PAL optimized NES games – list in progress

Gamers in Europe really got the short end of the stick in the 80’s and early 90’s. Fewer releases, sometimes more than a year after games were released in the US.
As a PAL NES owner and a cart collector the PAL vs. NTSC issue still plaques me.
European PAL games run in 50hz but US games run in 60hz. What this means is that the refresh rates on TV’s in their respective areas effect game speed on the consoles. PAL games run about 17% slower than the NTSC games and they have those ugly black boarders to fit the screen. This bugs the hell out of me but luckily they started fixing some games and “optimized” them for PAL play. What they did is they patched the games so they run faster and at a higher pitch, these games would play great on a PAL console but played on a NTSC console the game would be way too fast and glitch out.
As a NES collector in the PAL region I just wanted to make a list of all optimized PAL games released in Europe for the world to see, the list is not complete yet but I am still adding games to the list as I test more games.

This video will show you what i mean, playing Castlevania like this is just torture…

PAL optimized (Play on a PAL system):

(Many of these may have slower game speed but most of them are well optimized and should be played on a PAL console)

Adventures of Lolo 3
Blaster Master
Duck Tales
Felix the Cat
Fester’s Quest
Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino and Hoppy
Guardian Legend
Journey to Silius
Ikari Warriors
Legend of Zelda
Legend of Zelda II: Adventure Of Link
Little Samson
Kirby’s Adventure
Ice Hockey
Mega Man 3
North and South
Panic Restaurant
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 3
Street Gangs (River City Ransom)

Partly Optimized and other exceptions (In most cases sound speed up but not game speed – Play on a PAL system)

Adventure Island
Adventure Island 2
Adventures of Lolo
Adventures of Lolo 2
Blaster Master
Bucky O’Hare
Bubble Bobble
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
Chip & Dale
Chip & Dale 2
Cobra Triangle
Double Dragon II
Double Dragon III
Duck Tales 2
Ghosts ‘N Goblins
Gremlins 2
Little Nemo: The Dream Master
Mega Man 4
Mega Man 5
Mega Man 6
Monster in my Pocket
Little Nemo
R.C. Pro-Am
Power Blade
Probotector 2 (Super C)
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles II: The Arcade game
Mega Man 3
Metroid (PAL version seems a bit off compared to the US one)


Not PAL Optimized(Play on an NTSC system):

Balloon Fight
Bionic Commando
Blades of Steel
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Jr.
Donkey Kong 3
Double Dragon
Duck Hunt
Excite Bike
Goonies II
Hammering Harry
Ice Climbers
Kid Icarus
Kung Fu
Mach Rider
Mega Man
Mega Man 2
Metal Gear
Probotector (Contra)
Rad Racer
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles
Wrecking Crew

Of course if you are a PAL NES owner and are used to the slowed down gameplay then that is fine of course. For me i have listened to the Castlevania and Mega Man 2 OSTs so many times online that i cannot stand listening to the PAL versions. As for Mega Man 1 and TMNT1, I played them so much as a child that i still prefer the slow PAL versions of the games even though they were not meant to be played that way.
Just whatever floats your boat! I hope that this list has proved helpful to you 😀

I also want to recommend NES clones like the Retron HD and The Retro AVS. Both these consoles have a 50hz/60hz switch so you can just change the frequency depending on what game you are playing on the fly. Essential for a guy with a mixed collection like me.


Comment down below if you can add some games on the list! Thank you!

7 thoughts on “PAL optimized NES games – list in progress”

  1. Just to say cheers very much for putting this list together! I’m generally resorting to picking up NTSC copies over PAL by default these days, but good to know whether to compensate or which mode to use when playing on the AVS NES. =)


  2. Hi Egill, thanks for this list! Just bought Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles used and I did not have nostalgia for it as a kid, so I was horrified of the slowed down music and gameplay going on, and it’s annoying that this list is not completed yet on the internet and that I can only be sure of the preferred quality if I do a short playthrough of NTSC and PAL roms one after another and compare.


    1. Thanks!
      Now i have gotten 2 comments like this in a short period of time which only tells me that there are a bunch of other people out there with the same problem.
      This really encourages me to finish the list. Thank you and let me know if there are any games you have tested that are not on my list


  3. There are some other differences too. The PAL NES sends a slightly cropped image to the tv, two pixel lines are cropped off on every side of the picture. This was hidden to the natural overscan area on a crt, but nowadays, with modern RGB mods or HDMI Systems like NT Mini, you can see it. Some PAL games have distorted audio, because they accelerated the audio to mach the ntsc versions better. Batman Return of the Joker is a fine example, some parts of the bassline are way harder to hear on PAL. Mega Man 2 has broken sound too, every time you shoot a bullet, there is a farting sound not present in the ntsc versions, so they changed something for PAL, but not for the better…


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