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The NES or the Cartridge?

Posted: March 19th, 2017, 3:25 pm
by Alucard1191
Hello everyone,

I have an issue I need some expert advice on. I have an old NES that came into my wife's thrift store with a few games, and I can't get either of the games I have to work on it.

I have Mickey Mousecapades and Dusty's All Star Softball. Both of these games do slightly different things. The Softball game I can get to work, but the graphics are super glitched out to the point that it's unplayable. (The sound and the controls work) Mickey Mousecapades will 'stabalize' with a screen that is just a series of blocks and glitched graphics, and I can't move beyond that.

How can I tell if my NES just isn't reading them right or if it's the cartridges? If another NES came in of course I could test it that way, but I don't know when that will be.

Are there maintenance things/things to check with these old systems to make them work again?

Re: The NES or the Cartridge?

Posted: March 19th, 2017, 4:40 pm
by Rev
Honestly, with out having a game that you know works well there isn't much you can do. Your best bet is to clean the NES first: ... enance.htm

If that seems like too much of a hassle, you can clean your games first which isn't too big of an issue. Once clean, 98% of the games I have purchased work. I've only run across a couple NES games which refused to work and usually that was an issue with the game either need sanding to clean the contacts even more, or the contacts were loose, which I opened up the cartridge, screwed them down, and then they worked. To clean, it's super easy, just get some alcohol from Walmart, some Q-Tips, and then wet the Q-Tip with alcohol and wipe the contacts clean until the Q-Tip comes back clear. If you do it with both games and neither work on the NES then chances are the console is dirty (common problem for the original toaster NES).

Re: The NES or the Cartridge?

Posted: March 20th, 2017, 2:36 am
by Alucard1191
Thanks, I'll give that a shot in the next few days. Really hoping to make these work

Re: The NES or the Cartridge?

Posted: March 20th, 2017, 9:20 am
by Retro STrife
To me, it's rare for any game cartridges to stop working and so common for NESes to have problems, that I would say pretty confidently that it's the system. Especially because the problem is happening to two cartridges. But like Rev said, no way to know for sure without more testing.

Re: The NES or the Cartridge?

Posted: March 20th, 2017, 10:38 pm
by VideoGameCritic
Have you tried cleaning out those carts really good?

When my NES carts glitch I clean the heck out of them until they work.
Just make sure the alcohol is totally dry before you insert them into the console.

Re: The NES or the Cartridge?

Posted: March 23rd, 2017, 8:23 am
by Wallyworld
I've had the same issue with an NES before. Sounds like it needs a new 72 pin connector. You can buy them for less than $10 on ebay. Only tool you will need is a Philips head screwdriver. Just watch a youtube video on how to change it. It's surprisingly easy. Once you do that it should work like a brand new system.

Good luck!

Re: The NES or the Cartridge?

Posted: March 27th, 2017, 2:18 am
by radar
It could be games or system. Most likely replace the 72 pin connector on the system. They get dirty and bent pins over time. Make sure the game is firmly pushed in and that the tray locks in place. Don't push down hard on the cartridge or you will damage the 72 pin connector faster by bending the pins. I use rubbing alcohol and swabs on the games connectors when I first get them. Wet then dry. Keep going until swabs are almost spotless. Nes game connectors do not like to play with any grime on them. Once you replace connector DO NOT put any games in your nes that have not been cleaned.

Re: The NES or the Cartridge?

Posted: March 28th, 2017, 11:54 am
by Alucard1191
Alright, update:

Cleaned the heck out of the cartridges, and they both "Stabilized" right away. There wasn't any auto-resetting, but the graphical/performance glitches were the same. Cleaning the system itself out/replacing the pin connector appears to be the next step. I did notice that Dusty's All Star Softball almost looks like it's missing some of its pins. It seems there are possibly 4 missing in the middle? Of course, of the two cartridges, that is the one that is running better. Did some cartridges not have all the little pin things?

Re: The NES or the Cartridge?

Posted: March 28th, 2017, 12:12 pm
by scotland
If you open it, it might be something like this:

Nintendo-NES-Tetris-Cartridge-Board.jpg (13.74 KiB) Viewed 1233 times

Looking at a list, this game is one of those with an MMC-1 chip (the board is labeling the small chip up top as MMC-1) to help boost what the console can do. So, I think your cartridge is just fine.

Re: The NES or the Cartridge?

Posted: March 28th, 2017, 1:30 pm
by Retro STrife
Few thoughts:

1. First, a big side note, just in case you hadn't discovered this yet.... Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball is one of the rarer NES games and routinely sells for $70 on ebay (not too shabby for an old sports game..). So that's a nice find and worth more than the system itself! Somehow I glazed over that when I read your post the first time and didn't even think of it.

2. I agree with Scotland that the cart pins are fine. I've never heard of individual pins coming off a cartridge, so no worries there. Again, outside of dirty pins, it's very uncommon for a cart to not work--it's almost always the NES system.

3. I've done about 3 or 4 replacements of 72-pin connectors in the past few months on my NES systems, and I have to say--the claim I always hear about the systems suddenly work 'like new' afterward has never worked out for me. Yes, they always work much better, but I still find myself having to blow in carts and wiggle them around and whatnot, even with a new connector. Am I alone on this? Equally annoying is the death grip of a new 72-pin connector. The contacts on a new connector are so tight that it's very difficult to pull a cartridge out once you put it in. It's so tight that I can't even fit a Game Genie into it. As a result, I stopped buying new connectors and instead buy these refurbished connectors that seem to work just as well and without the death grip: . If anyone else has tips on 72-pin connectors, I'd be interested to hear as well. I'd love to use my toaster NES for gaming, but I always go back to my Messiah clone because it always works so much better.