NES Adventures

Hey guys, I refurbished my old NES consoles, so you can see some photos of that below.

Here’s a list of upgrades that I gone and done, and that you yourself can easily try:

• I took the controllers apart to replace the silicone bits inside – replacements are super cheap on eBay. They work as good as new now. The main difficulty was that the tiny screws on the controllers didn’t unscrew very well.

• Just for fun I replaced the faceplates on two of the controllers with unofficial ones from eBay. They’re not as high quality as the original ones, but they look pretty cool if you don’t inspect them closely.

• I took the game cartridges apart to clean the connectors – this requires a special screwdriver. There’s a lot of different methods for cleaning that people swear by, but I tried a regular eraser, and then rubbing alcohol.

• I took the consoles apart for cleaning – I’ve got one PAL and one NTSC. The first runs at 50 frames per second and the second at 60. I snipped their region locking chips, so they can both play pretty much any game now, but at different speeds. Apparently, this also makes dirty games more likely to start-up correctly, since they will keep resetting if they don’t satisfy this chip. The snipping is actually super easy – you can see in the circuit board close-up photo exactly which pin you need to cut. That’s all there is to it.

• Taking an NES apart is very simple, and regular screwdrivers are all you need. Putting it back together is trickier, as some parts overlap in unintuitive ways, and plastic parts may have warped a bit due to age. Luckily there’s plenty of YouTube videos that will guide you through it if you get lost.

• I took out the component that connects to cartridges and gave it a light scrub with some fine sandpaper, straightened the connectors with a pick, and then I boiled it in water. Combined with cleaning the carts, most of my games start up on the first try now!

• One of the NES consoles had an unreliable power button. I figured it was just dirty inside, so I took it apart (carefully bending some small bits of metal to get in there), and that was indeed the case. I learned how to use a multimeter to check for electrical connections, and this allowed me to test if the power button was working without needing to put it back into the console. Now it works like new!

And as a little bonus at the bottom, you can see some new NES games I bought. These were published in the last few years!
I gotta say that buying new, unlicensed NES games on cartridges in 2021 isn’t exactly great value for money unless you like collecting rare novelties to show off to your friends, much like vinyl records. But that’s the point I guess, and in my opinion, it’s preferable to collecting old, official NES games, since you’re supporting the creation of new content for the NES!


Micro Mages feels like a very modern platformer game with smooth controls and a reasonable difficulty level, despite being the same size as the original Super Mario Bros. And it’s multiplayer – up to 4 players if you have a multi-tap!

Project Blue is a good-looking and polished Metroid-style game, but the difficulty is very retro – you have to beat the game in one go, 1-ups are rare, and the easiest difficulty setting is still challenging. At least it gives you unlimited continues!

Nebs and Debs could pass as a real, early NES game. The controls are a little bit stiff, and it sends you back to the beginning when you game over. Getting better at the game is a lot like Mario – you need to memorise where all of the 1-ups and shortcuts are, to stand a chance at beating it.

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