How-To Guide: Play NTSC games on a PAL PS1

Published On March 30, 2016 | By Sean Harrison | Guides

Disclaimer: Just to clear things up, we don’t condone illegal practices of any sort at Bashing Buttons. You should support the original developers of games in any way possible (Although admittedly it’s very difficult to do this with retro games). My point is that original titles are much better than backups, so don’t be naughty!

I’m writing this because there was no existing guide on the internet already, so hopefully if others are after doing what I have done, then this should be of some use. There are plenty of NTSC-only games that came out for the original PlayStation such as Xenogears or Chrono Cross/Chrono Trigger that never saw light of day in UK & Europe.

What you will need:

1 – PAL PlayStation Console

2 – NTSC PS1 game

3 – PS1 cheat/import cartridge (See notes below on picking the correct one)

4 – Metal spring

5 – PAL (50hz) → NTSC (60hz) video converter box & cable (Mine is a red/yellow/white composite cable at one end, and SCART at the other where it plugs into the TV). Both the box and cables are relatively easy to get hold of on eBay. If you don’t use this box, the picture will be black & white on your TV. This box converts the 50hz signal to 60hz, allowing you to play NTSC games in colour at the original speed.

Step 1: Take your PS1 and take off the cover on the Parallel I/O port.

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Step 2 – Plug in your Cheat/Import cartridge. NOTE: When buying these carts off eBay or what have you, there are a few things to take into consideration. Not all of these cartridges allow the playing of imports, they can just be cheat cartridges so be sure to do some snooping around to see if yours will allow the playing of imports or not. This is literally the most crucial part of the whole process! As you can see mine is a Power Replay but there are a few others that work such as some Gamesharks or Action Replays (None of these cartridges are official products by the way, they are all third party).

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Step 3 – Place the metal spring onto the arm underneath the lid. The round button towards the back is actually what causes the disc to spin. By placing the metal spring there, this button stays down even when the lid is up. This essentially tricks the PS1 into thinking that the lid hasn’t been opened and won’t interrupt the whole disc-swapping process. My cheat cartridge came with a spring, but these are easily accessible via hardware stores in your local area.

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Step 4 – Ensure that the PAL/NTSC converter box is plugged into the back of the console. Also ensure that the wires are then plugged from the converter box to the TV you are to use. This will only work on TVs that support NTSC signals which is most from about 2000-2005 onwards.

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Step 5 – You should be fully set up now, it’s that simple! Ensure the switch on the cheat cartridge is flipped up (In the ON position) and boot the console with a PAL game already in the system, for authentication and you will see a screen that looks as follows (Or something similar):

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Step 6 – Open the lid, wait for the PAL disc to stop spinning, replace with NTSC disc and press ‘Normal Start’. Et Voila!

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Alternatives to this are just simply buy a US PS2 or PS3 console, but then you have to start faffing with electricity outlets and step-up converters. This is a much easier method to do it and doesn’t void any warranties (Not that it matters considering it’s over 20 years old) The disc swapping method is dodgy because it can break the motor inside the PlayStation. Also this doesn’t require the opening of the system itself. So now you can happily play all those games that never saw light of day in ol’ Blighty!