I like your PAL stuff better than your NTSC stuff

James Matson discovers that NTSC isn’t – in fact – a dirty word. Well actually it’s not a word at all, it’s an acronym but that’s entirely beside the point.

When you’re a PAL collector like most Australian retro game hoarders are, you tend to have a dim view of NTSC console models and their games.   We’re not talking about NTSC only machines mind you, more consoles that have both a PAL and NTSC incarnation.  Consoles like the Japanese Super Famicom or USA NES don’t seem to hold their value well in PAL territories, and the games themselves seem like cast-outs in the eyes of many.  You need only do a quick check on Ebay to compare the same game on a PAL Nintendo Entertainment System versus an NTSC copy to see the difference in perceived value at least.  So is there an appeal? Of course! We’ve decided to use an NTSC Super Famicom and a copy of Super Bomberman 3 to make the case that NTSC collecting can be as fun and rewarding as PAL collecting any day of the week.

Behold, a Super Famicom and assorted games…

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So, why bother with Super Famicom collecting? Especially when you need a step-down transformer to play the games in Australia without setting your SFC ablaze in a fiery shower of  retro lust? For one thing, check out the box art on the SFC version of Super Bomberman 3 (top).  Superior to the PAL release (bottom) simply by virtue of being all encompassing rather than just a frame on the box. There’s something very appealing about the way in which SFC box art is done in comparison with SNES boxes.

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You’ll find a lot of the Super Famicom games have similar box art, so already there’s a compelling reason to throw a few SFC games into your collecting mix (because, let’s face it – the prettier the box, the better it looks on the shelf) Don’t forget that – on average – boxed SFC games fetch a far lower price than their PAL equivalents, so you can rapidly build up a collection of NTSC titles for relative cheap, cheap (it’s also worth noting that SFC games seem to be well taken care of compared to often bashed about PAL SNES titles).  So you get games with great art, in great condition, with exactly the same gameplay but cheaper.

Are you starting to see the appeal?

The inside of Super Bomberman 3 also doesn’t disappoint, with bright, cheery instructions and instructions that contain a fantastic comic strip the meaning of which we will never, ever know. But that’s a minor quibble when the art is so pretty. Again, compare the top (NTSC) with the bottom (PAL) contents.

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So, what about the gameplay? Well, Super Bomberman 3 is exactly the same in NTSC form as it is in PAL, so there are no surprises. It’s a fantastic puzzle game where you get to clear screen after colorful screen of bad guys using well placed and well timed bomb explosions. Super Bomberman 3 in comparison with the original Bomberman/Dynablaster introduces new bad guys, new themed rooms and even a strange Kangaroo type critter that your Bomberman can ride. Nifty and a great time waster, Super Bomberman 3 is just one of many NTSC games that – thanks to its relative cheapness and great artwork makes an easy case for why collecting NTSC games can be a great experience and an easy way to beef up your game collecting.

So what are you waiting for? Time to throw off those PAL shackles and start tasting the exotic delights of NTSC goodness. (Just remember to check whether or not you’ll need to run a step-down converter to convert voltage when using an NTSC console within Australia!)