There’s a good chance that you’ve got an old Nintendo Entertainment System in your closet or basement. There’s also a good chance that it’s been collecting dust all these years. If you’re like us, that’s because any fond memories of 8-bit gaming on your NES are tainted by the flickering screens and garbled graphics that taunted you every time you tried to load a game. Well, we think that’s a shame. So we’ve put together this simple do-it-yourself guide with easy projects that’ll help you turn your broken box of memories into a near new NES.
Above: An old NES that’s seen better days and doesn’t load games at all. Let’s fix it up together!
How to clean your NES cartridges
What you’ll need:
3.8mm security bit
Dust, dirt, grime, and what appears to be crusty hunks of dried phlegm. You never know what you’ll find stuck on your cartridge’s connector blade - and that gunk can prevent your games from loading properly. Removing the layer of filth that builds up on the connectors in your carts is the easiest and quickest way to improve your NES experience.
The best way to clean your carts is to open them up so you can really go to town on the connector blade. The tricky bit is getting your hands on a tool that’ll let you open your cartridge so you can give the connectors a serious scrubbing. The tool you’re looking for is a 3.8mm security bit that’ll work with the special screws on your NES games. It’s sometimes called a gamebit, and you can easily find one on sites like eBay and Amazon.com for about $6.00.
Above: You'll need a 3.8mm security bit to open up your NES cartridges
If you get your hands on a security bit, open your cartridge and take the game board out. Then, just give the connector blade a rub with a pencil eraser. It’s that simple. Wipe off the eraser bits when you’re done. You can also go over the connector with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol. Wipe off any remaining residue with your cloth rag.
Above: Some online will try to sell you "special" cleaning solutions for your NES. Save your money and use a pencil eraser instead
Above: These household items also work just fine
If you can’t get your hands on a security bit, it’s tough to clean the connector blade with a simple pencil eraser. However, you can still clean the blades with some Q-tips, Brasso metal polish, and isopropyl alcohol. Apply the Brasso to your Q-tip and apply the polish to both sides of the blade. Continue swabbing the blade on both sides. Next, go over the blade and surrounding area within the lip of the cart with a Q-tip dipped in alcohol several times to remove any residue from the Brasso. Finally, just go over it one last time with a dry Q-tip to remove any residue from the alcohol.
Above: If you can’t get a security bit, your next best option is to use Q-tips, Brasso, and isopropyl alcohol
Above: Look how much grime we got off with a few quick swabs
How to clean your NES console and replace the 72-pin connector
What you’ll need:
A pencil eraser
Cleaning your carts is only the first step in getting your NES to play games properly again. It doesn’t matter how clean your carts are if the inside of your NES is full of dust bunnies and cat hair. Also, the 72-pin connector, the part that connects with the blade in your games, is notorious for wearing out. So we’re going to walk you through the process of opening up the console so you can clean it up and replace the 72-pin connector.
Above: A new 72-pin connector is easy to find online and will cost you about $7 or $12, a small price to pay for a near new NES