What Is the Difference Between PAL & NTSC for Wii?

By Amrita Chuasiriporn

NTSC and PAL are video broadcast standards
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Nintendo's video game consoles have enjoyed worldwide popularity since the 1980s. As of April 2011, its most recent console -- the Wii -- has been no exception. Different countries view TV and play games differently from one another, in part due to differences in video standards around the world. Nintendo has had no choice but to adapt to these standards to maintain its global video gaming empire.

Video Standards

NTSC and PAL are the two most common video standards worldwide. NTSC stands for "National Television Systems Committee," and is named for the group that developed this standard. It's used throughout North America and Japan, and has a resolution of 525 horizontal lines. PAL, which stands for Phase Alternating Line, is a European television standard, also used elsewhere in the world. It boasts a higher resolution of 625 horizontal lines.

Nintendo Wii Worldwide

Different pieces of video equipment must be able to communicate with each other in order to work together. Since different video standards exist in countries where Nintendo maintains a market presence, Nintendo has had to create versions of its Wii video game console that work with each of these standards. Nintendo developed NTSC and PAL versions of the Wii so that the consoles could be sold in many countries, rather than just a few.


Just because different groups of countries rely on the same video standard doesn't automatically mean that Wii games from one country will work in another country's Wii that uses the same video standard. At the Wii's initial release, Nintendo confirmed that both its Wii consoles and its Wii video game discs would be region-locked. While it's possible to hack your Wii so it will play another region's games, the legality of doing so varies from country to country -- and you'll certainly void your Wii's warranty.


If you have a burning desire to play Wii games that were only ever released in the U.K., but you live in the U.S., you may at first think that all you need to do is buy a U.K. Wii. Unfortunately, for video equipment to work together, it must all use the same video standard -- or be able to convert from one standard to another, as some region-free DVD players do. In other words, in order for you to use a PAL Wii, you must have a PAL TV, or your equipment won't work properly together.