Discussion Remember when Nintendo Downgraded a Console for Censorship? No, Well Here's the Story.


Well-known member
Nov 27, 2019
The world is divided in many ways. In terms of technology, one of the ways the world is divided is by the Analogue Colour Encoding system engineered for television sets and video recorders. This splits the world into three regions, PAL NTSC and SECAM. Any gamer around in the 80's and 90's will know this system all too well, but is not as immediately prevalent with the more region free gaming world we have now. The map below shows what countries are set to what.


I live in the UK, so as you can see that is in the PAL region. Back in the day, without having the right game copy for the right console to go with the right TV in the right part of the world, it simply wouldn't work. There is a lot of stuff to say about this system on it's own, but with the basics covered I'll just get to the point.

In the 70's/80's (at least where I grew up), most game consoles connected to your TV through the same kind of connection you would use for an aerial (Called an AF Socket). The NES was like that, for example.


In the 90's, things moved on to other types of connections such as AV, SCART and Super Video that would offer stereo sound and a better, more stable picture. The SNES had such connectivity, more specifically an AV slot (The rectangular port near the middle of the console). This is a step up, as you would expect with a next generation console.


For reference sake, this is what an AV cable looks like. The slim, black connecter at one end to go into the console with the three other cables to connect to the TV being Right Audio, Left Audio (White) and Video.


This is where things, and by that I mean Nintendo, get weird.

The next system was the Nintendo 64, one of my very favourite consoles ever and I'd defend it to hills, but the process of connecting it to your TV was a bit bizarre. It had an AV slot, just like the SNES (The port numbered 1 in this picture. The massive recess containing port 2 was to hold the power brick. I guess Nintendo didn't want a brick on the power cable itself but still wanted it easily removed from the console for this design, but whatever);


And this port was thier on the PAL version of the console, but you couldn't connect it to your TV with as AV cable like you could with the SNES because it wouldn't work, Instead you got this fun little bugger included with your console;


And what was it for you ask? To convert the AV socket so you could plug in an AF Aerial cable into your console then plug that into your TV. Like we were doing with the ATARI 2600 and NES over a decade earlier... yeah... As far as I know, this "feature" was exclusive to the PAL version of the console. Everybody else got to use an AV cable akin with the SNES. In fact, it was literally the exact same AV cable. This is like if PAL region PS4 owners were forced to use a SCART cable to connect thier PS4's to thier TV's whereas everyone else got to use HDMI.

Why did they do this?

Well, look back at the map I posted and you will notice that Australia is part of the PAL region. Australia was, and in many ways still is, something of a nanny state when it comes to video games. The Australian authorities weren't very happy that games and versions of games that they didn't approve off were being played in that country. People were able to buy these games simply by making trips oversees to the likes of America, Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia to buy them during the life cycles of the NES and SNES. These places were cheap to get to and/or were frequent travel spots for Australians anyway, so this was economical. It didn't matter the games were region coded, people found ways to break them quite easily on those consoles despite Nintendo's best efforts.

Fearing this happening again, not to mention fearing the Australian authorities, Nintendo came up with a cunning idea. The messed around with the video output of the PAL console so it had far less electrical resistance as the other versions. This resulted in a video signal that would oversaturate your TV, showing as almost entirely white screen, making the AV cable useless. The converter box itself was also designed to not let the 60Hz signal from an NTSC or SECAM game pass through it, only the 50HZ signal based tech' of a PAL copy of the game. So even if the console or game was cracked so a non PAL version of the game could play on said console, it still wouldn't work. You have to admire how clever this really was. So the naughty Aussie gamers with thier naughty foreign games had no choice but to only play the games mummy Australia approved off, and ruined the lives everyone else in the PAL region in the process.

Years later, this makes the PAL version of the console a nightmare to hook up to modern TV's. AF signals are just too weak to transmit to them. The signal being transmitted to the screen refreshes slower than the screen itself creating a "flash" between static and the game signal. You still can't use the AV cable either because of how the console was tampered with. An AV cable that's been specifically modified to have the same electrical resistance on the video output as the audio outputs (only the video output was tampered with buy Nintendo) will allow the console to actually work. I learned this the hard way trying to get my N64 to work a few years ago.

So that's the story. I can only imagine what would happen if Nintendo or any game company tried to pull this shit today. I actually believe that the only got away with it back then because the internet, at least as we know it, didn't really exist. I did successfully verify this a few years back but I remember it being a nightmare to do so, I can't remember how and I just can't be bothered doing so again. But of course, if any of the things I've said are incorrect please tell me.

Latest content

General chat
Help Show users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
    A @ anhedonic gamer: ??