Cryogenic storage for Mario
March 1, 2004 8:47 PM   Subscribe

I have a pretty substantial collection of old Nintendo and Super Nintendo games (100+). I realize that at some point either all that silicon or whatever inside is going to rot away, or the batteries inside will die.

How can I either prolong the cartridge life or halt this terrible procession? Cold Storage? Some sort of Vacuum? Are new batteries available for NES or SNES games? It would pain me so to see my precious Earthbound be reduced to nothing.
posted by hughbot to Technology (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I suspect that your best long-term way out is through emulators. There are lots of NES and SNES emulators around, and I'm sure finding a site with ROMs wouldn't be that hard either.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:30 PM on March 1, 2004


At least for battery issues, a lot of the old NES cartridges have a regular battery in them - one of the short, flat ones - and replacement is rather straightforward.
posted by whatzit at 9:39 PM on March 1, 2004


NES cartridges have batteries in them? Are you shitting me?
posted by banished at 9:46 PM on March 1, 2004


battery backed RAM?
posted by fvw at 10:01 PM on March 1, 2004


EPROM, I think. Someone more nintendo-mad may have to back that up...
posted by whatzit at 10:28 PM on March 1, 2004


Some NES cartridges, like Rad Racer and Excitebike have batteries in them to store user settings.

If you can set something in the game, turn off the console, and it "sticks" when you turn it on, the game is battery powered.

Otherwise, games without such batteries will last forever as long as they don't corrode.
posted by shepd at 10:39 PM on March 1, 2004


Some information about cleaning and repairing cartridges here and here ... including replacing batteries.
posted by Orb at 11:07 PM on March 1, 2004


The only problem with emulation is that I like being able to physically play the games on my NES. Also, some of the games I have, like Tengen Tetris, are pretty rare, and cost me a (relative) pretty penny to track down.

I just like the idea of my kids being able to play my old games someday, but I figure the carts will have rotted away into nothing by then. Right now I have them all in sleeves, but I think I'm going to have to find a better way of making them last.

(On a semi-unrelated note, does anybody have an unwanted copy of Metal Warriors for the Super Nintendo?)
posted by hughbot at 4:21 AM on March 2, 2004


Also, thanks for the links Orb.
posted by hughbot at 4:21 AM on March 2, 2004


Also, since I'm a big idiot, thanks to Shepd, who now that I actually read the comments instead of just sort of perusing them, sort of told me that my cartridges are immortal. Wicked.
posted by hughbot at 4:24 AM on March 2, 2004


Well, I'm just going based on that fact that all solid state equipment from yesteryear works A-OK except for:

- Electrolytic capacitors
- Certain types of resistors
- Knobs, potentiometers, mechanical parts, etc.
- Batteries

None of which are contained in most games (AFAIK! And unless you are "into" electronics, you won't have much fun keeping these parts in shape if they are). The biggest problem is batteries, if they leak, that's bad.

All that should be in most games is:

- Fiberglass (for the PCB)
- Copper
- Varnish
- Silicon (duh!)
- Ceramic
- Plastic
- Gold
- Lead
- Paint
- MAYBE some tiny resistors, made of the above, plus carbon
- Tiny mica capacitirs

I suppose there could be some small electrolytics, but that's something I doubt you should worry about, as replacing them is not something you should do for a fun weekend project. ALL the above parts (apart from copper) are well known to last pretty much forever. Heck, the first intel 4004 CPUs are still going strong today! The exposed copper, that isn't under the PCB varnish, is gold plated, so it won't rust either. Since the games don't get exposed to much heat, and don't heat up themselves, there's just nothing to make them go "bad". :-)

(On that note: I have a lot of old NES games myself and they work fine. They aren't like videotapes, there's nothing in them that is "volatile", apart from batteries).

Find out which ones have batteries and replace them. Also clean up the contacts if you're worried (you already do, I am sure).

HTH! And, of course, I always advise people to check the net on these things anyways.
posted by shepd at 6:17 AM on March 2, 2004


hughbot, check eBay - there is no better place for nostalgiaware.
posted by PrinceValium at 6:39 AM on March 2, 2004


What about the contacts? They look like copper. Won't they oxidize or something eventually? If you're not playing them regularly, I'd store them somewhere airtight, just to keep fresh air and moisture out. Lack of air circulation will cut down on temperature fluctutations as well. Perhaps you can find some stackable tupperwares that are just the right size. Some kind of bread-loaf container might be just right.
posted by scarabic at 11:05 AM on March 2, 2004


The contacts and solder will eventually oxidize and/or corrode. The best way to keep them from doing that is to store them in sealed plastic bags (i.e. ziplocs) with fresh dessicant. The dessicant will absorb the moisture that would otherwise have caused them to corrode.

OTOH, it will take more than 30 years for that to start happening to the point where the games will become unplayable. The battery concern is a much more timely and pressing one -- mostly because the batteries can also leak and their contents are highly corrosive.
posted by SpecialK at 1:30 PM on March 2, 2004


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