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Fix Your NES
Remembering the Nintendo Entertainment System
I can recall that day - in 1988, over at a friend's house, when I saw it for the very first time: The Nintendo Entertainment System. I sat on the floor of my friend's room, watching Super Mario hopping along world 1-1, avoiding Goombas and hitting question mark adorned blocks for coins and other neat items. I was hooked - this Nintendo was simply amazing, and I knew I'd found something I would love.
It's been almost 25 years since then. Did that magic feeling ever wear off?
NOT IN THE LEAST!
The NES: A RETROspective
See what I did there?
Just what made the NES so amazing back when it came out? There's literally dozens of reasons why the system was so popular, and why is managed to sell 61.91 million units, and why it was able to revive the video game industry after the big "crash" that happened in 1983. But of course, a big reason was innovation. The NES presented games in a way that was never seen in a home console before, with more colors and sounds available than on any other home video game system. Finally, we were seeing arcade quality games that could be played in your own living room.
Another thing that made the NES stand out so well was the extra peripherals. It has its controllers with the innovative "directional pad", the Zapper gun, a variety of other controllers such as the NES Advantage and NES Max, and of course, the Robotic Operating Buddy, R.O.B.
All these special features were backed by an excellent lineup of launch titles as well. Let's have a look at those in detail...
The Launch Titles
The NES had a great lineup of launch titles, with a real variety of titles. In no particular order, here they are:
- Hogan's Alley - Wild Gunman - Stack Up - Gyromite - Donkey Kong Jr. Math - Duck Hunt - Clu Clu Land - Super Mario Bros - Wrecking Crew - Kung Fu - Ice Climber - Pinball - Baseball - Golf - Tennis - 10-Yard Fight - Excitebike - Mach Rider -
So there were plenty of sports games, puzzlers, platformers and adventure. It was a great lineup. Though the true classics of the NES such as Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, and the rest of the Super Mario games came out later, this was still an excellent start, and it certainly got attention in the North American Market.
Speaking of Launch Titles....
...which one was your favorite??
Regardless of the great launch and the initial success....
...the Nintendo Entertainment System was not without some problems.
Let's take a look at two of them in particular that have plagued the system since its release...
Problem #1: The 72-Pin Connector
Because of the front-loading design that Nintendo used, they needed some way to have the game connect to the motherboard. Their solution was this device, the 72-Pin connector. It consists of 36 metal connectors split into 72 pins that connect your game cartridge's contacts to the system. Of course, there was a problem. I'll let this ecert from "Fix Your NES" explain:
"When you push the game down it adds pressure to the pins, making a connection. Unfortunately, over time this caused the pins to stay bent down, unable to connect properly with your game. Typically this results in a blue or grey screen. We're going to fix that issue. Start by gently pulling the 72-Pin connector off the motherboard.
What we need to do is bend the PINs back upward. If you look closely at this picture, [The picture above here on Squidoo!] three pins on the left are already bent up, while the remaining five still appear to be "pressed down". Use a tack, safety pin or flat head screwdriver."
In the book itself there's a few more details, not to mention some diagram showing exactly how to pull the pins up in the free Visual Guide that comes with the book.
After bending the pins back up, the connector will be tighter - you'll feel the extra friction when inserting a game - but the connection will be much better.
Problem #2: The Lockout Chip
Again, from Fix Your NES:
"Now that the 72-pin connector is off, you have just the motherboard left. allow me to show you the other factor that contributed to your NES games not working: the 10NES Security Chip. Originally this chip was meant to stop unlicensed games from working in the NES. A game would need to provide the NES with an authentication code. If the security chip did not get the code, it would reset the motherboard once per second. And what does that look like?
That's right, a blinking red light. Now we're all familiar with what I'm talking about. Over the years, the motherboard and the games would get dirty and worn, and the security chip would start denying official NES games as if they were made without Nintendo's approval. Now it's time to make up for all those times you put up with that blinking light: time to kill the 10NES chip."
Disabling the NES lockout chip will permanently put and end to the blinking red light problem the Nintendo Entertainment System was infamous for, and this book will show you exactly how to do it.
Problem #3: DIRT!
Honestly, one of the biggest problems with the Nintendo Entertainment System was how it collected dust! That is why we blew into the game carts - and why it sometimes worked. You see, dust on the contacts was enough to cause a bad connection, or activate the lockout chip. So, if you are taking the NES apart to fix it, don't miss this integral step: cleaning it up!!
There's a whole chapter that goes into detail about cleaning the system and games in Fix Your NES, and another chapter dedicated to cleaning and fixing the controllers. If you want to go a step further, you can also open the games with a special tool found on Amazon.com.
So - Fix Your NES!
All this information on repairing and restoring your beloved Nintendo Entertainment System can be found in the book "Fix Your NES", found here on Amazon:
THIS WEEKEND ONLY - OCTOBER 10th to OCTOBER 12th - GET "FIX YOUR NES" FOR FREE! THAT'S $2.99 OFF.
The book contains many photos, diagrams, and useful information that can help ANYONE open up, clean, and repair the NES and games.
And if you like the book, please consider leaving a rating - Thank you!
I Love My NES
The Nintendo Entertainment System stood the test of time, and still stands as one of the greatest home video game consoles of all time. It'll always continue to live on in the hearts and minds of those who grew up with it, but now you can make the system relive it's purpose on your TV as well - for many years to come. The just don't make game systems like they used to.
With hundreds of games, great and creative controllers and peripherals, the NES is not only a collector's item, but it makes a great hobby. Now that you've got a copy of Fix Your NES, why stop at repairing your own system? Offer to repair friends' systems. Go to garage sales and pick up some cheap, "not working" NES's and resell them! The plastic parts can be cleaned and spraypainted, and those sell well online - especially when you've refurbished everything. The best part is people will really think you know what you're doing when you make their NES work like new.
Have fun repairing and replaying your retro system my friends - game on!