Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

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Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Jebobek » Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:44 pm UTC

Thinkgeek.com is now selling a NES/SNES cartridge player with controllers, and I'm wondering what the status of these Cartridges are these days. Are they known to still work, or do they lose some sort of magnetic memory after several years? I ask because I have a multitude of NES/SNES games and would love this kind of thing if I know they're still good. I have them in plastic storage boxes for the past several years if that makes any difference.

Update: They're out of stock for now. New ones are coming in 3/19.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:35 pm UTC

So, The Legend of Zelda has that battery in it that's supposed to run out after 5 years or something that keeps your save games. We got it more or less around release, either the year of or the following year.

It *still* saves games just fine. It's been over two decades...

I think they were lying to us, just in case.

All of the games I've popped in in the last year or two that didn't work were usually due to a player issue, not a cartridge issue. So.. I don't know, most of them are probably fine, provided they were kept in a cool, dry environment.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby ian » Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:39 pm UTC

Maybe it's meant to still work after 5 years of use!

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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:50 pm UTC

43,800 hours?

Probably hit that somewhere in 2005.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Jebobek » Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:09 pm UTC

43,800 hours on Legend of Zelda? See thats why you give up on trying to do the extra rounds with the whole world messed up. For me its like trying Dvorak for the first time, every time. Well at least the first dungeon is still in the same place.

Anyways, I bought the system and I'm going to give it a whirl on all of my old games, and we'll see what happens.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:14 pm UTC

Pfft. 48,000 hours mapping everything, both quests. By 1992, we had on maps where every single bombable wall was, where every burnable bush was, and which ones would charge you for opening them, which ones were "Money or your Life", and I think we made pretty good progress on figuring out the best one to take in the "Pick one of these three" games.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Jebobek » Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:22 pm UTC

Ah ok, so 48,000 hours on a NES game for me would have to be Ultima Exodus. A little note on the NES version from the Wiki:

    Modified graphics and a new soundtrack.
    Minor alterations to gameplay and significantly expanded dialogue.
    Only a small instruction booklet rather than the map and manuals.
    Added endgame sequence after defeating Exodus.
Thanks, assholes. I could have used a damn map for that game. I had to get my parents on that crap to help me draw maps of all the dungeons. This is where I learned to draw mazes, however. Now as a 24 year old I feel like I must go back and complete it without game genie, which hopefully did not make my cartridge asplode after many days of use.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:27 pm UTC

.. you.. didn't beat it on your own?

Man, the only hints I ever really had were figuring out how to time attacks so as to hit everything. That, and I seem to recall some way that I'd stay level 1, fight level 1 enemies for hours on end, then jump all the way up to whatever the highest level was, or at least fairly high up so as to be able to cast the powerful crowd-affecting spells.

*edit* in reading the Wiki, I really really wish I'd reported my victory.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Jebobek » Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:32 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:.. you.. didn't beat it on your own?
I know, right? This is probably the most important 55 bucks I will ever spend.

What do you mean about timing attacks? Like getting the monsters to line up for you to hit them all with an AOE? Its been so long, I remember there are ranged attacks and a "hit everything" attack for both clerics and mages (wizards do both I think). Are we talking Ultima or Zelda here?
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:35 pm UTC

Ultima - the monsters cycle through two animation frames. During one frame, your attacks will always hit. During the other frame, your attacks will always miss. Figuring out which frame is the "hitable" frame is part of fighting new monsters.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Jebobek » Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:43 pm UTC

That would explain why everyone was moving in unison. Unbelievable. I wish I knew that before I NERD RAGED and summoned the Genie. Well it was probably more like TANTRUM'D back then.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby InstinctSage » Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:57 pm UTC

My cousin has an old SNES that still plays fine.
My brother has an old NES where we have to stick cardboard slits to lever the cartridges so the contact points touch correctly, but otherwise fine. The principle of covering everything with an unnecessarily large and oddly shaped plastic casing seems to work well. They're even pretty shock resistant due to having a good half inch of air between the outer casing and the actual board.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Kizyr » Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:51 am UTC

Cartridges last a ridiculously long time. There are plenty of Atari 2600 cartridges floating around that still work fine. All my old NES, SNES, and Genesis cartridges likewise have no problem running.

$50 for a NES/SNES with controllers sounds like an okay deal. KF
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby InstinctSage » Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:07 am UTC

I have an atari and cartridges, but I'm missing controllers and an RF cable, I believe.

Plus, I heard they can actually damage newer TVs. But I haven't thought to check out the validity of such a claim.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Loftydreamer » Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:38 am UTC

I actually had a cartridge's battery save crap out on me. I was playing the original Final Fantasy, a favorite pastime for my mother and I. We got all the way to the last dungeon of the game, before the game reset itself and lost all saved data. The game was released in 1990 in the States and I would have to say mine crapped out while I lived in Westmoreland, which would have been 3rd grade. By that logic it did crap out on me at about 5 years. I admit by this day and age we have ROMs and don't really have to worry about that sort of stuff, plus the true classics have found their way to CDs. Really the only reason to purchase nostalgia laced articles such as cartridges is for bragging rights in my opinion.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Kizyr » Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:57 am UTC

InstinctSage wrote:I have an atari and cartridges, but I'm missing controllers and an RF cable, I believe.

Plus, I heard they can actually damage newer TVs. But I haven't thought to check out the validity of such a claim.

The controllers can definitely damage your television. I nearly cracked the screen of mine when I threw my NES controller at it.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby TheAmazingRando » Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:00 am UTC

The only battery failure I've ever seen is my friend's copy of Kirby Superstar. I've played plenty of old carts that still work just fine.

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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:04 pm UTC

InstinctSage wrote:I have an atari and cartridges, but I'm missing controllers and an RF cable, I believe.

Plus, I heard they can actually damage newer TVs. But I haven't thought to check out the validity of such a claim.

It was a valid claim in 1987 with the projection TVs. And it's likely a valid claim with the first generation of plasma/lcd screens.

Unless you're talking about something other than burn-in.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Kag » Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:54 pm UTC

My Pokemon Silver is the only battery failure I've ever had. Blue works just fine.

I'm starting to doubt that it's even possible to seriously damage a game cartridge.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:57 pm UTC

Dunk it in water and throw it in a console without letting it dry completely.
Spill soda or some other sticky liquid on it, then neglect to soak it in distilled water before trying to fire it up again.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby InstinctSage » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:41 pm UTC

Or soak it in salt water.

I guess pretty much anything that will damage a PCB, it's just that old school thick ass plastic shell. They should really bring those back into style. I mean, it's cool and all we can have several hundred times the computing power on something half the size nowadays... But you gotta coat that baby in faux woodgrain or something!
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Jessica » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:54 pm UTC

My legend of zelda never saved properly. But i've seen some which still saved in 2005.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:56 pm UTC

Just out of curiosity, what do these sell for? I was at a gunshow last weekend (snicker) and some guy was selling literally buckets of cartridges, from Atari to Nintendo to SNES to some other weird system I didn't even know, AND a handful of systems. I feel like I should have bought a half ton of them and taken them to eBay... After saving the princess of course.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby InstinctSage » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:17 pm UTC

It varies. Some carts can sell for hundreds to collectors, usually the rare ones. You'd generally want not just the carts, but the box and manual for that, though.

The big hits can sell for a bit, but especially now that a lot of them are appearing on virtual console and the like, the price drops.

But if you can pick up a cart/manual/box for a game for a few bob, you'll probably come out on top if you went to sell it, if only by another few bob.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Kizyr » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:54 pm UTC

Well, I feel it necessary to give the obligatory Mad Gear links:
Mad Gear LLC site
Mad Gear eBay listings

These folks specialize more in collection-worthy games, primarily imports, but some domestic ones. I nearly always get something from them at every convention I go to. Their pages should give you an idea of how much rarer or quality games go for. The rank-and-file stuff, though, or anything in less-than-stellar condition, is usually much cheaper (we're talking $0.50 to $5 for NES cartridges, $1 to $10 for SNES/Genesis, and $2 to $20 for N64). KF
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:59 pm UTC

Pretty much, the only games worth the trouble of buying/reselling are those that had an extremely limited release/lifespan (ET on the Atari, for example)

They're usually not very good games either.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Kag » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:11 am UTC

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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby GourdCaptain » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:44 am UTC

All my SNES cartridges still work except for Super Mario World - that was used and always with a messed battery after I bought it for $5 in 1999.

The only other cartridge that failed on me was in third grade when my copy of Pokemon Red's battery failed less than a year after I got it.

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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Jebobek » Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:23 pm UTC

Just got the system in (the next day, hells yea ThinkGeek with no christmas rush!) Its.. oddly light. I guess thats how technology goes. Seems to heat up a bit.

Looks like no battery failure for even older games like Ultima. The NES games get plugged in from top and are a pain to yank out. I have to hold the system down with one hand and pull pretty hard. Do those cartriges rust out? Is there a way to clean the contacts?

The SNES games all work great. There is a plug for S Video but I do not recommend it, at least for LCD screens. The pixel fuzz makes the game look much much better.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Jorpho » Fri Feb 27, 2009 7:53 pm UTC

It is in fact quite possible to replace a dead battery in a cart; some even use a standard CR2032. But to open up Nintendo cartridges (of all kinds) you'll need the special tri-wing security screwdriver bit.
SecondTalon wrote:Pretty much, the only games worth the trouble of buying/reselling are those that had an extremely limited release/lifespan (ET on the Atari, for example)
ET on the Atari is by no means whatsoever even remotely worth collecting, and not just because it's a lousy game. Just because they destroyed a whole bunch of unsold copies doesn't mean it's difficult to find.

The classic SNES RPGs of yore still tend to fetch a hefty price.
Jebobek wrote:Do those cartriges rust out? Is there a way to clean the contacts?
A Q-tip and isopropyl alcohol does the job, I'm told. Some folks also like rubber erasers and emory boards.

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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Klapaucius » Fri Feb 27, 2009 10:41 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Pretty much, the only games worth the trouble of buying/reselling are those that had an extremely limited release/lifespan (ET on the Atari, for example)

They're usually not very good games either.
ET cartridges? Couldn't you just dig around New Mexico until you found one?
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:22 pm UTC

Bad example on my part.
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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby FACM » Sat Feb 28, 2009 1:03 am UTC

Klapaucius wrote:
SexyTalon wrote:Pretty much, the only games worth the trouble of buying/reselling are those that had an extremely limited release/lifespan (ET on the Atari, for example)

They're usually not very good games either.
ET cartridges? Couldn't you just dig around New Mexico until you found one?


No. Once people started stealing the games out of the landfill, they covered it with cement.

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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sat Feb 28, 2009 2:43 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Pretty much, the only games worth the trouble of buying/reselling are those that had an extremely limited release/lifespan (ET on the Atari, for example)

They're usually not very good games either.

Exceptions being Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, and Secret of Mana, which fetch a high selling price and are also some of the best games on the SNES.

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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby Jorpho » Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:24 am UTC

FACM wrote:
Klapaucius wrote:
SexyTalon wrote:Pretty much, the only games worth the trouble of buying/reselling are those that had an extremely limited release/lifespan (ET on the Atari, for example)
They're usually not very good games either.
ET cartridges? Couldn't you just dig around New Mexico until you found one?

No. Once people started stealing the games out of the landfill, they covered it with cement.
No, I read they were crushed with a steam roller first, then covered in cement.

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Re: Status of NES/SNES Cartridges

Postby FACM » Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:12 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:No, I read they were crushed with a steam roller first, then covered in cement.

I figured that detail wasn't as important, but it's true nonetheless.


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