Saturday, May 7, 2011

Getting the most out of your PAL N64 console.

What has always annoyed me about the PAL N64 console is that the best quality video you can get out of it is AV composite which gives an absolutely disgraceful signal. It might sound silly, and it probably is, but I've a personal vendetta against those three red, yellow and white cables.

AV Composite go fuck yourself!
Nintendo in their infinite wisdom decided not to impliment RGB scart or s-video output on PAL N64 consoles, two far superior video standards nd despite RGB scart being supported heavily in Europe. Even the PAL SNES supported RGB scart! Even more maddening is that NTSC machines have s-video support and can be modded to support RGB. AV composite gives a horrible blurry picture with washed out colours and image artifacts like dot crawl. It looks awful. If you are using these cables on any of your consoles that support RGB or s-video then throw those cables out and run down the shops and get yourself some RGB scart or s-video cables, you'll thank me later. The increase in visual quality these cables give is amazing. Remember the people giving out about not being able to read text in Xbox 360 games on standard def TV's and blaming it on the developer not supporting standard definition. Well I had a standard definition TV for a while and had no trouble reading text since I was using an RGB scart cable. The problem was people using the pack in AV composite cables.

What you should be using

Anyway I learnt that s-video cables can be modified and can be used on PAL N64 consoles. I picked one up from www.consolegoods.co.uk who I've dealt with before and would recommend. Make sure you get the modified s-video cable for PAL N64 consoles. The cable works beautifully and even though it's not the massive improvement it is for other consoles thanks to the awful anti-aliasing solution employed for the N64 it's still a massive improvement over composite. This my friends is the best thing you can buy for your N64. I tried it out on a few games. Perfect Dark in its high res mode looks stunning now, like a different game. Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64 similarly look amazing. 2D games like Mischief makers look fantastic. Colours are much more vivid and there's more definition to the image since there's less blurring and no dot crawl artifacts. It's like playing a different console. I can't recommend this cable highly enough.

Here's some pictures stolen from google images to show the benefits of s-video. Remember that composite looks worse in motion due to dot crawl, the stills make it look better:
Composite quality

S-Video Quality



Composite Quality
S-Video Quality


28 comments:

  1. "Remember the people giving out about not being able to read text in Xbox 360 games on standard def TV's and blaming it on the developer not supporting standard definition. Well I had a standard definition TV for a while and had no trouble reading text since I was using an RGB scart cable. The problem was people using the pack in AV composite cables."

    This amuses me to no end.
    Cool info Retro.

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  2. Well the exception to that was Dead Rising which had ridiculously small text. Even at 720p I had trouble with the text!

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  3. This is news to me! Thanks for the info. I've got a PAL N64 and had been thinking about trading it in for an RGB modded NTSC model. But this might just be the (lazy man's) answer I've been looking for. Would save some hassle.

    I mainly just want it for Mystical Ninja on the N64. Such an underrated game.

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  4. I wish I'd known about it earlier myself. Have always been annoyed by only having composite for PAL N64 and no chance of it being RGB modded. I actually bought an NTSC model as well and considered rebuying all my carts as NTSC. This s-video cable has saved me from such thoughts that could lead to bankruptcy :)

    Love mystical ninja as well. Really must go back and finish it. I'm on thelook out for the other Geomon game as well.

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  5. Hey there. Recently bought a PAL N64 and have been using the AV composite cable, but the image comes up very bright thus making it difficult to play! Would buying the S-Video cable you've recommended fix this problem? Or is this a problem with my N64?

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  6. Might be a problem with the N64. The only time I've heard of an overbright display is if you use an s-video cable that hasn't been modified on a PAL N64. Sorry, can't be more helpful than that.

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  7. I know this article is 19 months old but I bought Console Goods' PAL S-video cable and it didn't work for me. Is this because it doesn't work for transparent N64s (something I heard)? I had to resort to buying a PAL RGB N64 from a guy in France.

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    1. I've not heard of these cables not working, are you sure you got the modded ones for PAL consoles and not the plain s-video cable. It could be a TV problem, the TV might not accept s-video. RGB isn't going to work on any PAL console either unless you have one of the very obscure French models.

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  8. hey retro, i have a full-hd Led tv. 1080p. it does not have s-video, it hase red with and white connecters, scart and hdmi,vga.

    What shoud i do?

    p.s my parents have a old widescreen tv the crt ones, this tv has s-video and composite and scart

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  9. i have found this!

    http://www.hisdigital.com/un/product2-404.shtml

    If i would use this, would i get the better picture you are talking about???

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    1. I'm not sure if that one will work but it's worth a try. However those RCA connectors look like inputs, not outputs and you won't get sound with it. I'd do more research before buying it. My new TV has no S-video so I use a s-video to scart adapter that works.

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    2. Is it possible that I could still end up with an over bright image on my Toshiba LCD HDTV (37 inches, 1080p), even when using one of these modded S-Video cables (you've recommended) to connect a UK/PAL Nintendo 64?

      The reason I've asked is because I recently bought two Nintendo S-Video cables from Ebay & both produced an over bright image (even though the seller said he purchased the cables from Currys & Game), & I'm wondering whether it's really the type of TV & not what type of cable or N64 console one is using.

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    3. I've not tried a standard s-video cable on the N64. However I know that the reason that these cables need to be modified is that if they aren't the image is over bright. Nintendo never rleased s-video cables for the PAL N64, I assume what you have are s-video cables for the SNES.

      Again I'm not 100% sure it will fix your problem because there's a very small chance it's because of your TV. However a few friends of mine have bought these cables and they work great and to my knowledge consolegoods is the only place that will sell the modified cables.

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    4. Well, when I connected both these S-Video to my DVD recorders composite input (unfortunately, my DVD Recorder doesn't have an S-Video input) they both displayed a non-bright picture & was just as good, if not, better than the RF aerial picture. Does this prove it's my modern LCD HDTV & not the cables or N64 console that are at fault?

      Have you ever connected a UK/PAL N64 to a modern LCD HDTV by means of just a AV/RCA composite cable, & if so, was the picture over bright?

      Well, the Ebay seller stated that both of these cables were bought from Currys & Game during the N64's run & "in the late 90's", however, one of the cables has printed on it "To Gamecube/N64". For arguments sake, let's assume this Gamecube S-Video cable was made in Great Britain. Well, why would there be a Gamecube S-Video cable made in Great Britain, considering the UK Gamecube was never meant to display in S-Video?

      Yes, I've seen official Nintendo S-Video cables.

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    6. Sounds like they are unmodified cables that are meant to be used on the SNES or Gamecube. A modified cable should fix those problems. You'd be much better off getting one, RF looks nasty, particularly on the N64.

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    9. Unless the games support the 4MB expansion pak there'll be no improvement.

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    11. Sorry been busy all day and only glanced at your post. I had a look at those links just there. The first one might sort out your problem since it's a rewired cable. However I know that some people will sell these cables unmodified. The only seller I can voucher for is the one I mentioned but if you want to take a chance then it might be worth it for that price.

      The second one is a Gamecube s-video cable and unmodified meaning you will have the same overbright image problems.

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  11. so what do you do if you dont have an S video port

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    1. You're kind of stuck then. I've tried getting s-video to work through a s-video to RGB adapter but they suck and only output it as composite instead of s-video. I've moved away from PAL N64 now since it has other problems such as bordering and 50Hz slowdown. I got a NTSC machine for cheap. They can work off the PAL power supply so there's no mesing about with transformers. They support s-video natively but most models can be modded for RGB, it's best to check if the model you are looking at is moddable for RGB. That's kind of all the advice I can give on this. There are apparently some French PAL models that support RGB but I'd say they are very hard to find.

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    2. There's a new "hacked" S-video adapter that's also sold on ConsoleGoods.co.uk

      Ideal if 1. Your TV doesn't have an S-video socket, as is the case with most modern TV's. 2. Your TV's scart socket isn't S-video compaitable.

      To get best results you still need to use the modified N64 S-video cable that's also sold on ConsoleGoods.co.uk

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  12. The image quality with the RGB is fantastic, the biggest improvements can be seen when using the N64 on a large LCD TV. Great guide, much appreciated.

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  13. "Remember the people giving out about not being able to read text in Xbox 360 games on standard def TV's and blaming it on the developer not supporting standard definition. Well I had a standard definition TV for a while and had no trouble reading text since I was using an RGB scart cable. The problem was people using the pack in AV composite cables."

    I had a similar situation with a friend who for some reason was using the AV cables instead of the HDMI plug... XD we changed it round after I questioned him on it, and didn't see a single blurry picture out of that console again!

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