How To Modify Your SNES To Play Japanese Super Famicom Games

Dave LeClair 08-01-2014

The library of games available for the Super Nintendo is absolutely massive. It has games spanning almost every genre from space shooters to sprawling RPGs. If you’re a fan of retro gaming, the console is a gold mine. But what if you want more? What if the library available on the western SNES isn’t enough for you? Well, there’s always the Super Famicom (SFC), its Japanese cousin. But you can’t play those games on a SNES. Or can you?


We are going to show you how to play imported Japanese games on your US NTSC Super Nintendo. The process is far easier than you might think.

Console Modification

For some users, the act of physically modifying their console might be a little scary. After all, we are talking about taking your precious SNES and changing the way it functions. Thankfully, the modification required to play Super Famicom games on a SNES requires no actual mods to the board. Instead, it’s as simple as a little snip and pull.

This technique only applies to users in the US, and it will only work with Japanese Super Famicom carts. While PAL and Japanese carts might look similar, even pulling out the pins will not allow PAL carts to work in a US console. Yes, they will fit, but the system will not be able to boot them up. With that said, let’s jump right into just what you are going to need and how you are going to pull this off.

What You Will Need


  • A SNES
  • A Super Famicom game (for making sure you did it right)
  • Wire cutters

With just these three things, you too can experience the joys of importing some of those classic Super Famicom games that never made it out of Japan.


The Process


If you take your Super Nintendo Awesome SNES Games You May Have Never Played [MUO Gaming] The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) is, in my opinion the greatest video game system ever made. It has the perfect amount of old school feel and style, while still having good enough graphics and... Read More and open the cartridge slot, you will notice that right behind the connector is two plastic tabs. Now, if you look at the back of a SNES game, you will see that those little tabs fit nicely in the slots on the back of the cartridge. Super Famicom games, on the other hand, have a flat back, and cannot be placed inside of a Super Nintendo as long as those tabs are there. That’s it; just two plastic tabs prevent you from opening your SNES to a new world of games. There is no software that prevents the games from running, and both types of cartridges feature the exact same pin sets.


1. Open the cart slot to make sure tabs are indeed in place.



2. Grab tabs firmly with wire cutters and wiggle until the tabs are cut off.


3. Attempt to place Super Famicom game in slot, if it fits, you are done; if it doesn’t, then get the cutters a little closer to the back and cut more off.


To make it easier, we have made a video for you to follow, which you will find below:

It really is that simple. At that point in time Nintendo did not bother with all of the region protection that later consoles had, so simply removing two little pieces of plastic is all it takes to make your SNES run imported Super Famicom games.

Some Games To Import

We’ve covered plenty of Super Nintendo games that you need to check out 4 More Awesome SNES Games You've Probably Never Played I think we can all agree that the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) is one of the best video game consoles ever made. The range of games on the console is truly staggering, with every... Read More here at MakeUseOf, but what should you play now that you’ve modified your console to be able to handle some games that were previously unavailable to you? Check out some of these games that were never released to those of us in the US, but are well worth a play through.

Super Back to the Future II

This is a pretty simple platformer that features the characters you know and love from the Back to the Future universe. Unlike the not-so-fun NES game, this Super Famicom release is actually a ton of fun to play, and it’s one you should definitely grab. It’s not a common game, with copies currently selling on eBay for around $60, but it’s worth having for it’s collectablilty and the fact that it’s actually fun to play.


The Firemen

This game did make its way to Europe and Australia with a PAL cart, but for some reason it never saw a release in the United States. It’s a shame, because it’s a fantastic game. It sees the player controlling Pete, a fireman as he attempts to rescue people from burning buildings. The gameplay is simple to pick up, but it offers a ton of depth. This is not an expensive game to import, with copies on eBay going for between $20 and $30. Just make sure you get the SFC cart and not a PAL one, as the PAL will not work.


The Super Nintendo is known for having some of the best 16-bit Japanese RPGs around 5 Great SNES RPGs Online & How To Play Gaming sure isn't what it used to be. I haven't touched a console since the PlayStation 2 days, and I don't think you'll ever be able to convince me to purchase a new one ever... Read More , and Terranigma rivals any of the classics like Final Fantasy, Earthbound, and Secret of Mana. Sadly, it never saw a release in the United States, and playing an RPG is tough if you don’t speak the language, but it’s not impossible. This game is so fun that it might be worth braving your way through it, just so you can experience it first hand. It’s also not expensive, with carts selling for around $20. Just don’t fall for the US SNES ones, as those are reproductions.


Your system is ready to play, you have imported some fantastic games, and now, all that is left is to kick back, relax, and enjoy playing some games that we never had in the United States before.

What are some of your favorite Super Famicom games that never made their way over to western gamers? What games do you recommend new Super Famicom players import? Hit the comments section below and let us know!

Related topics: Nintendo, Retro Gaming.

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  1. Daniel V
    January 10, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    4. Learn Japanese

  2. leo
    January 9, 2014 at 1:08 am

    why would you want to? can't read Japanese so can't enjoy the games to the full ability or potential.

    • Dave
      March 14, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      you don't have to know Japanese to enjoy some games like sidescrollers or shooters, you can generally figure out how to play it yourself, it's not like Super Mario needed an introduction or text.

  3. Charles
    January 8, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Everyone I knew who had one did this back in 1993. First time I've seen it posted on the internet though.