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Most videogame systems have region lockouts so that they only play games made for their region. This means that for the most part, American consoles will not play Japanese games and vice versa. There are ways around this however. Some third party manufacturers have created various devices to allow US consoles to play import games. These products work with varying success depending on the system, the product and the games you intend to play. In the end, the safest, surest and easiest way to play import games is to own a system from that region. eStarland carries a wide variety of import consoles which are ready for purchase. Some systems are free of region restrictions and can play import games without any modifications.
The following are viable alternatives to owning a full import console.
NOTICE: Certain Processes described below, such installing a mod chip, will void the warranty of a game console. eStarland cannot be held legally responsible for the results of system modifications. eStarland does not offer system modification services or components through its website.
The following systems have no region restrictions:
The following are viable alternatives to owning a full import console:
The most popular method to play import games is to install a mod chip in your console. A mod chip is a piece of hardware that must be installed in your console, allowing you to play imports by fooling the game’s system recognition protocol.
Boot discs are in a similar media format to game discs for a console. They bypass a system’s region protocol by making a system think it has loaded a domestic game. The boot disc is inserted when the console is powered up, then the user swaps the imported game out. Boot Discs have the advantage of not voiding a system’s warranty.
For cartridge-based systems (SNES, Genesis, etc.) this device plugs into the console. Import games are then inserted into the converter cart, which allows for play of imports. Various models (US to Japanese, US to PAL) have been produced.
Certain accessories like the Pro-Action Replay can be used to bypass region restrictions, in the same way as boot Disc. For earlier systems (i.e. Sega Genesis) Cartridges are plugged into the cheat device like a converter cart.
The Magic Slide is a combination of a loader disc and hardware bypass. To use this method, it is necessary to remove the front cover of your PS2’s disc tray. Then, a boot disc in inserted for either CD or DVD formats. Then, using a small tool that is included is used to pull the tray out. The import game is then placed in the tray, which is then closed. The game may then be played as normal. This method has the advantage of being inexpensive and not voiding your console’s warranty.
Flip top case mod
This method is similar to Magic Slide, but instead of pulling out the tray, the PS2’s case has been modified to change the machine into a top-loading unit. This makes it easier to swap an import game for the boot disc.
Like the Playstation 2 and X Box, the Gamecube can have hardware installed to allow it to play import titles. The modification places a manual toggle on the rear of the console that must be shifted from American to Japanese and vice versa.
A region bypass device that plugs into the Saturn’s expansion port. Incompatible with RAM cartridges and other peripherals that use the expansion port.
Cheat Devices: Action Replay
This cheat device is the preferred method for import play, as it contains both RAM expansion and save devices.
Cheat Devices: Action Replay, Game Genie
Boot Disc: X-Change Boot Disc
This problem may occur when playing a European import. American TVs operate under the NTSC display system and European TVs use the PAL system. If a game is sending out a PAL signal, there may be incompatibility issues that result in loss of color information. This problem stems from the television itself, and may be solved with a PAL to NTSC converter.
Import games are usually in the language of the country it was imported from. While this is usually not an issue with fighting games and other action titles, it will make RPGs and other text-heavy games difficult. However, some games are bilingual and English instructions for most games can be found at various websites.