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Playing US games on a European PlayStation 2

Games: when I moved from Ireland to the US, I brought along my PS2; I hadn’t had it that long, and I wasn’t going to leave it behind (despite many offers to give it a good home ;).

Of course, Sony include plenty of trade-restrictive features in the PS2; European games won’t play on a US PS2, and vice versa. So until now, I’ve been playing the few games I brought along from Europe, with the help of a YPbPr VGA converter, allowing the PS2 to display on a VGA monitor, and a transformer to transform 110V US current to 220V.

But that was before the superb japanese craziness of Katamari Damacy came along, and with GTA: San Andreas due out next month, something had to be done.

So — after a little shopping, I found the solution — rather than get into serious stuff like soldering, I got this — the Slide Card. It’s a 1.5-inch long piece of plastic, with a carefully placed notch. It requires one piece of PS2 modification — you first of all have to remove the front of the CD panel. This just requires popping out one screw and a couple of clips, painless. You can then leave it off — it’s purely cosmetic — or stick it back on if you really want to, at a future date.

Then, when you want to play an import game, the protocol goes like this:

  • put in the Slide Card boot DVD, power on the PS2
  • wait for the Swap Magic splash screen
  • insert the little plastic Slide Card, and slowly drag it left-to-right until it hits a piece of plastic internally
  • use it to pull out the CD tray, place the import DVD into the tray, and push it back in
  • use the Slide Card again, grabbing a little internal peg part with the notch in the card, and dragging the card right-to-left to load the CD into place.
  • hit ‘X’ on the PS2 controller, and the game boots!

So, this is a nifty solution; it basically works around the disc-replacement logic in the PS2, without any soldering or hackery required. And I’ve successfully used it after a night at the bar on several occasions, so that’s the true test of how twiddly it is ;)

Unfortunately, by now I’ve probably spent nearly as much on hardware to play US PS2 games with a European PS2, as I would have if I’d just bought a US PS2. But hey…