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.
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.
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
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!