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I have tried both the American and European versions through "special means". For some reason, the American version is a lot faster than the European version; it plays at like 3x the speed of the EU version. Same thing for the original Mega Man. Is there a difference between the two regions' copies, or is it just my copies?
That's PAL for you. All european versions of NES games play at only 5/6 of original speed. 5/6 may seem like not much but it makes a huge difference, to the point of making some games almost unplayable. Even on european Virtual Console they still apply this slowdown, I regret downloading MM3 cause playing it is unbearabe. At least Mega Man 9 and 10 weren't slowed in Europe,
For comparison: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmMXA7FpR_U
PAL standard uses 50Hz to transmit TV signal while NTSC uses 60Hz. Due to this NTSC displays 30 frames per second as opposed to PAL's 25 frames. Since both Japan and North America support NTSC all games were originally made with the framerate of 30 fps. But converting to PAL without affecting the performance was difficult back then, since PAL displays 5 frames less than NTSC. There were only two options to convert to PAL: Retaining full speed at the cost of framerate drop, or keeping the framerate the same but slowing down the speed. Apparently the latter option was chosen and PAL games ended up slower due to displaying more frames per second than they are supposed to. Of course, in present days the conversion is done properly and both PAL and NTSC games run at the same speed and framerate but the issue wasn't solved up until DreamCast.