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dalepetrie's avatar

Can anyone help me diagnose a problem with my Nintendo 64?

Asked by dalepetrie (18007points) April 16th, 2010

OK, I have had this unit for many years, I did not use it for many years, it sat in my bedroom for a long time collecting dust. When I got an HDTV, I brought all my game systems out to the living room, had a custom entertainment center built with a space for my N64, and tried to use it. I have only one A/V input on my HDTV, so I used a 4 channel A/V splitter to hook up my N64, my Game Cube, my Wii and my PS2. But the first time I played the N64, it worked for a bit, but when I shut it off and tried to change games, there was no picture.

Every now and then I can get a game to work, but usually I can not. Well, I let the problem go for a while, but then recently when I saw a used N64 in a second hand store for 7 dollars, I decided to buy that and figure out the problem come hell or high water. Basically, this unit did the same thing. Now, this unit came with the N64 and came with the power adapter, but not the A/V cable, so I figured it’s the A/V cable.

So, I was going to get another A/V cable, and when I described the problem to a guy who owns a used video game store, he seemed almost certain that was the issue. But then I saw that GameCube and N64 use the same exact A/V cable, so I tried to use the A/V cable from my GameCube, since I haven’t been using that since I bought the Wii, because the Wii will play my GameCube games. Well, that didn’t work either.

So, I thought, maybe it’s the A/V input to the TV, but I tried each of the other games both through the splitter and directly to the TV and all of them worked, but the N64 would not (just sporadically). I tried both N64s with both A/V cables and both power adapters, and also tried the A/V cable on the Game Cube, got everything else to work, but not the N64 (not consistently) in any configuration.

So, I checked the N64 in every position on the splitter, directly to the TV, and other items in the position the N64 originally held on the splitter, same result.

So I know the N64 gets power, I know they both do. I know the both A/V cables work on the GameCube. I know all 4 positions on my splitter and my A/V line in work on my TV. And I know it’s not isolated to one N64 cartridge because they all do this. My best guess is that maybe the heads on both are dirty and aren’t making contact with the cartridges?

Anyone else run into this, and how did you resolve it?

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9 Answers

drfunko's avatar

I bought a used N64 a while ago and got some of those same issues as well — sometimes nothing came up on the TV, but not always. In my case, it seemed to be the game cartridges; some of them worked every time, others worked whenever they felt like it, and one has never ever worked (Donkey Kong 64). I tried everything and the only thing that seemed to help was dipping a q-tip in some glass cleaner (Windex) and rubbing that back and forth vigorously on both sides of the cartridges’ contacts — I remember that making a noticeable difference for at least one of my games.

Ultimately, I just gave up on it because it was such a pain to get anything running.

the100thmonkey's avatar

Do you have a PC hooked up to the HDTV?

WestRiverrat's avatar

Have you tried the N64 without the splitter? Or hooked up to a different TV?

mrrich724's avatar


does your N64 have an expansion pack? If not, that could be why DK64 never worked. . .

dalepetrie's avatar

Do not have a PC hooked up to the HDTV. I did try the N64 without the splitter and it made no difference. I can try the different TV, but what @drfunko is saying is the next thing I was going to try…I figured maybe the game cartridges are too dusty to make contact. I’ll try cleaning them.

drfunko's avatar

@mrrich724, I do have an Expansion Pak and it does seem to work because I can play Jet Force Gemini, which requires it. In other games, though, I got the same weird results whether I used the Expansion Pak or the standard memory pak.

I just checked and some of my DK64 cartridge’s contacts look scratched up, scratched off, and even rusted/oxidized (are they copper?). That’s probably why it doesn’t work. All my other games have clean contacts without any flaws.

P.S. When you clean the contacts, keep rubbing until dirt stops showing up on the q-tip. You can also use nail polish remover instead of windex. Also, it may not be your game cartridges, but the receptacle in the N64 system where you put the cartridges — those contacts need to be clean too, but you’d need to use somthing thinner, like a sheet of paper, to clean them.

sweetteaindahouse's avatar

When I play mine, it will sometimes just be a black screen. I just turn my N64 on and off until it starts.

mrrich724's avatar

I never cleaned the part INSIDE the 64. But I can say with some of my old “regular” nintendo games, I took a q-tip and rubbing alcohol and just rubbed and rubbed on the carts, until no more dirt came off. They then worked like magic.

Mr_Grimm's avatar

try this like all of us avid n64 gamers, blow the cartridge brah!

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