A Hand Held Console That is Modern ‘ish’ & Battery Revival

sony_psp_1_0

A few months ago, I came in to possession of a Sony PSP otherwise known as a PlayStation Portable. Released in 2005, this handheld console boast graphics comparable to the Playstation 2. Perhaps the best way to think of the PSP is actually to imagine it like a PlayStation 1.5, sitting somewhere between the original PSx and PS2. Graphically the PSP seems significantly ahead of the Nintendo DS, which is no surprise as Sony designed the handheld to more powerful then the competition. Comparing the two handhelds is almost like comparing a PSone with an N64. However, as many N64 owners will point out, raw processing power doesn’t automatically lead to great games. The NDS has many hidden gems and with such an impressive list of titles it should not be overlooked. One particular favorite of mine is “Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies”, in my opinion this games shows the NDS at it’s best. The graphics and sounds are fantastic and the story is engaging, what more can you ask for?

Because I’m fan of RPG’s, I was eager to see what the PSP had to offer and as I’d never owned one before, this would be fresh new territory. The PSP boast an impressive library with a good number of quality role playing titles. The first game recommended to me was “Persona 3 Portable”. This game is unlike anything I have played before, more like an anime movie then a computer game. I couldn’t get over the feeling that I was playing some sort of visual manga novel. It is by for one of my favorite PSP games to date. I understand the Persona series began on the PS2, perhaps one day I’ll have to look in to this.

Support for the PSP ended in 2014, its replacement the ‘Vita’ apparently is not doing as well as Sony might have hoped. At least that is what I read from various quarters online. Now 10 years old, the PSP is a good retro console for anyone to start out on. Not to mention it has PSx compatibility. So you’re getting two machines in one, hows that for a deal! You can still buy accessories and will be able to do so for some years to come, games are plentiful and reasonably priced. All though some games are already seeing premium price tags.

Batteries

I’m dedicating a section of this article to batteries, as I recently had a nasty experience with a replacement I bought for my PSP. If you’ve recently bought a second hand PSP or just in the market to replace your tired stock battery. Buyers beware, finding a good replacement battery for your PSP online can be a little hazardous. Especially if the extended 2400mah or 3600mah batteries caught your eye. Many of these are either fake or cheaply made. But as Sony no longer sell baatteries for the PSP, third party batteries are pretty much our only option. The first thing you should do, is check reviews, buyer feedback. Be it Amazon, eBay or where ever your thinking of buying from, it pays to check if other people have bought the same item and what their experience was. If in doubt, join a forum like Gamesfaq and post a question or asking your friends. The first battery I bought didn’t fit my PSP 2003, even though the item description said it did. The second battery I bought, fit but didn’t charge or power my PSP. At least not until I discovered I could get it working by pressing the battery down with my thumb. After several days use, the PSP still died while I was using it. This is apparently a known problem with using clone batteries.

Reviving a clone battery

If you’ve already bought a clone battery and it has died, this might help. If not, there is a good chance you will face this problem while using a third party battery in your PSP. If your battery has stopped charging, being recognized or simply fails to power the console, then the following method might help.

Method 1

(Warning, the following should only be carried out by a competent adult. I take no responsibility for the results. By continuing to read you accept the dangers, so if your PSP sets on fire or your underpants explode, it’s on your own head.)

This method fixed my 3600mAh battery after it died without warning.

Get two thin pieces of wire, bare the ends so that the metal wire is exposed. Then insert one wire down the + connector of the battery and the other wire down the – connector. Briefly touch the two wires together, you might see a spark if your battery holds a charge. Do not leave the two wires joined for longer then a couple of seconds, as you are shorting your battery. By doing this, you should have reset the circuit inside the battery which holds data on charge capacity. Remove the wires and try the battery in your PSP, hopefully it will start charging.

Method 2

Instead of shorting the two wires, you will need to find yourself a low voltage light bulb, such as one from a battery powered torch, internal car light, I’ve even read that Christmas tree lights work. Another alternative is to use an internal computer fan, if you have one lying around. Remember your PSP battery is rated at 3.6volt, so don’t try using a 12v fan as your risk burning out the battery. The key here is to hook it up to your PSP battery and run the battery down until it is fully discharged. Then place it back inside the PSP and hook up your charger, hopefully your battery will be recognized and you will be back in business.


Christmas and Spectrums

8BitTree10

Its that time of year again, when the tree comes out of the attic, lights go up and the sound of “Mistletoe and Wine” blares from supermarket speakers throughout the land.

So during the festive season, what is there for a geek to do? Well how about an 8 bit slice of Christmas music? Tired of listening to the same old songs? Well thanks to Rush Coil, you can enjoy all those festive classics in full 8 bit glory

http://rushcoil.bandcamp.com/album/8-bit-christmas

If thats not your sort of thing, then how about a NES cartridge jam packed with festive fun? Better still it’s designed to work on your original NES.

http://www.retrousb.com/product_info.php?cPath=30&products_id=132

There also “A Christmas Story” by 8 bit Cinema

If doesn’t tantalize you, then how about a good book?

“8 Bit Christmas” by Kevin Jakubowski

“It’s 1980-something and all nine-year-old Jake Doyle wants for Christmas is
a Nintendo Entertainment System. No Jose Canseco rookie card, no GI Joe
hovercraft, no Teddy friggin’ Ruxpin-just Nintendo. But when a hyperactive
Shih Tzu is accidentally crushed to death by a forty-two-inch television set
and every parent in town blames Nintendo, it’s up to Jake to take matters
into his own hands. The result is a Christmas quest of Super Mario Bros.
proportions, filled with flaming wreaths, speeding minivans, lost retainers,
fake Santas, hot teachers, snotty sisters, “Super Bowl Shuffles” and one
very naked Cabbage Patch Kid. Told from a nostalgic adult perspective, 8-Bit
Christmas is a hilarious and heartfelt look back at the kid pop culture of
the 1980s.”

http://www.amazon.co.uk/8-Bit-Christmas-Kevin-Jakubowski/dp/0578130203

Hopefully some of that will have satisfied your festive 8 bit needs. Before the Christmas season began, I found myself repairing a pair of Spectrum+ computers. One was missing an ear phone socket and the other turned out to have a none functioning keyboard. The one with the faulty socket was going to need a lot of work as the display was also turned out to be slightly out of  wack. Fortunately the keyboard on this micro was fully working, so I choose the simplest option and swapped the keyboards. Result? One working  Spectrum+ and one not so working Spectrum+

 

The ZX Spectrum+

 

spectrum_plusIntroduced in October 1984, the Plus was meant give a face lift to the  original Spectrum. Replacing the original rubber keyboard with a more practical plastic design, which it inherited from Sinclairs business computer  the “Sinclair QL”. The original Speccy had a revolutionary design at time of it’s release, but two years later, micro’s such as the Commodore 64 were beginning to make it looks clumsy and out of date. Besides competition from other computer manufacturers, Sinclair also faced a huge number of  companies selling custom cases for the ZX Spectrum. Intented to provide the original rubber Spectrum with a fully functioning plastic keyboard. As a bid to compete with these third party cases, Sinclair offered it’s own. Designed to house the original 1982 ZX Spectrum, the case upgraded any original Speccy in to a Spectrum+.

Ultimately the upgrade to the original ZX Spectrum was hit and miss, one of the main problems being with users complaining about keys falling out.


Games Britannia Replay Event

Title

It’s not often that I see a decent retro gaming event here in my home town, but on the rare occasions that it does happen, you can be certain that I’ll try to attend come hell or high water. The 29th and 30th of June saw the Games Britannia host an event at the Sheffield Millennium Galleries.
I have to confess, it isn’t the first place I would think of holding a retro computer show, as the venue is better known for its art display. To the credit of the organizers, it worked well, albeit with one small drawback. I thought the layout was a little too widely spread, the two key areas of the event being located at either end of building. If you have problems walking, this might have caused a problem getting around to see everything.
The main function room held a selection of tables, offering everything from electronic kits, books and novelty items. Venturing further in to the room, I found several tables displaying computers and consoles from the 80s and 90s: Spectrum +3, Amiga CD32, Sega Dreamcast to name but a few. It was disappointing not to IMG_20140628_110310see such gaming classics such as Pong on show, but given the age of hardware, it is understandable why collectors would be reluctant to let 100 strangers play around with a 30 year old console from their collection. It was surprising to see the original Xbox amongst the consoles on display. Released in 2001, I still find it hard to consider this console retro, even though so many other gamers seem to do so.
The encounter was slightly painful, given the recent death of my own beloved Xbox and my failure to rescue it from the jaws of oblivion. However, this didn’t stop me from enjoying a game of Outrun. Having only ever played this game on Commodore 64 and at the arcade in the 80’s & 90’s, I had never played the XBox version of this classic. After 10 minutes, I was sold. This is a game that needs, nay, demands to be in my games collection. Not only did it still feel like the original, but also retained some of the arcade feel. As I carried on around the room, I IMG_20140628_104749noticed another line of tables set up with familiar consoles such as the SNES, Sega Master system and Atari Jaguar. I discovered this was part of the 2014 Classic Gaming Championships, hosted by Replay Events.
Entry was free, contestants pit their skills against other gamers, playing games such as Super Smash TV, Tetris, Paperboy, California games and Tempest 2000. Not one to turn down a challenge or the opportunity to play computer games, I entered myself in to the tournament. I knew my Achilles heel would prove to be Tetris and Paperboy, two games I have never been able to master. Each player was assigned an observer, who made sure no cheating or bug exploitation took place. My observer was probably around the same age as the SNES I was playing on, so it came to no surprise when he revealed little to no previous knowledge of the consoles I was playing on. In fact my score might very well have been better, were it not for the fact we discussed gaming throughout my turn. Mostly he asked me questions, while I tried to give answers as I played. What was the most popular game on the Mega Drive?
Questions like that have been known to start brawls, everyone has a favourite, some might say Sonic, Streets of Rage or Street Fighter II. He seemed surprised to discover Street Fighter had been released first on the Mega Drive and SNES, having believed it was a recent game, released for the PSone and then the PS3 Network. It’s things like this that makes me grateful for Replay putting on events. Educating the average gamer about the history of games and consoles.
By the time I had finished, my score for Paperboy, Tetris and California games really had me wondering if I’d even be on the scoreboard. So you can imagine my surprise to see my name up in third place overall. My score on Tempest 2000 (103616) certainly attributed to this placement. Having only ever played the arcade version, I found the remake for the Atari Jaguar to be a real solid offering. Even the infamous Jaguar controllers did not seem to hamper by game play. By the end of the day, my position had slipped to 12th place overall, but am I sad? No not really, I had great time, playing games and hopefully enlightening another mind to the fun that can still be had with retro games.

On a Walkabout

While on my way to check out the Pimoroni table, I stopped by Appytimes, who were showing off their latest title “Zombie Piranha”. The demo on show was specially made for the Games Britannia event in Sheffield. Speaking to their representative, I discovered the games had been heavily influenced by 16bit games from the 90s. Anyone who plays “Zombie Piranha” will see this almost from the beginning, as there are hints from several different games peeking out. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons with James Pond and Ecco the Dolphin. The controls are simple, the difficulty is not too steep. All around well worth installing on your phone or tablet if your wanting a quick gaming session while waiting for the bus. At the time of writing, “Zombie Piranha” is still available for free download via Google Playstore.

Like James Pond meets Ecco The Dolphin, very fun

Like James Pond meets Ecco The Dolphin, very fun

By far the most interesting table at the event was that of Pimoroni, the Sheffield based company had come to the event with a bang. Showing off not just one but five working Picade units. Anyone who has been following my blog will know I have reviewed boards in the past in preparation for the up coming release of this awesome DIY arcade kit. Running PiMaMe, the model B RPi performs surprisingly well. In the time since I looked in to running Mame on the RPi, things have most certainly progressed. The Pi has gone from performance underdog to solid contender. So much that I plan to load PiMaMe on the BMV RPi to see what games will run and wont run.

Picade

Comprising of laser cut, powder coated MDF, customizable decals, original arcade hardware joystick & buttons, LCD screen and custom Arduino Leonardo. The Picade is the must have kit for anyone who has ever felt the urge to build their own arcade cabinet or put their Raspberry Pi to good use. However the Picade is not designed solely for the Raspberry Pi. Indeed, one only needs to look at the rear of the unit to find mounting holes for Odroid and mini ITX motherboards. Having only recently finished shipping units to their kickstarter backers, Pimoroni are now aiming their sights on selling the Picade commercially. Prices are still to be announced, but estimates place it around the £200 price range. Given everything that comes in the kit, BMV feels really buzzed about the future of the Picade.IMG_20140628_122715

Completed, the cabinets looks like baby versions of their full size cousins, right down to the clicky sound of the joystick and buttons. Forget using a USB joypad to play Pac-Man, the Picade offers a tactile arcade experience straight from the comfort of your living room. Designed with swappable graphics and mounting points for different boards. Pimoroni clearly foresee the needs of some customers to customise their units and apply their own unique mark. While I was using one, I also kept thinking what graphics I would use and if I could illuminate the banner above the screen. Seriously you can’t help yourself once you realise the dream of having your own arcade cabinet is less a dream and now more a reality.

Keep on geeking


Revisiting Halo on the Xbox

original xbox

Over the past week I found myself playing more on my original Xbox then on my PS3 and 360 combined. Why you might be asking? Well the simple answer is Halo and my partners younger brother coming to visit. More the gamer then I ever will be, I thought he would scoff at my suggestion of playing on an original xbox. As it turned out, he had never played Halo and was curious what all the fuss was about. Thus we began our epic multi-player co-op campaign.

If your reading this and wonder what the heck is Halo, I can only recommend you seek out a copy and play it on a 360. If you dont own a 360, the original Xbox sells for nothing these days and is a worth addition to gamers collections. The console might be 10 years old, but the games are still good and worth playing.

halo_ce_dowOn loading up Halo with its classic opening suite, it’s easy to see why it blew gamers away and why Microsoft used it to launch their first console. Hard to believe that originally the designers of Halo had intended the game to be a top down shooter for the PC and Mac! This is one occasion we really do need to thank Microsoft. Where it not for them, we probably would not have the killer FPS we all love today.

Playing Halo, I couldn’t help but be impressed with how well the game holds up 12 years on from it’s launch. The graphics still look sharp and environments feel immersive and organic. Two player on Halo sets a standard which I can only hope other game designers have adopted since. The co-operative mode of Halo allows two players to not only play side by side and if your friend is not around. You can continue where you left off and play the game in single player mode. Using the same save point for the single player and two player modes of play simply blew me over. I spent the past week playing Halo with my partners brother and managed to finish the game over two days. Roughly a days worth of playing if you combined it all together.

After completing the game, it took about 30 minutes before Halo 2 ended up in the Xbox. All I can say about that is holy cow! I thought the original Halo was pushing the console to it’s limits, clearly I was mistaken. Some how Bungie squeezed out even more from the Xbox and made a sequel that is not only as good as the original, but improves upon the graphics and game play.

Hitting the Covenant where it hurts

 Master Chief, hitting the Covenant where it hurts

Closing thoughts

The PS3 and Xbox 360 are already facing the inevitable passage of time and the rapidly approaching dawn of their replacements, be it the PS4 or Xbox 720. Here are ByteMyVdu there will always be a special place for the under dog, the forgotten piece of hardware most people throw away and forget about. The Xbox may not be as memorable as say the Super Nintendo or Megadrive is to many people, but it remains a console worthy in any gamers collection. While the original xbox might be a bulky looking thing, with about as much aesthetic appeal as a toaster, it has still managed to out lived it’s rivals. The Playstation 2 has not aged well and the Nintendo Gamecube survives thanks mainly due to a faithful following of Nintendo fans, who have to own anything and everything branded Nintendo. The original Xbox doesn’t survive on looks, but thanks to the hardware inside and the quality of games which where produced for it.


Gaming 90’s style Part I

I’ll begin this post by explaining my background in gaming with handheld consoles. Which began back in 1991, with my first Gameboy. Which was later succeeded with the Gameboy pocket and then Gameboy Colour. I was never a massive fan of the Gameboy Advance. As I always felt Nintendo had once more missed the point. The one thing all Gameboy fans where screaming for was a back-lit screen. Which wouldn’t come until the arrival of the Gameboy Advance SP. By that time, I’d lost my interest in Nintendo handhelds. The appeal of 3D games on the GBA was lost on me. My Sega Game Gear was far more fun to play, ok the screen could induce epileptic seizures, but with titles like Columns, Sonic and Shinobi, it was worth the risk.

I confess when they first came out, I was too busy with my Gameboy to notice. Tho I did drool with envy at the colour screen and it’s wonderfully lit screen. How many play ground standoff’s did this cause I wonder? As many as the Atari vs Amiga debate? Who knows!

Getting in to the Game Gear in 2004, made a refreshing change to gaming on the PC. With it’s simple 2D graphics, I was 13 once again. As my library of games increased, I found myself pretty much sold on the Game Gear. While Sega may have missed me in the 90’s, I was now hooked. Aliens 3, Star Trek Holodeck, Cool Spot and almost every Sonic title are amongst me GG cartridge library.

Sadly tho my trusty GG has been showing it’s age. Having already repaired the failing caps on the sound board twice. I couldn’t help notice that the screen was
becoming increasingly dimmer over time. This is due to the capacitors on the main board wearing out. Slightly apprehensive about replacing all the caps inside the GG. It came as a welcome relief to discovered someone who was offering a refurb service on Ebay. After exchanging emails, I discovered James was no stranger to consoles. With an impressive 400 serviced Game Gears already to his name. I felt happy letting him do the job. Usually I would have undertaken the task myself. However its wise to know when to stand back and bow to experience. I had two repaired sound boards to my credit, compared to James and his 400 fully refurbished consoles.

In all the refurb took only a couple of weeks, when my GG arrived back. It was like a totally different console. I can not begin to describe the difference the
refurb has made. The screen quality is vastly improved. Originally I had assumed that was how all GameGears looked. As it turned out, the failing caps where contributing to the problem. The sound is now at least 3 times louder thanks to James doing a thorough job on the sound board.

He also repairs Atari Lynx consoles and was kind enough to service my Lynx II after it stopped turning on.

James is worth his weight in gold and I recommend any retro gamer with a poorly console to seek his help.  You will find him on ebay via his username “Gearforgames“.

 


GamesBritannia REPLAYED @ Magna

When I heard the Magna center in Sheffield was holding ‘Games Britannia: Replayed’ I knew it was going to be something special.  Arriving a little before 3pm on the Saturday, I walked in to the main hall and was instantly at home.

In one corner was a collection of BBC’s micro’s mostly model B’s from what i could make out. I later discover they had been used for a Beeb class room, teaching school children to program. Mix amongst the Beebs a crowd was now gathered, it didn’t take long to discovered why. In the center of the crowd was Eben Upton and his wife Liz speaking about the Raspberry Pi. Both of whom I later found to be very approachable and pleasent.

Pitched as the modern day Beeb, the Raspberry Pi is well worth taking note of. Standing to put you back £25, this all in one computer is powerful enough to surf the net, watch movies, do school work, play games and even use as a tv multimedia center like an AppleTV. If you hadn’t guessed by now, the Pi is a pretty versatile computer. Especially when you take in to consideration its size, 85.60mm x 53.98mm x 17mm. Not much bigger then a mobile phone.

Time for pi

Raspberry Pi, taking the term Pocket computer literally

Being introduced to the Upton’s by a friend of mine, who also happens to be the guy behind the Raspberry Pi logo. I have to confess I did not know until later, who I was being introduced to. Both where warm and happy to chat. It was interesting to hear the various questions people had been asking them about the Pi. Such as “How do I hook it up?”

Questions like these to me, highlight a growing ignorance some people suffer when it comes to technology. Beginning with OSX, Apple computers have become one of the least complicated systems to operate.  The user has to carry out only the most minimal of maintanence. In order to keep the computer running properly. The majority of the work being carried out in the background by the computer.

Could it be that this aim to improve productivity and reduce how hands on the user is with their computers up keep. Has led to a generation of people, who think using a computer is as complicated as operating their DVD player. If we rewind to the beginning of the 80’s. People where buying the newly released Sinclair ZX Spectrum in kit form, as a means to keep costs down. With an instruction manual and soldering iron, they would spend weekends building their newly aquired computers. Today this sort of activity is unheard of, which in my opinion is a pity. Speaking from experience, there’s a lot to be said for building a computer system from scratch.


Snes/Sega/Amiga/Vectrex
  
I can honestly say I have never been surrounded by so many consoles. The sheer number and variety was overwhelming. NES, Snes, Saturn, Dreamcast, VCS, A500, CD32, C64, C128, Spectrum, yes there was A LOT! My first console to try was an old Vectrex, this iconic console still has a strong following even today. Having seen how much these babies sell for online, I was amazed it was simply sitting there in a dark corner, silently inviting passers by to play with its bright vector graphics.
You can read about consoles all you like, but nothing beats sitting in front of that vivid screen and using the antiquated controllers to blast incoming missiles, as the hail down to flatten your cities. The Vectrex was everything I had read it to be and then some. For an old console, I was quite content to let the show pass me by, while I blasted away with my missile defense system.
I was truly in heaven, however don’t be fooled. It was not all seen through roses tinted glasses. Indeed several of the consoles I tried, sported very unique spins on the common joystick. Something we all take for granted, but which took money, time and research to evolve in to what it is today. It strikes me as no surprise that the VCS 2600 was so popular. The single button, 8 axis controller was simple to use and easy to operate. Unlike several controllers I attempted to game with while at the event. I found Donkey Kong on the CBS ColecoVision to be something of a challenge to play at first, compared to the copy I have on my VCS 2600, which is a doddle to play.

Back in the fledgling years of the gaming industry, everyone was scrambling to get their units in to families homes. Be that with addictive software titles, impressive graphics or down to earth cheapness! A strategy which was used by many at the time and still employed today. This battle for a piece of the action, led companies to try all manner of tactics to lure in buyers. One of which was the joystick, incorporating multiple function buttons in to the base, must have seemed like a one up, from the humble Atari joystick. However most of these offerings, sufferers from being chunky or awkward to operate. In the end, the dear old 2600 joystick would out lived them all.

Settling and old score

Back in the mid 80’s my parents picked me up a Texas TI-99 at a jumble sale. It was the first computer I’d ever owned. Sadly it hadn’t come with any software, which eventually led to it being shoved in a closet. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to play on a working example of the TI-99, just to see what I was missing out on. Many a night had I spent messing on my second hand computer with no games, it wasn’t because I was sad or desperate for a computer, only a year later I found myself with a shiny new C64. The TI-99 with its black keyboard and shiny metal case was a thing of wonder to my 8 year old eyes. Opening the door to a whole new exciting world. Playing on my best friends Spectrum +2, I had seen what computers where capable off and I wanted in.

Playing Parsec on the TI-99 was a dream come true and I truly had a blast playing on it. Having read about Parsec in a issue of Retrogamer, I was pleased to find it was everything I had read. The unit I played on was fitted with the add-on voice synthesizer, which comes in to its own when playing Parsec, giving you a female voice reporting the next wave of enemy ships. It was truly unusual to hear such a human sounding voice, emanating from an 8 bit computer. The TI-99 maybe have to be added to my wishlist of old computers.

Meeting an old friend

Wandering the main hall, what did I come across next, but an Amiga 1200, which someone had left trying to load ‘The NewZealand Story’. An A500 game on a A1200, oh dear, oh dear. By sheer coincidance, I know from first hand experience, that this game does not favour some A1200’s running 3.1 rom’s. Even with relokick, it freezes during the loading process. Whom ever had left the A1200 loading, must have been unaware of this.
As I sat there, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the irony of coming to Replayed, have dozens of machines to choose from and sit in front of yet another Amiga. As it happened, my choice of location could not have been better. When a young couple stopped to admire the Amiga and ask me if NewZealand story was working. Being in my element, I explained what was wrong. Which then led them to ask if I was working at the event, I said no and went on to explain my history with Amiga computers and the Lincolnshire Amiga group. As it turned out, the woman’s father had introduced her to Amiga’s at an early age and NewZealand story was her favourite game. Which made the taunting disfunctional copy on the A1200 a real pity. Informing her of Amiga Forever, an Amiga emulator you can run on a modern computer. I pointed out that getting to play her favourite childhood games wasn’t beyond possibility.

Shareware…erm Indie Games!

During my roam around the hall, I found a stall showing off indie games. The two games I tried where of a surprisingly good standard for homebrew games. While support extends for only Windows at present. The rep promised they where working on supporting both Mac and Linux platforms. Paying for software on Linux perhaps goes against the Linux open source ethos. So its to be seen how this takes off.

I’ll end now with photos from the event.






Fixing a Gameboy Screen with lines

In my last article, I covered how the Gameboys one let down was its low resolution screen. After 20+ years of service these screens are beginning to show their age as one by one, they begin to fail. If your Gameboy is one of them, the chances are it is afflicted with pesky lines running vertically up the screen. For many this means the end of their Gameboy. My own original Gameboy suffers with lines running horizontally across the screen, which is less common and not as easy to repair. Yes you heard me right, dodgy Gameboy screens can be repaired with a little know how and in some cases you don’t even need to use a soldering iron.

In To The Beast

Opening your Gameboy for the first time might seem daunting to some. Even to those of us that are used to repairing gadgets, the process is just as worrying. Luckily there is a wealth of information online, documenting the insides of the classic Gameboy. In fact a quick look on Youtube will bring up a dozen or more tutorials on how to repair the very screen issues being covered in this blog. It was through watching several of these, that I began to see where the old Gameboy was failing and how best to fix it.

I was intending to make a video showing how to fix the screen. But with the amount of videos already covering the subject, I decided it would be easier if I just include what I believe to be the creme de la creme for you to follow. All that hard work searching done for you, aren’t I nice!

This video is excellent at explaining the problems behind the screen and worth watching if you with to learn about the Gameboy’s LCD screen.

The following video guide requires you to own a soldering iron and apply it to components inside your Gameboy. Proceed at your own risk!
USE THE GREY MATTER!!! USE COMMON SENSE!


Horizontal Lines??

Now this is where things become a little sketchy and sadly disheartening. My classic Gameboy suffers not with the typical vertical lines, but horizontal ones. So how to fix them? It would seem the general consensus is not to bother even trying. The two ribbon cables connecting the LCD screen to the main PCB can not be disconnected. As such the aging solder begins to dry and crack. Unlike the bottom ribbon cable which deals with the vertical lines. The cable that deals with the horizontal is sandwiched behind the LCD and the PCB. Making any attempt with a soldering iron very hazardous. Your more likely to melt the cable then you are to mend the fault.

Even so, I still attempted a repair. Instead of using a soldering iron, i opted to use a hot air gun. The sort you would use for removing paint. I used this method of heating and softening solder on a PS3, to fix the “Yellow Light of Death”. So finding people where suggesting it online as a possible fix, did not come as a surprise.

With the Gameboy apart, and the screen laying on a non flammable surface. I set my heat gun to the lowest setting and hovered it above the screen until it turned black. Usual you can see the effect the heat is having on the solder as it begins to soften. Sadly it did not fix the issue of the horizontal lines. Which leads me the think my screen is properly dying.

Hopefully in the next few months I will be able to grab another. As I much prefer my classic Gameboy to the GB Colour or pocket.

Well I hope thats helped some of you, please drop me a post if you’d like me to cover anything in a future blog.

For now, keep geeking!