a Honeybee adapter off of eBay for around $30. Just plug the game into the adapter and play away.
How to Play Super Famicom Games on your Super Nintendo
Similar to playing Famicom games, you can either use a Retron 5 like system or a Game Genie. Looking at Super Famicom games the region lockout is designed in the cartridges itself. When you use a Game Genie there are two tabs on the top that simulate the lock out. I took an X-acto knife and a file to remove these two tabs. You can purchase a Super Nintendo Game Genie off of eBay for a little over $10.
How to Play Japanese GameCube Games?
Nintendo’s first disc based system, the easiest way to play import GameCube games is to use a Freeloader. Purchased off of eBay for around $30, a Freeloader is a disc based solution that interrupts the system from performing a region check on the game. Simply place the Freeloader disc in the system, boot it up, and wait for the switch disc message to appear on the screen.
How to Play Sega Master System Games on your Genesis
Similar to playing Super Famicom games. A Game Genie can be used to play imports. The only difference is that you will have to enter in the corresponding code in order to play the game. A little time consuming but a Genesis Game Genie can be purchased for around $10 off of eBay. List of Imported Genesis Codes
How to play Japanese Sega Saturn Games
Sega Saturn has a lot of great shooters that were never released here. Utilizing the memory card slot, simply pick up a Action Replay 4M Plus 3 in 1 Memory Card. Not only will you get extra save space, but this memory card acts as a simply way to play imports. Just plug it into your system along with your import and boot the console up. An Saturn Action Replay will cost around $30-40.
How to play Japanese Dreamcast Games
Another disc swap method. This one involves burning a free program called Utopia on a CD-R. Simply put the disc in your Dreamcast and wait for the message to swap discs. All you have to do is find a CD-R which may be more difficult than it seems.
How to play Japanese PS2 Games
Depending on if you have a fat or slim PS2 you’ll want a disc called Swap Magic. With this method you have to interrupt the system check in a more manual way. Check out YouTube videos and the special plastic tool you’ll have to use. There are other methods of replacing your PS2 case but it was a bit more involved for my liking. A Swap Magic will cost around $30-40 with the special tool.
How to play Japanese PS3 Games
Buy a PlayStation 3 and put the game in the system. It’s that easy. Sony has made all PlayStation 3 games region free making importing a breeze!
Benefits of Playing Import Video Games
- Some games are cheaper. For example a US Mega Man 7 costs around $150 but the Super Famicom version costs as little as $20
- More Variety. Do you love shooters and platformers? There are a ton that never were released in the United States
- Nice conversation pieces and shelf candy. Any Japanese imports will really stand out on your shelf due to their artwork and look.
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