Retro Games: Clean module contacts, that’s how it’s done – retro corner, tips & tricks

Back then, games weren’t pressed onto DVDs or BluRays, they were stored on circuit boards and packaged in a plastic case with a nice sticker on it. Some will say it’s old fashioned, I say it’s beautiful and a piece of my childhood.

Unfortunately, you always have to struggle with modules that don’t want to work the way they should. Whether you’ve found an old game in the attic or are welcoming a new addition to your collection. This is often due to tarnished or dirty contacts. As a result, the data on the module can no longer be read out correctly by the console. With these modules, there are either display errors or the game no longer runs at all.

This problem actually affects all consoles whose games were shipped on cartridges. A list of consoles that use the module technology can be found at the end of the article.

To fix this problem with not working modules, you have to clean the module contacts. From our own experience, two variants have proven to be particularly effective. Once cleaning with isopropyl alcohol or an eraser.

Isopropyl alcohol variant

For this you need a small bottle of isopropyl alcohol with 70 to 100% isopropanol active ingredient and a conventional cotton swab. You can get isopropyl alcohol at any pharmacy.

Soak the cotton swab a little in the isopropyl alcohol and use some pressure to clean the contacts on both sides. It is better if you can open the module so that you can exert a little more pressure on the circuit board. You will see that the cotton will color up relatively quickly and how much dirt there is on the contacts.

If you think the contacts are clean now, try and see if the game works again. If not, then start over again.

Eraser variant

Personally, I prefer this variant because I think the contacts are cleaned more sustainably. You need a medium-hard eraser for this. I can do that hereRunner Plast-Combi 0740″ recommend, of which I always use the blue and harder side.

For this variant it is necessary to open the module, otherwise not enough pressure can be exerted on the contacts and the eraser is simply too thick to even reach the contacts. The ones needed to open some modules Game Bits are relatively cheap to get. When the module is open, rub over the contacts on both sides with a little pressure until they are bare again.

Then reassemble the module and see if it works again. Most of the time, the game runs again with this variant after the first attempt.

Consoles or home computers that use modular technology

Subsequent consoles and home computers used the module technique and most modules available for them can be cleaned with the variants mentioned above. Source Wikipedia.

  • Fairchild Channel F (Saba Videoplay, 1976)
  • Atari 2600 (1977)
  • Interton VC4000 (1978)
  • Texas Instruments TI-99/4 (1979) and TI-99/4A (1981)
  • VC 20 (First known abroad as VIC 20, 1981)
  • Commodore C64 (1982)
  • Atari 5200 (1982)
  • Coleco Vision (1982)
  • MSX (1982)
  • Sega Master System (SMS, 1984)
  • Atari 7800 (1984)
  • Nintendo Entertainment System (NES, 1985)
  • Sega Mega Drive (1988)
  • Nintendo Game Boy (1989)
  • Atari Lynx (1989)
  • Amstrad GX4000 (1990)
  • PC Engine GT (1990)
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES, 1990)
  • Sega Game Gear (1990)
  • Neo Geo (1991)
  • Atari Jaguar (1993)
  • Nintendo 64 (1996)
  • Neo Geo Pocket, Game Boy Color (1998)
  • Neo Geo Pocket Color (1999)
  • Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2001)


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