Bypassing The Nintendo Entertainment System's "Lockout" Chip


Solder, soldering iron, knife, flat-head/Phillips screw drivers, flux, flux remover/rubbing alcohol, side cutters, wire strippers, continuity tester/multimeter, some 22 WAG or 30 WAG copper wire, some method of static protection, small paint brush, cloth/paper towel, anti-static bag, tweezers/needle-nose pliers & LOADS of patience.


skull Warning skull

The console's circuit board is very delicate. Handle with care. Take anti-static precautions before working on the board. Do not work on the board while it is plugged into any other device, especially when that device is giving power to the work piece. Store the board in a static free environment when not working on it. Do not work on the board while power is flowing through unless certain measurements are needed to be taken; if so, make sure proper precautions are taken to avoid shock.



This could be possibly one of the strangest facts ever known to hardware fanatics:

When the NES console was created, Nintendo actually included a feature which prevented most pirated, unlicensed & foreign games from running on particular console models!

Strange, isn't it? Here are the facts:

Since Nintendo was extremely competitive to the point of wanting to destroy all possible competitors (a bit like Microsoft,) they decided to try & stomp out all game producers that were not licensed & endorsed by Nintendo. So, they set out to create a series of 4-bit microprocessors & program them with information about a particular region & with information on which games are "legitimate" & which are not.

This is the story behind the 319XA series microprocessor & the 10NES firmware program. Read the original patent document here.


Companies that were licensed by Nintendo (such as Konami, Taito, Namco, Tecmo, etc.) were allowed to buy these microprocessors so that their games could work on NES consoles. Other companies (such as Tengen) were either forced out of the business or found ways of bypassing the need for the 319XA series chips.

The chips work like a lock & key; the console has a lock & the game cartridge has the key. When the game is plugged in & turned on, the two chips check if they are compatible with each other &, if they are, the game will start. If the chips are NOT compatible (i.e.: if the game was made in a different country, if the game was a counterfeit, if the game was made by an unlicensed company, etc.) then the game will not start.

Will not start, that is, unless either an adaptor is available or if the console is modified! If an adaptor is not available, click here to read how to modify the console, or click here to download & save the tutorial.

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