nmaster64

World Regions and Video Games

Apr 27th, 2013
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  1. The terms NTSC and PAL are batted around a lot by video gamers, without knowing what they mean. For most, the terms have LONG since been separated from their source, and are generally used to try to convey region differences. This is, however, confusing and outright wrong. Even in casual conversational, use of the terms can convey different things to different people.
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  3. In video games, what something like "NTSC" means is exactly *absolutely nothing*. Video games DO NOT have anything to do with these old analog standards. The terms were informally adopted to follow along with TV terminology at the time (over 30 years ago), but there's nothing that defines their use. The only relation to games is that home consoles for certain regions obviously output to the signal standards of the time. The consoles however are not region-locked in this manner, and the terms have no actual influence on the games.
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  5. Almost all console games have three builds/ROMs: JP, US*, and EU. This is what defines a game's regional version. Different regions get different builds which run on their region's hardware. In rare cases you have some other builds as well, such as China's iQue games or the occasionally country-specific build. There may be a German ROM in addition to a European ROM, where stuff like nazi-symbols have been censored. In these cases the German version will still work on any European system -- and vice-versa -- there's just a restriction of sale specific to that country.
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  7. *US is most commonly used, but it would be more accurate to say NA for North America, since Canada is included as well as Mexico sometimes.
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  9. So what is you want to convey with terms like "NTSC" and "PAL" in terms of video games? Hopefully not anything relevant to game speed or frame rate. Let's just look at a few variations, ignoring all the mess of differences between color, sound, bandwidth, scan lines...
  10. - NTSC-US: 60hz, 29.97 fps
  11. - PAL-B/G: 50hz, 25 fps
  12. - NTSC-Mv: 60hz, 23.976 fps
  13. - PAL-60 : 60hz, 30 fps
  14. - NTSC-4.43: 60hz, 29.97 fps
  15. - PAL-M : 60hz, 30 fps
  16. - PAL-N : 60hz, 25 fps
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  18. So, which one is it? Hint: You're wrong whatever you choose.
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  20. In terms of a broadcast standard, these systems use has fluctuated immensely over-time, and especially NTSC has been replaced in most countries with newer digital standards. A select few relevant examples that could cause confusion:
  21. - In 2012, Japan and China completed the switch-over from NTSC to new territorial standards (ISDB & DVB res.)
  22. - Many smaller countries switched from NTSC to PAL at some point in the past half-century.
  23. - THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA SWITCHED MOST NTSC BROADCASTING TO ATSC IN 2009
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  25. Complicating this one final time, consider game re-releases. Even if you were to say Console X and Game Y output "PAL", can you still accurately reference that version of the game as "PAL version" when there are several re-releases of it, some with newer digital signals and some maybe even with a modified frame-rate?
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  27. Also...handhelds. Shouldn't even have to say anything more.
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  29. Point is, stop fucking using these terms. They are outdated, inaccurate, and irrelevant. Video games have nothing to do with television broadcast standards, and the regions for which these terms apply constantly changes. It's confusing and outright wrong, even when referring to analog-era games. Video game regions are easily defined by the system regions and differing ROMs.
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  32. tl;dr: There is no such thing as a "NTSC version" or "PAL version" of a video game. The regions for your typical console game are US, JP, and EU. Period.
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