If you're a European gamer then you'll no doubt be aware of how TV standards can impact the way games play. Back in the days of the SNES, NES and Mega Drive, EU gamers were saddled with slower versions of existing software. This is because Japanese and American TVs used the NTSC standard, while in Europe the PAL standard was king. Although PAL is actually superior in that it offers a larger picture, the refresh rate is slower - this means that games also run slower, unless they're tinkered with by the developer to compensate. Also, the additional lines on the screen usually resulted in "letterboxed" games, as developers usually refused to optimise their titles to suit the European screens.
Now that the brief history lesson is complete, it's worth pointing out that the issue continues to manifest itself even to this day. Nintendo has been releasing PAL versions of retro games on the Wii Virtual Console for years, which means they run slower than the NTSC versions. We picked up on this issue back in 2010, and were sorry to report that the Wii U Virtual Console appeared to be falling foul of the same problem.
However, it would appear that Nintendo does listen to criticism, as today's European Download Update confirms. The SNES version of F-Zero is running at 60Hz on PAL Wii U consoles - meaning that for once, Euro gamers are experiencing the game exactly how its creators intended. No slowdown, no borders at the top and bottom of the screen. Bliss.
Hopefully this is a sign of things to come - the whole PAL/NTSC problem is a relic from the past, and it needs to remain there.
Are you pleased that European gamers are finally getting full-speed games? Or do you think that these titles should have a 50Hz option, as it will be closer to what you played as a youngster? Leave a comment to let us know.