Have you noticed that not all controllers work in all European NES’s? Well, here’s the thing: there are 2 different types of controllers, and 2 (or actually 3) types of NES’s. On this page, there is first a gallery of all the images that will be later on presented with more detail. The details include some suggestions how to achieve the maximum compatibility between consoles and controllers.

Note: this is not a tutorial/instructable – in case of damage (physical or mental) the reader is solely responsible for it.

Types of NES’s and controllers

3 types of NES

There are actually more than 3 types of NES’s, but these 3 are the ones we are interested in:
1) NTSC – Nintendo Entertainment System (the American version)
2) PAL – Nintendo Entertainment System European Version (in this page it is actually a Scandinavian PAL-B console, but we’ll call it simply a PAL-console)
3) ”E-type” – Nintendo Entertainment System (not necessarily a Spanish Version as in the pictures, but in any case a PAL-A console. The ”E-type” reference is explained below)

The model number at the bottom of an NES indicates the type of the NES. The American NTSC is NES-001, the European PAL-B NES’s are NES-PAL-001, and the E-type (PAL-A) NES’s are NESE-001 (hence the ”E-type”). The E-type NES is the troublemaker, but all the controller compatibility problems can be solved either with some regular soldering skills, or just regular screwdriver turning skills 🙂

There are just two types of NES controllers that will be called a ”regular” controller and an ”E-type” controller. If you want the best possible controller compatibility over regions, find yourself an E-type controller!

Regular and E-type controllers look exactly the same

Both controller types look exactly the same on the front side, but the model number on the back side of a controller, NES-004 or NES-004E, indicates the fundamental difference: only E-type controllers work on E-type consoles. In other words, regular controllers work just fine in the NTSC consoles and PAL (PAL-B) consoles, but not on the E-type (PAL-A) consoles. In other-other words, only the E-type controllers work on all the different types of NES’s. So, as stated before, if you want the best possible controller compatibility, find yourself an E-type controller (NES-004E)!!

The difference inside the controllers is the two resistors on the E-type controller. It’s possible, and fairly easy, to solder two suitable resistors to a regular controller and make it E-type compatible. Check out internet/YouTube, there are tutorials how to do it.

The 2 resistors inside an E-type controller

Controller ports

There is a physical difference between the E-type NES controller ports and all the other NES controller ports. Here are images of an NTSC/PAL console controller ports (left) and an E-type console controller ports (right):

Let’s take a closer look at the E-type controller ports:

E-type controller ports have a PCB with diodes

The main difference between the regular and E-type controller ports is the small PCB on the E-type controller ports. On the small PCB, there are a bunch of diodes which prevent other than E-type controllers functioning properly on the E-type NES. However, there are two different methods to make an E-type NES controller port to accept not just E-type controllers but any NES controller. Read further.

A regular (NTSC/PAL-B) and an E-type (PAL-A) controller ports in comparison:

E-type (PAL-A) controller port above, NTSC/PAL-B controller port below

How to improve the controller compatibility?

Regardless of the type of the NES (NTSC/PAL/E-type), the controller ports are very conveniently attached by a simple connector to the main PCB of the NES – you can easily (but carefully!) detach/attach them. Notice also that port 1 and port 2 are otherwise identical but the length of the wires – the wires on the controller ports are long enough so that you can switch the port 1 to port 2 and wise versa!

All controller ports are conveniently connected with a detachable connector

First compatibility improvement option – simple switch of the ports

So, if you happen to have spare regular controller ports lying about, you can ”modify” your E-type NES to accept all types of controllers by simply switching the controller ports to the regular type. This is definitely the easiest method, no soldering required!

A case example: a Tetris player has an NTSC console and an E-type console, but only regular (non-E) controllers -> the Tetris player takes the 2 player controller port from the NTSC console and puts it on the 1 player port on the E-type console -> now the Tetris player can use regular controllers on both consoles (1 player only, 2 player would need an E-type controller on both consoles).

Regular 1 player controller port in E-type NES

Second compatibility improvement option – soldering required

Get rid of the small PCB of an E-type controller port and solder the wires straight to the controller port connectors (check out the image below).
Bridge the diodes by soldering jump wires to them (check out YouTube).

Not very pretty mod…but it works

Third compatibility improvement option – mod your controller (some soldering required)

You can always solder the 2 extra resistors to your regular non-E controller to make it E-type compatible (check out YouTube).

A case example: -JJ has a very good regular controller that he would like to use in CTEC, but he also knows that CTEC may have E-type consoles –> as -JJ can’t just go and modify all the CTEC NES’s (as described in Compatibility Improvement Options 1 and 2 above), it’s much easier for him to modify the controller to be compatible with any NES that comes along. Problem solved!