How to Fix a Super Nintendo that Won’t Play Games

Old school gamers don’t need the latest technology to have a good time. There’s nothing wrong with an old NES, Genesis, or Super Nintendo…except, of course, for the fact that they’re about twenty years old, and electronics usually don’t last that long. The old school game consoles were made hardy, though, and even today you usually only need to do light repairs to get an old system working perfectly again.
I’ve had a SNES since the month that the thing was released, and over the years, I’ve rarely had any issues. Occasionally, though, my Super Nintendo will stop playing games, or will show garbled video on my TV instead of the game it’s supposed to show. Luckily, it’s usually just a dust contamination problem.

Here’s a quick guide to fixing an old Super Nintendo that won’t play games properly.

1. First, clean the games. If you’re having problems with just a few SNES games, consider that the contacts on the game cartridges might be dirty. Use compressed air or isopropyl alcohol to clean off the contacts of the games; avoid just blowing into them (the classic Nintendo fix). Blowing into the game cartridges may work occasionally, but it doesn’t clean out the dust and other contaminants that may be preventing the electronic contacts from functioning.

2. Clean the contacts on the SNES. By pressing in on the slot that accepts the game cartridges, you can get in on the contacts on the SNES side. Use the same tools to clean these electronic contacts out; first, go for the compressed air, using short, controlled bursts–don’t just shoot the whole bottle of compressed air into the thing, or you’ll freeze the Super Nintendo up worse. Use isopropyl alcohol for extremely dirty systems, and use some patience; give the console a few minutes before trying a game in it.

3. Open up the SNES to clear out any dust. If neither of the previous steps helped the situation at all, you can unscrew the cover of the SNES to clean out dust on the inside. Use compressed air, and be sure to ground yourself before touching any of the electronics, or you could shock them out of existence. You can try a game cartridge with the cover still off; be careful not to accidentally pull out any wires, or you’ll have a headache putting the SNES back together.

Do you have any other tips for fixing a Super Nintendo that won’t play games? Post in our comments section below.