At Deseret Industries a few weeks ago I found an NES control deck and two of the classic NES controllers featured on my wallet for about 14 bucks total (NES:$8 Controller:$3/ea) so of course I snapped it up even though it had the wrong wall wart (13AC instead of 9AC) and God only knows the condition inside.
A few days later I bought the repair parts at nintendorepairshop.com – the part that was the magic bullet was the 72 pin connector at the back of the NES where the cartridge meets the road (so to speak). We’d tried the NES before at Frik’s house and it was flashy red lights. Red lights might mean bad to you but it means a lot of the system actually is working. I am not good with component repair (i.e., would be at a loss if I had to break out a soldering iron, though I can spot a popped capacitor, thanks to Dell for a bad string of PCs) so it was a boon to this process to know that the brains of the operation was fine, but that it was failing to read the cartridges.
When I got my fixin’ parts I busted open the NES to find that it is in deed a very very clean system. I blew it out with a can of air anyway, though. It may have only been in service for a while, and put away to rot in a far away bin, safe from dust bunnies. Or, probably just as likely, someone else has attempted repair of this NES before.
So I dropped in the new parts, put it all back together and fired up The Legend of Zelda. A few points of note, after playing a few games. Most emulators are just garbage – my favorite one actually runs too fast. My fancy Logitech controller does shit for D-Pad controls, when compared to my NES controllers (which I have yet to open up and clean out.) What is neatest about owning the actual cartridges is now I have the right to own ROM versions of those games!
Did you know the NES has it’s own protection against pirated games and whatnot? It needs to communicate to a chip in the cartridge or else you get blinky reds (the system fails to read it and resets itself.) I would bet that’s the deal with our copy of ‘Yo Noid’, because once when booting it I actually got a little music and saw a title.
Anyway, at my surprising party I got several NES games and I got the games my brother couldn’t sell (because they were non-working at the store) when he sold the NES. All of them work ‘cept for old Noid. I’m getting a bit to open up the cartridges and really clean them up soon.
Of course, now Sukie has discovered the Virtual Console on our Wii, so my NES collecting days are numbered. I will have to build a suitable display for my cartridges 🙂