Playing Reproduction SNES Cartridges

So, you’re interested in playing repro carts on your console?

First thing to check is whether your console will support the cartridge you are looking to buy/build. If you are building a repro from scratch, using brand new aftermarket PCBs, you will not have any problem (as long as the cartridge shell you use matches your console region). But if you are modifying Japanese cartridges, for example, you may run into problems if you own a PAL or NTSC-U console.

PAL and NTSC-J cartridges are the same externally, they will fit in eachother’s consoles. The problem is that some games can detect if they are being played on the intended console, sometimes by checking the screen refresh rate (50Hz for PAL and 60Hz for NTSC-J) and sometimes by checking the on-board CIC security chip with the one inside the console. Both of these can be circumvented by modifying your console or cartridge with the SuperCIC chip. Modifying the console will be much easier if you intend to play many imports, but if you intend to play only one or two then it might be easier and safer to modify the individual cartridges.

When buying a cartridge from my shop, please specify which region of console you intend to play it on and whether or not your console has been modified with the SuperCIC chip. If it is unmodified and it doesn’t match the region of the reproduction cartridge, in some┬ácases I will need to install the SuperCIC in the game cartridge to allow you to play it.

The slot doesn't need to widened much on PAL SNES to fit NTSC-U carts

The slot doesn’t need to widened much on PAL SNES to fit NTSC-U carts

NTSC-J and NTSC-U cartridges run at the same refresh rate (60Hz), but the cartridges are physically different and cannot normally be fitted into the opposing console. However, for the NTSC-U SNES you simply need to remove two plastic tabs from inside the cartridge slot and PAL/NTSC-J cartridges will fit just fine. If you want to put an NTSC-U cartridge into a different console, you will need to widen your console’s slot with a Dremel or file.

Here is a table to summarise all that:

Console Cartridge
NTSC-U NTSC-J PAL
NTSC-U Remove tabs from inside cartridge slot Remove tabs from inside cartridge slot & SuperCIC
NTSC-J Widen cartridge slot SuperCIC
PAL Widen cartridge slot & SuperCIC SuperCIC

 

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