New Toy: Nintendo NES!
I’ve been chasing a Nintendo NES for quite some time, but unfortunately as it’s the console I was “stuck” with long enough as a kid (what a privileged thing to say, jeeze!) I didn’t quite want one bad enough to pay what most consider to be “fair market value”, which seems to be, for a guaranteed-working unit about $150AUD for the console itself, one controller, and the required hookups.
I did speak some years back with RGB Rob, a guy from Bairnsdale (other side of my state) about an RGB-modded NES he had, but that would have been even more expensive at some $400AUD, and since I upgraded from the OSSC to the Retrotink 5x, I no longer really need RGB-modded consoles… though I may still do it myself for fun.
So it’s been on the back-burner for a while… I narrowly missed a console-only (not the end of the world as it’s mostly a shelf-ornament) one locally on Facebook for $30AUD, but most of them flew well above my price range. I happened to be browsing ebay the other day and saw a console-only one for $60 that ended in a few hours, so I thought fuck it, I’ll put a bid in at the last moment like I normally do (what they call “sniping”, I guess).
It turned out that since I last bid on something, eBay changed something… as we did ages ago when I had a crack at writing online auctions software, the ending time was fuzzy… at about 45 seconds when I was just getting ready to put my bid in, the auction ended.
That turned out to be fortuitous, because it popped up with a similar auction: a full NES, two controllers, a Zapper, and five games, current bid of ~$150AUD. So same deal only not quite waiting until the last moment, I put in what I was willing to pay ($200) and scored it for $180AUD. The seller took an excruciatingly long time to ship it, and when they did I was not at all happy with the way they packed it… they wrapped the console itself in a single slip of bubble wrap, piled everything in a satchel and posted it. It’s a miracle it arrived in one piece, but it did!
After work, plug it in and… grey screen. Hmm. Tried a few different carts, and some of mine, and after plugging it in and resetting it, the game came up but glitchy… so clean the cart and eventually it functions. That showed me that the console itself was functioning, so I wouldn’t have to return it… so crack it apart and clean things up.
I scrubbed the 72-pin connector with a toothbrush and alcohol, then cleaned each of the cartridge edges and sure enough most of the time it comes up first go after a reset. It’s at this point I noted the grey/black screen instead of the flashing, and no flashing power LED, and sure enough someone’s disabled (indeed, completely removed) the CIC from it. Presumably they did this to buy a bit more time out of the aging 72-pin connector, but I’m OK with that. I can boil the connector and apparently that’ll kick the can down the road a bit, but I just took a very fine screwdriver and bent the worst-looking pins back up into place and it works fine for me!
So on the whole I got a pretty great deal… one of the carts is a knock-off from a company called Spica, however it’s not what’s on the cart… what is there instead is a “260-in-one” flash cart, which is neat because it has lightgun games to test the Zapper, which also works. I’m not sure I’ll keep that, as it’s very difficult to get out of the cartridge slot and probably contributed to the decline in health of the 72-pin connector. I also have a second copy of Super Mario Bros 3 now which I can flog off, I may even get back $50AUD for that, which would make the whole deal a very good value indeed.
Among the other games it came with: Bubble Bobble (which I adore and is not a cheap game on it’s own), California Games, and Punch Out… all quality carts so I did fairly well with it. I would like to buy a couple of my favourites if they don’t turn up, like Snake Rattle n Roll (which I’m pretty sure I okayed Dad selling at a garage sale like 10 years ago), and Dr Mario, which may still be at my folks’ house someplace. It looks tidy on the shelf in the meantime though.
Do I RGB mod it though? It’ll probably cost about $150 more, and there’s a chance I’ll screw something up and kill the console, so I’m not sure. The retrotink makes it look great anyway, particularly with the “consumer” scanline filter which look exactly like the TV I had as a kid, minus the migraines.