Friday, 21 January 2011

Mystery Street Fighter Game

When my manager at the local charity shop I work at offered me five Mega Drive games for a mere £4, I just couldn't say no. Especially when one of those games happened to be the Japanese version of Street Fighter II' Special Champion Edition. The rest weren't too great: Super WrestleMania, The Terminator, Robocop versus the Terminator and Pit-Fighter, but no worries, I got SFII' SCE! Japanese!

That was on Friday 14th Jan. Today was the first chance I had at testing my new games out, saving SFII' SCE for last. I already have a complete PAL copy of SFII' Special Champion Edition so I knew what to expect, but I was anticipating a fun time non-the-less. 

Or so I thought.

See, I have a region modded Mega Drive which I switched into 60Hz Japanese mode before playing the game. So when the game didn't load up the first few times I simply took it out and put it in until it worked. Until it showed me that all too familiar screen: 

FOR USE WITH PAL AND FRENCH SECAM SYSTEMS ONLY

This was the last thing I was expecting. I put the Mega Drive into 50Hz Japanese mode to find the same result. 50Hz PAL did the trick, just as screen had suggested. My first thoughts were that there may be some elaborate regional lock-out chip inside this particular version of SFII' and that it could detect the original region of the MD and force the user to have it in it original setting. But of course, this made no sense.

Top: Back of the SFII' cartridge.
Bottom: Back of my Puyo Puyo cartridge.

After 5 minutes of internet surfing I find myself even more confused. Street Fighter II' Special Champion Edition isn't known by that name in Japan, where the same MD game is named Street Fighter II' Plus.

So what on Earth is the game I have? 

A fake. That's the only other explanation I could think of. The text on the back of the box was completely in English, like a Genesis copy would be, as was the text on the back of the cartridge. A fake, surely, a PAL version of the game made up to look Japanese in order to coax a few quid out of a unsuspecting retro gamer like myself. It could have been made in the 90's or recently, the reason would still be the same. What a shame.

It was only when I compared it directly with some other Mega Drive games I had that I finally found the explanation I was looking for:

16-BIT CARTRIDGE 
FOR SALE IN ASIA EXCEPT JAPAN AND KOREA

Good news after all. Of course, I was aware that some regions of Asia had PAL Mega Drives, but it's always a point I seem to forget. Even within thriving retro gaming communities like Racketboy, it seems that this is a topic that hardly ever comes up. But it's something I'll not be forgetting the next time I see some “Japanese” Mega Drive games.


So there you have it. My first “Asian” Mega Drive game. I hope you enjoyed this exciting thriller/mystery. I didn't. I have a hard enough time getting to grips with al the Street Fighter iterations as it is...

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