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Stop Blowing and Start Emulating

Today’s correspondence comes courtesy of reader Knicksfan:

Hey Tech-Gaming, I recently got a few boxes out of storage
after my wife and I moved. I found my old NES and about 40 cartridges. I hooked
my NES up the TV, and found the console didn’t work. No amount of blowing on
carts or in the system helped. I am debating whether to sell the cartridges on
ebay or keep them, and buy a new system. Any recommendations?

First, Knicksfan, blowing on your old NES cartridges may do
more harm than good. Every time you exhale, you’re sending out moisture onto the
contacts, which may help them to corrode over time. Instead use a cotton swab
dipped in rubbing alcohol, to clean the metal contact pins if there are
extremely dirty. However, on most NES systems, the problem isn’t with the metal
contacts, it’s with the cartridge connector that gets spongy over time. The
best course of action is to replace your dead Nintendo system with a
top-loading model, like the YOBO clone system, or even better, the Generation NEX.

                             The YOBO NES Clone. Cheap (at around $25), but not fully compatible with all games.

If you don’t want to spend seventy dollars on a new system,
there’s hope in emulation. Since, you already mentioned you own forty original NES
games, you should be on solid legal ground to download and emulate them. NES
emulation is available on many systems ranging from the GBA to the Wii. Here
we’ll walk you through the step necessary to play your old NES games on a PC
and also a Nintendo DS. Let’s start with the PC, as it requires no additional hardware:

the Nestopia binary. Unzip the package to a directory, and then create a folder
named, “ROMS”.

Use Google to do a search for the ROM files you
own. Although there are a myriad of places to find these on the internet, we’d
rather not lead you to any specific site.

Once you’ve downloaded the files, unzip them and
place them in your newly created ROMS directory.

Finally, click on Nestopia, set up your
controller, and you’re ready to play.

                                          Nestopia in action, playing 1943. Check out that ‘Destructive Rate’!

Now, if you want to play games on your Nintendo DS, things
are a little trickier:

To use an emulator on the DS, you must own a
rewriteable cartridge; these are a little difficult to find, and are looked
down upon my many, because they can be used to run pirated games. The R4DS, and
the M3 DS Simply are the two most popular carts for using your own software. Don’t forgot a microSD card!

Download NesterDS, or  DSNES, and unzip the files onto your memory

You might also have to patch these programs with
DLDI, to get them to run on your brand of cart.

Create a ROMS folder, insert the files, and
voila, you’re ready to play.

One final note, is our position on piracy: If you don’t own it, don’t play it. Many extremely talented and creative people have worked diligently to create these older games. Downloading a ROM file without owning the cartridge is not a behavior we at tech-gaming can condone.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. Funny title.

  2. Wish I kept my old games. I sold them years ago.

  3. Great info.

  4. I want to play genesis games on my DS. Anyway of doing that?

  5. Sound advice. Might have to get one of those r4 cards.

  6. I use Nesticle on my PC, great little App.

  7. How well do the old games run?

  8. Thanks for the links, guys.

  9. Nice idea to the problem. I heard Yobos were junk.

  10. You are some certified 1943 bad-asses!!!!

  11. I will have to try this out.

  12. at zero energy no less. Well done

  13. How do you play pirated games on the DS?

  14. Thats not the point of the article. Did you read the last damn sentence?

  15. Eat dirt, idiot.

  16. CycloDS Evolution FTW.

  17. I like the advice.

  18. Now playing Rush n Attack on my PC. Good times.

  19. Dontfeedthatrolls

    Great article.

  20. Yeah, thats the problem- welfare moms. what an imbecile.

  21. Have a generation NEX; nice build quality.

  22. I’ll start emulating; never blow.

  23. Great article.

  24. They should definitely get a replacement NES. Telling them to emulate will just lead them to downloading other games. lol. I still remember blowing into those cartridge.

  25. I’d like to see a more in-depth article about the hardware clones.

  26. emulating ftw

  27. i dont thing you can but i think you can if you had a psp and custom firmware

  28. All this time I’ve owned an R4 and never knew I could run emulators with it. Thanks!

  29. You might want to try Jenesis DS, a Genesis emulator also:

  30. there’s a site called retrousb that sells adapters that allow you to use your nes and snes controllers on your pc via usb. i have the retropad models for the snes and nes controllers and they work great for emulation.

  31. Thats cool, I didn’t know you could use emulators on a DS. I don’t own one however. =[

  32. I wish I could find a SNES….

  33. Great now I dont have to dust off all my old games from the NES era to enjoy them.

  34. even if u verbally denounce condoning of piracy…its still a risky move to actually add instructions on how-to… nevertheless good article…

  35. Very well written article, though I agree with MrDemonicAngel.

  36. I never got into emulators… There is nothing like having a real NES controller in your hands. I know that there are USB version of NES controllers floating around but it just isn’t the same.

  37. I have an R4 and I do play some emulated games on my PC but like Mirpkered said, it’s not the same as having an actual NES. I have two of them but they both died on me.

  38. but if you’re using a real NES controller with an emulator, what’s the difference? feels the same to me.

  39. Cool article – will have to try out.

  40. Wow I didn’t know you can do that with the DS! Wish I had one though…good article.

  41. Oh man, I used to blow like crazy on my NES cartridges when I was a kid. Not just the cartridges too, but into the actual system too. At least my games would work after!

  42. Can’t wait to try it out.

  43. Back when the first Funcoland around me opened, they had this sign on the counter that said “NEVER BLOW IN THE TAPES.” I suppose they were giving sound advice, but I was always amused by their use of the word “tapes.” That was the kind of terminology that the parent of your video-game savvy friend would always use. “OH YOU’RE PLAYING THOSE NINTENDO TAPES AGAIN, YOU KIDS SHOULD GO OUTSIDE” etc. etc.

  44. Are these games collectible? cause I had about 200 games from back when I owned a video store and I gave them all away :/

  45. Don’t FREAKING BLOW ON YOUR CARTRIDGES USE ALCOHOL!!!! one time my dad had a broken tv remote but he didn’t wanna open it up to fix it, so he just poured alcohol all over it and it worked!! it works great with nes cartridges too!

  46. Whenever I look for old stuff in my garage or attic I only ever find SPIDERS.

  47. Having stumbled into Tech-Gaming I don’t appreciate the unflattering articles written about me. And I plan to haul you all in for PIRACY! I’m on my cell phone right now with the police. May you gamers BURN IN HELL!!

  48. His old Jack Daniels bottle?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist!

  49. And you never wrote the word ‘ass’ over the word ‘tapes’? For shame, busta!

  50. Nothing wrong with emulation, my friend. Nice site, but how about a tad more retro love? For us geezers.

  51. Never played that cart 😉

  52. Good article. You can find emulators for almost any console out there.

  53. Nice article, makes we want to start up dreamsnes on dreamcast

  54. emulationpiracy, guys.

    I have all the old carts, but I like to play them, without hooking the old systems up.

  55. Hmmm, i miss my NES days, this could bring it back… but id rather play these all on my PSP 🙂

  56. Although emulators are great, there is something to be said playing the original carts with the original system.

  57. Sadly, I traded off all my old systems/games to purchase the new systems that came out as I was growing up. I doubt highly that I would still play any of the old systems though. Virtual Console and Live Arcade work well enough for me.

  58. I hae to agree that playing the original carts is very fun. My wife and I recently found that her parents had her old NES stored away. We dug it out and have not been able to stop playing and buying more games. One good place we found was fleamarkets. We have found some great deals, and it is fun to share stories about the games we grew up on. Some she considered her favorite I never even played!

  59. Sorry, that was supposed to say does not equal.

  60. That’s some sound advice. I wish I knew that as a kid; would have saved me a lot of blowing and swearing when the cartridge still wouldn’t work.

    And now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got some carts and an NES to find. I think they’re still in my basement somewhere, next to the SNES.

  61. Or get a new 72 pin connector for your NES off ebay for about 10 bucks.

  62. Very interesting.

  63. NES was fun until I beat every game my bro
    brought which was only 5

  64. Sounds cool … if I ever had the time for it.

  65. ROMs are what make my work day tolerable.

  66. I’ve been emulating for years, and Vitural Boy is still by far my favorite

  67. I just like using my top-loading NES. More pricey, but don’t have to worry about the newer console not working with some games!

  68. hehehe

  69. That brought back some old memories of qtips and rubbing alcohol!

  70. I’ve got a m3, so this is pretty handy to have.

  71. My NES has the same problems….

  72. I want one of these R4 cartridges!

  73. Emulating is where it is at. Very cool

  74. I will stick with my NES thank you.

  75. Hah, blowing on the cartridge always seemed to work for me, but then again, my games wouldn’t work after the corrosion took its toll. My NES console stopped working after some time, and my mom garnered the courage to sell it for 5 dollars, I’ll never forgive my mom for that.

  76. haa ive been trying to do this for so long
    but i havent made time to go buy the r4 card

  77. I don’t know why but I can’t get myself to buy the R4. I guess I just like plastic, but I’m also cheap. So torn.

  78. Playing these games all over again on the go is the best part of it all.

  79. Ive Emulated for a long time now and i love it. Great way to play tons of games from your past.

  80. Thanks for the advice. I think my NES might be nearing its end as well, so I may give emulation a shot. I hadn’t heard of Nestopia, so I’ll check it out.

  81. Gonna have to read that CNN article. I’ve always been under the impression that emulation was illegal if you owned the original game or not.

  82. It’s certainly a gray area, and I’m not sure what the actual laws allow. If you plan to go the legal route, however, you better be willing to deal with problems if they arise, including having proof that you own the items you are emulating. For me, it’s better just to stay away…

  83. Yeah, i think both this article and the CNN one make it clear; only emulate carts you own. I’m sure you’re in the clear if you follow that golden rule.

  84. Needs more splatter house.

  85. I agree with recommending emulation.

    Definitely the way to go.

  86. Your advice was great, but why not also show how to run nes games on other systems too?

  87. I thought the FUN of the NES was seeing if you go blue in the face trying to get it to work. You just wrecked what could have been a fun night of Duck hunt.

  88. I’m so excited about that ds emulator. I have an m3 and never realized I could play nes roms.

  89. emulation seems pretty cool, I’m excited to give this a try.