I recently bought a Super Famicom on my trip to Japan. However, the console is region locked so you can't play American SNES games. It seems to be that the plastic cartridge doesn't fit in the console housing, so I am assuming it's just a hardware compatibility issue and nothing with the software (other than the obvious language barrier). Is there any way to get around this region lock?
1I don't know if it really counts as "region locking", nor do I feel that the cartridge not fitting constitutes "hardware compatibility issues" but that's just semantics and I will agree that both terms as you use them are LITERALLY correct. A SNES can just have the little tabs broken off and the cartridge will go in just fine, as I did this back in the day to play SFC games. I've never actually owned a SFC, so I can't be sure, but I would think you could just cut the hole out so that an SNES game will fit. But you might not want to physically alter your SFC in that way.– Ron KyleJan 1, 2021 at 3:56
There is a tool called the Super UFO Pro 8 which claims to bypass the region lock, among other things. Unsure if it is only for North American consoles...
You can also use a Game Genie or T-Connector in passthrough mode.
I was recently researching a similar tool for the Famicom called the FC Pro Action Rocky which can bypass the region lock on the original Famicom. I wonder if there was a Super Famicom version created.
2Will a Game Genie fit? They didn't make a SFC version as they were illegal in Japan.– Ron KyleJan 1, 2021 at 3:59
Electrically, the American Super NES and Super Famicom cartridge ports are the same. Their Checking Integrated Circuits (CIC) use the same random number generation key, but they use a differently shaped cartridge housing. American Super NES Game Paks are more squarish and wider than Super Famicom cassettes but include two notches for alignment tabs in the Control Deck's slot.
- Super Famicom cassette: Narrow shell, D411 CIC
- American Super NES Game Pak: Wide shell with notches, D411 CIC
- Super NES (PAL version) Game Pak: Narrow shell, D413 CIC
It's easy to modify an American Super NES to play Super Famicom games: use a pair of needle-nose pliers to break off the tabs inside the slot. Then the game will fit, and the D411 CIC will authenticate.
But you want to do the opposite (play American Super NES games on your Super Famicom), which can be more difficult. Try this:
- Buy region-free cartridge shells, such as these from Piko Interactive. These are narrower like Super Famicom shells, but they have the notches to also fit into an American Super NES if that's what your friend has.
- Get a screwdriver with a "line" head, sometimes called "GameBit". Most licensed NES games and all Super NES games use this uncommon screw shape, which looks somewhat like a reverse-polarity Torx head.
- Open a Super NES game and remove its circuit board.
- Place the circuit board in the region-free shell.
- Screw the region-free shell together using the screws you removed in step 3.
2Yeah, back in the day I knew a few people who simply put the game into an SFC shell. There was not much call for playing SNES games on SFC back in the day, just like there's not much call for playing region 5 (or whatever) DVDs on region 1. "reverse-polarity torx"- that gave me a chuckle, good description– Ron KyleJan 1, 2021 at 4:03