Understanding Your Refurbished Nintendo NES

Posted by Chris Evans at

If you have purchased a refurbished Nintendo NES system lately, you may notice some differences from the one you played years ago. Today's refurbished NES systems have been upgraded to eliminate most of the problems of the original NES, and the information below will explain why!


72-Pin Connector

Image result for 72 pin connector

Remember pushing games into your old Nintendo console? You slid them easily into the back and then pushed down the tray before powering it up. Well, in your refurbished Nintendo, you'll probably notice that the connection in the back is a lot tighter. This is because a new 72-pin connector has been installed. Many sellers, including Off the Charts, use new 72-pin connectors to make a tighter connection with your NES games when you put them into your NES. This tighter connection helps the NES to read your games more consistently than the loose, dirty 72-pin connectors found in old NES systems. As your new 72-pin connector breaks in, you will notice that your games slide in more easily and you will no longer have to push or pull as hard to get the games in and out of your Nintendo.

Lock-Out Chip

Remember powering on your Nintendo NES only to see that DREADFUL blinking red light? This was because Nintendo had a "Lock-Out" chip installed on the NES which they hoped would stop people from pirating games, releasing 3rd party cartridges, or playing games from other countries. Every time the chip sensed an unofficial game, it would flash a solid color screen. Unfortunately, when games were dirty or positioned incorrectly, the lock-out chip would treat them as unofficial games and display a flashing screen.

Well, as history shows us, Nintendo couldn't stop unlicensed releases or those great pirate games; now, their lock-out chip won't stop you from gaming either! In our refurbished NES systems, we disable the lockout chip to prevent that annoying blinking red light! If you see a solid grey screen when you start up your system, that means that either your game is dirty or you just need to reposition it for a better connection. No more flashing start-up screens - it either starts or it doesn't! This is another modification we have made to make your Nintendo NES read games more consistently!

Image result for lockout chip

MYTH: "A refurbished NES will get your Nintendo to read games 100% of the time!"

Some sellers may claim that their refurbished NES systems will start a game on the first time every time, but the truth is that no original NES (other than the NES-101 remodel known as the "toploader") has that kind of consistency. At Off the Charts, we have refurbished and sold thousands of NES systems, and over time, we have refined that process to make our NES systems perform to their maximum potential. Still, there are a number of factors that could lead you to a solid grey, blue, green, purple, or other color screen  on your TV when you start your favorite game in your NES. The number one cause of this is a dirty game. See our blog "How to Clean Your Cartridge Games" to learn the best strategies for cleaning your games! Even with clean games and a new 72-pin connector, every once in a while the Nintendo may not make a clean connection and you may need to reposition the game inside your NES. Be patient with your Nintendo - it is an old machine! Simply reposition your game and hit the reset button. You should be up and running in no time! Ready to buy your NES from the experts? Click the Buy Now button below to order yours today:


Troubleshooting Your Refurbished NES

If your refurbished NES doesn't start right away, here are some tips to get up and running!

1. Dip a q-tip in isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Rub the damp q-tip along the contacts in the bottom of the game. Be sure to scrub out any excess dirt that is visible in the bottom of the game with the q-tip while you are cleaning it.

2. After you have removed any excess dirt from the inside of the game, push the game into the system while the contacts are still somewhat damp with alcohol. Insert and remove the game 5 times to clean out any dirt that may be in the system. On the 5th time, push down the game and power on the system.

3. Give the TV 5-10 full seconds to load the image. As you will read further down this list of troubleshooting tips, newer TVs have a longer load time for the image from cartridge systems.

If these tips do not fix the issue, please continue below! If they do help, start gaming : )

The following tips are all pertaining to setup and startup for the video signal:

1. Newer flat screen TVs have a load time where they detect anything that is plugged in. Please allow a 10-second load time after you power on the system.  This is a side effect of the difference between newer TVs and old ones.

2. When plugging the RED, YELLOW, and WHITE video cables into your TV, please ensure that they go into a "Video In" receptacle and not a "Video Out" output. If you only have "Component Video In" on your TV and there is not a YELLOW video input, use the green video input.

3. In addition to plugging it in, you will also have to change the "Input" on your TV to match the input label into which you have plugged the system. For example, on the back of your TV it may say "Video Input 1", "Video Input 2", etc. Find the label for the input you have put your system in. Then, press the "Input" button on your TV or remote control. On older TVs, this will change the input and usually say "Video 1", "Video 2", etc. On newer TVs, it will bring up a menu where you have to select the input you used. This will probably be "Component In", "Composite In", or "AV in". After selecting it, there will be a short load time while the TV detects the system.


In Closing...

It takes a lot of patience and determination to learn how to properly use a refurbished Nintendo NES system. Yes, as a refurbished system they are updated with high quality, new working parts, BUT the original NES system had design flaws which make it very testy. You will need to follow the above steps and use your problem solving skills! Never assume the system is just broken. Dirty games are the #1 cause, followed by dirt in the pin connector (put there by dirty games), the need to break in the pin connector more, the game not being inserted far enough into the pin connector, or the placement of the game. 

If it all seems like a little much, today's clone systems really are phenomenal. Whether you want to use original AV cables or play NES games in HD, there are plenty of solutions for you. Check out a few of them below!

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  • I have an old nintendo console that I am trying to fix. I need a 72-pin connector but i wanted to learn more about it first. I didn’t realize that the new pin connector would make a tighter connection with the games. Thanks for the help!

    Dave Anderson on

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