After the Gaming Crash of 1983, Nintendo all but saved the gaming industry when it introduced the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985. The system and many of the games released for it are considered classics without compare. Many people still own their original NES and the hardware was surprisingly resilient, especially compared to modern consoles. But even resilient hardware breaks down and eventually becomes unusable. If you have a NES that is no longer functioning, the following tips can help you fix or replace it as cheaply as possible.
72-Bit Pin Connector Repair – The most common part of the NES to fail was connector between the games and system. These pins corroded over time, eventually making it almost impossible to load games or even turn the system on. The most common symptoms of corrosion were a blinking red light or a blank screen when you turned on your NES. If either of these symptoms is affecting your NES, you might be able to fix it for as little as $10. A 72-bit pin connector can be found online for roughly $10 and instructions for replacing the connector are free. It is a good first step if your NES ceases to function, because at worst you are only out $10.
eBay – Lots of people still own original NES consoles and some people are looking to sell them. Do a search for “NES” or “NES console” on eBay and you are bound to see dozens of current auctions. Most people who are selling old consoles are also selling games, so you will probably end up buying a bunch of games with your purchase. If you already own these games, you can keep as backups or sell them back on eBay to recoup some of your cost. An average NES will probably cost about $50 to $75, depending on the number of games it comes with. Make sure the auction clearly advises that the NES is tested and working. Some consoles are being sold simply for parts, and while this may be a good way to get replacement controllers or a replacement power supply, unless that is exactly what you need to fix your broken console, you won’t end up with a working unit.
Clones – The hardware patent on the NES expired. This means that anyone can legally create NES hardware and sell it in the U.S. That is good news for you if you are trying to find a machine capable of playing your library of old Nintendo games. Don’t feel bad for Nintendo, either. The company stopped producing the hardware years ago, so clones aren’t costing it any money. A clone will generally cost about $60, which isn’t a bad deal considering that it will probably last a decade or longer. Also, due to modern technology, clones are more compact and you can even get a mobile NES clone for that price.
Wii Virtual Console – If your games are also beginning to wear out, it may be more cost effective to ditch them as well. Roughly half the NES games ever released, and most of the best and greatest, are available on the Wii Virtual Console. A used Wii will cost you about $50 to $100 and every NES download will cost $5. Something in the range of $150 to $200 to replace your library of retro games isn’t cheap, but you can sell the original cartridge games and your NES for parts to help make up some of the cost. Depending on the size of your library and rarity of your games, you may actually break even on the deal.