Weirdest N64 GameShark Repair Ever

It’s hard to imagine a stranger repair than this!  But it worked for us, and I’m still scratching my head.

If you have a Nintendo 64 GameShark (version 3.3) that won’t boot up, here’s a quick and easy trick that might repair it.  You’ll need a working GameShark of the same version.
http://amzn.to/2kUkM43

***Before you start, verify that your bad GameShark displays the number “8” as ours did in the video.  There are lots of things that can go wrong with these devices, so make sure your issue matches ours.***

***Proceed at your own risk.***

Step 1–Bottom:  Insert the working GameShark into your system.
Step 2–Middle:  Insert the bad GameShark into the top of the working one.
Step 3–Top:  Insert a compatible game into the top of both GameSharks.
Step 4:  Boot up your system.

Pardon the grainy footage.  We actually filmed this about 10 years ago and had forgotten about the footage.  I hope this helps unlock some of your bricked GameSharks.

Best of luck & happy retro gaming!

Introducing the 3.8mm VGM Gold Security Screwdrive​​r Bit

After months of design, engineering and production, we’re happy to announce our new 3.8mm VGM Gold Security Screwdrive​​r Bit!

Get your 3.8mm VGM Gold Security Bit on Amazon or eBay

We’re demonstrating all the different types of cartridges a 3.8mm VGM Gold Security bit can open. This is perfect for opening your retro gaming collection for cleaning, battery replacement, and repairs.

3.8MM VERSION OPENS:

  • Original NES Nintendo game cartridges
  • Super Nintendo game cartridges
  • Nintendo 64 game cartridges
  • Original Game Boy game cartridges
  • Game Boy Color game cartridges
  • Virtual Boy game cartridges
  • Sega Game Gear game cartridges

QUALITY:

  • Durable strong hardened steel
  • Heat treated for maximum strength
  • Length is about 7.6 cm (~3 inches)
  • Gold colored for identification and corrosion resistance
  • Precision engineered teeth fit tightly
  • Pattern: 3.8mm Female 6 Node (6-Pointed Star)
  • Fit any 1/4″ hex hand tool receiver
  • Made in the USA

We’ve worked hard to offer the highest quality screwdriver security bits on the market. We’d rather offer a top quality item once rather than ask people to continuously replace low quality imitations.  We feel we’ve done just that and our proud that these are made 100% in the United States.  This gives us highest quality control, top quality, and supports American jobs.

Get your 3.8mm VGM Gold Security Bit on Amazon or eBay

Between the Toes of the Giant: Gam3rCon

Gam3rCon (2)San Diego Comic Con is a beast.  It’s the biggest, baddest giant in town.  Yet, surprisingly, growing between its toes is an event called Gam3rCon!  Rather than withering in SDCC‘s shadow, Gam3rCon is thriving!Gam3rCon Main Floor Racing (1)

In some ways, I scratch my head that there are gamers who live in the San Diego area and don’t attend Comic Con.  Some are just not interested, or they’re interested but couldn’t get a ticket.  Others would attend SDCC but hate all the hype and crowds.

That’s where Gam3rCon comes in.  It’s small. It’s gaming.  It’s not Comic Con.  This was our first year to check it out, and I have to say I was impressed!

Gam3rCon Main Floor (4)Ok, so Gam3rCon is small and independent…but not really that small.  These guys and gals rent out a five story building and pack it with an insane amount of content.  Upon entering, a gamer walks into an old church sanctuary that has been converted to a shrine to gaming with dozens of Xbox 360s and PS3s.  Shooters, fighters, and DoTA seemed to dominate the scene, while a driving simulator was projected on the wall.

Gam3rCon Retro Gaming Room (3)All the while, upstairs is a retro gaming room complete with Atari, NES, SNES, N64, Dreamcast, PS2 and a freak’n rad Fairchild Channel F!  Yup, that’s the room where I parked for a bit.

Down the hall is an art gallery with some solid works of art, and if you’re interested in creating your own art, we spotted some graffiti and silk screening going on as well.  Did we mention the huge, green-screen photo booth for those of us who are less than artistic?!  Check out our interview with Mr. Benja from The 8-bit Cubist for more on that art gallery:

If tabletop gaming is more your thing, there was plenty of that going on in the tabletop gaming lounge.  Up on the roof was pizza and comedy.  Add to that film screenings and a bunch of other stuff that we probably didn’t even find, and there’s something for everyone.

If you’re thinking about doing both San Diego Comic Con and Gam3rCon, we wish you all the best.  Both are great and worth checking out.  As a pretty active guy in his 30s, I was hurting after packing both into one day.  If they were staggered by a week or two, I would have loved spending more time at both.  Yeah, I know, cry me a river, right?

Regardless, I’m stoked that there is one more gaming option in Southern California.  Best of all, this small, independent gaming con is thriving!  Game on!

Check out the gallery below for a closer look at Gam3rCon.

Replacing N64 Controller’s Joystick with Original Styled Replacement

If you’ve owned and loved an N64, you probably have a few worn out joysticks.  In addition to our GameCube-styled replacement N64 joystick, we’ve found an option that feels and looks a lot more like the original.

If you’ve seen our other N64 joystick repair video, this process is pretty similar.  Here’s another great option!  It’s made by RepairBox and seems to have a solid design. The installation is still super easy.  Just make sure you have a Philips Head screwdriver handy and about 10 minutes of time.

Just let us know if you have questions, comments or any thoughts on this model of joystick.  Best of luck, and happy retro gaming!

Find one of these RepairBox joysticks on Amazon.

Warning: Proceed at your own risk and be careful when doing any repairs.

Nintendo 64-Joystick-RepairBox-Replacement-Part

N64-Joystick-RepairBox-Comparison

Replacing N64 Expansion Covers

wheelbarrow-gnome-400pxWe all know about the gnome who steals socks out of our laundry.  But have you heard about his pixel-hungry buddy who steals battery covers off of Game Boys?  How about his neighbor who snatches expansion covers off of old N64 systems?

pikachu-N64-system

Time to fight back!

We’ll be carrying several colors of replacement expansion covers for the Nintendo 64.  Yup, we’ll be keeping the retro gaming world dust free by carrying the original Gray, Jungle Green, Pikachu Blue, and Atomic Purple versions of these little missing lids.  If these do well, we’ll be happy to get more colors produced in time.

Nintendo-64-System-Jungle-Green

Ok, so here’s the funny part.  Nintendo made an Atomic Purple N64 set, right?  What color was it?  Wait….think about it…hmmm.

Hmmm…so it really wasn’t a purple system.  But it did come with a sweet Atomic Purple controller that kicked off the numerous “funtastic” variants that Nintendo released in controllers and systems.

Atomic Purple expansion covers, really?  Yup.  Why? Because yellow would have been silly.  Seriously though, we figure these will give people a great opportunity to continue the custom mix-and-match process of customizing their N64.  We all did it with controllers as a kid.  Why not the system?  Would the system in the box below look better with an Atomic Purple expansion lid?  Would that same lid also look sweet on a colored system?  If you answered yes to either of these questions, you understand.  If not, gray is definitely available too. Modders, here’s one more color to toy around with.

N64-Atomic-Purple-System

 

 

 

 

 

People were asking how closely the colors match the originals, so we figured we’d give you a better look.

Happy retro gaming!

 

Security Bit & Battery Compatibility Chart

Want to clean your video game collection?

Are you trying to repair an old game cartridge or system?

We’ve created a compatibility chart to help you find the items you’ll need.  Want a pdf version?

SECURITY BIT & BATTERY COMPATIBILITY CHART
NINTENDO   GAME BIT SYSTEM BIT CONTROLLER BIT SYSTEM BATTERY GAME BATTERY
Original Nintendo NES  nintendo nes 3.8mm Philips Philips n.a. CR2032
Super Nintendo super nintendo system
3.8mm 4.5mm Philips n.a. CR2032
Nintendo 64  nintendo-64-system 3.8mm 4.5mm Philips n.a. CR2032
Game Cube  nintendo game cube n.a. 4.5mm Tri-Wing n.a. n.a.
Wii  nintendo wii n.a. Tri-Wing Tri-Wing n.a. n.a.
Virtual Boy  nintendo virtual boy 3.8mm 4.5mm1 Philips n.a. n.a.
Game Boy  nintendo game boy 3.8mm Tri-Wing n.a. AA CR2025
Game Boy Color  nintendo game boy color 3.8mm Tri-Wing n.a. AAA Usually CR2025 (but sometimes CR2016)3
Game Boy Advance  nintendo game boy advance Tri-Wing Tri-Wing n.a. AA Usually CR2025 (but sometimes CR2016)3
Game Boy Advance SP  game boy advance sp Tri-Wing Tri-Wing n.a. Lithium Usually CR2025 (but sometimes CR2016)3
DS  nintendo ds system Tri-Wing Tri-Wing n.a. Lithium n.a.
DS Lite  nintendo ds lite system Tri-Wing Tri-Wing n.a. Lithium n.a.
DSi  nintendo dsi Tri-Wing Tri-Wing n.a. Lithium n.a.
DSi XL  nintendo dsi xl system Tri-Wing Tri-Wing n.a. Lithium n.a.
SEGA GAME BIT SYSTEM BIT CONTROLLER BIT SYSTEM BATTERY GAME BATTERY
Master System  sega master system 4.5mm Philips Philips n.a. CR2032
Genesis  sega genesis 4.5mm2 Philips Philips n.a. CR2032
CD sega cd n.a. Philips Philips n.a. n.a.
CDX  sega cdx n.a. Philips Philips n.a. n.a.
32X  sega 32x 4.5mm Philips Philips n.a. CR2032
Saturn  sega saturn n.a. Philips Philips CR2032 n.a.
Dreamcast sega dreamcast n.a. Philips Philips n.a. CR2032 for VMU4
Game Gear sega game gear 3.8mm 4.5mm n.a. AA n.a.
MISC GAME BIT SYSTEM BIT CONTROLLER BIT SYSTEM BATTERY GAME BATTERY
TurboGrafx 16  turbografx 16 system n.a. 4.5mm Philips n.a. n.a.
TurboDuo  nec turboduo system n.a. 4.5mm n.a. n.a. n.a.
CHART KEY
Philips = Philips head screwdriver
Tri-wing = Tri-wing head screwdriver
1Bit may not be long enough to reach screws without removing plastic
2Works for most games
3Check game’s internal circuit board to identify the battery needed. It should be labeled either “CR2025” or “CR2016“.
4The Sega Dreamcast’s VMU requires the use of two (2) CR2032 batteries.

Additional Info: See our video cleaning and repair guides for our favorite methods for easily cleaning and repairing your retro gaming collection.

Sharing: You are welcome to share this chart in unedited form so long as you offer credit linking to VideoGameMuseum.com

Feedback: We would love your feedback!  Please send feedback and suggestions to mark{at}videogamemuseum.com simply comment below.

N64 Joystick Repair

Replacement Nintendo 64 JoystickIf a person played the N64 back in the day, chances are they logged about a billion hours between Goldeneye and Mario Kart.  I was finishing up high school just as the N64 was taking off, and my buddies and I were no exception to the Nintendo 64 craze.  Heck, given the number of hours in which we brutalized each other with banana peels and proximity mines, you could argue that we actually loved the N64 to death: literally.

The Flaw

The N64 was a fantastic system; however, it had one fatal flaw:  the controller.  Specifically, the first-party controllers that Nintendo supplied had the wimpiest joystick on the market.  As a person used the joystick, the axis inside would literally wear away.  The more it wore, the harder you had to push the joystick, which, in turn, wore down the joystick even faster.  The only joystick that I can think of with such a huge failure rate is the Atari 5200’s.  What’s strange is that during the time of the N64, Sega Saturn’s “3D” joystick was a pretty good item.  Maybe Nintendo was afraid of seeming too much like Sega.  For whatever reason they chose the design they did, we know the end of the story: joystick failure.

Nintendo’s Joystick Fix?

What was Nintendo’s solution to this issue?  They issued controllers in every color under the sun.  Heck, if kids got their parents to buy more controllers, then it would prolong the life of the joysticks that the kids already had.  And of course, the argument could be made that there were great 4-players games for the N64.  Thus, the additional purchases made sense.  Or at least it made sense if you weren’t the fourth kid to show up for a session of Bond.  Yup, being the last to arrive meant you got stuck with that horrid failure of a thumbstick that everyone else rejected.

Repair Ideas

We kids were quick to learn to pull apart our controllers to swap the better joysticks into the cooler controllers.  That’s why you’ll see so many mismatched controller casings.  But this process of cannibalizing controllers certainly wasn’t a solution.

I fix up a ton of games and systems, but for the longest time I was stumped by the issue of Nintendo 64 joysticks.  I watched a bunch of YouTube videos and scanned forums for repair tips.  Some people suggested repairs using layers of Scotch tape.  Others had complicated tricks for transplanting joysticks from other non-N64 controllers and then essentially hiring an electrical engineer buddy to make the two compatible.  I’d even experimented with a process of resurfacing the worn parts with surfboard resin or clear fingernail polish, but neither of these seemed to work well.

Repair Solution

Finally, I found a good supplier for a quality joystick.  We’ve started to carry that joystick, and I have to say that the case is now closed on the issue.  The replacement joystick feels much more like the Game Cube or Dreamcast’s joysticks, and I honestly wish Nintendo had started with these in the first place.

The “how to” video below demonstrates the installation of these joysticks, and it’s pretty straight forward. All you need is a Philips-head screwdriver, about 5-10 minutes of time, and a little patience. No soldering is involved in this installation process, and once everything is unscrewed, you’ll literally unplug the old joystick and plug in the new one.

Feel free to contact us with any questions by commenting below or buy using our contact page.

Interested in purchasing a replacement N64 joystick? Check out our eBay Store

Joystick Replacement Tutorial
 

 

Credits: Above photo “N64-Controller-Colors.jpg” used with permission of www.squidoo.com/controller-for-n64

Cleaning Games (External)

Game Cleaning Tips:  Restoring the Outside of your Retro Gaming Cartridge


We all know the joy of finding a retro video games.  Perhaps it’s one you’ve wanted to play for a long time, or maybe you’ve finally hunted down a super rare one for the collection.  Unfortunately, 20+ year old games are rarely in top condition.  I’d like to go over some tips for cleaning the outside of your retro gaming carts.  (If you want to clean the game’s contacts inside, check out our internal cleaning guide.)

I’ve cleaned hundreds if not thousands of NES, SNES, N64, Genesis, and other retro game cartridges.  While that often means just a quick touch up, many times it’s involved super extensive marker, dirt, and sticker removal.  Murphy’s Law suggests that the rarer the game, the more likely it is that someone will have put a name, sticker, or some other horror on the label.  Anyway, through trial & error, talking with fellow gamers, collectors, game store owners, and people at pawn shops, I feel like I’ve learned quite a bit.  I’m always open to your tips and suggestions. This guide covers some of the wisdom I’ve learned along the way. As always, proceed at your own risk and do your research and safe testing before trying to clean your rarer games.

OPENING GAMES

First off, it’s handy to be able to open the games. This generally isn’t 100% necessary, but it’s insanely helpful if you have grime in the cracks between the game’s casing, etc. Additionally, it’s quite useful if you ever want to change your video game’s battery in order to regain saved game functionality. There are two main bits that you’ll want to pick up if you’re a collector. Both of these bits fit into your standard screwdriver handle. Additionally, both game opening security bits can be purchased at our eBay store.

3.8mm Game Security Bit allows you to open your Original 8-bit NES, SNES, N64, and Game Boy game cartridges. If you’re an old school Nintendo game collector like me, this is a must have.

4.5mm Game Security Bit allows you to open your Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and Game Cube consoles. Additionally, it’ll allow you to open your Sega console and Sega Genesis & Mega Drive game cartridges.

CLEANING THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR GAME

First things first, grab a couple rags and your favorite cleaning supplies.  As you’re looking around, here’s what I suggest:

Tools

  • Rags
  • Old Tooth Brush
  • Blow Dryer
  • Security Bit
Cleaning Supplies

  • Windex
  • Magic Eraser
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Goo Gone

Removing Dirt:  Spray a rag with Windex or some similar sort of cleaner, and start scrubbing that plastic.  Just be careful not the wet the game’s label.  If the label itself is dirty, you can still attempt to clean (with caution).  If the label still has its gloss finish, you’ll probably be ok.  If it’s more of a worn and faded matte finish, be especially careful. Oh yeah, you can use a dry or slightly moistened old tooth brush to clean dust and grit out of those harder to reach places on the cartridge.

Removing Magic Marker:  It’s pretty common to find a person’s name written in magic marker on old games.  People did this to prevent games from getting mixed up during sleepovers, etc., but it’s a big eye-sore now.  Your main two tools for removing magic marker are magic erasers and rubbing alcohol.

Magic Eraser: If you’re using a magic eraser, just lightly moisten it, and start scrubbing.  Since this is basically a specialized sponge, be careful not to let the water run from the sponge onto anything that might be damaged.

Rubbing Alcohol:  If you’re going to use rubbing alcohol, just moisten an area of your rag, and start rubbing the ink/marker covered area.  Given time, these two methods should remove most marker and probably any nearby dirt.

Removing Stickers & Tape:  Lots of game stores & rental places put stickers on games.  Dealing with these is probably the worst part of cleaning games.  Use extra caution (and a ton of patience) when removing with stickers. Here are a few methods for removing stickers:

Peel & Scream:  Well, this is the obvious method and definitely the worst one.  Sort of like taking off a band-aid, you can grab a hold of that sticker, peel it fast, and pray for the best.  Extra prayer is recommended if the sticker is on a label, since prayer is about the only thing preventing this method from destroying the game’s label underneath. In reality, you shouldn’t use this method unless the sticker is on a safe area of the game’s plastic.

Windex:  Using Windex you can lightly moisten the surface of the sticker.  Let it sit for a minute or two.  The Windex should soften up the sticker over time and will let you scrape it away with a fingernail.  As a note, this method is extra risky if the sticker is on the game’s label.  Additionally, it obviously doesn’t work on waterproof stickers, vinyl stickers, etc.

Blow Dryer:  It turns out that blow dryers (aka in man-speak as “heat guns”) are pretty awesome for removing stickers.  The idea is to use hot air to heat up the sticker.  The sticker’s glue generally starts to soften and loosen up when heated.  When done just right, that means you’ll hopefully be able to simply heat and peel off the sticker.  The trick here is tons of patience.  A stubborn sticker may need to be heated, partially peel, reheated, peeled a little more, reheated, etc.  Since thrift stores seem to love using packing tape to bundle items, this method is pretty good for removing that sort of material as well.

Goo Gone:  Once the sticker is off, it’s time to get rid of any sticker residue.  Goo Gone is great for this.  Just apply a little to your cleaning cloth and start working on that goo.

If you haven’t already, check out our YouTube videos for cleaning & repair tips.  If you want to clean your game’s internal contacts, check out our internal cleaning guide.  Best of luck as you’re restoring your retro gaming collection, and happy retro gaming!

YOUR METHODS?

I hope this guide will give you some ideas for cleaning your cartridge based video game collection. If you have any cleaning tips or suggestions for this guide, just send me a message or post a comment below, and I’ll be happy to add them.

As with any guide, experiment and find out what works for you. Feel free to check out the Video Game Museum Amazon and eBay stores for rare vintage games and cartridge opening bits. Most of all, happy collecting and have fun!