We’ve all seen the overwhelming amounts of tutorials to help you change your crusty worn out 72 pin connector for that old NES, not to mention the copious amounts of retailers willing to sell you the new 72 pin connector. But is it just a farce or are there real benefits to doing this simple “upgrade”? It was 7 years ago when I dusted off my original Nintendo Entertainment System and as always the games were temperamental, giving me the standard light display show on my television or teasing me with a alphabet riddled title screen. I did the standard blowing inside the game and cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol, jamming it into the game and rubbing it down like a lottery ticket watching as the cotton turned from a pure white to a greenish black.
I also own a console cleaner which I used as well to make sure the system itself was clean and prepared for vintage gaming goodness. After the 5 minute cleaning the game and system both lit up and the television was flashing nothing more than the title screen of my favorite NES title. Overjoyed I spent hours playing that game until it was time to take a rest. Upon awaking the next day I tried to fire up the NES once more and to my dismay the system hadn’t had it’s cup of coffee that morning and again refused to work. The internet is filled with wondrous things so I did a search for how to fix this and immediately I was bombarded with the notion that I could change out the 72 pin connector and my wildest fantasy would come true! My NES would NEVER give me that light show ever again! My games would always work like they were suppose to! Woodland creatures would bow to my will and do my bidding…ok well you get the point. After searching into the difficulty of installation and finding the least expensive replacement, my order was placed and now it was time to wait!
Once I received it in the mail it seemed so simple to just open the NES and change them out, yet right away I noticed that the old connector didn’t look anywhere near as bad as I was being told it would from the internet. Infact, if I hadn’t kept track of which were which I might not have known which one was brand new and which was the old one. I decided to install the new one in hopes it was something beyond what my eyes could see that was holding me back from sweet, sweet NES bliss. I managed to get the new one installed and packed the old one away for the fun of it and tested the system. I was amazed! The brand new 72 pin connector worked beautifully, as if my NES were brand new and I was back in 1985 (where I would have been 2) all my games were cleaned and worked great! The system started up like clockwork I was excited that I would never see that light show ever agai…what? Flashing screen? AARRRGGHHH!!!!! Just a few short weeks later the brand new 72 pin connector didn’t make good on it’s promises, it had lied to me and went the way of the old connector. Now the only different between the 2 connectors was the new one was extremely stiff so pushing in and pulling out games became a finger hurting experience, even today this NES still continues to hurt my fingers pushing in and pulling out games.
I now own 2 NES decks, the one still has the same “brand new” connector and the second one is unmolested and I can honestly say I enjoy the untouched NES much more than I enjoy the one I changed the connector out in. I never noticed just how painful it was to change out a game in that system until I acquired the system that was already broken in. I’m sure there are some who have had success in their connector swap and likewise I’m sure many would agree with me that it was a waste of money. I personally believe nothing will help keep your system running the way it was meant to more so than cleaning your games properly. If you blow into them (I’m guilty of this as well!) you shoot spit down on the contacts inside and I’m sure that can speed up a corrosion process. Let’s face it, the NES is closed up pretty well so most of the dirt that gets inside is through the games you insert into it. If you clean your games properly, the inside connector shouldn’t have any reason to fail you.
About the author
Samuel Floyd first fell into video gaming with the Atari 2600...in the mid-90s! Always late into the system wars, Samuel enjoys that as he acquires them when they're cheap and the hot titles of yesteryear are bountiful. Samuel loves RPGs, his favorite being Crystalis for the NES.