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www.gameotaku.20m.com

IMPORT GUIDE

All of the following is written for gamers living in the UK.
If you wish to run UK/ European games on a Japanese or American system, then the below rules should still work unless stated.


**Please note that Game Otaku or any of it's contrubutors do not endorse or recommend any of these procedures as it may invalidate warranties or damage your console. Personally, I own multiple versions of each system, but then, I am an Otaku!!**

Advantages to buying Japanese and American games are that they are released much earlier, run at full speed (PAL runs approx 17.5% slower than NTSC) and will not have PAL borders.
The disadvantages are that they are more expensive, trade-in value vastly decreases when a PAL version is released and Japanese games will obviously contain some or all Japanese text. Many arcade style games have mostly English text for menus, etc, but games with more depth, such as RPGs will pose problems for non-Japanese speakers. Try my Japanese Basics for language help, or Common Words for game menus help.

Featuring-
Dreamcast - Playstation - Nintendo 64 - Gameboy - Neo Geo Pocket Color - Playstation 2 - Saturn

DREAMCAST

What you need-

-Dreamcast unit (JAP/US/UK)
-Scart, Phono or S-Video Cable
-NTSC compatible television (Most new-ish models 21" and above- If TV has multiple scart sockets then you should be okay).


There are a number of ways to run Japanese and American games on your Dreamcast. Let's suppose you have a UK PAL Dreamcast. This machine will obviously only run European PAL games when you purchase it. All methods of running imports are very simple, but will produce varying results. The first is probably the least favoured as it requires opening your machine. Try it at your own risk!


PROCEDURE NUMBER 1- Internal Modification.

Read the following steps carefully, then try it if you are confident.

1- Switch off your Dreamcast and unscrew the 4 screws underneath. (1 is located under
the modem).

2- With the machine the right way up, take off the top portion. Amongst the Dreamcast's innards, at the top right, you will see a small upright black stick object which can be pushed towards the rear of the machine. This device tells the GD drive to spin when it is pushed back. Tape this plastic device into the fully pushed back position, with masking tape, etc. Make sure it's secure!

3- At the front of the machine, connecting the joypad ports to the system board is a white ribbon. Unplug this ribbon gently! The ribbon comes out of the black fixings. Don't worry if the power light flashes as you remove the ribbon, as this is normal. This operation is simply resetting the Dreamcast's internal memory.

4- Put the Dreamcast lid back on.

5- Now insert a UK  game. (Soul Calibur and Blue Stinger seem to work best, but just experiment).

6- Switch on the Dreamcast, and let the disc spin. The screen will soon show the time/date input options. WAIT!!

7- Eventually, after about 2-3 minutes, the disc will stop spinning. You can speed up this process by pulling out the disc as it spins, but you must be careful as to not scratch the disc, and this may damage your drive.

8- Once the disc has stopped, take it out and replace it with the JAP/USA game you want to play.

9- Move the on screen cursor, and press 'select'.

10- The game should now boot.

11- To play JAP/USA games again, you must disconnect and reconnect the white ribbon again. You can get around this by finding the internal battery, which is to the left of the ribbon. Take out the battery, which is fixed in place. Make sure you take it out in a way that allows you to replace it if required! Now every time you switch on the Dreamcast, it will ask you to input the time & date.

OTHER NOTES- Disconnecting the white ribbon and/or the battery will reset your Dreamcast's internal memory and internet settings! To log onto the internet, you must re-login with your internet software every time you want to surf.
To play UK games on a JAP/USA system, just follow the steps above, but start with a native game to your Dreamcast (ie- USA game for USA machine).

PROCEDURE NUMBER 2- Action Replay/ Gameshark CDX.

Purchase an Action Replay or Gameshark CDX. This is piece of software which you load first, then insert your required import game. Success rate is very high. Alternatively, you could find issue 11 of DC-UK. This comes with a cover-mounted demo of the Action Replay CDX. This will provide the same results as the full retail version. Simply boot it first, take out the CD, insert required import game, then select 'Start game without codes'.

PROCEDURE NUMBER 3- Purchase Import System.

Obviously, if you have a Japanese Dreamcast, you will be able to play Japanese games. The same applies with U.S games on an American machine. To play American or European games on a Japanese system, use Procedures 1 or 2. The same again applies to run Japanese or European games on an American Dreamcast.
Be warned, if you want to run a Japanese or American Dreamcast in the UK, you will need a Stepdown transformer. This is because the voltage required is different in Europe. Your import shop should supply this with the console. You will also have to connect the Dreamcast to your TV via Scart, Phonos or S-Video. If you do not, then games will display in black & white.

NOTE-
Some games do not work at all through 3rd party Scart cables!

Some games will ONLY work on the machine they are intended for. Only about 1 in 50 will
have this problem.

Some imports may run slower with borders on a PAL system, while others will run perfectly! This seems to be random.

Some PAL games may run too fast or be bigger than the screen area on import systems due to them being optimized for PAL machines.

PLAYSTATION

What you need-

-Playstation unit (JAP/US/UK)
-Scart, Phono or S-Video Cable
-NTSC compatible television (Most new-ish models 21" and above- If TV has multiple scart sockets then you should be okay).


The Playstation is slightly harder to run imports on than the Dreamcast. Depending on the age of your system, different methods apply. Newer Playstations do not have the Expansion Port on the rear of the machine, which rules out the most reliable method; Procedure 2.

PROCEDURE NUMBER 1- 'Chipping' Your Playstation.

This is the most common method for running imports, which has been made famous as it is the same procedure for running illegal 'pirate' copies of games. Sony DOES NOT endorse this method, and has been known to threaten legal action against anybody supplying the 'chipping' service. As it involves the opening and modification of the insides of the Playstation, use it at your own risk. This is the only method however, for newer models of Playstation with newer chips for newer models.

NOTE- Some games, especially Japanese ones, detect for the presence of a 'chip' and will not run if it finds one. There are new 'stealth chips' but these can still be detected. You may have to have a new chip fitted to bypass newer games. Not recommended!


PROCEDURE NUMBER 2- Gameshark or similar cheat cartridge.

If your Playstation is older and has the expansion port at the rear (it's behind a removable flap), then you can use a Gameshark or similar cheat cartridge. Simply plug this device into the port, fit the included spring as instructed (to allow the CD to spin with the lid open), switch on the console with a UK game in the drive, wait until the disc stops spinning, replace it with your required import game, then select 'start game' from the menu. This procedure is very successful, but can stop CD music tracks playing correctly within games. Also, a Japanese game still may not run as it will detect that it is not being played on a Japanese Playstation. To get around this, hackers create Enable Codes. These bypass the part of the game which looks for the Playstation's region coding, allowing the game to run.

PROCEDURE NUMBER 3- Purchase Import System.

Obviously, if you have a Japanese Playstation, you will be able to play Japanese games. The same applies with U.S games on an American machine. To play American or European games on a Japanese system, use Procedures 1 or 2. The same again applies to run Japanese or European games on an American Playstation.
Be warned, if you want to run a Japanese or American Playstation in the UK, you will need a Stepdown transformer. This is because the voltage required is different in Europe. Your import shop should supply this with the console. You will also have to connect the Playstation to your TV via Scart, Phonos or S-Video. If you do not, then games will display in black & white.

NOTE-
To play import games on a UK PAL Playstation, you must connect it to your TV through a Scart cable for a colour picture.

Some games will ONLY work on the machine they are intended for. Only about 1 in 100 will have this problem.

Some imports may run slower with borders on a PAL system, while others will run perfectly! This seems to be random.

Some PAL games may run too fast or be bigger than the screen area on import systems due to them being optimized for PAL machines.

The ideal setup is to buy an older Playstation (check the CD drive quality, as Playstation drives are famous for having short life-spans. FMV or sound may skip on poor drives). Get it 'chipped' then have a Gameshark/ cheat cartridge for the enable codes so you have a solution to run ALL imports!

NINTENDO 64

What you need-

-Nintendo 64 unit (JAP/US/UK)
-Scart, Phono or S-Video Cable
-NTSC compatible television (Most new-ish models 21" and above- If TV has multiple scart sockets then you should be okay).


You are basically stuck with 2 choices on playing imported games on a Nintendo 64.

Your first is to buy the newest convertor cartridge on the market. These can be expensive. A reliable model I used was called the Passport. This also allowed users to input codes to bypass any future detection by the game. The Passport is now on it's 3rd or 4th revision, as newer games, especially those by Nintendo themselves, detect for the presence of a convertor cartridge. Some can be bypassed via codes, but some will not even let you get to that stage! Success rate with third party games is high, but Nintendo's own (of which you will probably want to buy imports for in the first place!) is low.

The second choice is to buy a Japanese or American Nintendo 64. Either one of these will play both Japanese and American games. The only problem is that Japanese and American cartridges are slightly different in shape (this same procedure was apparent in the Super Nintendo).To get around this, you can open the console (hard to do as Nintendo use awkward screws which require specific screwdrivers) then to file down the tabs at either side of the cartridge slot. This is also quite hard, and could damage your system if not done correctly. If done right, both country's cartridges will fit into the slot snuggly, and work perfectly. If you don't want to internally modify your Nintendo 64 like above, buy a 'Bridge Adapter'. This is a small plug-through cartridge which will allow Japanese or American games to be plugged into it. It does not do any conversion, so it can not be detected by any games. All it does is provide an extended cartridge port which takes both shapes of cartridges. By far the most recommended method, but unfortunately they are hard to find due to the age of the machine.

NOTE-
To play import games on a UK PAL Nintendo 64, you must connect it to your TV through a Scart cable for a colour picture.

Most imports will run slower with borders on a PAL system.

Some PAL games may run too fast or be bigger than the screen area on import systems due to them being optimized for PAL machines.

Most newer import games (especially those by Nintendo), will NOT work on a PAL Nintendo 64.

Most newer PAL games (especially those by Nintendo), will NOT work on an import Nintendo 64.

GAMEBOY/ GAMEBOY COLOR/
NEO GEO POCKET COLOR

All Gameboy games from any country will work on ANY Gameboy system, including Gameboy Color.
All Gameboy Color games from any country will work on ANY Gameboy Color system.
Japanese games will mostly contain Japanese text.

All Neo Geo Pocket Color games from any country will work on ANY Neo Geo Pocket Color system.
All black & white Neo Geo Pocket games will work on ANY Neo Geo Pocket Color system.
Japanese arcade style games will have English and Japanese text options (eg- Metal Slug, King of Fighters R1/R2). RPGs or similarly text heavy games will not have English text (eg- Evolution).

PLAYSTATION 2

As the Playstation 2 is only available in Japan at this time, there are no American or European games to run on it. 'Chips' are available to allow ANY Playstation 1 games to be run on a Playstation 2, regardless of origin. This also applies to DVD region anti-lockout chips. These are untested, so proceed with caution.

How to play American DVD movies on a Japanese Playstation 2.

You MUST have V1.00 DVD Player software on your Memory Card. Any newer player will not work!

Insert an old original Playstation pad (the ones without the analogue sticks) into port 1 of the Playstation 2. Insert an American DVD movie and hold UP on the D-pad until the DVD menu appears. Now select the 'Play' icon (Small triangle pointing to the right!) This does not work with all movies, but will run some.

Other similar codes, which I have heard of, but do not work for me. 
Hold L1, Circle, and Select as the DVD movie boots.

OR

Hold L3 (press the left analog stick) straight and hard. This code does not apparently work with the Dual Shock 1, but works with the Dual Shock 2.

Once the Playstation 2 becomes available in the West, this section will be updated.

SATURN

It is quite easy to play Japanese and American games on a UK Saturn. The main problems you will find are obtaining the now redundant hardware, and the fact that FMV sound jumps occasionally, as it runs faster than the movie it accompanies! You basically need a Convertor Cartridge. Datel did a great Action Replay model, which had code functions, memory backup, converting facilities and 4meg expansion (for Capcom's later excellent fighters). Well worth picking up.

Alternatively, some import shops used to provide a conversion service. This internally modified your UK Saturn with switches to change it to thinking it's a Japanese or American machine. This is the best overall choice, as all games run at their intended speed and screen ratio. Alas, it's very hard to find a shop which still provides this service. These modified Saturns occasionally appear as second-hand items, but very rarely as they are highly collectable.

To play Japanese Saturn games properly, get a Japanese system. They are very cheap now, and with the best games only released in Japan towards the end of it's life, you'll need a Japanese system for the 4meg games. An American machine with the Action Replay cartridge mentioned earlier is also a good option, but harder to source.

 

 




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