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Modify your Mega Drive/Genesis 32X PAL/NTSC


Modify your Mega Drive/Genesis 32X PAL/NTSC

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Source article on web

The following guide will give you the chance to make your Mega Drive 32X regionless so that you can use it with all the existing games in the world!



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Method : interaction between the 32X / Mega Drive / games

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  1. Chip 315-xxxx, a few electronics concepts
  2. Positioning
  3. Modification
  4. Finalising
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Further Information

  1. The different ways, and different levels of region encoding, on 32X games
  2. Points about the region indicator
  3. Exhaustive list of 32X cartridge games and their region level



The 32X is a pretty sweet add-on for your Mega Drive, giving it access to ultimate 2D and real 3D for your gaming pleasure, with titles in magnificent 2D such as Chaotix, titles deftly mixing 2D and 3D like Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000, and finally, exceptional titles in pure 3D like the unforgettable Virtua Racing !

Unfortunately, its library of games isn’t huge, and without living in America, the choice is even smaller in Europe and Japan (the arrival of the Saturn, 2 weeks before the 32X in Japan, has something to do with it…), including the absence of some titles such as Tempo over here…

While it is nevertheless easy to lay your hands on the American games, and for much cheaper than the European versions no less, you are quickly confronted with an important problem: the games are region-locked and only want to start up on an NTSC console, and only an American one to boot...

You then try to tinker with it a bit, you modify your Mega Drive to change it to NTSC, and then: black screen…

You say you aren’t beaten yet, you could always purchase a Genesis and an NTSC 32X, but being able to use just one 32X for everything would have been more practical…

Luckily for you, the beast has now been tamed, and I am about to tell you one of its greatest secrets! &#59;)

Method : interaction between the 32X / Mega Drive / games

What is known as the "interaction" is actually what defines the balance between the 32X game, the 32X itself and the Mega Drive. In fact, the reason for region-locking the 32X games on the Mega Drive (and not on the 32X itself), and the fact that an NTSC 32X will no longer work on a Mega Drive PAL (and vice versa), are linked to the peculiar functionality of the 32X. The games aren’t region-locked for the same reasons as the Mega Drive’s.


Even though the 32X controls the Mega Drive and uses it as a slave for certain tasks, it still remains dependent (like a parasite) and must adapt itself to the Mega Drive.
Its main problem is that it cannot use the Mega Drive’s VDP (Video Display Processor) to display its own data, so it uses its own VDP to deal with the advanced 2D, and the 3D. For basic 2D items, such as menus or the HUD in games, it will allocate it to the Mega Drive to do (the same goes for the audio).
This is where the video loopback adaptor comes into play, which you connect between the Mega Drive’s output and the 32X’s input. This cable will allow the recovery of image and sound from the part allocated to the Mega Drive, and enable you to multiplex everything with the part treated by the 32X itself.

The worry is that, for it to function correctly, both parts must work on the same display frequency, either at 50HZ in PAL, or 60HZ in NTSC. This is why the 32Xs have a precise configuration dependent on their region: an American or Japanese 32X will be configured to work with the NTSC Mega Drives at 60HZ, and a European 32X will be configured to function at 50HZ with PAL Mega Drives…
By plugging in an NTSC 32X into a PAL Mega Drive (or vice versa), you will most likely get a black screen due to the fact that the 32X isn’t able to settle into the synchronisation of the Mega Drive: it is therefore not a region-locking issue, but a purely material incompatibility.

My research from 14th August 2004 thus consisted of finding the way to modify the configuration of a 32X and create a reversible modification using a switch.

US 32X which made this article possible

If we look at the region-locked 32X games, they are locked for obvious optimisation reasons for 60HZ or 50HZ, depending on the country.
You should know that it is the Mega Drive that is targeted by safeguards and not the 32X, and, depending on the game, this protection will either only check the frequency parameter of the console, or both the frequency and the language (-> the country). This is why it is perfectly possible to play certain region-locked JAP 32X games on a US 32X, and vice versa.

It is therefore important to understand that the below modification only allows you to use the modified 32X with whichever Mega Drive you want. To be able to play any of the games in the world, you need a switched 32X and a switched Mega Drive (Mega Drive 1 Tutorial | Mega Drive 2 Tutorial, French only), or a Mega Drive from each region, but that’s not very practical :>>

The 32X model used below as example is a European 32X, model MK-84200-50.

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1984 : l'année où Yuji Naka, l'un des papas de Sonic, est rentré chez SEGA en tant que programmeur. Il a notamment fait ses preuves sur Phantasy Star 2, et s'est illustré avec la conversion de Ghouls'n Ghosts sur Mega Drive.


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