Version: 1.4 (text)
Last-modified: 14 Sep 1999
Copyright: (c) 1999 Tod Weitzel
rec.games.video.sony Official FAQ 1.4
Updated 14 Sep 1999
Maintained and Authored by Lord Xarph (Tod Weitzel)
Table of Contents
1 - FAQ Info
* 1.1 - Legal stuff
* 1.2 - The purpose of this FAQ
* 1.3 - Who maintains this thing?
* 1.4 - Recent changes
* 1.5 - Formatting
* 1.6 - Information still needed
2 - The Group and General Questions
* 2.1 - What do you talk about here?
* 2.2 - X Next Generation System is better than Playstation!
* 2.3 - The best game ever is...
* 2.4 - FT/FA/FS messages and their ilk.
* 2.5 - Basic posting rules.
3 - The Playstation
* 3.1 - What are the differences between the various models?
* 3.2 - What does the X in PSX stand for?
* 3.3 - My Playstation skips!
* 3.4 - My Playstation won't recognize controllers!
* 3.5 - My Dual Shock controller doesn't work any more!
* 3.6 - My Playstation picture bounces!
* 3.7 - How do I play a Video CD on my Playstation?
* 3.8 - What's a Mod Chip?
* 3.8.1 - Where can I buy one?
* 3.8.2 - How do I install it?
3.9 - What is a Game Enhancer?
3.10 - I've got a great idea! I'll buy a new Playstation and take my old
one back to the store in the same box!
3.11 - What memory cards should I use?
3.12 - Why is Sony selling memory cards with only three blocks?
3.13 - What's the code to make show up nekkid?!!11!
3.14 - What does it mean to "lock" an import game?
3.15 - Are CDR backups legal?
3.16 - How do lightguns work, and how is the Guncon different?
3.17 - How do I clean the lens on my Playstation?
4 - References
* 4.1 - Web sites
* 4.1.1 - Repair
* 4.1.2 - Mod Chips/Game Enhancers
* 4.1.3 - Imports
4.2 - Acronyms
4.3 - Contributors
1.1 - Legal Stuff
This FAQ is copyright 1999 Tod Weitzel. It is neither affiliated with Sony
nor do any opinions belonging to me or other contributors reflect those of
any organization or company.
Portions of this FAQ include quotations and postings from other persons, in
which case all bets are off and the content quoted is copyrighted to the
Reprinting of this FAQ or the articles and editorials contained within for
commercial purposes is prohibited without written consent from the
maintainer. Reproduction of this FAQ on free, informational sites is
permitted, although a reminder from the main tainer of such a site regarding
the posting is requested.
1.2 - The purpose of this FAQ
One day, after answering the "my TV picture bounces!" question for the third
time, I decided that someone REALLY needed to write a FAQ for
rec.games.video.sony. After realizing no one did, I decided to hack a quick
This FAQ answers questions frequently asked about rec.games.video.sony, the
Sony Playstation video game console, and any other video game product by
Sony. In it's current state, the FAQ only addresses really annoying
questions about the first two, but th is will soon improve.
It does NOT currently answer questions relating to games, mostly because
there aren't any really frequently asked questions about specific titles,
but if any question pops up very frequently, it'll probably end up in here.
1.3 - Who maintains this thing?
Right now, just me, Tod Weitzel, a.k.a. Lord Xarph and his Orchestra
(firstname.lastname@example.org, though I appreciate mail being sent to
1.4 - Recent changes
* Added content to section 3.17. Oops.
* Updated model table (section 3.1)
* First HTML edition (http://www.xarph.net/rgvsfaq/). Still haven't put in
links to each individual section number.. that will be in the next
* Added section 3.17 - How do I clean the lens on my Playstation?
* Added Pandora's Cube to the link list. Their site was down, but I did
some business with them at Anime Expo 99.
* Added Tronix to the link list.
* Added a description of light guns and the guncon that actually makes
sense, as opposed to my lousy description that was completely
* Changed 3.14 to point towards National Console Support's boot code
archive. No more nightmares about me having to maintain such a beast.
* Started working on the acronym glossary. Mainly because I was bored.
* Modified the "picture bounce" section (3.6) with a possible workaround.
* I'm refraining from adding a "is emulation illegal" section for two
reasons: 1: this is not an emulation newsgroup, and 2: I'm enjoying the
flame war. =)
* Added the long-awaited "piracy" section (3.15) with the DEFINITIVE
piracy laws. "Backup" sellers: you are now officially doomed. Have a
nice day. =)
* Replaced section 3.1 with an article written by Jerry Jessop.
* Added National Console Support to the references list. (4.1.3)
* Added "Locked imports" section (3.14).
* Moved the Needed Information bit to the top section where people are
more likely to see it (hint, hint).
* Redid the section on FA/FT posts.
* Took out the guncon section (formerly 3.6) until someone writes a clear
yet detailed explanation of how lightguns work and why the Guncon is
* Added the "three block" question (3.12).
* Added the "nude code" question (3.13) for the people who still insist
that they exist.
* Fixed misc. typos and justified my source to 70 columns.
* Took some feedback I received and repaired some factual errors regarding
CD mechanism replacements (3.3) and attempted to fix some misconceptions
in the light gun department (3.6).
* Proposed FAQ. First incarnation. The original, baby!
1.5 - Formatting
This document is either in HTML format at http://www.xarph.net/rgvsfaq/ or
in an 80 character word wrapped ascii text document.
1.6 - Information still needed
* Information about reputable dealers for Mod Chips, Game Enhancers, CD
mech replacements, repair houses, etc.
-(2)-The Group and general questions----------------------------------------
2.1 - What do you talk about here?
Anything related to the Sony Playstation or its games and accessories.
Flaming on the grounds that someone is an idiot is not what we want to see
here (usually). Keep in mind that transmitting a USENET post to
rec.games.video.sony takes up hundreds, if n ot thousands, of dollars to
transmit around the world, and posting a message that says "YOU ALL SUCK" is
not the thing we enjoy spending money on.
Also, posting FAQs and full walkthroughs for a specific game usually just
clogs up our newsreaders. A specific group,
alt.games.video.sony-playstation.faqs, exists solely for that purpose, plus
the infamous http://www.gamefaqs.com/ is always around to help you out.
2.2 - X Next Generation System is better than Playstation!
If you're reading this, do us a favor and go elsewhere. We get enough idiots
in here who never will read this FAQ or obey the rules.
2.3 - The best game ever is...
If you're comparing only Playstation games in your initial post, then voice
yourself. If you're comparing games from multiple systems, take it to
.advocacy. We already cope with a monster "game of the century"thread that
was started by someone who conveniently forgot about Sega systems and
anything before 1985. We don't need another one, 'cuz that thread ain't
gonna die till January 1st, 2002.
2.4 - FT/FA/FS messages and their ilk.
There's only one real rule for selling stuff on rec.games.video.sony: know
how you're selling it. The general consensus is that selling things is okay,
but don't list items for auction as items for sale. Again, MAKE SURE YOU
LABEL ADS AS SUCH!
2.5 - Basic posting rules.
1) Try to put a header in your subject.
If the message refers to a specific game, put the title or acronym into
brackets at the front of the subject, like [MGS] for Metal Gear Solid
questions or [BAG] for Bust a Groove comments.
2) Avoid HTML posting.
A lot of us can't read HTML posts, and a larger percentage (yours truly
included) find it annoying.
3) DON'T USE ALL CAPS.
IT'S JUST PLAIN ANNOYING. AS MANY TIMES AS IT IS EXPOUNDED UPON, MANY PEOPLE
STILL DON'T KNOW THAT THEIR CAPS LOCK KEY IS ON.
3.1 - What are the differences between the various models?
From Jerry Jessop (Updated on 9/14/99 by Lord Xarph):
Last digit represents territory
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
SCEI = 0 Sony Computer Entertainment Inc (Japan) 1000 SCEA = 1 " " America 1001 SCEE = 2 " " Europe 1002 Consoles in order of release: 1000 3 revisions of this one. 1st one had S-Video in Japan 2nd was the U.S. launch version. 3rd 6 mos. latter had a new O.S. and GPU/Vram scheme to stop the "swap trick" problem. 3000 Net Yaroze System 5000 Not sold in the U.S. (Japan only) 5500 First console with the rear RCA jacks removed 7000 Sold for 6 months in the U.S. and first to introduce "SoundScope" and all components mounted on top of the PCB. 7500 Same as 7000, except ships with a Dual Shock controller. 9000 Current model. Lacks the parallel port, preventing the use of Game Sharks or other such devices. 3.2 - What does the X in PSX stand for? Depends on who you ask. Some say "eXtreme," "eXperience," but the rumor seemed to have started around the letter "X" referring to "eXperimental," as the acronym first appeared when the Playstation was still in the design phase. 3.3 - My Playstation skips! Join the club. Model 100x Playstations have a habit of developing skipping problems after being left on for a long time. The reason is that the power supply in those early models put out enough heat to slightly warp the plastic on the CD mechanism. This caused the lens to go slightly out of focus, leading to video that skipped, choppy CD audio, and abnormally long loading delays. There are two fixes available to those who don't mind playing around with their Playstation's innards. The first is to slightly tweak the lens alignment knobs. A simple overview of this procedure is at http://www.cyberia.com/pages/mlfink/320.htm. However, note that it is very easy to screw your Playstation up worse than it already is using this method, plus it's only a temporary fix: the problem will most likely come back in the future or the problems will redevelop after the unit warms up again. The second alternative is to have the CD mechanism replaced. You can supposedly take it to Sony and have it fixed for $50, but if your Playstation has a mod chip, all bets are off. You can also buy a CD mechanism off the net and install it yourself. A good, reputable place that people seem to recommend is National Console Support (http://www.ncsx.com/). I've heard that replacing the CD mech isn't that hard (two or three cords and some miscellaneous screws), but if you're an amateur, make sure you keep all the parts and you don't have any left over. =) 3.4 - My Playstation won't recognize controllers! This is a big "iffy" question. A number of different things could cause this, but the most common incidents occur when someone uses a non-licensed controller (as in, a cheap $10 controller you pick up in the bargain bin). Sometimes these controllers aren't exactly wired to spec, and tend to blow fuses in Playstations. Obviously, the solution is to go in, find the blown fuse, and swap a new one in, but this isn't always the case. Your best bet is to have a professional test and repair the Playstation. The hell of it is that if Sony finds out you were using an unlicensed peripheral, they *won't* fix it. 3.5 - My Dual Shock controller doesn't work any more! Do you own cats? =) Seriously, due to the higher power requirements for the Dual Shock's vibration motors and cool looking red LED, it's VERY susceptible to static electricity. There's really not much you can do except be careful about what you do before playing. Also, don't put your Dual Shock on a wool carpet or other static-inducing furniture, don't let your pet play with your Dual Shock, and zap yourself on a doorknob or something before you pick it up. 3.6 - My Playstation picture bounces! We usually get a flood of these messages every Christmas. The reason is that your TV is either a Zenith or uses Zenith components. The Playstation, perhaps to save money or processing power, skips even-numbered scanlines on the TV screen when it is in lo w-resolution (around 320x240) mode. Zenith TVs don't know how to cope with this properly and go whacko, either causing the image to bounce up and down, lopping off the top or bottom of the picture, displaying it in a shrunken-down image, or just plain not showing anything on the screen. Fortunately, you can take your Playstation to Sony and they'll install a chip for free that will fix this problem. The turnaround time is anywhere from three days to a week. I've never heard of anyone not getting their Playstation back after more than five days. If you really don't want to send out your PSX, Doug Dingus mailed me with a workaround if you have a newer Zenith: The truth is that very old Zeniths work great. These are the old Chroma Color series. The newer ones are of two types. Those with an on screen menu and those without. If you have a Zenith without the on-screen menu, then you are SOL. Better get one of the chips, and or a new television. If you have the onscreen televisions (system 2, 3, or better), then there is a good chance that a solution lies right in your television. Here is what I learned about mine from the TV Repair manual. (This works for System 3 NTSC televisions sold in USA for sure. Your mileage may vary...) To access the service menu, press the menu, volume up, and channel up buttons at exactly the same time. Most things in here need to be left alone. What the Playstation needs turned on is the 'VFORCED' option. This allows the television to sync up to the interlaced playstation signal. 3.7 - How do I play a Video CD on my Playstation? First off, a Video CD (abbreviated as VCD) is a CD containing about 40 minutes of MPEG-1 compressed video. The quality is much worse than that of a DVD. I compare the quality to standard Playstation FMV, although it looks slightly better than that. A Video CD cannot be played on a Playstation right out of the box. However, numerous adapters exist that plug into the Parallel I/O on the back of the Playstation like a Game Shark that allow it to play Video CDs. Most often, you'll be buying them import ed from Southeast Asia, where Video CD is very popular. There are many places on the net that sell them; just go to the search engine of your choice. 3.8 - What's a Mod Chip? A Mod Chip is hooked into your Playstation that bypasses the copy protection and country lockout phase of the Playstation's startup. With one installed, you can play CDR backups *of games you legally own* and import titles. Please note that the majority of rec.games.video.sony (myself included) does not condone piracy or using "backups" of games you didn't shell out for and don't own the original disc for. See section 3.15 for the reasons why you WILL lose in a court of law when dealing with CDRs. Mod chips also destroy whatever was left of your original warranty. You have been warned. 3.8.1 - Where can I buy one? All over the place. Some URLs are at the bottom of this FAQ, but remember to shop around on the net. There may also be a shop near you that will do mod chip installation. The approximate price to manufacture a mod chip (assuming you already own the equip ment) is about two dollars, so remember that while you're looking at prices. 3.8.2 - How do I install it? I'm not providing detailed instructions (those should come with your mod chip), but for your reference, chipping involves taking apart your Playstation and soldering four wires to four spots on the board with VERY small traces. If you can't solder, don't even try. Finds a person or place that will install the chip for you. 3.9 - What is a Game Enhancer? I don't have a Game Enhancer, nor am I going to buy one, but from what I know about it, it acts as a Game Shark/Action Replay with the added ability to stop the motor in your Playstation to make the swap trick easier. Swapping tends to be a poor choice i n comparison to a mod chip, as games that use CD audio usually have problems playing the right part of the right track at a given time. Game Enhancers, however, do not void your warranty and (supposedly) allow the swap trick to work on recent model Playstations. 3.10 - I've got a great idea! I'll buy a new Playstation and take my old one back to the store in the same box! Three words: don't do it. Not only is it most likely illegal, but some of these places are stupid enough to put returned merchandise back on the shelves, so someone quite innocent could end up buying your damaged Playstation. Also, the model number of each Playstation is printed on the side of the box, so if the store clerk is worth their salt, they'll check the contents against the box, and if they don't match, they won't take it back. Bragging about this in rec.games.video.sony will brand you as a Royal Asshole and get any credibility you have as a human being thrown out the window. Or else we'll just flame you. 3.11 - What memory cards should I use? ONLY use genuine Sony cards. No contest. The sheer amount of horror stories related to third party cards (especially those with multiple pages or use compression) will make you sick... but not as sick as a shoddy card losing your 60 hour RPG save. 3.12 - Why is Sony selling memory cards with only three blocks? They aren't. The back of the Sony memory card package is a prime example of the marketing department screwing up (don't they always?). It has an example memory card logo that says "3", as a sample of what to look for on the back of game boxes. ALL Sony and Sony-licensed cards hold 15 blocks - no if, ands, or buts. 3.13 - What's the code to make show up nekkid?!!11! Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, X, O, Start. Just kidding. =) To date, there are have been no commercial games released in the US that have a code like this in them. The amount of lawsuits that would be filed by overly sensitive individuals would be too great to risk. The PC version of Tomb Raider has a hack floating around the net that does this by swapping textures, but there are no built-in "nude raider" codes. Now, as for some of the more bizarre imports and Yoruze games... 3.14 - What does it mean to "lock" an import game? Recently, Sony has been making an attempt to "crack down" on mod chips, such as making the screws on more recent Playstations tamper-resistant and redesigning the guts of the Playstation to make it hard to modify. As part of this effort, numerous games have boot code that detect presence of a mod chip and fail to run if one is present. There are ways around this, however (what, you think the PSX hackers were going to let this stop them?). First, you can attach a switch to your mod chip that will allow you to turn it off after it has validated the game but before the protection kicks in. Second, you can use a Game Enhancer, although this requires swapping and games with CD audio will screw up in the music department. Finally, you can enter a Gameshark code that will bypass mod chip detection. National Console Support maintains an archive of detection workaround codes at http://www.ncsx.com/ncs022299/codex.htm. 3.15 - Are CDR backups legal? In a nutshell: maybe. This is a very confusing topic that has led to many a flame war in the newsgroup. Just so you have some reference points, this is all based off information from the IDSA (International Digital Software Association), the entity you'll most likely be tangling with if you get busted for piracy. The law in question is 17 U.S.C. Section 117(2). As for countries other than the U.S.: If your country has signed the Berne Convention, these apply to you. If not; you're on your own. I am not a lawyer. If you get sued, lose, and end up with a massive fine, it's not my fault. Period. Basically, you have the right to make ONE copy of a game that you own an original of for archival purposes (read: your dog decides to play frisbee with it or other such damage). The law states that you CANNOT post or download a backup off the internet. Backup server operators: yer screwed. You CANNOT sell backups, unless you are the copyright holder of the software. Backup sellers: yer screwed. The backup copy can only be transferred to the another person if the original is also transferred *and the transfer is part of the transaction of all rights in the program.* In other words, you can't trade a backup unless you own the rights to the game. As for backup services? Who knows. Just keep in mind that the IDSA has many very expensive lawyers at their disposal for the sole purpose of making your life a living hell. 3.16 - How do lightguns work, and how is the Guncon different? Charles Doane posted this excellent description to the group: The simplest answer is that the TV has a scan, called a "raster" that moves from the top to the bottom of the TV screen as it sweeps from left to right. It does this 60 times per second (USA/Japan), the standard is called NTSC (National Television Standards Committee, or Never The Same Colors). The light gun can see that scan, and by comparing when the scan goes by against one of the synchronizing signals, the software can determine the position of the gun. The reason you can't see that scan is a trait of the human eye known as "persistence of vision", which is why flashbulbs tend to make spots in your vision for a little bit. The lightgun doesn't have that limitation, it's a machine. Cameras don't have that limitation either, which is why, in some photos with a TV on, it appears that the TV screen is partly blank. The reason it appears that way is because the TV screen really is partly blank much of the time, you just can't see it because of the way your eyes work. The light gun is just a light receiver, it can no more hurt your TV than your eyeballs can, so don't worry about that at all. As for the best brands, it depends. For Namco games, you're stuck with either a Namco Guncon or a Clone such as Nyko's Super Cobra, or for the earlier games (like Die Hard Trilogy or Project:Horned Owl) you need a non-Guncon type of gun (The Nyko Super Cobra works for those too). There were two gun standards for the PSX in one of the few screw-ups by SONY, but now it seems that the standard has pretty much centered on the Guncon for all recent and future PSX gun games. P.S. The reason the Guncon has the Composite Video plug is that it uses the far more frequent (and therefore more accurate) Horizontal sync, which occurs 262.5 times more often than the Vertical sync's 60 times per second, or 15,750 times per second. Pretty spiffy, huh? 3.17 - How do I clean the lens on my Playstation? With a Q-tip and isopropyl alcohol. Lightly dab the lens with the Q-tip, then let it dry for a few minutes. Do NOT use those "cleaning kits" that Funcoland or any other company sells. If the stiff bristles on the disc miraculously fail to damage the lens, it will scrape dirt onto the lens from the tray. -(4)-References------------------------------------------------------------- 4.1 - Web sites * denotes sites that have not generated any comment (other than self-advertising) on Usenet. If you send money or your PSX to these people and don't get it back, it's not my fault. 4.1.1 - Repair * DK Enterprises http://www.deekay.com/psx/ Playstation repair and Mod Chip sales/installation. 4.1.2 - Mod Chips/Game Enhancers Smartchips http://www.smartchips.com 4.1.3 - Imports National Console Support http://www.ncsx.com Import and domestic software and hardware, including CD mechanism replacements. Highly recommended by almost everyone. Tronix http://www.tronixweb.com Import and Domestic hardware and software. High marks from most regulars. Pandora's Cube http://www.pandorascube.com (down as of this writing) 8145L Baltimore Ave College Park, MD 20740 (301)474-9711 Import hardware and software for Dreamcast, PSX, and N64, as well as loads of anime, models, CCGs and whatnot. They sell VCD adaptors! 4.1.4 - Miscellaneous IDSA Piracy Information http://www.idsa.com/piracy.html Read it before you go do something stupid with your new CDR drive. Game Shark Code Creator's Club http://www.cmgsccc.com A lot of people have asked where to get Gameshark codes. This is the largest collection on the net. Have fun. 4.2 - Acronyms Acronyms of game titles and terms relating to specific games are not listed. There are too many of them. Plus you can usually tell from a few messages what game a given acronym represents. CDR - CD Recordable. For our purposes, an unlicensed copy of a Playstation game. DC - Dreamcast. The PSX and forthcoming PSX2's main competition come next year. DS - Dual Shock. The new regulation-issue PSX controller. It has two joysticks and force feedback in addition to the normal set of PSX controls. EB - Electronics Boutique. Despite numerous horror stories floating around, they seem to be the main supplier for most r.g.v.s regulars. FA - For Auction. Usually on eBay (http://www.ebay.com). FL - Funcoland. Considered EB's evil twin. They get roughly the same amount of flamage as EB, except no one buys from them and admits it. A popular rumor is that they use the film "Clerks" by Kevin Smith as a training video. FS - For Sale. Nuff said. FT - For Trade. Like FS, except they don't want money. =) HK - (Supposedly short for "Hong Kong.") A professionally pirated, silver bottomed Playstation game. Most CDR copies are just burned with a CDR drive and the title written on with a felt tip marker (to make a gross generalization). HKs are pressed silver discs, are professionally silk screened, have color manuals, and are almost indistinguishable from the original except for the lack of a black coating and any form of license. PSX - Sony Playstation. See section 3.2. WD - Working Designs. Mentioned because a flame war reminiscient of WWII is constantly going on regarding their "liberal" translation policies and tendency to release stuff only "when it's finished," which drives Electronics Boutique absolutely mad. =) VGS - Virtual Game Station. Connectix's controversial PSX emulator that allows PSX games to be played on a G3 Macintosh. Currently at war with Sony's legal department. VCD - Video CD. Not to be confused with DVD (the new, high density Digital Video Disc format). VCDs are normal data CDs that store roughly 30-40 minutes of MPEG-1 compressed video. The quality varies depending on how much video is compressed onto the disc and how discriminating of an eye you have when it comes to compression artifacts. They are very popular in southeast Asia due to their relatively low cost (around $5 a disc). The PSX cannot play VCDs out of the box (rumors abound of pure-white PSXs in Asia that can); unlicensed peripherals are available that add this feature. See 3.7. 4.3 - Contributors Doug Dingus Sent in the Zenith TV workaround. Charles Doane Posted an excellent description of how a lightgun works, which is something I've been asking for since this FAQ's inception. Jerry Jessop Provided article regarding the various models of Playstation. Ogrt48 Tipped me off to the Gameshark codes that bypass mod chip detection. OliviaSrch Corrected me on an aspect of CD mech replacements. -- Lord Xarph email@example.com http://www.xarph.net/ Data potato doo-wop doo-wop