Warning: Proceed at your own risk and be careful when doing any repairs.
In the past we’ve show how to replace your lithium battery without soldering. It’s quick. It’s easy. But so is soldering with a little practice. Plus, it turns out that the solder method is a bit stronger as it is how these game-saving power supplies were installed in the first place.
Best part is that this method works for Pokémon Gold, Silver, Crystal, Blue, Red, Yellow, plus Zelda games, Tecmo Super Bowl, and a bunch of other retro video games.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Safety Glasses
- VGM Gold 3.8mm Security Bit
- Soldering Iron
- Soldering Flux
- Lithium Battery with Solder Tabs
(Ok, so a lot of these FAQs were handled in our Solderless Repair Guide and have been recycled below.)
Q: Why can’t I save my game on my old Pokémon Game Boy Color cartridge?
A: Before game systems saved games on flash memory and hard drives, games relied on lithium batteries to maintain saved games. Unfortunately, when that battery dies, so does the saved game. It’s sort of like taking the battery out of your watch. Once the battery is gone, the watch loses the time.
Q: My cartridge lets me save the game, but when I turn it on later the saved game is gone. Is my battery dead?
A: Yes, without a working battery, the game will attempt to save and then lose the saved game data after you power off your Game Boy. Bummer, huh?!
Q: How powerful of a soldering iron do I need?
A: We’d suggest one with 25 or more watts. Ideally, you’d get one that has a temperature control to find a setting that works best for you.
Q: I don’t have a soldering iron. Can I use a flame thrower, light saber, or other implement of destruction?
A: Hmmm…please make a video of said attempts…using proper safety methods for each of course.
Q: Which Pokémon games does this repair method address?
A: We’ve used it to repair Pokémon Gold, Silver, Crystal, Red Version, Blue Version, and Yellow Version (Special Pikachu Edition). These include Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald versions.
Q: Did I see a FireRed GBA cart in the video?
A: Yeah, we accidentally showed a Pokémon FireRed cart in the video, but it actually doesn’t use a battery. Ha ha, that cartridge looks so much like Ruby at first glance that we mixed them up during filming.
Q: My battery is dead. Will replacing it restore my saved game?
A: Unfortunately, when the battery dies, your saved game files are lost. It’s sort of like unplugging your alarm clock. Once it loses power, it loses track of what it saves, which in the case of an alarm clock is the time. The exception to this is GBA games which only relied on the battery for an in-game clock. That in-game clock affected things like berry growth.
Q: My battery is old but still working, is there any way to switch the battery without losing the game save?
A: When you remove the battery, your saved game will be lost. If you’re thinking about putting in a fresh battery, you should back up your saved game to a device like a Mega Memory Card. You can also do certain backups using a N64 transfer pak and Pokemon Stadium 2. Check out this thread for tips on this.
Q: What size battery do I need?
A: Most likely, if you’re replacing a battery for a Pokemon Game Boy Color cartridge, you’ll need a CR2025 Lithium battery. However, some cartridges originally used a CR2016. When you remove the existing battery, you can check its labeling or for battery size information stamped on the board next to the battery.
Q: Does this repair work for Game Boy Advance Pokémon games on the GBA?
A: Yup, you can use the same method to repair Pokémon games for the GBA and GBA SP. These include Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald versions.
Q: Does this repair work for games of other systems?
A: Yes, you can use the exact same method to repair games for the Original NES, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, Game Boy Advance and other older cartridge based games. This is especially helpful if have an original Nintendo Entertainment System and want to fix your Legend of Zelda, Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, or Tecmo Super Bowl carts. There are way too many games that use batteries than we can list for these systems. If you have one with a battery, chances are this method will work just fine.
Q: Can I use a solderless method instead of soldering the batteries back into place?
A: Most people don’t know how to solder and don’t have any friends who do either. While we admire those people who can restore their games through the process of soldering, we want to teach this simple and effective method that most anyone can do. In our opinion, our no solder method involves less risk of having a person who is new to video game repair hurt themselves or the game cartridge. Plus, we’ve been pretty happy with the success of the no soldering method.
Q: How do I open my game cartridge?
A: Many games require security bits to open them. We suggest using a VGM Gold 3.8mm Security Bit.
Q: Do I really need a security bit to open my cartridge?
A: Using the correct tool is definitely the easiest and safest way to open your cartridge. However, others have gotten creative in using thin needle nosed pliers, tweezers, and even modified Bic Pens. I’ve even heard of a guy (@roxas8137) using a Dremel tool to carve a flat slot in the screw for a normal screwdriver. We suggest getting a security bits since they’re cheap, easy to use, and have lowest risk of scratching or damaging your game. Note: We also strongly discourage the use of dynamite, chainsaws or pet saber-toothed tigers in opening your game cart as these tend to damage the internal components.
Q: How long can I expect my battery to last?
A: The easiest way to figure this out would be to take the year the game was released and to subtract that from the year the battery died. Speaking in broad terms though, the original batteries in games like Pokemon Gold (generally using CR2025) seemed to last 10-12 years or more. Amazingly, original batteries in The Legend of Zelda NES cartridges (generally using CR2032) have been know to last 25+ years! Everything seems to depend on the size of the battery (larger CR2032>CR2025>CR2016>CR1616 smaller), the quality, and the amount of drain placed on the battery. Regarding drain, games with a continuous clock or items like a Dreamcast’s VMU are always drawing power from the battery. However, a Legend of Zelda Cart simply uses its battery to maintain the saved game. If you replace your battery, it won’t last forever, but you can probably get a good number of years out of it.
Q: Can I put a CR2032 battery into a game that previously had a CR2025?
A: I always like to replace with the exact same battery type that it originally used. Both the CR2032 and CR2025 are 3V batteries. In my understanding, the main difference is that the CR2032 is 3.2mm in thickness and the CR2025‘s is 2.5mm in thickness. Additionally, the CR2032 should give longer battery life. Proceed at your own risk if you’re going to mismatch batteries. But…we’d gladly use the larger battery for our own games.
Q: I tried to replace my battery, and it isn’t working. What did I do wrong?
A1: Make sure that the battery is in correctly (Positive matching + and Negative matching -).
A2: Sometimes it helps to wrap a thin strip of electrical tape around the edge of the battery. This can help to prevent a metal contact from touching both the battery’s positive and negative sizes simultaneously.
A3: Try cleaning the game and board. The metal contacts most commonly need cleaning. We suggest using a Qtip or cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol or WD-40 to clean the contacts.
A4: Are you certain that your game worked in the first place? If your little brother dropped it in the toilet 15 years ago and you’re hoping this will get it to work, chances are your game will still have issues.