How to Play Super Famicom Games on an American Super Nintendo

Picture of How to Play Super Famicom Games on an American Super Nintendo
Attention: These instructions are only for the original Super Nintendo and not the smaller “slim” model, if you do not know which one you have, the older SNES has a large rectangular purple slider for the reset function and the slim model has a small purple button.

Today with websites like eBay it is easier than ever to obtain import Japanese games, however, it is still fairly expensive and hard to get a hold of the import game consoles. Fortunately it is quite easy to be able to play import Super Famicom games on your console. The Super Famicom is the Japanese only version of the Super Nintendo, it has the exact same controller and the same internals as the North American SNES. The only difference is in the shape of the cartridges. The North American carts are a little bigger and have two indentations on the bottom of them that are absent on the Japanese carts. If you look into the cartridge port on your Super Nintendo you will see that there are two plastic protrusions or "tabs", which match the indentations on the cartridge. These tabs are the only thing that prevents the Super Famicom games from being played on the Super Nintendo.

There are two options for you at this point, you can buy a cartridge adapter, which is basically a pass through spacer which allows you to play the games, or you can manually remove the tabs in the cartridge port. Removing the tabs is definitely the cheapest and most elegant solution in my opinion, and you could be playing the Japanese games in less than an hour. Modifying the Super Nintendo in this way is fairly simple and does not require any soldering or any modification of the electronics.

Note: The games will still have Japanese text no matter what way you choose to play them, however some games may have an English text option. If you want to play an English version of a Super Famicom game there may be fan translated ROMs available online, assuming you already own the game.

Also: This will only allow you to play Japanese Super Famicom games in a North Amercian Super Nintendo, not vice versa. Super Nintendo cartridges are bigger and will not fit in the Super Famicom console, and even though European Super Nintendo games are the same size as Japanese cartridges, they WILL NOT WORK in the American or Japanese consoles. The European games run on the PAL video standard and the American and Japanese game use NTSC, they are not compatable.

What You Will Need:
  • 4.5 mm security bit. (The Super Nintendo’s outside casing screws use this special bit. You can find it online for a couple of dollars, it is also common in bit sets.)
  • Screwdriver handle.
  • Phillips screwdriver or bit.
  • Pliers or wire-cutters.
  • Small metal file.
  • Small tweezers or needle.
  • Old toothbrush.
  • Cleaning solution or water.
  • Drying cloth.
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Wouldn't it be easier to swap the circuit boards from the cartridges?

My question was if you needed an additional software or hardware mod...but now seeing this...this means that both Super Famicom and SNES are entirely compatible?
The only limitation was the "plastic design" that does not fit the carts?
doomsdayltd3 years ago
woh woh woh i thought the snes had a lock out chip similar to that of the nes's except it delt with the problem with the coc lock in chips.......but apparently not so
lide128 (author)  doomsdayltd3 years ago
That's what I thought too, but it's so easy to mod it. The Super Nintendo never ceases to amaze!
wfelix3 years ago
you can cut the tabs without unassemble the console. I did this way 20 year ago, eheheh.
lide128 (author)  wfelix3 years ago
I suppose if you don't have the security bit that would be the best option. I attempted to do it once without opening the console, but I ended up scratching the case a bit.