Let’s face it, no matter how anal you were in keeping that plastic sleeve on the game cartridge, at some point (20-30% of the time), it wasn’t going to load on the first attempt (especially if it was Super Mario 3). Whether it was the agreed upon “dust” or some other mystical reason for its malfunction, something always went terribly wrong when you had friends over. Then in that moment of panic and disappointment everyone suddenly became a self proclaimed NES game starting expert. Here is a recap of the most successful techniques:
1) Hold the game with the cartridge chip directly facing your mouth. Blow directly into the cartridge like playing a scale on a harmonica. Start with the far left corner, and blow quickly across to the far right corner as fast as you can. Repeat at least twice. Perform the same actions with the game console. Insert the game. Press Power. Doesn’t work? Then remove the game cartridge ever so gently, then RAM it into the game console as far as it will go. Yeah, that will do. Now try pressing power. Doesn’t work? Well then, obviously YOU’RE not a master. Go on to step 2.
2) Same as step one, except instead of blowing completely from left to right into the cartridge, you want to leave air space between each wind attack. This will allow the CO2 and the computer chip to oxidize better, sorta like wine… yes, NES troubleshooting requires a smooth finesse like a fine wine. Proceed to placing the game into the console as in step 1. Still doesn’t work? Then insert the game into the console and press down into locked position. Now release the game into unlocked position. Now lock again. Now unlock. Again! And again! Oh baby! Now press play. The opening red curtain in Mario 3 still comes out in scrambled checkers? But we can hear sound. Ok, making progress, but you are just a novice. Move on to technique number three.
3) The third technique combines the best of steps one and two, but introduces a new critical element: spit. The spitting technique requires a masterful control of bodily fluids, like a cobra with his venom. One must not just hawk a loogie into the hardware, for it may permanently damage the $50 piece of plastic. The skilled veteran is likened to a gentle flute player, using just enough spit to dampen and activate the circuitry of the NES cartridge, and yes, finally, the game will work properly. Alas, you have found the most talented game starter of the bunch, and he will be respected as such. Your NES King will hence be directly summoned to battle any future entanglements with the console beast and will be rewarded with All-Time Player 1 status.
Long live the NES game starting champion!
*FYI Mike Tyson’s Punchout was the best game ever (also my first)