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Playing Classic Nintendo (NES) Games With and Without the Vintage Cartridges

Updated on October 24, 2010

Feeling nostalgic? Want to take a walk down memory lane and play some of the old games you spent hours on as a kid? Want to give that old NES some attention?

Well, there are primarily three ways in which people these days play the NES games of yore. Let's take a look at them and what each one entails:

Using an original Nintendo Entertainment System (Famicom in some places) with the original game cartridges

This method may leave you out of breath from blowing so much into the cart. Over the years, our old equipment tends to pick up dust and the age shows when you pull a vintage system out from storage.

Old NES's (if it's not a top-loading one) tend towards "the blinking problem" where, due to a poor connection between the cartridge's contacts and the 72-pin connector inside the NES (caused by dirt, dust, or simply the springy contacts on the connector getting misshapen over time), the machine will blink on and off and offer no hope for gameplay.

This is fixable, however, either by deep-cleaning the connector inside the NES or by replacing it. A new 72-pin connector will usually do the trick and your games (if properly cleaned) should be playing like new.

There's nothing quite like playing the games on the original system, hooked up to an old TV, as they were originally meant to be played. But if this is impossible due to circumstances, there's always...


NES Emulation on a PC

Of course, playing game ROM's that you don't own in cartridge form is illegal and facilitating copyright infringement. Nintendo does not take too kindly to this. In fact, it's probably best to not do it period, just in case.

However, if used legitimately, emulators like Nestopia and the like can do wonders when it comes to resurrecting the classics. There's also added functionality with using an emulator, such as the ability to save a basically any point, which kind of rids a person of the annoying hassle of password-based saving that was common to NES games (and, of course, it also allows you to cheat).

Check to see if the game is available through other means, though, such as through the Wii or ported onto another console that you own. Which brings us to...

NES Games on New Consoles

Every once in awhile, an classic Nintendo game will get ported to a newer console, especially the hand-held ones like the various Gameboy incarnations and the Nintendo DS. Occasionally, these ports will even improve on the the older game, adding new features or enhancing the graphics.

These days, one can also download some classic games on the Wii and play that way. It's not quite the same as the traditional way of doing it, but it's certainly more convenient.

So if you're feeling nostalgic, grab an old NES game; they're just as fun today as they were back then.


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