Today I have a Game Gear with a dim screen. This occurs because the capacitors on the motherboard need to be replaced. It happens due to the age of the console. As the electrolytic fluid inside of the caps breaks down or leaks out, they lose their ability to hold a charge.
No charge means that the screen is dim, or the volume is too low (or not there at all). It's all caused by the same problem, and for some reason, many consoles of this era have the same issue. Turbo Express handhelds, and even the Lynx in some cases, will exhibit this screen fault. Fortunately, it's a somewhat straightforward fix.
So how do you replace them? It involves opening the console with a phillips screwdriver and a security bit. Then you can simply desolder the old ones and put new ones on there. While it's a bit more difficult to source SMT caps that will work with the board, plain old radials will work fine. Let's get cracking.
Next time, I'll replace the plastic screen lens.
I received a copy of Sky Shark for the NES as a partial trade-in at the shop. It wouldn't work, no matter how clean I got the cartridge. I popped open the security screws with a special bit and looked at the board. Everything SEEMED fine, but then I used a continuity meter to check the connections from the pins to the PRG and CHR ROM set. A single pin leading from the cartridge slot had a hairline crack. I took a bread tie, removed the outer wrapper, and used it to jump the gap in the trace. Works great now! Unfortunately, it's Sky Shark for the NES, so it's not a really GREAT game by any stretch. Still, a working cartridge is a good cartridge, right?
What is the Mega Drive? Well, it's basically the Japanese version of the Genesis, compatible with all Japanese games. it has some peculiar differences, such as a cartridge lock and a different font design on the case. There's also a lil' something special on the back...a 9-pin "EXT" port. It's a very interesting inclusion that is missing on the US Genesis and other consoles. Essentially, you can run a cable from it to the 2nd player's controller port and play two players with two consoles and two TV's. The game? A sweet little FPS released in 1994 by the name of Zero Tolerance. Other than that, the cable isn't used for much.
Legend has it that the original cable could only be obtained by buying a copy of Zero Tolerance. Once you did, you would fill out a card that came in the box. In a few weeks, you'd get the cable with a small, blue note. It said the following:
Dear Zero Tolerance Gamer,
Here it is, your own two-player Zero Tolerance cable. Now you'll be able to compete against a friend or join forces to defeat those violent terrorists. In addition to this cable, you'll need 2 control pads and 2 Zero Tolerance game cartridges. Please refer to page 11 of your Zero Tolerance manual for directions on how to connect these 2 side-by-side game systems. Good luck and remember, you don't play this game, you survive it...
I'm in the process of attempting to find two copies of Zero Tolerance. The cable looks like a straight-through 9-pin serial cable with a deeper cut on one end to fit a Mega Drive controller. With a little modification, I may be able to strip a serial mouse's plug and an old Genesis controller to make one. It's a project for a weekend, but first I have to track down two copies of the game. It's such a wild, idiotic thing, but I'm up for it. To set things up, I'll need the following:
- Two copies of Zero Tolerance
- Two Sega Mega Drives (NTSC-J)
- Two televisions
- The link cable
- Someone willing to play a 16-bit FPS with terrible graphics
Doing that this weekend. I might pop out a quick tutorial on restoring the backlighting and audio to an old Sega Game Gear—I've got several in the shop that need repaired.
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