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Thread: When video games were crispy like before the war!

  1. #1
    Professor The Melody Maker's Avatar
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    When video games were crispy like before the war!

    [There's a reason I put this in Computer Lab rather than Amphitheater as you'll see shortly. ]


    Many years ago when Super Mario Bros. 3 was brand new, several months before it was actually released in North America, a couple of my cousins somehow managed to get a copy of a Japanese import cartridge -- intended for the FamiCom, but it worked on the NES anyway. We borrowed it from them for a while so we could play it, but we came across a baffling problem.

    After playing for a couple of hours or so at a time, the game would freeze up. And then we found that the cartridge was really hot to the touch, so we had to turn it off. We figured out that before we could play any more we had to simply give it time to cool down first, and then it would work again. So we'd play until it got hot, and then took a break for a while before playing again. It was a long while before we could finish the game and give it back to our cousins, but for some years afterwards it was a mystery as to why it got hot while the official North American release of the game we got several months later remained cool and worked with no trouble.

    And then a few years later, I took an electronics course and read something that made me figure out what was going on.

    In Japan, the electrical timing standard for alternating current is 50 Hz (meaning it alternates back and forth 50 times per second). But in North America, it's 60 Hz. We were trying to use something intended for a 50 Hz AC machine in a 60 Hz one, and when that happens it takes all that extra current and converts it into heat energy.

    So although it took several years to figure it out, the mystery of the hot game was solved!


    (Unless someone else has another explanation. )
    Last edited by The Melody Maker; 04-24-2020 at 09:11 AM. Reason: Misnamed the forum at the start of the post; should be Amphitheater, not Amplitheater.
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  2. #2
    radical strawberry
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Melody Maker View Post
    In Japan, the electrical timing standard for alternating current is 50 Hz (meaning it alternates back and forth 50 times per second). But in North America, it's 60 Hz. We were trying to use something intended for a 50 Hz AC machine in a 60 Hz one, and when that happens it takes all that extra current and converts it into heat energy.
    In Japan, it's both.

    Power is the product of current and voltage; it varies with frequency, but nets the same. You calculate average current and average voltage using "root mean square" or RMS: square it, average it, take the square root. 50 Hz or 60 Hz, the RMS is the same. I'd need to see the circuit diagrams to say more, but you're likely right, in essence, that power is being shed because of incompatibility.

    You could get around this by converting back to 50 Hz.

  3. #3
    tWebber TheWall's Avatar
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    I thought that the pin connections between the two devices were different.

    I know the SNES had little plastic tabs that prevented super famicom games from working.

  4. #4
    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Except the Cartridge would be using DC power, not AC. Your console has a power supply and converter inside.

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