A Guide to Making Used Games Look & Play New

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A Guide to Making Used Games Look & Play New

Postby Rev » January 16th, 2016, 9:35 pm

I know the VGC did something very similar to this on one of this main articles. I was a bit bored so I thought this might be fun to type up. This isn't really an article more of just my thoughts on making old games look and play new.

One thing i really enjoy doing is making my games look as good as possible. The problem with buying used games is not everyone takes care of their games so it can sometimes be quite a chore to find a game in the quality you're looking for. People tend to damage their games by writing on them, putting stickers all over them, or leaving them in dirty environments. If you want your games to look as nice as possible, and you don't always want to wait around for a pristine copy, you'll have to leave it to yourself to clean the games. Some things require special equipment to do - such as buffing scratched discs, while others require certain products to clean. Hopefully this helps some newer collectors or simply people who want to make their games look nicer. This guide is only referencing tools that I have personally used to make my games, systems work.

Cleaning Cartridges/Cards (so they work)-
Buying old cartridges can be a pain. 99% of the time, the cartridges you find in the wild are going to be dirty. They may not play on the first try. This is quite common so here are some things I use to get them to work on the first try, every time.
-Use Rubbing Alcohol (I use Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol, 91%) and Q-Tips. Rubbing Alcohol evaporates quickly so this is usually a very safe method to clean your games. Dunk the Q-Tip in some alcohol and wipe the connectors clean, until your Q-Tips come out clean. Some cartridges take only a few swipes, while others can take hundreds. The NES and Neo Geo have probably some of the most pain in the butt cleaning, since the connectors are so large. N64, Genesis, SNES, Game Boy games, T-16, Colecovision and Atari don't usually take too long due to the smaller sizes of the cartridges.
-Use sandpaper (very lightly). Sometimes cartridges are very dirty and no matter how many times you try Rubbing Alcohol, they refuse to work. This can help deal with stubborn cartridges. Once done, I usually let it sit for bit, and then do 1 or 2 swipes with Rubbing Alcohol/Q-Tips.
-Do not blow in your cartridges! This moistens the connectors and can do more harm then good to your games in the long run.
-Sometimes cartridges like the NES will not work no matter how many times you clean them. If you hear a loose plastic noise from inside the cartridge, then one of the pieces inside have broken. I have found quite a few NES games with this issue and what happens is that the insides are no longer supporting the positioning of the game, so when you try to stick it into your console, the pins cannot connect. Buy a screw bit for the specific console and you can usually fix games for the NES in one of two methods- 1. Epoxy glue the plastic piece back to where it should be, thus holding the cartridge back in the correct position, or 2. a lot of NES cartridges can be screwed down inside the cartridge. Take out the screws of a spare NES cart and use those screws to fasten your board inside the cartridge.

Cleaning CD's (so they work)-
CDs are more of a pain to get to work than cartridges. CD's and DVD's scratch easily (Blu Rays do not) so it is quite common to buy used CD games in terrible working condition. You have several options:
-Buy cheap CD cleaning tools- online and at certain retailers; you can buy mini-buffer machines or scratch repair solutions that are supposed to fix discs. These work fairly well and if you have a small amount of CD's to clean this is a viable option. However, if you are using one of these products for the first time, do not use it on your valuable games as a test! Test the products on something cheap and replaceable. Honestly, I rarely use this method.
-Take your CD's to a Used Game store. A lot of used game stores may have a professional buffing machine and will clean discs for $1-2 each. If you have a small selection of games you would like cleaned, this is a viable method but can get expensive quickly. If you are buying games from stores that have a buffing machine, ALWAYS check the game before leaving and if it is scratched have them buff it for you. Be wary of cracks in the center of the CD, these cannot be buffed or fixed and will eventually have the game explode inside your game console.
-If you have a large collection, consider investing into a professional grade buffer, $150-300 for a pretty good one, plus additional parts and accessories. I would like to eventually have one of these as it would make my life much easier, I own easily 1000+ CD games so this would be a worthwhile investment in my case.

I'll write more later. I figured I'd start with the basics most collectors are probably already aware of. The next section is cleaning cases/outside of games.

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Re: A Guide to Making Used Games Look & Play New

Postby Sut » January 17th, 2016, 3:42 am

Great post Rev, look forward to the next part.

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Re: A Guide to Making Used Games Look & Play New

Postby Shapur » January 18th, 2016, 2:00 am

Good post. I've considered getting one of those resurfacing machines. I always figure it could pay for itself pretty fast snatching up scratched CD bundles on ebay.

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Re: A Guide to Making Used Games Look & Play New

Postby Rev » January 18th, 2016, 6:22 pm

Thanks for the feedback guys! I'm going to try and add things here and there. Anyway, here is the beginning of the next section.

Part II: Removing Stickers from Games/Cases

Removing stickers can often be a challenging task. There is nothing worst than trying to remove a sticker, very carefully, and having it break apart in the process. Stickers often leave behind residue and can make your games sticky as well. Thankfully, with some handy home appliances/products, most stickers can be safely removed from games and consoles. Here is a noninclusive list of items that could aid you in your journey.

Useful items for removing stickers:
-Goo Gone
-A blow dryer
-Soap and Water
-Rubbing Alcohol
-Wet Wipes
-Paper Towels or cloth

With that out of the way, let's talk about removing stickers.

Removing Stickers from Cases:
DVD/Blu Ray Cases:
By far one of the most common types of surfaces you will encounter are the standard DVD/Blu Ray cases found with consoles such as the PS2, NGC, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U. There are several options to remove stubborn stickers, although I prefer one well over the others. Here is the list:
-A Blow Dryer is useful for heating the plastic and the stickers so that even the most stubborn of stickers will come off. I used to use this as my primary method of removing stickers, however there is one huge flaw with this method- the blow dryer will warp the plastic covering on the case. It is not uncommon to make the tight plastic covering, loose and wavy with careless blow drying. Some of the perks of this method are not risking damaging the artwork or manual. Also, sometimes the sticker will leave residue behind so you can use Goo Gone or Rubbing Alcohol to remove it. Goo Gone works wayyy better, but is greasy, so make sure you wipe your hands before touching anything (and take the manual and artwork out so it doesn't get wet). Rubbing alcohol dries very quickly, is easier to contain, but still take out the artwork and manual before doing this.

Soapy Water:
Another option is to remove the artwork, manual, and the CD, and throw the case in a bath. You will want the case to sit for quite a while before trying to remove the stickers. This works fairly well but the stickers don't come off as easily as the blow drying method. If you need to scratch at the case, so that the sticker comes off, then you will want to use something to protect the plastic covering from get scratch marks all over it, like a cloth or paper towel. Putting your nail directly on the covering is likely to leave scratch marks all over it. Also, when it is done make sure you wipe the case down (dry it), and let it sit for a good long while before putting the artwork, case, and CD back with it. If you do it too soon as the case is wet, you risk warping the manual or artwork. An issue with this method is that stubborn sticker residue might not come off. Sometimes it can take multiple soaks to get everything off.

Rubbing Alcohol:
If you've picked a sticker off of the case, this works somewhat well on getting it removed... That's about all there is to this one.

Goo Gone, wet wipes, and paper towels:
By far my new favorite way of removing stickers from cases. This method goes as follows- remove the artwork, manual and game, try to pull off all the stickers you can from the case, if the stickers tear, who cares, pull them off anyway. Pull off as much as you can, put the case on a fabric or under paper towels, then spray goo gone all over the sticky areas of the case. Usually, the goo gone will sink to the bottom of the sticker and if you spray enough on it will usually come off. If it doesn't, take off what you can, clean it, and then do another layer of Goo Gone (two passes is the most I've ever had to do). While this method is greasy, Goo Gone removes even the most stubborn of stickers and residue. I usually use wet wipes to remove the goo gone from the case, and give it a thorough cleaning, and then I dry it off with paper towels. After I've dried the case completely, I let it sit a bit, and then a put everything back together. The best part of this method is that you aren't warping the plastic covering like the blow drying method, it is quicker than the soaking method, and goo gone removes a bunch of other junk from the case as well. When you are scraping off the stickers (before and after applying Goo Gone) use a paper towel or a wet wipe (or anything) to make sure you aren't scratching the case up. This has become the only method I've used for removing stickers from DVD/Blu Ray cases and has worked excellently for me.

Removing Stickers from CD Cases:
(will be covered next time).

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Re: A Guide to Making Used Games Look & Play New

Postby VideoGameCritic » January 30th, 2016, 3:38 pm

Ever get a game from ebay and the pins are disgusting? I just got a game that required about 15 Q-tip swabs to get the black off. It wouldn't stop! Like they ran a magic marker over it or something.

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Re: A Guide to Making Used Games Look & Play New

Postby Rev » January 30th, 2016, 4:54 pm

Yeah I've had a few of those... Really gross. I think the worst was when I bought some Sega master system games on eBay and they had grease on the connectors. Took 20 to 30 qtips to clean them. They all worked though. The grease was on the outside of the cartridge too. Almost returned them but several games I got were rare and cheap so cleaning them was worth the effort..

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Re: A Guide to Making Used Games Look & Play New

Postby Verm3 » January 31st, 2016, 9:05 am

I consider CD cleaners and buffers to be bad myself. They don't make a disc like new, they damage them.

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