Author Topic: Noob needs all the help he can! PAL 64 Console wont play alternate reigon ROMS?  (Read 588 times)

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Offline JohnKarpenter

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Hi Folks,

Firstly, apologies if this topic has come up before!

I Have an ED 64 X7 running OS 3.04 (purely to see if the same issue occurred and haven't changed back to the latest!) on a PAL console here in the UK and I can only seem to boot PAL games. Unfortunately most of my roms are NTSC / J / U and when I load them there is just a black screen.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

All the best,

Offline Kleber

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Hi!

when you play NTSC games on a PAL Console the N64 will play it in PAL/60Hz mode instead of the usual standard PAL/50Hz mode. Maybe your TV doesnt support the strange mixup between the 60Hz from NTSC and the PAL resolution.

Offline Kerr Avon

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When you load an NTSC or JAP game, then when the screen stays black, do you still hear the sound from the game? Try a game like Goldeneye, which has sound straight from almost the moment it boots. If you have a black screen but sound, then it means that your TV probably doesn't support NTSC or JAP signals. Most modern TVs do support NTC/JAP, but not all. There might be an option on your TV to support this mode, but I've never seen one.

If there is no sound either, then presumably the game rom is corrupt. Try downloading the game roms from a different source, and try those newer roms.

I am a PAL user (I live in England), and my (PAL) TV had difficulty showing some NTSC/JAP games, so I eventually bought a new TV. Because of the Covid lockdown, I couldn't go in to a shop with my N64 and test any potential new TVs, so I had to take a chance and buy a TV online, because for some reason, no TV manufacturer seems to list what old consoles will work with their TVs. And my new TV does a *terrible* job of displaying N64 games. It does show all three regions, no problem there, but all three regions look terrible, so I've ended up buying a RetroTINK 2X Pro and it makes my TV display N64 games much more clearly. It's still not ideal, sadly, but it's the best I could do for this TV, I think, other than getting an UltraHDMI (which gives a superb picture on any TV that has a HDMI input), but they aren't in production anymore (and scalpers are selling them for ridiculous profits) and weren't easy to find anyway. The bloke who made the UltraHDMI is apparently now working on a new version, so perhaps we'll be able to get them cheaply and easily in the future.

« Last Edit: January 21, 2021, 04:17 PM by Kerr Avon »

Offline nuu

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No, as I understand it that's not correct Kerr Avon. Kleber is right, the signal will always be PAL on a PAL N64 even if you run an NTSC game. And there is no color encoding called "JAP". There are mainly NTSC, PAL and SECAM, and Japan has NTSC (I think I've told you this before many times).

The TV probably doesn't support PAL60 like Kleber said. Modern TVs that are confused by the signal may also not make any sound, so in that case you might not be able to figure it out based on if you have sound or not.

Offline jonesalmighty

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Here is a good explaination: https://youtu.be/3JFt6t6ijLs
Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth...

Offline krisk77

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General rule of thumb is never use NTSC roms on a PAL unit and PAL roms on a NTSC unit.  Both don't mix well, due to inaccurate clock signals and should only be played on their native 50Hz or 60Hz refresh rate.  The TV is not the cause of the issue, as I live in the UK and have used CRT's, since the early 90s on USA/Japan hardware fine using a combination of AV composite and RGB SCART. 




 
« Last Edit: January 25, 2021, 02:15 PM by krisk77 »

Offline nuu

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Nothing will break if you try though. If the TV does support PAL60/NTSC50 the picture will show up correctly. There can be some other problems, stuttering sound and speed is around 2% incorrect. This is because of the different RCP clock in PAL and NTSC consoles.

Offline Kerr Avon

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No, as I understand it that's not correct Kerr Avon. Kleber is right, the signal will always be PAL on a PAL N64 even if you run an NTSC game. And there is no color encoding called "JAP". There are mainly NTSC, PAL and SECAM, and Japan has NTSC (I think I've told you this before many times).

I see thanks (I don't remember reading this before, but I read a *lot* - especially when bored at work  ::)). So 'JAP' refers to the place of release and in most cases the content's primary language, but all games of this region are straight NTSC?

If PAL and NTSC are close enough that a PAL N64 can simulate NTSC in it's PAL output, then that does make you wonder why any even remotely modern hardware should be confined to one standard and not be enabled to run both.

Anyway, given how often new users post here about problems running NTSC game roms on PAL (or vice versa) this forum could  really could do with a sticky topic covering the subject.




General rule of thumb is never use NTSC roms on a PAL unit and PAL roms on a NTSC unit.  Both don't mix well, due to inaccurate clock signals and should only be played on their native 50Hz or 60Hz refresh rate.  The TV is not the cause of the issue, as I live in the UK and have used CRT's, since the early 90s on USA/Japan hardware fine using a combination of AV composite and RGB SCART.   

I play lots of NTSC roms on my PAL N64 + PAL TV. This is because most hacked/modded roms are only for the NTSC versions of the roms), and I never notice any problems. Admittedly that might well be because I have no memories/experience of true NTSC to compare with, but a speed difference of 2% is surely below most peoples' level of awareness, visually or aurally.

Also, some PAL ports of NTSC N64 games were badly done, and ran considerably slower than the NTSC versions (for example, many PAL users refused to play the PAL version of Mario Kart 64, because it runs 17.5% slower than the NTSC version  >:(), and/or the PAL versions of such games had black borders instead of of the game covering the whole screen.

Here's a list of them:

http://krikzz.com/forum/index.php?topic=6179
 


Offline nuu

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Ok this became a bit long, but hopefully clears up most region questions.

Yes Japanese N64 games are designed for NTSC speed (60Hz) and are identical to North American games. Japanese and NA TVs are also basically identical as far as the N64 is concerned. The Japanese N64 and the North American N64 uses identical hardware for that reason. JP and NA games also uses the same CICs in the cartridges which means they are 100% compatible with each other electrically. The only difference is a plastic bit in the cartridge slot in which the Japanese and PAL N64s are identical, locking out NA cartridges physically. By sawing off part of it you can fit carts of all regions in any cartridge slot which makes any NTSC system 100% compatible with the other NTSC region (PAL games will still be locked out by the different CIC though).

The N64 doesn't "simulate" NTSC or PAL, it creates the analog NTSC or PAL signal itself (the game doesn't create it) in order to drive the TV. The game creates the raw digital video data using the CPU and RCP. This video data isn't in NTSC or PAL, it's just "raw" video, and can't be used to drive the TV without first converting it to an analog video signal (such as NTSC, PAL or RGB video signals). The chip responsible for this conversion is called the video DAC (Digital to Analog Converter). The DAC differs in the two hardware regions. The NTSC N64 has a DAC that creates an NTSC signal and the PAL N64 has a DAC that creates a PAL signal for driving the TV with. The region of the game doesn't matter here, only the region of the console (or more specifically the type of DAC used).

The problem is frame rate in which case the region of the game DOES matter. Games can technically be designed to run in whatever speed they want, but they are normally designed to run in the speed that the TV expects. Games for the NTSC market are designed to run in 60Hz and PAL games are designed to run in 50Hz, since the corresponding TVs expects that. Since NTSC speed is supposed to be 60Hz, running a PAL game on an NTSC system will result in a weird video signal that combines the NTSC color encoding (thanks to the NTSC DAC) and the 50Hz frame rate (thanks to the game's programming). This weird signal is sometimes called "NTSC50" and is non-standard. The TV might think this is a PAL signal (since it's 50Hz) and try to use PAL decoding which won't work and the picture becomes B&W. The reverse is also true, if you play an NTSC game on a PAL N64, the resulting video is PAL color encoding and a 60Hz frame rate. This may not be a problem though since many PAL TVs do support 60Hz even when PAL colors are used (usually called "PAL60" mode). It is a problem for PAL TVs that only supports the standard 50Hz PAL, and the picture might just jump around in that case.
I think it's possible for a game to check if it's running on an NTSC or PAL N64, adjust its frame rate correctly depending on which region it detects. Such games would be dual-region and cause a standard video signal to be generated on both regions. I have no idea if any games does this. Maybe some homebrew does.

Why do we have several incompatible TV standards? People sometimes creates new standards to solve problems with old ones, and then they are stuck with it. The NTSC/PAL problem is basically solved with the modern HD TVs, but it still haunts us using older consoles made for older TVs.

The 2% speed difference of the two hardware regions is less noticeable in some games and more in others. Saturnu mentioned long ago that playing NTSC Dual Heroes on a PAL system causes noticeable problems. Audible pops maybe, I haven't tried it.


Yes I agree with you that we should explain the region problems in a sticky. I suppose I could add a region section in the compatibility sticky since it's related to the CICs. I plan to do a major overhaul of the compatibility guide to make it easier to read and make it more clear what is what for what ED64 version, as now it's all over the place.

Alternatively someone could create an FAQ with common questions that we all help contribute to and sticky it. It doesn't have to be only ED64 related questions but also things like region and other common N64 questions. That way important information won't be buried in the forum, and we can redirect newbies to it in friendly manner instead of answering the same questions over and over.