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Sonic 3 & Knuckles on the MD - Question for PAL experts

Posted: Sun May 14, 2017 6:56 am
by Reprise
Hey guys, so my Mega Drive is a 50hz/60hz, region modded console so I don't have to put up with our horrible PAL conversions and also so I can play games from other regions that were region locked.

I already own PAL versions of all the 16-bit Sonic games, but one of the things I have been wanting to do for ages, is finally pick up the Genesis versions of Sonic 2 and Sonic 3, and possible S&K, which I already own the PAL equivalents for.

Sonic 1 was completely unoptimised for PAL audiences. What this means, is it runs 13% slower, but this is a good thing for someone with a modded Mega Drive, because I simply run the console at 60hz and it plays perfectly as if it was intended, in full screen at full speed.

Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 were optimised for PAL audiences. This means they will not run when I try and run them at 60hz. The problem with PAL optimised games is they are still not full screen and they are still a bit wonky when it comes to speed, not always matching the intentional speed of the original games that NTSC audiences would experience.

So here's the thing (sorry for the long read), I just bought a Genesis copy of Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 off Ebay, but I'm little confused with where Sonic & Knuckles stands.

The first problem with S&K is the cartridge looks identical whether it's the Genesis version or the PAL version. Early copies of the PAL version have a small 'assembled in UK' sticker on the front and say the same on the back of the cartridge (which is literally the only cosmetic difference), however, it seems later PAL/UK releases look identical to the Genesis version and say assembled in the US.

Now I've been reading stuff online that says the S&K cartridge is literally the same across all regions, internally, meaning that it is region free, unoptimised for PAL audiences and therefore will work absolutely fine with my NTSC Genesis copy of Sonic, which will hopefully come through the post this week.

Is this true? Or do I need to buy a US Genesis copy of S&K? And if so, except for literally importing a copy from the US (which is expensive), how will I know if a copy is the Genesis version? Is it literally just checking it doesn't have the small 'assembled in the UK' sticker on it and that it says assembled in the US on the back? And even if it does look like that, is it a guarantee that it is a US version? Because stuff online seems to indicate that later PAL releases also say that.

You see, to keep costs down, I just want to buy a cartridge only copy, since I own the PAL boxes already.

Anyone had any experience with this? Sorry for the long winded post. It's just that there's a cartridge of S&K on Ebay right now for a decent price that says assembled in the US on the back of the cart and I just want to find out if A - It's a Genesis version and B - If I even need it before I go ahead and buy it.

Re: Sonic 3 & Knuckles on the MD - Question for PAL experts

Posted: Sun May 14, 2017 7:12 am
by Reprise
Ok, I just did the sensible thing and checked my S&K PAL cart in 60hz mode and it does indeed load absolutely fine and run fine.

Interesting. So now the question is will the NTSC Genesis Sonic 3 cart work properly when locked on with the 'PAL' S&K cart... hmm.

Re: Sonic 3 & Knuckles on the MD - Question for PAL experts

Posted: Sun May 14, 2017 8:09 am
by emwearz
I don't have a NTSC copy of Sonic 3, but pretty much no MD/Genesis games are optimized for PAL.

They run full speed on NTSC hardware and slow on PAL hardware.

Re: Sonic 3 & Knuckles on the MD - Question for PAL experts

Posted: Sun May 14, 2017 8:23 am
by Reprise
emwearz wrote:I don't have a NTSC copy of Sonic 3, but pretty much no MD/Genesis games are optimized for PAL.

They run full speed on NTSC hardware and slow on PAL hardware.


That's not true at all, especially for most later releases. A great deal of PAL MD games were "optimised". When I say optimised though, I don't mean perfect or equivalent to the NTSC versions, but I do mean that time went by the developers to alter the code for the PAL regions to fix the speed issues. Sometimes they run at the exact same speed (e.g. Thunder Force IV and Probotector [Contra Hard Corps]) and sometimes the music runs at the same speed, but gameplay is still slower. All games are squashed and have borders though.

What this means for people with modified consoles, is any PAL optimised game will run too fast when switched to 60hz or will not run at all. I have loads of games this applies to; Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 being two examples.

Re: Sonic 3 & Knuckles on the MD - Question for PAL experts

Posted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:11 am
by theclaw
For correct results, you need to set the desired region before a game runs its NTSC/PAL detection. Entirely bypassing the lockout screen with patch codes like Game Genie can do this.

The original release of Sonic 2 is region free, and contains USA, Europe, and Japanese programming on the same cart. (music speed optimization, Tales or Miles name)

Sonic 3 still has everything content-wise, it's just hidden by that warning.

Sonic & Knuckles itself is region free, and being an extension cart it also makes Sonic 3 & Knuckles region free. There's the universal cartridge shape too. Sonic & Knuckles fits, and allows all other games to fit (if only to see their Blue Sphere level), any region console.