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The Nintendo 64 is revered as one of the most important gaming devices in gaming history; it introduced the possibility of 3D games and implemented designs such as the analog stick, memory cards, and in-game controller rumbling that are considered commonplace in the video game industry. While you may have fond memories of your N64, chances are that you have missed out on some of the most remarkable games of its library due to region-locked hardware restrictions. Purchasing a Japanese Nintendo 64 console will give you access to some of the system's most exciting games that were otherwise unavailable in other parts of the world.

What is the difference between NTSC and PAL consoles?

The terms NTSC and PAL refer to the type of color coding used by television and video game manufacturers in different parts of the world. In most cases, U.S. televisions utilize the NTSC format, though some may have the ability to switch between NTSC and PAL. The PAL format is used almost exclusively in European countries. While N64 consoles produced in Japan were also produced in the NTSC format, it's important to check that the model of N64 that you're purchasing is compatible with your television.

Can you play U.S. games on a Japanese N64?

The same hardware restrictions that apply to U.S. N64 systems also apply to ones originating from Japan. While it is possible to play a U.S. game on a foreign system and vice versa, it requires modification of your original system. If you're uncomfortable making a physical modification to your console, purchasing an authentic N64 from Japan is your best bet for playing region-locked titles.

What other peripherals were originally available in Japan only?

While the U.S. version of the N64 remained mostly true to other worldwide releases of the system, the Japan release of the N64 also had the option of connecting to the 64DD, a magnetic disc drive made specifically for the N64. This unit plugged into the bottom of the N64 system and expanded the unit's ability to play software exclusive to the disc drive system. The 64DD only reported selling a total of 15,000 units, making it, and some of the titles available, among the rarest and hardest to find titles in the entire N64 library.

These titles include:

  • "Mario Artist: Paint Studio"
  • "SimCity 64"
  • "F-Zero X Expansion Kit"
  • "Doshin the Giant"
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