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PAL optimised list; feedback welcome
Topic Started: Oct 18 2007, 09:00 AM (12,160 Views)
WMJ
Established Member
I've started working on a list of how all the PAL releases compare to the NTSC ones in terms of speed and resolution.
I'm always very annoyed by sloppy PAL conversions that seem to run in slo-mo and have big black borders on the top and bottom of the screen.

I could be wrong on some games because I haven't thoroughly tested everything.

Any feedback on games that aren't on the list or are listed wrong is very welcome :)

Anyway on the the list ^_^

N64 Pal Optimised list

Game Full Speed Full Screen
007 The World Is Not Enough Y Y
1080 Snowboarding Y Y
Banjo Kazooie Y Y
Banjo Tooie Y Y
Beetle Adventure Racing Y N
Blast Corps N Y
Body Harvest Y Y
Bomberman 64 N N
Buck Bumble Y N
Conker’s Bad Fur Day Y Y
Daikatana N N
Diddy Kong Racing Y Y
Donkey Kong 64 Y Y
Excitebike 64 Y Y
Extreme-G Y Y
Extreme-G 2 (XG2) Y Y
F-Zero X N Y
F1 Pole Position 64 ? N
F1 World Grand Prix Y ?
Goldeneye 007 Y Y
Hybrid Heaven Y Y
Hydro Thunder Y Y
Jet Force Gemini Y Y
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards N Y
Legend of Zelda Ocarina of time N Y
Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask N Y
Lylatwars N Y
Mario Kart 64 N N
Mario Party N Y
Mario Party 2 N Y
Mario Party 3 N Y
Mario Tennis N Y
Mickey’s Speedway USA Y Y
Mischief Makers N Y
Mission Impossible Y Y
Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon N Y
Paper Mario N Y
Perfect Dark Y Y
Pilotwings Y N
Pokémon Snap Y Y
Pokémon Stadium ? Y
Pokémon Stadium 2 ? Y
Quake Y Y
Quake II Y Y
Ridge Racer 64 ? Y
Rush 2 – Extreme Racing USA Y Y
San Francisco Rush Y Y
Shadow Man N Y
Snowboard Kids Y Y
Space Station Silicon Valley ? Y
Star Wars Battle for Naboo Y Y
Star Wars Episode 1 Racer Y Y
Star Wars Rogue Squadron Y Y
Star Wars Shadows of the Empire Y Y
Super Mario 64 N N
Super Smash Bros Y Y
Top Gear Rally Y ?
Turok 2 Y Y
V-Rally ‘99 ? N
Wave Race 64 N Y
Winback Covert Operations Y Y
Yoshi’s Story N ?

A little explanation of why some PAL conversions are so bad.
Games are desined for NTSC televisions which run at a 60Hz refresh rate and in a 480i resolution. PAL televisions on the other hand run at a 50Hz refresh rate and in a 576i resolution. To make games display well on PAL televisions they therefore must be slightly altered. i.e. the resolution must be upgraded and the framerate must be downgraded. When this isn't done the PAL release will have black borders because of the resolution and it will run in 5/6 of the intended speed because all the frames are still displayed but at a slower rate.

Edit: I've figured out that Shadow Man runs at 5/6 of the intended speed on PAL. That was wrong for a really long time. Wave Race also had big black borders on NTSC so the resolution has been updated for PAL and can be considered "full screen".
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Valek
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Very good idea ;)

I'd like to help, but the few I knew about already are in the list, and I don't have any PAL games anymore >_>

Anyway, good luck!
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Deleted User
Deleted User

Hi there. Great idea for a list... I'm also a PAL gamer so I try to avoid the really bad conversions. Anyway, I recognise you from somewhere... assembler?
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WMJ
Established Member
Yeah some games really had a bad conversion like Wave Race 64. Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask were also quite poor running in 5/6 speed and with some small framerate problems that weren't in the NTSC releases.
Quite funny (or not :-/) to see how almost all Nintendo's own titles got really poor PAL conversions while some mediocre third party games got perfect PAL conversions.

To alxbly: you recognise me probably from the gamefaqs boards as I post on the n64 hardware/ general boards occasionally :)
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Kerr Avon
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Senior Member
This is a good idea for a topic. I can't add anything, as the only bad conversions I know of (Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Wave Race 64 and Pilot Wings 64) are already in your list. I know those four as they have black borders, but I don't know any others, as I have no NTSC N64 to compare them with.

But my PAL Beetle Adventure Racing does have a black border (around all four sides, unlike the above mentioned four games, which only have top and bottom black borders) and I've read that the NTSC version has no such surround border? If this is true then your list needs to be altered (you have Beetle Adventure Racing as being full screen).

Another two catagories might be: Better graphicsin PAL mode and Any PAL/NTSC enhancements, as regarding better graphics, since a PAL display has a higher resolution than an NTSC display, there is potential for more detail (does any N64 game(s) have more detailed graphics in PAL than in NTSC?), and regarding the enhancements entry, you could list if any game has any advantage in PAL or NTSC.

I don't know if any games have better graphics in PAL, but I do know that at least two games offer enhancements (in this case, bug fixes) in their PAL incarnations. These two are Perfect Dark and Space Station: Silicon Valley; PD crashes with three players in the Warehouse, and SS:SV wont work on an NTSC N64 if the expansion pak is present. I don't know if either of these bugs were fixed in later NTSC batches of the games, but I have heard that the SS:SV one at least might have been fixed. Both bugs were fixed in the PAL versions.

Conversely, both Goldeneye and No Mercy had the following disadvantages in their PAL incarnations; NTSC GE has a cheat menu that doesn't exist in the PAL version (and which I think you can only activate using a Gameshark), and PAL No Mercy has a bug where the game sometimes loses all saved data. Later batches of PAL NM cured this bug (I have the one with the bug), but for some reason this version did away with the blood effect (and maybe other changes, I don't know).

Come to think of it, the NTSC versions of both Perfect Dark and The World is Not Enough also had some extra beta data for levels, that you could play using a Gameshark, but either the Gameshark codes for the PAL versions were never found, or the data was deleted from the PAL releases, I don't know which.

Also, I don't know if this is PAL vs. NTSC, or Jap. vs. NTSC (or PAL), but both Pilot Wings 64 and Super Smash Bros. had slight differences in their PAL and either JAP or NTSC (don't know which) versions. PW64 had a character called Hooters, who had a big chest, but was called Robin (and presumably re-drawn) in the PAL version, and in SSB there was a sampled sound effect of a Star Wars light sabre, but the PAL version had a different sound. I can't confirm either of these, of course, but I'm sure I read about them.
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WMJ
Established Member
I've added a bunch of games I'm fairly sure about and changed Beetle Adventure Racing.

When a game is full screen it means that the resolution of the game has been upgraded for PAL televisions, so all games that are full screen in PAL will look a little better than their NTSC counterparts. I count games as being full screen as long as they don't have bigger black borders than their NTSC counterparts. Some NTSC releases also had big black borders like Mischief Makers.
A good example of a fully PAL optimised game is Star Wars Episode 1 Racer. I own both the PAL and NTSC versions of the game and because of the higher resolution and equal gamespeed I actually prefer the PAL version.
I don't think there is any game in which they've altered the graphics for the PAL version, the best you can hope for is a fixed higher resolution while keeping the framerate steady.

I think it's a good idea to add content changes between PAL and NTSC versions to the list but this will be a lot of work for sure and something I definitely can't do alone.

A few to start with:

Blast Corps - there is a big glitch in the USA version of the game that allows large portions of levels to be skipped. It works by holding down the Z-button while being close to buildings to blow them up. This was removed for the PAL and Japanese versions and some later USA releases.

Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon - quite a shocking difference between the PAL/USA and Japanese releases are the Star Blocks. Those Star Blocks were actually blocks with swastika's in the Japanese version. The Japanese version also had some spoken text in the cutscenes that was removed in the PAL/USA releases.

Mario Kart 64 - a lot of voices of the characters are different in the Japanese version compared to the PAL/NTSC releases.

F-Zero X - a craft called the Blood Hawk in the PAL/NTSC version was called the Hell Hawk in the Japanese version.
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Deleted User
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For details on the differences betwen the Japanese Perfect Dark release compared with the UK/US releases, see this topic:

http://z6.invisionfree.com/N64_Answers/ind...p?showtopic=122
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WMJ
Established Member
I did some tests with Pilotwings 64 and it seems it was optimised in speed for PAL. Quite surprising since Super Mario 64 had one of the worst PAL conversions and the both of them were launch games from Nintendo.
I assumed it was another lazy conversion since it has huge black borders but apparently not :) .

I also did some tests with Mission Impossible on an emulator and the speed is at least optimised. The downside of testing this with an emulator is that I can't check for borders <_< .
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Deleted User
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I can check if it has borders!

I'll post again when I've found out. :)
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Rogue
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Meow!
WMJ
Oct 19 2007, 08:51 AM
Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon - quite a shocking difference between the PAL/USA and Japanese releases are the Star Blocks. Those Star Blocks were actually blocks with swastika's in the Japanese version. The Japanese version also had some spoken text in the cutscenes that was removed in the PAL/USA releases.

Well.... about the "swastika" thing...

I think you know it's like a "Sun" symbol in Japan.

They remove because people can mistake what it means.

One is 45 degrees tilted (the Nazi), the other one is straight.

This happened on the anime "Yu Yu Hakusho".

They removed the "Sun" symbol in the head of some character because people could mistake its significances...
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WMJ
Established Member
Interesting, I've never known that.

In Mystical Ninja it's indeed straight so it's the sun symbol, makes sence now why they replaced it with a sun drawing in the western releases ^_^ .
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Deleted User
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Sorry, I forgot to check Mission Impossible yesterday but I've checked it now and I can confirm that the PAL version doesn't have any borders. :)
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Amiganer
Newbie
Very helpful list. I've always been wondering how well some of these games were optimised.

Another game you might add to the list is "International Superstar Soccer 64". It's probably one of the early examples of good PAL optimisation, since it's fullscreen and even runs faster than the Japanese version, at least according to this article: http://worldofstuart.excellentcontent.com/world/n64/hate.htm

I'm not sure about the speed in the sequels, but they're all fullscreen as well.

Edited by Amiganer, Aug 21 2009, 03:28 AM.
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Shadow_Zero
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Newbie
Good list to have!
Maybe I missed it, but what does the first Y/N stand for and what does the second Y/N stand for?

EDIT:
Btw, is Super Smash Brothers truly speed optimized? I recall that 'hit the bag with the baseball bat' competition was much harder with PAL due to slower speed (I think you can look up some videos with Yoshi and see the difference).
Edited by Shadow_Zero, Sep 20 2013, 01:26 AM.
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maezun
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Newbie
I've recently replaced my entire collection of PAL carts with NTSC versions. This gave me the chance to compare the different versions of the games I had. I feel like there might be a few errors on your list!

1080 Snowboarding - PAL version is noticeably slower (The lap 'timer' is 20% slower too, as well as the music)

Extreme-G - PAL version is slower.

Extreme-G 2 - PAL version is slower

GoldenEye 007 - PAL version is NOT optimized, it is noticeably slower without a doubt.

Perfect Dark - PAL version much slower! Easily noticeable when running, her footsteps are audibly much slower. PAL version feels like your moving around in treacle! (Looks better tho, especially on a 50" HDTV)

Resident Evil 2 - PAL version is slower/Not fullscreen

South Park - PAL version is slower/Not fullscreen

South Park Rally - PAL version is slower/Not fullscreen

Turok - PAL version is slower/Not fullscreen

Turok 2 - PAL version is slower/Not fullscreen

Turok 3 - PAL version is slower/Not fullscreen

Started to notice a pattern here! Looks a lot like anything made by Acclaim was not PAL optimized :)

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videogamefiles
Newbie
Great article! Mario Kart 64 in particular annoyed me. In a lot of games the speed difference isn't noticeable unless you played the NTSC version but MK64 is so :cussfit: sluggish even with the comparison.

Nintendo really didn't have much care for PAL gamers at the time. Add to this getting the latest big games 6 months+ after the US and Japan to the crap conversions and life was very frustrating for PAL gamers.
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Milage007
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videogamefiles
Jul 27 2016, 05:30 PM
Great article! Mario Kart 64 in particular annoyed me. In a lot of games the speed difference isn't noticeable unless you played the NTSC version but MK64 is so :cussfit: sluggish even with the comparison.

Nintendo really didn't have much care for PAL gamers at the time. Add to this getting the latest big games 6 months+ after the US and Japan to the crap conversions and life was very frustrating for PAL gamers.
Yeah plus all the exclusive titles we never saw: Spider-Man, Indiana Jones, Army Men 2 & Air Combat etc to name but a few. Nevertheless I have some of the good exclusives now!

The speed differential really annoys me too because it kind of put me off competing in our Mario Kart hotlap thread because I can't simply beat people's times I would need to calculate it into NTSC time and I know a formula has been provided but it just isn't the same. I do try pick up NTSC copies of games where I can now because they are usually cheaper and actually more likely to be better quality..
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videogamefiles
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Aye, Ogre Battle 64 was the one bugged me. It looked right up my alley and, after getting a US release, I was fully expecting it to get a UK one but c'est la vie I suppose.

I'm not sure what the N64 import scene is like over here. I've got a Super Famicom (and a PAL Super Nintendo) though. I tend to find the Japanese imports for the Super Famicom are quite often cheaper to get than the PAL version.
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Kardashi64
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Yes! This is a great post man It's nice to have a point of reference for home experimentation! This may have already been answered but were there any instances where PAL conversions got the better deal??

'Dash64
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italia64
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ISS 2000 on low res runs much better on PAL than NTSC-U. I didn't compare the hi rez by the way, which in PAL is unplayable, don't know if the USA version is different.

The NTSC-U version has some slowdown in many situations, while the PAL runs smoothly
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Xan
Newbie
I started playing Quake II on the N64, which at first glance runs fullscreen and speed-optimized in PAL just like it is listed here, but when I switched to an S-Video cable I started noticing something odd... there are clear signs of non-integer scaling here, easily visible on stairstep patterns like the HUD numbers, where it's just not an even slope like it should be. I suspect the RCP has a capability of framebuffer scaling which is used here, so the game still renders the same amount of lines but stretches it out to fill a PAL TV. This has the advantage of giving proper aspect ratio and no borders but the graininess is hard to unsee once you notice it. I haven't checked other games for this but this is definitely something to look into.

Another thing about this port is the insane input lag, it takes a long time to get used to this. I beat the PSX version on hard without much trouble but aiming in this N64 port is often a chore.
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