Review: 8bitdo SFC30 and Retro Receiver SNES

I don’t usually like to review new products like this, but I thought I’d make an exception for this thing. I’ve been eyeballing it for some time, but the price is a bit much for both pieces of the puzzle (and you’ll probably want both.) The controller is $35 and the receiver is $25, making a total investment of $60, possibly more, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

With the new Nintendo Switch replacement JoyCons being priced at $80, and PS4 controllers costing about $60, I guess the price isn’t too terrible, but those controllers are packed full of modern technology. This, on the other hand is just a simple SNES controller.

I recently acquired some extra spending money so I finally decided to take the $60 plunge and get it. 8bitdo is a Hong Kong-based company, so you’ll see these things being sold through 3rd party re-sellers on Amazon and eBay. Apparently I’ve heard that Micro Center has also been stocking them. Don’t expect to buy directly from 8bitdo unless you’re a wholesaler.

And now to the controller itself. It works exactly as advertised. It’s Bluetooth, it has an internal battery that charges via micro-USB, and most importantly I don’t notice any input lag.

What’s really cool is all of the extra features I’ll probably never use. The SFC30 can connect to Bluetooth devices such as your smartphone, and even a Wii console. I haven’t tried it out with a Wii yet, but it supposedly behaves as the WiiMote. I don’t know if this means you can’t use it on SNES Virtual Console games or not. It would be better if it behaved as a classic controller attached to a WiiMote. I’ll have to look into this.

The Retro Receiver is a Bluetooth receiver that plugs into your SNES controller port, or a PC via its micro-USB port. In addition to being able to use it with your SFC30 controller, you can also connect WiiMotes, Wii U Pro Controllers, PS3 and PS4 controllers, and maybe even generic Bluetooth controllers. I haven’t tried controllers other than the SFC30 yet, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. So if you have another controller lying around that you would be okay using with your SNES, you don’t necessarily need to buy an SFC30 controller. Heck, you can use the thing to connect PS3 and PS4 controllers to your computer if you want to do that.

If you connect the SFC30 via its micro-USB port to your computer, it will come up as a standard Windows gamepad that is not X-input compatible. However, if you connect your SFC30 wirelessly to the Retro Receiver, it will be X-input compatible. I don’t know if PS3, PS4 and Wii controllers behave as X-input or not with this method.

And finally, the part where you may be spending more than $35 on your SFC30. The buttons feel good, but not 100% authentic to the real deal. They are a bit stiff. Fortunately the buttons and rubbers were designed with the exact same shape as the original SNES controller, meaning you can swap over original buttons and rubbers into the SFC30. Of course you’ll need a donor controller to do this. You can also place the SFC30 buttons and rubbers back into the original SNES controller so that it is not completely sacrificed. But of course now that controller will have inferior buttons.

So is it worth it? Depends on your needs. If you play a lot of Virtual Console on the Wii, this could be great. I’ll need to test out SNES VC with the controller to see if it works or not. If you have your original SNES hooked up to a big screen TV and you sit further than 6 feet away, this is a great solution to short controller cords.

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Let’s talk about TVL count

So, fellow retro gamer perfectionist, you’ve decided to jump on the pro monitor bandwagon that all of your fellow mates have been talking about for years. Whether it’s Fudoh’s thread on Shmups, the neo-geo.com CRT Fetish Thread, those “My Life in Gaming” guys on YouTube, or Matt from videogameperfection, the demand for Pro CRTs for retro gamers is now higher than ever.

Most commonly, people are going after Sony PVM and BVM monitors, since they are the most common. (They were, after all, the gold standard production monitor back in the day.) For simplicity’s sake, I’ll only talk about Sony monitors in this post, but you can apply the same logic to other brands as well. But even when you restrict your search to Sony, there are still many different models to pick from, with different attributes.

Sony CRTs are marketed under the “Trinitron” name. Trinitron is their brand name for their special aperture-grill CRTs. All Sony direct-view color CRTs are Trinitrons, whether consumer TV, professional monitor, PC monitor, or broadcast-grade. The only time you would encounter a Sony CRT that wasn’t a Trinitron, would be a monochrome CRT, or a rear or front projection CRT system.

Sony purchased aperture grill technology from Paramount Pictures and made the “Chromatron” in 1964, and finally the Trinitron in 1968. Sony would continue to be the only manufacturer of aperture grill CRTs until the patent expired in 1996. (Mitsubishi marketed “Diamondtron” CRTs as a direct competitor in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.)

But back to Sony’s professional monitor lineup. For their PVM (Professional) line, they offered models branded Trinitron, as well as “HR Trinitron” (High-Resolution). The difference between the two is that the HR tube has a higher TVL (Television Line) count.

The earlier 90’s models offered a TVL count of 600 for HR tubes and 450 for standard tubes. These include 13 and 19 inch models such as the PVM-1354Q (HR), the PVM-1954Q (HR) and the PVM-1350 (non-HR). The later generation, the PVM-20M2U, PVM-14M2U, PVM-20M4U and PVM-14M4U had a TVL count of 800 for HR and 600 for standard.

For Sony’s BVM lineup, only HR Trinitron tubes are offered, since BVMs are designed for extremely accurate critical evaluation of video signals and color correction. These are master grade, and is reflected in the price point. TVL count is a lot easier for BVMs. It is represented by a letter code in the model name. E=1000 lines, F=900 lines and G=800 lines. This letter code system starts with the BVM-20F1U series offered in the mid-90s up until the last BVM-A series. Older BVMs, such as the BVM-1911 use an 800 line CRT.

So what are TV lines anyway? A shameless copy and paste from Wikipedia says this:

TVL is defined as the maximum number of alternating light and dark vertical lines that can be resolved per picture height. A resolution of 400 TVL means that 200 distinct dark vertical lines and 200 distinct white vertical lines can be counted over a horizontal span equal to the height of the picture. For example, on 4 by 3 inches (10.2 cm × 7.6 cm) monitor with 400 TVL, 200 vertical dark lines can be counted over 3 inches (7.6 cm) width on monitor (Note that the 3 inches (7.6 cm) of monitor height is used rather than the 4 inches (10 cm) of whole monitor width).

TVL is an inherent quality of a camera or monitor and should not be confused with the horizontal scanning lines of broadcast television systems, which e.g. for a PAL system are 625 lines, and for the NTSC system 525 lines.

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Note that part that I bolded up above. When measuring TVL count, you count the vertical lines in a horizontal distance equal to the height of the tube. This is why the PVM-20S1WU, the only widescreen PVM has a TVL count of 300, despite its fullscreen counterpart, the PVM-20M2U having a TVL count of 600.

So what’s the point of having a higher TVL count, and consequently a higher CRT resolution? In consumer TV land, back when everyone was still watching their TV programming on CRTs, TVL count is low. A typical 19″ color TV tube from the 80’s and 90’s will have a TVL count of about 300 to 350, and even that is being generous. But that’s by design. You see, consumer’s hate flicker. And the standard NTSC 480i flickers by nature due to the interlaced picture. With such a low TVL count, the alternating scanlines overlap each other and blur together, so you don’t notice any flickering.

On the other hand, broadcast engineers need to be able to accurately monitor and evaluate those individual interlaced scanlines. They need to be able to view them without them overlapping each other. To do that with zero overlap, you need a TVL count of about 800 or higher. Of course this makes the flickering nature of interlaced video extremely apparent. That’s why HR tubes are not market towards consumers.

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The HR Trinitron logo. The HR logo itself expresses the high TVL count that HR tubes offer.

TL;DR: the higher the TVL count, the sharper your scanlines are going to be.

So the important question here, is how sharp do you want your scanlines to be when you play your retro games? Do you like the scanline effect at all? Some people hate it. If you’re one of those people, you might be better off buying a consumer TV that has component inputs, or modding a consumer TV for RGB input.

If you hate scanlines but still have to have a pro monitor, I would go after an N-series PVM, such as the PVM-20N6U. The N series is the “budget” PVM. It has a lower TVL count of 500 and is internally closer to a consumer TV. Beware though: the N6U has RGB, but no component. Watch out for the N5U, which only has composite or S-video.

You could also go after an old CGA computer monitor, such as a Commodore 1084, Amiga monitor, or an Apple IIGS monitor. These use consumer tubes and have low enough TVL counts so that you won’t notice any scanlines. Of course they all have different connectors on their RGB inputs, so you’ll have to make some custom cables.

In my experience, I prefer a TVL count of about 600 for 240p games. I enjoy having visible scanlines, but not when the black space between the scanlines is greater than the scanlines themselves. 800 TVL HR tubes have about a 50/50 scanline to black space ratio. The 900 and 1000 TVL tubes on the BVMs have even more black space.

So end the end, it comes down to what you prefer to look at. If you are still shopping around for a pro monitor and are not sure if you like the scanline effect or not, try playing some emulators with simulated scanline effects turned on. If you love it, then go for that HR tube. If you don’t like it, don’t go for an HR tube.

Quick Update

It’s been 4 weeks since I last posted. Not much new since then. April has been a slow month in terms of acquisitions. I did manage to snag a few things worth posting about later. I got another Egret II mahjong panel for relatively cheap, as well as a Pro Mahjong Kiwame S cartridge + STV JAMMA board set. Those probably won’t show up for another week at least, as they are coming from out of the country.

Monitor review: Ikegami TM20-17R and TM20-18R

Ikegami TM20-17R and TM20-18R


This reveiew covers two similar Ikegami models, and will discuss differences between the two models.

The TM20-17R was designed as a low-cost, bare bones production monitor. It’s more expensive brother, the 18R looks similar, and uses the exact same picture tube (a panasonic, by the way). So what’s the difference between these two monitors exactly?

Ikegami monitors are strange beasts in that they share some similar characteristics that the highest Sony BVM moniors have, and have some really low-tech features at the same time. For example, both the 17R and 18R have four manual adjust picture knobs (Chroma, Phase, Brightness, Contrast) that override the presets. (More on this later) They both have an underscan and 16:9 mode, as well as individual RGB color toggling. In fact, the only thing different between the two models on the front is a hidden panel on the 18R which accesses a menu to store and change color presets. The 17R has manual screwdriver preset adjustments here instead.

In the professional world 20 years ago, all of the high-end production companies and TV stations used Sony monitors. Ikegami’s were generally used by the TV stations on a budget. That isn’t to say they necessarily suck…they are just going to be a bit closer to your consumer TV, rather than having that sterile, perfect picture that the Sony’s have. Ikegami’s are monitors with character!

So what’s the difference between the two models here? All on the inside. While the two monitors share the same picture tube, the circuitry is completely different. Open up the 17R and “low-cost” becomes apparent. There is one simple video processing board, and one power/deflection board and that’s it. Even the CRT neck board is extremely simple with almost nothing on it. The 18R on the other hand, is a complex beast with a separate input board from the video processing board, a power/deflection board that doesn’t house the flyback transformer. The flyback is on it’s own circuit board, similar to a Sony BVM, making replacing it a simple task. (Although good luck finding one today!) The neck board is very advanced with color transistors attached to huge heat sinks. Yet it is very easy to detach completely from the def/power board.

The biggest difference between the two models is a micro-computer board installed on the 18R. This adds an on-screen menu that allows you to save and recall color presets similar to a Sony BVM. It also allows the use of an auto-setup probe to get perfect colors, similar to the BVM’s probe. (Good luck finding one though!)

[Not reviewed here, but there is also an 80 and 90 series version of these 20 inch monitors which has a higher resolution tube (700/900 TVL) and removable input cards, as well as a pull out drawer to make adjustments. These are much closer to BVM spec.]

Despite these differences, this is not to say the 17R is a bad monitor. Not at all. The 17R, when calibrated, produces a fantastic picture. Both of these monitors have manually adjusted geometry controls. Meaning you have to take the side panels off and use a tiny screwdriver to adjust pots on the boards themselves. Geometry is adjusted on the def/power board, while video H.phase, hold and other adjustments are on the video processing board. Beware though, one thing the 17R lacks is a vertical height adjustment, unfortunately.

The bottom line? These Ikegamis make fantastic retro gaming monitors. Remember that the tubes are curved, just like the Panasonic and JVC models reviewed above, so if that’s not your cup of tea, you will want to go with a Sony instead. These are 600 line tubes, the same as a late model non-HR Trinitron. The scanlines will be a lot softer than the 750-line tubes on the JVC and Panasonic monitors reviewed above. If you’re looking for extremely sharp scanlines, go with a BVM. If you’re looking for something that’s actually easy on the eyes, this is a great choice.

Remember how I said these monitors have character? Well here’s some food for thought: Using this monitor for retro games is like having an old-school TV that has a really damn good RGB picture. When we played our retro games growing up, we played them on crappy consumer TVs with low resolution tubes, because that’s how they were designed to be played. Unfortunately, using RF and composite video sources just plain sucks. The Ikegami monitor is the best of both worlds. It has RGB input, a curved, old-school tube, and a TV resolution that’s high–but not TOO high.

Now get this: I have a PVM-2950Q and a PGM-200R2U in my retro game room for general use. But I also have a small rolling TV cart next to my bed for personal use. What monitor do I use out of my collection? PVM-1954Q? PVM-20M2UMD? BVM-20F1U? BVM-D20F1U? BVM-D24E1WU? BVM-14F5U? PVM-14M4U? All of them shoved in my closet. Great guys, but not for daily use. The Ikegami TM20 is my personal cuddle buddy for bedtime game playing.

Pros:
Low-cost (I wouldn’t pay more than $100 for a 17R and $150 for an 18R)
Great picture

Cons:
Manual adjustments (no service menu)
Curved tube (This is subjective, I personally like the curve)
18R has a non standard 7-pin professional S-video input
17R requires manual signal termination (18R has manual 75 ohm switches on the back, there is no auto termination like PVMs)
17R does not have carrying handles

Other notes:
I had an issue using crappy China-made SNES scart cables with this monitor. I think it may have been a poor grounding issue. Cables from retro console accessories and a homemade scart to BNC adapter work great.

Both of these monitors use Matsushita (Panasonic) brand 85 degree capacitors. While Matsushita brand capacitors are good, 85 degree capacitors that are approaching 18 years of age may need replacing, depending on how much use the monitor has. I replaced all of the capacitors on both monitors’ deflection boards with high-quality Nichicon 105 degree capacitors, even though the picture was already good. At the very least, I can now say that the boards will outlast the tubes.

The End of an Era: Programmed World Post-Op

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Disclaimer: This article is written from my point of view of my past experience. Some details may not be 100% accurate.

This past weekend marked the end of a four-year run of one of the most ambitious and professional fan-made video game projects to ever exist.

Programmed World was the brainchild of a man whose name or even online handle I won’t mention here. But for everyone in the community who does know him, he is greatly respected for what he accomplished. Named after a Kors K song that is in Beatmania IIDX, it served two purposes: to provide game data to arcade machines with no legal way to legitimately purchase it, and to provide a network service for those games.

First, a little back story:
Konami’s Bemani series of rhythm games have always had a cult following in America and other territories outside of the primary focus of Japan, Korea and other Southeast Asian countries. Since the early 2000’s, Dance Dance Revolution was enormously popular and served as the “gateway drug” into other Bemani games, with beatmania IIDX being the primary focus. Beatmania IIDX has been the flagship Bemani game (The Bemani name is taken from Beatmania) ever since it’s popularity in Japan eschewed the original 5-key Beatmania game.

Machines are very common to find in Japanese arcades, but are few and far between in America.  Where imported DDR machines were very common in American arcades in the early 2000’s, there are less than 25 Beatmania IIDX cabinets in the US. Despite this, most of these machines have a dedicated group of players that continue to pay to play to this day.

Every year brings a new version of IIDX. In the past, Japanese arcade operators would pay for a new “kit”, which consisted of a new hard drive that contained the new version of the game, security dongles which contain your license, and new cabinet artwork. Kits were about $3000. Additionally, starting with beatmania IIDX 9th Style, e-Amusement service was offered for a flat-rate monthly fee. (I think this was between $60 and $100 a month per cabinet)

For American operators who had imported a used machine, there was really no easy way to purchase these kits. If you had a Japanese connection, you might get hooked up. Generally though, you had to buy last year’s version of the game when the old kits get resold on Yahoo Japan auctions. e-Amusement service was not an option at all, but it wasn’t a critical loss at the time. Most Americans were playing the home versions of IIDX and manually recording their scores on a service called VJ Army. If you were lucky enough to live close to a machine, you generally just played for fun.

Enter 2012 and the old ways perish. Starting with Beatmania IIDX 20: Tricoro, Konami changes how all of their arcade games are purchased. Instead of rolling out yearly kits, games are continuously updated throughout the year with online patches and DLC. New major releases are updated via a DVD that gets sent out to operators, which is used to overwrite the old version. Hard drives and license dongles are not changed anymore, so there is no longer an old version that can be resold.

More importantly, e-Amusement service participation is now required in order to play the game. No service and the game will refuse to boot. With these changes, Konami changed how they charge for the game. Instead of charging the flat rate for kits and e-Amusement service, they now simply take a 30% cut of the machine’s revenue. Depending on how many 100 yen coins versus how much Paseli (Konami’s electronic cash) was spent on your machine, you either got a check from Konami, or a bill at the end of the month!

As for the American arcades at this point… forget it. They latest version that works offline is 19: Lincle from 2011. But getting back to Programmed World, we have to go back to 2011.

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Programmed World was created in 2011 as a fan project that was designed to provide e-Amusement service to America and other countries where it could not be obtained. It was a successor to the underground Bemanicows network that enthusiasts used with illegal cracked copies of IIDX on their home computers. Unlike Bemanicows, Programmed World was only for real arcade machines, whether privately owned or in actual arcades.

The service was offered free of charge to anyone who owned a machine. The first games offered on the service were Beatmania IIDX 17: Sirius, GuitarFreaks & DrumMania V8, and Pop’n Music 18: Sengoku Retsuden. The first machines to use this service already had legally licensed copies of the game installed, and were running offline before PW.  In order to get these games online using the PW service, all you needed was a basic VPN router (The classic Linksys WRT54G flashed with TomatoVPN). You were then provided with a private key that would get you access.

The service was basic at best. You were able to save your scores and that was about it. Secret songs were automatically unlocked. This was back when the games used a basic “Beat” or phase unlock system. PW simply told all of the games to go to the final phase which unlocks everything. Other features such as Net Taisen, an online battle mode for Pop’n Music and GFDM, were not functional.

Despite this, Programmed World was widely praised by the community and gave rise to a small competitive arcade scene. Now that scores could be saved and tracked, people were finally setting aside their old, outdated home versions. (The IIDX home version series ended with 16: Empress in 2009.)

The next versions of IIDX and Pop’n Music brought about a major change in PW policy which can be attributed to it’s eventual death. When Beatmania IIDX 18: Resort Anthem and Pop’n Music 19: Tune Street were released in Japan, Konami started a new electronic currency called Paseli. This was essentially e-cash that could be used in game to pay in lieu of inserting 100 yen coins. Because machines were now processing actual money transactions, Konami could no longer leave their game data unencrypted. From this point, all Konami games would be encrypted with RSA encryption, and use standard, off-the-shelf SafeNet iKey 2032 dongles in place of the old serial dongles.

Despite efforts, the Programmed World team could not get the encrypted versions of these games to work on their network. Even if they did, Konami began to implement the use of DLC content, which would only grow in use with each new game. Implementing this extra content onto the Programmed World cabinets would be very difficult in this manner. What was Programmed World to do? The service would be irrelevant if new versions could not be implemented. Some arcades would upgrade to the new version, but would have to go offline again. If you were a user, you would have to choose between playing an outdated version that kept your scores, or playing the new version offline.

By the way, the GuitarFreaks and DrumMania series ended with V8, with GFDM XG being it’s successor. Nobody in America had imported XG cabinets at the time due to the insane price. ($20,000 for a pair.)

The Programmed World team made the decision to distribute cracked, decrypted game data to all participating arcades. This was the only way to stay relevant. Starting with beatmania IIDX 19: Lincle and eventually Pop’n Music 20: Fantasia, arcades on PW would receive game data free of charge, as well as any DLC content that was later released. This data came from a Japanese connection with the promise that it would eventually be publicly released for everyone to play on home computers.

The Programmed World philosophy was that beatmania IIDX, Pop’n Music and GuitarFreaks & DrumMania were not sold outside of the territories of Japan, Korea and other southeast Asian countries. Even if you came to Konami with a million dollars, they will still refuse to sell you these games. Therefore, even though what PW was doing was no less than blatant copyright infringement, it was justifiable since Konami was not losing any money in territories where the game was not marketed.

This is also why DDR was not a part of Programmed World until 2013. At the time, Betson had the rights to distribute DDR in the US. The final version published was DDR X2 in 2010. DDR X3 was secretly supported on PW for people who had legitimately purchased a kit, but it was not distributed to everybody.

Up until this point, 100% participation in Programmed World was completely optional. If you had internet problems you could always turn off e-Amusement and run the game offline. Once IIDX 20: Tricoro and Pop’n Music 21: Sunny Park were released, Programmed World became a lifeline for every machine that used it. As stated above, starting with these versions, the game will not run without the network.

For the players who got to experience it, Tricoro was a blast. Konami had fully embraced the DLC idea at that point, with more than half of the new songlist being added through DLC. Three major unlock events occurred over the period of a year, with PW closely mirroring the real service in Japan. It was almost too good to be true. Never before had Americans been able to unlock and play brand new songs at the same time as people in Japan. Unfortunately something bad also happened at the same time.

In early 2013, Programmed World Tricoro and DDR X3 cracked data was stolen and privately distributed outside of the PW inner circle. In the past there was an honor system to not leak any data that you had, and most people conformed to this. After all, you would be banned from the service if you were caught leaking data.

Infighting in the Bemani pirate community ensued, with several people being banned and breaking off to form their own private network to run the stolen data with. Eventually differences were reconciled, and the data was made publicly available. In fact, PW data control regulations had actually relaxed to a point where cracked data was being made publicly available only months after it was officially released by Konami. This quickly went back to the N-1 rule though, where only last year’s game would be publicly available.

To prevent any further leaks, the Programmed World staff actually came up with their own form of DRM when IIDX 22: Spada and DDR 2013 were released. The ironic thing about this DRM is that it is actually more secure than Konami’s own encryption! Data that was distributed to arcades was now fully encrypted, and each arcade had it’s own separate decryption program and key. Your program had to download a decryption key from PW every time you turned the machine on. Try to leak the data and your key is revoked.

And it’s been business as usual since then. Up until last week. On March 5, several arcades on Programmed World received informal cease and desist letters from Konami. The Programmed World staff complied, as it always had intended to if Konami ever asked. On March 8 at 8pm eastern time, the network was shut off forever, leaving any arcade machine that was still running on PW with a “Network Error” screen.

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What does the future hold? It is uncertain at this point. For now, public arcades have to revert to the last version of the games that can be run offline. Some brand new machines, such as Sound Voltex, do not have offline versions at all. Private machine owners can continue using last year’s publicly available cracked versions on the private network for home users, albeit in a free play environment only.

The popular theory as to why Konami stepped in is because Round 1 is rapidly expanding in America. Round 1 is a chain of Japanese bowling alleys/amusement centers that have been aggressively expanding in the US in the past few years. (Think Japanese Dave and Busters) Their first US location is in the City of Industry, California, and it includes several Bemani machines including GFDM XG.

They currently have three locations in California with two more on the horizon, one in Chicago, one in Dallas, as well as a Seattle and Massachusetts location coming soon.

What makes Round 1 special is that they actually have Bemani machines running on the real Japanese e-Amusement network. This unfortunately makes them a direct competitor with Programmed World.

On the other hand former Programmed World arcades are still left in the dark, as Konami still has no plans to sell Bemani machines stateside. Round 1, being a large Japanese company, has a special connection that lets them bring over their Japanese machines.

Time will only tell if Konami will change their attitude and market their machines stateside. And what about other countries? There were arcade machines using Programmed World all over the world.

As for the player, unless you’re lucky enough to live near a Round 1, it’s back to the dark ages for now.

Ongoing project: “Get Winter Gold Working”

As I stated in an earlier post, I recently acquired a Winter Gold cart. In order to get it working on my SNES I’ve tried several things. Since there’s little to no documentation about this game, I’m treading in uncharted territory right now.

Step 1: Disable the console CIC.

Most PAL games can run on an NTSC console (in 60hz) by simply disabling the console CIC. To do this, just locate the chip and carefully lift up pin-4 so it does not make contact with the PCB anymore. Now the chip is disabled and PAL games will boot on your NTSC console… except for certain games, Winter Gold is one of those games. A handful of SNES games have code to check if the CIC is disabled, and will refuse to boot if it doesn’t detect the CIC’s presence. Some SuperFX games and all SA1 games have this check.

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The SNES CIC. Pin 4 has been lifted in the first picture.

Step 2: Change the console to 50hz mode.

Some SuperFX games will boot without the CIC enabled, but will check to make sure the console is running in the correct 50 or 60hz refresh rate. (Yoshi’s Island is one of these games.) Perhaps Winter Gold is the same?

To change the console to 50hz mode, we need to lift the two mode select pins on the two PPU chips. These pins are tiny and can break easily, so make sure you know what you’re doing if you’re going to attempt this. Lift pin-24 on PPU1 and pin-30 on PPU2. Run them to a 2.2kohm resistor and run that to +5 volts. This tells the PPU chips to run in 50hz mode. (Normally they are grounded on an NTSC console.)

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Diagram showing how to wire in a switch to switch video modes.

The results? It works! The console is running in 50hz mode! How about Winter Gold? No dice. Still just a black screen. DOOM on the other hand works perfectly in 50hz, which is weird.

So this all but confirms that in order to get Winter Gold to boot we need a working PAL CIC in the console. But I don’t want to permanently lock my console to PAL games! So what to do? Enter the SuperCIC.

To be continued…

Sources:

http://kyorune.com/modding/article.php?id=4
http://www.gamesx.com/importmod/snes5060.htm