News Article

Balloon Fight On Wii U Reportedly Running At 50Hz in Europe

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Oh, Nintendo

So, Balloon Fight is available in exchange for some loose change right now on the Wii U eShop. That's good. The download in Europe is apparently continuing the trend seen on Wii and is running at 50 Hz. That's most definitely bad.

For those of you outside of Europe and unaware, back in the old days — prior to the GameCube era — European gamers endured games that ran almost universally slower than in North America — roughly 17% slower. This was due to televisions in Europe running at a 50 Hz refresh rate, and as their contemporaries in North America and Japan were 60 Hz, games in the region — regardless of the native frame rate of the title — would run slower to accommodate the TVs. The issue passed with modern televisions, thankfully, yet Nintendo's Wii Virtual Console offered up straight emulations meaning that, despite being on the same wavelength as other regions, Europeans still suffered from slower games.

Unfortunately, many are now complaining that Balloon Trip on Wii U is doing the same thing, which is slightly frustrating in the year 2013. After sampling the delights of a full speed Super Mario Bros. and more on the 3DS Virtual Console, Europeans may have hoped that the issue could be resolved for the newest home console. When it comes to the work to prepare Virtual Console games for Wii U, however, it seems like this isn't on Nintendo's list.

You can read more about it in the original post on NeoGaf, and we're planning to look at the issue in a little more detail soon. Hopefully this will be resolved for future downloads, though we won't hold our breath.

Oh, Nintendo.

[via neogaf.com, mynintendonews.com]

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User Comments (99)

bezerker99

#1

bezerker99 said:

Game isn't that great anyways. But still.....50 Hz, give the European gamers their 30 whatevers back.

DreamyViridi

#2

DreamyViridi said:

I'm not one that often complains but that is rather annoying. Come on, Nintendo; why? What's the reasoning behind this?

Zodiak13

#3

Zodiak13 said:

Well maybe the Big N deserves a Hertzdoughnut. Get it... wow that was a terrible pun :(

Yosher

#4

Yosher said:

Why don't they just release the US versions in Europe as well? Sheesh.

-KwB-

#6

-KwB- said:

Hmm .. So that's why these borders show up .. :s Weird, yeah maybe they could fix it ! :)

Nintenjoe64

#8

Nintenjoe64 said:

It's a bit silly considering they've said they're being reprogrammed for wii u but part of me likes the fact I will be getting the version I played as a youngster.

I still remember knocking so much time off my Mario Kart 64 lap times on my friend's NTSC console. He had made me look silly by comparing his lap times with me. He'd never unlocked the ghosts before I went to his and smashed all his times!

snax007

#9

snax007 said:

I can confirm 50hz.

The emulator also lacks any scaling or display options which means the NES image is just scaled to the screen (incl gamepad) resolution, this causes a slightly blurred image on both TV and gamepad and not crisp as it should be. Hopefully Nintendo will improve on this in the future. I'm looking forward to future VC releases like F-Zero in feb, but refuse to buy them if the scaling quality is not improved.

snax007

#10

snax007 said:

@Nintenjoe64 The games are not reprogrammed for Wii U. The Wii U VC games are being run under emulation like on Wii. The emulators for Wii U VC are still being developed and tweaked for each release, that's what it actually meant.

Deathgaze

#11

Deathgaze said:

There's no point to this. Heck. Wouldn't it be cheaper to just give every region the same version of the game? On PCB boards the lockout chip was external to that of the ROM chip, so it's not anything to do with NTSC VC titles won't run on PAL and vice versa.

Nintendo you never seem to get everything right, why?

ultraraichu

#13

ultraraichu said:

Thats interesting, never knew that European TVs were slower then American and Japanese TV in the past. I guess Nintendo really wanted to catch that old school feel, frame and all.

I hope this is part of the trial campaign and will speed up when the VC is released in spring for you guys and gals overseas.

-KwB-

#14

-KwB- said:

Maybe they're just trying to figure it out till the true Virtual Console mode is on, no ?

MetalKingShield

#18

MetalKingShield said:

As a PAL gamer, I've never been able to own the 60hz versions of NES, SNES and N64 games. I was going to build up a big SNES collection on the Virtual Console, but I'll only do so if they're 60hz.

SCAR392

#19

SCAR392 said:

To my understanding, the 'problem' is the format itself. I just looked it up on wikipedia, and the lower hz rate makes for better color hues. It just so happens that this format is what Europe has adapted as their main format, that's all. This is why you can't get European TV over air. PAL TVs run 50hzs, so it's native to your TV. I'm pretty sure this is correct.

C7_

#21

C7_ said:

First making me pay $1+ for each game for customer loyalty, next pretending miiverse is a suitable replacement for online leaderboards, and now just flat-out lazy porting?

You're doing a fantastic job of making me not want to give you money Nintendo.

brooks83

#22

brooks83 said:

@SCAR

PAL TVs are perfectly capable of running 60Hz these days, so there's no reason Europe can't enjoy 60Hz games like the rest of the world. All they would have to do is give them an option to play the game at 60Hz, or just give them the NA version.

It is possible that when the actual VC launches in the Spring that the games will be in their intended 60Hz, so I will hold off judgment until then.

SCAR392

#24

SCAR392 said:

I saw the video from 2010 that Ratengo linked. There is definitely a difference, but I think that a version between those 2 would work better in an old game like Sonic. U.S. version seems too fast, and PAL version seems too slow... It looks like they just changed the clock rate. Your TVs are just different. You guys get better radio over in Europe I hear.

vicviper

#25

vicviper said:

Simple: don't buy it. I'm sick of being treated like this, especially in the year 2013. I will make my feelings known by not purchasing this or any other game that's running at 50hz: GAMES WEREN'T INVENTED TO BE RUN AT THIS SPEED. Europeans shouldn't have to put up with this rubbish any longer... 17% slower! I'd rather spend the extra cash and buy an old US/JAP NES/Famicom... Don't care if it's only 30p.

SCAR392

#26

SCAR392 said:

@brooks83
I agree, it is best to judge once the final version is here. They're probably working on a universal format for all regions, but there's a difference between can and can't. I say format converting is a perfect example of 'lost in translation' in some cases.

brooks83

#27

brooks83 said:

I don't think it would be too difficult for them to get the games to run at 60Hz for Europeans, but yeah hopefully they have a universal format.

LeasTwanteD

#28

LeasTwanteD said:

I understand that they want to give people the exact same experience they had back then. But would it really be so hard to let you decide between two versions?

brooks83

#29

brooks83 said:

The same thing actually happened to NA with the C64 games. They are actually sped up compared to the European versions as they run at a higher Hz than was originally intended.

WrongChops

#30

WrongChops said:

Silly move by Nintendo but still worth 30p whichever way you cut it. I've never played the NTSC version so have no frame of reference. Wouldn't have known any different had it not been for this article and it plays fine to me. This is the version available to me and it cost less than a pint of milk. Sold! I still own a PAL NES so I must be accustomed to the missing 17%.

XyVoX

#31

XyVoX said:

O come on not this crap again Nintendo this 50hz BS all but stopped any VC purchases for me as i aint paying for a slow and sluggish inferior version of a game, i live in the UK grew up owning from 16yrs old japanese or USA versions of consoles/games as the difference is extremely noticable ie SNES Mario Kart in the UK 150cc is the same speed as NTSC versions 100cc, no thanks looks like ill be declining again then.

SparkOfSpirit

#32

SparkOfSpirit said:

This is a job for game journalists to take to Nintendo.

But no, they'd rather complain about a great Nintendo Direct and a good future line up.

This is a REAL issue. Nintendo needs to fix this.

Sun

#33

Sun said:

Shame on you Nintendo, Europe deserves better than this and we live in the 21st century by the way.

In between how many games are they going to release for Wii U's VC if the old VC only features a few N64 and SNES games?

Mk_II

#34

Mk_II said:

you know, back in the day most Euro gamers weren't even aware of this 50Hz "problem". Much ado about almost nothing...

Wildfire

#35

Wildfire said:

This is just my opinion but... I don't see the big problem.
This isn't like the games are unplayable or broken just for running at 50hz and I always played the European versions.

Sun

#36

Sun said:

@Mk_II Thing is 20-30 years have passed by and if you look at Mega Drive and SNES 60 vs. 50Hz game versions the difference is quite noticeable. You should play with your same old 90's TV, you used to play on that so why change now? ;)

Intrepid

#37

Intrepid said:

I recall this being the reason why tournaments for Super Mario Kart are divided by region. The kart's speed varied, and it affected gp races and time trials.

Ristar42

#39

Ristar42 said:

These are not different versions, its the same ROM, the PAL release is downgraded. This is why we used to mod PAL consoles in the 90s, to run the games at the correct speed. Some were altered and optimised for 50Hz, but it was rare. The emulator they are using must have the option to output 50/60Hz modes, so why not make the option available to PAL gamers, like most Dreamcast games did...

SanderEvers

#40

SanderEvers said:

@3Dash Funny fact it DOES work on TVs that old. The Wii U supports 576i which is the good old 50hz pal :)

Both Wii and GameCube supported the 576i mode as well, it was even the default mode on most GameCube games.

They can't easily make a game support both 60hz and 50hz which would break the entire game on older PAL TVs. Well at least they can't with NES games. As they are synced to this. This problem doesn't exist on SNES or N64 as the game speeds aren't synced.

CrissCross87

#41

CrissCross87 said:

I'm curious, do xbox or ps3 versions of Genesis games run at the 60hz format on standard tvs? I.e. Sonic's Ultimate Genesis(Mega Drive?) Collection or any of the individual releases on their online stores?

hiptanaka

#43

hiptanaka said:

Why the complaints? PAL games ran at 50Hz in their original form, didn't they? An option for 60Hz wouldn't hurt, but they're simply releasing the games exactly as they were.

Moshugan

#45

Moshugan said:

@Mk_II I sure wasn't aware of it. And to this day I don't notice the ''problem'' when playing my trusty old SNES. I'd like to try the games in 60hz to see if they're better that way.

Mk_II

#46

Mk_II said:

faster doesn necessarily mean "better". sure, it would increase the feeling of speed in F-Zero and Mario Kart but i still enjoy them a lot at 50Hz. Full disclosure: i have PAL, NTSC and NTSC-J systems for NES, SNES, N64 and NGC so i am aware of the differences. For me, the infamous black borders on lazy PAL conversions are a lot more annoying.

EaZy_T

#47

EaZy_T said:

@skjia Ha! It so is XD

Don't panic, maybe they can solve this issue via an update that includes a 50/60 setting.
If I could, I'd trade my NTSC version for a PAL one; I'd rather play Balloon Fight 17% slower. :D

Nibelilt

#49

Nibelilt said:

Is it really a huge problem? Nobody would complain about this sort of thing then. All that matters is wether the game still runs fine, wether it's at the same rate or not. It's 0.30 currency, and I don't think it's s huge issue for that. They certainly can port the 60hz version, but it's nothing to knot our hair over that they didn't.

NintendoCat14

#52

NintendoCat14 said:

EVERYBODY, STAHP.

Nintendo is only doing this because they want to release the games in their ORIGINAL form. Balloon Fight's ORIGINAL form was 50hz. That's the point of Virtual Console. The only reason they change anything are for 3 reasons:

1.) Legal Issues
2.) An accessory would have to be used on the original system that's not compatible with the VC system.
3.) There is something that was acceptable in the 80's or 90's that's a sensitive subject now (very rare)

Remember, ORIGINAL form.

brooks83

#53

brooks83 said:

@NintendoCat14 -

That is not the original form, that's just how they were brought to Europe because of their 50Hz standard. Japan and North America played the games in their ORIGINAL 60Hz form.

Firejonie

#55

Firejonie said:

Maybe when the Virtual Console " officially" launches in the Spring, this problem will be ironed out.

BJQ1972

#57

BJQ1972 said:

Why does nobody ever complain about movies being sped up in Europe to compensate for the 50Hz issue?

BJQ1972

#58

BJQ1972 said:

@Sun yes it does - any US program or movie that you watch on broadcast TV is sped up to compensate for the 50Hz issue.

Chriiis

#59

Chriiis said:

It's funny how those who don't have to deal with it don't care about how annoying the problem is.

Sean_Aaron

#60

Sean_Aaron said:

I never played this game before because I didn't have a NES in the States, so I don't know the difference. Fun game as far as I'm concerned though I'd prefer Joust...

rambosdad

#61

rambosdad said:

Dear mother of God, it ain't high art people, it's a bit of nostalgia. And good fun to boot. Hows about just enjoying something for what it is for once. It aint like everyones killing it at 50hz is it, or is that just me?

TheAdza

#62

TheAdza said:

It can't be that hard for Nintendo to put in a 50/60htz option into an old rom game. What a joke.

rambosdad

#63

rambosdad said:

how is it possible to be annoyed by something that it's very hard to have a point of reference of. unless you can play the game simultaneously in two different continents.

Suicune

#64

Suicune said:

Man by not buying this game, you'll put the Big N outta buisness! 30! Wow that's a chunkochange!

Airola

#66

Airola said:

This whole 50hz thing doesn't matter to me at all. I can't understand people who are yelling Nintendo is treating them badly. I mean really... A video game that was originally released in Europe in 50hz is again released in 50hz. OHMYGOD the world collapses and Nintendo is inhumane and treating the fans like poo!!!111 Go live in Africa for a while and see if this problem really matters.

In my opinion, this doesn't affect the gameplay of Ballon Fight at all. It just doesn't matter.

Oh well, I've never been into graphics or speed, so I might not be the best person to comment on this. I still watch VHS tapes and play my games on my 16 years old CRT television. I don't care if it's HD or SD. I don't care if it's 60hz or 50hz. I just play the games, solving the puzzles and clearing the obstacles. Well, I have to admit though that after hearing Mega Man tunes in their original speed, the music in European versions sound reeeeaaalllly slow.

Muzer

#67

Muzer said:

Just to inject some extra facts in:

  • The reason why "PAL" (actually the 625 lines standard) is 50Hz in the first place is because we in Europe upgraded our whole TV system when colour came along, rather than just adding colour to existing broadcasts. We also decided to learn from what we deemed to be the problems with the American system, so not only did we invent PAL which was vastly superior at the time to NTSC (though modern hardware makes the difference less obvious and analogue TV is fast dying out so it doesn't make a difference anyway nowadays), we also decided that it would be worth it to increase the vertical resolution at expense of the framerate. This is why the old standards in modern "digital" terminology are 576i50 for PAL and 480i60 for NTSC - we have a higher resolution but with a lower refresh rate (half the screen updated 50 times per second, so very approximately equivalent to 576 lines at 25 FPS or 288 lines at 50FPS).

However, when video games first started becoming a thing, developers were too lazy to bother porting the games for the Europeans. After all, they would have no choice to play them, that's what the rest of the world did, right? (As it turned out, this and similar decisions to screw the Europeans meant that most Europeans were far happier playing games on home computers than games consoles). So, they just decided to do the following things:

  • Make the game run slower so that all their timing code that basically boiled down to "wait until the next frame happens" would not need to be changed.
  • Add empty borders for the top and bottom so that they wouldn't have to resize the tiles for the new resolution (if that's possible) or add extra tiles. This also means the graphics look more squashed.

This makes for a much suckier overall gameplay experience. Yes, it's what us Europeans got back in the day, but reasons like this (and the ridiculously inflated prices of cartridges over here) were the ones why many people preferred to play computer games over here. If you're OCD enough to want to play it exactly as it was if you did have a NES, then fine, keep an option for 50Hz mode. But 60Hz mode should be available, and preferably the default.

PS: I don't have a Wii U, this is just my general opinion.

dragon_rider

#68

dragon_rider said:

I feel your pain, European gamers, you don't deserve to be treated like crap. I signed the petition on the NeoGAF site.

MagicEmperor

#70

MagicEmperor said:

I feel a little odd being an American who's sympathetic. Is there something wrong with me? checks temperature

luminalace

#71

luminalace said:

@MeowGravy - This is nothing new. As a Super Nintendo owner in the early 90's, many gamer including myself were not happy that PAL games ran at 50hz (17% slower than they are intended to be) with black borders on the to and the bottom of the screen. Nintendo are aware of the issue and in 2013, it's inexcusable.

RedYoshi999

#73

RedYoshi999 said:

I didn't care before, and I don't care now. Yet it seems to be such an issue for EVERYONE. I get more tired of hearing people complain about it.

Chriiis

#75

Chriiis said:

It's tiring to hear everyone complaining about everything yes, but it's also tiring to see people suck up constantly as if the big N could do no wrong and as if nobody can make a legitimate complaint about one of their possibly questionable actions.

Aside from a few Sony franchises I've been fond of growing up(and a brother who's been more a Sony gamer), I've been mostly a Nintendo gamer for years and I have no problem at all addressing an issue if I see it.

Is this something to throw a tantrum about? No because it is playable. Does that make it right still? No. If anything, there at least should be a 60hz option for those in PAL regions like others have been suggesting.

Geocidal

#76

Geocidal said:

The ironic thing is, they wouldn't have to have the game running in 50 Hz, even for most PAL gamers with CRTs. I've had TVs from the early 90s that could take a 60 Hz picture so even the PAL Super Nintendo could have come with a 50/60 Hz switch and some people could have used it at the time. Even now, Nintendo must think if they don't release the roms in 50 Hz, we won't be able to see the picture. Even for the 1% who now have a TV made before 1990, if they just made 50 and 60 Hz optional, it would keep everyone happy but Nintendo think its everything or nothing.

madgear

#78

madgear said:

For those asking why this is a big deal - try living in a PAL region. First this game is only 30p but the problem isn't just this one purchase, it means all PAL titles are going to be like this just like the Wii.

50hz is, and always has been, noticeable - even back when the games were released. Check out old games magazines from the 8 -16-bit era and you'll see numerous complaints from journalists and readers about how our versions are considerably slower with big black borders. I remember a lot of fuss over SNES Street Fighter 2 being a particularly bad case, where the screen is almost 50% back borders (Virtual Console version is the same). Also imagine playing Sonic or a racer a good percentage slower.

Following that, the OFFICIAL Sega Saturn magazine in the UK used to encourage gamers to get a 60hz switch added to their PAL console to force our games to run at full speed on a full screen. It's what started the change with the Dreamcast that gave us the 60hz option in the software from that point.

So yeah, it is a big deal for us. All we ask is that PAL games come with a 60hz option.

Furealz

#79

Furealz said:

@snax007 I had no issue running Balloon Fight and I think it's a pretty neat port with added features, though never encountered blurred images, try using 1080p HDMI!

tgru

#80

tgru said:

In a bygone era, or rather the late 80s we played these wonderful games in 50hz, our young brains memorised the glorious 8-bit music and today we remember it like yesterday .. in 50 hz ... why should things be different from before? I'll get to experience nostalgia in 60hz?! when my son gets older he will experience the games in all the splendor just like his old man! games in europ was in and we grew up with at 50hz... Am i wrong? **Sniff**

StarDust4Ever

#81

StarDust4Ever said:

Even at 50Hz, it's still not the original experience. Well, I'm NA region so I don't have to deal with the slowdown issue, but for the true original experience, the Wii-U desparately needs a cart connector so old-timers like me can blow into it to get it to work. I still own a working NES, along with every other Nintendo home console, LOLz!

WiiLovePeace

#82

WiiLovePeace said:

I don't mind that Balloon Fight is in 50Hz here, it provides a close enough replica of the same experience as it was when it was first released & all for only $0.30! :O The ideal would be for Nintendo to provide the ability to switch the game from 50Hz to 60Hz & vice versa on an in-game menu somewhere, that way everyone's happy. But it probably won't happen, lest the games cost $0.60! :O Way too much! ;)

luminalace

#83

luminalace said:

While it doesn't bother me as much on NES games, SNES games will be a different matter all together. Street Fighter 2 in 50HZ is terrible snd it gets worse for Turbo Hyper Fighting which doesn't feel turbo enough.

Big_A2

#87

Big_A2 said:

@BJQ1972: The difference for movies is only 4% and hardly noticeable. NTSC DVDs aren't perfect either and can show jagged movement due to the telecine process necessary to get 24fps to 30fps. Besides, it's a non-issue now that Blu-Ray has made 24Hz the standard for movies on home video.

But 17% in a video game plus boarders plus washed-out colours plus the fact it's 2013 is inexcusable. I think some people have taken their anger to MiiVerse, where it'll be right under Nintendo's nose. I might do the same

Muzer

#88

Muzer said:

Mmm. We get a smoother film than Americans. p24 is converted to i50 by running it 1FPS faster and interlacing. p24 is converted to i60 by skipping some frames and making others last longer, and interlacing. So we get a smoother, if faster, film, and not nearly as noticeably faster since a) it's not as much faster, and b) it's not interactive, and c) they carefully adjust the music and speech to make it not sound weird.

sdcazares1980

#89

sdcazares1980 said:

@tgru You're not wrong if it's your preference, but it shouldn't be an issue now since the machines we have are much more advance. I've played the original Double Dragon on the original arcades and the XBLA, and I still hate the slowdowns when there are too many enemies. Just because there were flaws via hardware limitations on the original versions doesn't mean they should still exist.

But I am open to having a version in which you can switch either the 50Hz (for you) or the 60Hz (for me and I suspect most people).

Henmii

#91

Henmii said:

Did anyone expect anything else?! It's just a simple ROM dumped on the e-shop, like Nintendo always does! The only effort (if you can call it that) is making it playable with the Wii u Gamepad! I know that all sounds cynical, but it is the truth!

Token_Girl

#92

Token_Girl said:

Are there still a lot of older TVs out in the wild that are only compatible with the 50hz games? I know probably most of those people won't be VC junkies, but that could be the reasoning (it's the only one that makes sense to me). In a perfect world, Ninty wouldn't be super lazy, and would just offer the option to switch to either one in Europe, but I'm just impressed they're putting effort into recoding the game roms to work on the gamepad and with the pro controller - that's better than they've ever done before.

Swithom

#93

Swithom said:

@Token_Girl Out there in the world? Yeah, there probably are. But I had a fairly cheap TV that could do 60HZ back in 1999, and when the gamecube came out a lot of games gave me the option for 50 or 60 HZ. And the moment HD hit the scene it's become a complete non-issue.
Seriously Nintendo have pissed me off with this something royal. It damages the game, slowing everything down (music, animation, speed of movement) to the point where we're literally not playing the game that's meant to be played.
Unless this is sorted I wont be buying any virtual console games for full price.
(I might get Super Metroid in the 30p sale, but that'll be it. The only other one that interests me is F-Zero and whats the point of a racer with nerfed frame-rate+movement?)

Swithom

#94

Swithom said:

@tgru I would agree however - Sonic on the Mega Drive was a BIG part of my youth. Now I've played 'full speed' non PAL versions, I physically can't bring myself to go back to the original (which I do still have at my moms house) because it looks and plays like crap.
At the time I knew no better but now I do and I'm angry.

banacheck

#95

banacheck said:

For people that don't know there is quite a big difference from 60Hz-50Hz, not only that it's the year 2013. There is no reason why Balloon Fight should play at 50Hz in EU and not 60Hz.

tgru

#96

tgru said:

Agree with the megadrive, that is the consol to show the dark parts with 50hz... A 50-60 switch would be greate! I just think some games on the nes in 60hz is like playing fast forward... :/ I think ist my age... :( i hate to get older... I'm not that innovative anymore... I remember when i told my dad that i Will allways be in the edge of innovation... I think he's up there laughing at me with petrus... :( and asking him self.. Why is my son buying the same game over and over again... but do not get me wrong about this .. im just too much after the original That im getting blind... Talk about blind... When are nintendo going to give the vc scan-lines?... So my tv feels old like me :)

jayblue

#97

jayblue said:

if you have played nintendo games as long as me you would know what end of the stick nintendo hands out to the british gamer.for people that havent the crap end.wii u vc big black borders all the way.

DrMonk

#98

DrMonk said:

There's now a survey on change.org that I've just signed:
https://www.change.org/petitions/nintendo-of-japan-nintendo-europe-release-future-wii-u-virtual-console-games-in-europe-australia-in-60hz-2

ETLN

#99

ETLN said:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqEls6Wk3Ps This video shows the difference between the two. I think the controls would benefit from the 60Hz version as well. I always found the Mega Drive sonic games had less responsive controls in 50Hz as opposed to the American/ Japanese releases.

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