How to play NTSC-J RF-only consoles on PAL televisions

Sometimes it’s difficult being a fan of Japanese games when living outside of Japan. If you’re in a PAL country, older NTSC-J consoles cannot ever display properly on your screens. You can usually tune in a fuzzy black and white picture with no sound at best. Even your TV is NTSC compatible via other inputs, it’s extremely unlikely to support NTSC over RF.

You can mod most RF-only systems to output composite video or better, but I am not touching my SG-1000, Color TV Game 6, or some of my original Famicoms, so they simply cannot be used easily.

No modding for you!
No modding for you!

The traditional method was to use an NTSC-J compatible VCR which takes in the RF signal and outputs in composite, but they’re getting hard to come by, are cumbersome, and you also end up with additional artifacting from the composite signal.

I now have a cheap solution. I got myself a $20 NTSC RF to VGA box on ebay. It’s effectively an external analogue NTSC TV capture card. It takes in RF (or composite via side inputs) and outputs in VGA plus 3.5mm stereo jack for audio, with various scaling options.

RF_4231  RF_4234

It can tune in all these consoles, and the output is fantastic. Video is really quite comparable to good composite, and sound is great. The scaling, for what it can do with a fuzzy RF image, is quite solid too. Options are selectable via an on-screen menu, and it even comes with a remote control.


And here are the results, Turtles 2 on on original Famicom


The distortion lines are just from photographing the TV, it’s actually quite clean.

I’ve made a video of it running here:

The downside is that the tuner is NTSC-U, so still not 100% compatible with all Japanese consoles. So I couldn’t get the SG-1000 working perfectly, the colours were off. Color TV Game 6 worked great, as did two different Famicoms, and a Super Famicom vis RF.

It seems to have particular trouble getting sync with primarily plain background games. It eventually clicks and then stays in sync however, but this can take a couple of minutes. However, in all these cases, sound is pretty much perfect the whole time.

Overall, it’s a pretty cheap solution to at least test RF consoles, and good enough to play many!


19 thoughts on “How to play NTSC-J RF-only consoles on PAL televisions

  1. jessicabridgeworth October 22, 2015 / 10:45 am

    I like your review style, D.Lo. Very authentic :). Would love to feature your reviews in our weekly curated email digest that goes out to thousands of people.


  2. xinyingho October 4, 2016 / 3:31 am

    I got the same NTSC RF to VGA box than you. But how do you plug a Famicom to this box? The console’s RF output plug is too big to fit in the box’s RF input plug. Is an adapter required?


    • D.Lo October 4, 2016 / 10:49 am

      Different countries have different TV plugs. So yeah you’ll need some kind of adapter. The Famicom itself just has an RCA sized plug, so something that connects your local aerial plug to that.


      • xinyingho October 4, 2016 / 5:18 pm

        Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. I’m also from a PAL country (France). And I’ve just bought the same MTVBox as in your pictures, thinking that this way I won’t have to search for a local aerial plug that nobody has anymore. But I can’t plug my Famicom or its original RF Switch to this MTVBox. Could you give me a link to the required adapter or at least the keywords with which I should search online?
        It seems like there are as many aerial plug standards as there are countries. So I really don’t know what to search for…


    • xinyingho October 4, 2016 / 5:39 pm

      I see. Thanks for your quick reply! I’ll first try to see at a local store then. I may be lucky 🙂


    • ybarz February 26, 2017 / 12:12 pm

      Would this NES rf switch would also work for my color tv game and allow it to be plugged into the mtvbox?

      I’m not sure to have understood everything, please tell me if I’m wrong.


      • D.Lo October 23, 2017 / 11:06 pm

        Most likely yes, but all setups are different.


  3. ilya kolodyazhny March 22, 2017 / 5:37 am

    Hi mate! Can you please tell me – which modern analog tuner is compatible with Famicom RF, and modern PC at the same time?


    • D.Lo March 22, 2017 / 1:13 pm

      Sorry no idea, my Sony 4K TV has a worldwide tuner, my Panasonic does not. Best to check by model.


  4. the-force April 27, 2017 / 4:15 am

    I hope you can help me. I ordered the MTVBox and connected it to TV and Famicom but I can’t get the image better than that:

    Any Idea?


    • D.Lo May 30, 2017 / 8:25 pm

      Hi, just try and fiddle with everything. Change the channel on the console (every console seems to have a switch between two channels) and try in every NTSC setting on the Mbox.


    • D.Lo July 23, 2018 / 12:38 am

      That’s probably not the best way to go honestly, better to get an RGB cable and RGB capture device.


  5. Michele August 1, 2018 / 12:57 am

    D.Lo I need your help! I bought the same converter as yours to see if I could get sound to come out from my Color TV Game Racing 112 and, surprisingly, sound does come out of it! But now if I switch to NTSC colour mode on the converter box, colours show up but the image is distorted and it goes back to B&W immediately…how can I fix this? Do you mind sharing the settings you used with your Color TV Game 6? I’m having the opposite issue now, before using the MTVBox I could get colours to show up but no sound at all, now I can hear the sound effects but can’t display any colours…

    Thanks in advance,



    • D.Lo August 1, 2018 / 1:52 am

      Hi Michelle,

      unfortunately I wrote this years ago and in the meantime my Panasonic plasma died and I have nothing with VGA input anymore, so got rid of the box. So I can’t help anymore, sorry about that!


  6. Mkushrom September 27, 2018 / 6:40 am

    Hi D.LO

    I’m thinking about purchasing the MTVBox you posted. However, my TV is a CRT that doesn’t have a VGA port, so I’d have to use a SCART adapter to plug it in. Did you notice any input lag on the Famicom? I’m afraid that all these signal conversions may make the console too laggy to play.


    • D.Lo November 3, 2018 / 7:32 pm


      Unfortunately I wrote this years ago and in the meantime my Panasonic plasma died and I have nothing with VGA input anymore, so got rid of the box. So I can’t help anymore, sorry about that!


  7. Mkushrom September 27, 2018 / 4:33 pm

    Hi D.LO

    I’m thinking about buying an MTVBox like yours, have you noticed any input lag while playing the Famicom?



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