How To Mod The N64 To Play Imports (Region Mod)
Presented by Fastbilly1
Check out his previous retro gaming hacks like how to throw a Pac-Man Vs. Party Without a Gameboy Advance or a 5-TV Four Swords Zelda Party
This guide is for the ability to play Japanese games on a USA console, or vice versa, it will not work for PAL titles either way. So if you are in the UK and have your N64, sorry but you are out of luck and will have to buy a passthrough device.
Now the reasons for doing this mod are getting fairly low: most of the best Japanese N64 games have been ported or remade on other consoles. However Japanese N64s are fairly cheap and come in many of unique colors. As you will see the pictures, we are going to mod my Turquoise Japanese N64 to play USA games.
What You Need to Get Started
Lets start off with looking at what we have to work with:
- Two games from different regions – Sin and Punishment and Goldeneye
- Two systems from different regions – Turquoise N64 from Japan and a Launch N64 from the USA.
- A Philips head/Cross screwdriver
- A 4.5mm Gamebit (find one on eBay or on Amazon) a Bic pin can be used aswell, but spending the premium of $10 to get a quality TEMPERED bit will save you a lot of headache in the long run.
- A cutting device – Dremel with cutting bit, pair of scissors, bolt cutter, etc.
- [Optional] power screwdriver – Black and Decker’s Pivot Driver is my choice, really just used to get it unscrewed. I hand screw the consoles back together and tighten with the electric if I need it.
Really all you need is the gamebit, screwdriver, cutting device, and one console. But for the sake of the guide I have multiples for comparisons and explanation.
Before we get any further I have to put the disclaimer:
Anything you do to your console is by your own hand. We at Racketboy are not responsible for any damage to your property or person that you commit while following this guide. It is provided for informational use only.
Differences Between USA and Japanese N64 Consoles and Carts
The N64, like the SNES before it, has only minor differences in the hardware between the USA and Japan. Lets look at our two games:
When we flip them over and you can see that there is one major difference, where the tabs are
Close up (Japanese on the left, USA on the right)
There are minor differences for the power aswell, but apart from that little enclave of plastic there is no difference between the console or games. So to play the games you have one of three options:
1. Swap the back of the cart
2. Modify the system
3. Use a pass through device such as a passport or gameshark
I guess you could technically just open the carts and play with the circuit boards, but I really suggest against that. We are obviously going to do the hardest of these and modify the system.
As you can see in the cartridge slot there is our little plastic fiend in the USA console:
And in the Japanese one:
Preparing Your N64 For the Region Mod
So if you want to do this the fast way you can just use pliers and try to break it off. This works a lot better on a Japanese console but can be risky. You could also try cutting it in the console, but we are going to do it the safest way and disassemble the console.
Performing The Mod
Once those are undone, you will have the cartridge seat free.
Do your best to not mess with these as they can be a pain to get back in the right places.
I made the mistake of using a vice to hold it, yeah don’t do that. Just hold it in your hand. Now the plastic has a lot of play in it so you may want to tape on some wood or card board, or use a dremel, and be careful. If you are an idiot like I am and use the vice and scissors well this happens:
This is a really easy modification to do, very little of what you do can really mess up the console. One thing that may get you is that the ram cart is inside of the top of the console, so you may have to reseat it once you get it all back together.
If you have any questions please post them in the Hacks and Mods forum. As always if you have any suggestion on how to make this guide better or simply to make it more user friendly, please tell us. We can proof guides dozens of times, but we believe that they are never perfect. But with help from the community we can make them better. And if you found this guide useful, or have suggestions for new guides, please tell us.
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