Fix Game Boy Classic Display – Retro Corner, Tips & Tricks

Of the various Nintendo handhelds that I now own, I prefer to pick up the old gray box, the Game Boy Classic. It’s just where most of my childhood memories are and I still know some of the levels in Super Mario Land by heart. It’s a sturdy little fellow if it didn’t have a bug that’s common with older devices. Namely, the so-called “dead lines”, in German probably called dead lines or pixel errors. These are lines that are completely out of the ordinary. Luckily, repairing it is relatively easy and actually any layman can do it if he has the necessary tools. How it works? I would like to explain this to you in the following instructions. However, these instructions only refer to dead lines that run vertically, horizontal lines cannot be repaired, which is due to the nature of the ribbon cable. At least I haven’t found any other method yet.

But first to the tool you need. The basic requirement is, of course, a Game Boy Classic with vertical dead lines. It doesn’t matter how many there are. To open the case you need a triwing screwdriver, which you can buy for a few euros on eBay or on the Amazon Marketplace, plus a small Phillips screwdriver. And finally a soldering iron. This can also be a smaller model, a small tip is definitely helpful.

Step 1: Open the case

To open the case you need the triwing screwdriver. Nintendo was clever enough to use special screws for the case so that not everyone could open it. So quickly unscrew the 6 screws and you can carefully separate the two sides.


Step 2: Detach the circuit board from the housing

When you separate the two halves of the case, you will notice that they are still connected to each other with a ribbon cable. You can pull this out very easily, but carefully. You can then put the back part of the Game Boy to one side.


Now the Phillips screwdriver is used. This detaches the circuit board with the display from the housing. Don’t be afraid when removing it, the display is glued to the housing so that no dirt or the like gets between the display and the pane. Pull a little harder if it doesn’t work right away. If you pull the display out of the bright plastic frame, then carefully push it back in.


Step 3: Eliminate the dead lines

First you have to reconnect the two circuit boards with the ribbon cable that you just released. I always put a kitchen towel or handkerchief between them so that the two circuit boards don’t lie directly on top of each other. Before you pick up the soldering iron, you have to pull off the black rubber strip underneath the display, because this is exactly where you’ll have to use the Run the soldering iron over it. The adhesive strip often sticks to the circuit board (see photo), which you then have to remove without leaving any residue. Can usually be easily peeled off once you have loosened a small corner.


Here we go. Put the batteries back into the Game Boy and turn it on. So that you can see the missing lines better, turn the contrast to very dark. Now you take the heated soldering iron and move it often to the point of the ribbon cable where the lines on the display failed. Don’t worry, the ribbon cable is heat-resistant and can withstand it. By the way, this would look completely different with the ribbon cable, which is responsible for the horizontal lines. The cable would burn away right away and the display would be destroyed. That’s why it doesn’t even try there with this method.


You will certainly quickly notice that when you drive over it, lines that worked before also disappear. This is completely normal and not bad at all. Because take a break from time to time and let the conductor tracks cool down, then the lines come back and you can see directly whether the previously defective lines are working again. If not, continue until everything is correct again. If that’s the case, I always run the Game Boy for a few minutes to see if the lines stay that way. If so, screw the thing back together.


Step 4: Reassemble

If you don’t remember exactly which screws go where, it might help that the Phillips screws for the circuit board and the others for the triwing screwdriver hold the case together. The ones for the case are also a bit longer than the ones for the board. But please don’t forget the black rubber that you removed from the display. Because it probably won’t stick to the circuit board, you can stick it to the adhesive surface in the case below the window.


If everything went well now, your Game Boy should work properly again and your display should look something like this. From time to time it can happen that a line disappears again, then you would have to repeat the whole procedure. Happens to me but only extremely rarely. Have fun gambling, without annoying display errors.



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