Image from Flickr User: lucy photography

The Fateful Day: What Happened to My SNES

Image from Flickr User: lucy photography
Image from Flickr User: lucy photography

I was long proud to be one of those few lucky individuals who still had a working Super Nintendo.  The old gal served me for a good two decades before I started to notice something was a bit off.  The SNES was always a pretty reliable console.  It rarely froze.  On the large part, it just did what it was made to do.  (The only real issue was when I accidentally touched the cartridge while it was turning on and corrupted all my Donkey Kong Country 3 save files.  Woops.)  Until I started to notice it, this slight bounce in the picture.  Every few seconds, the screen would do a small bounce that I had never noticed before.  The games were still more than playable, but it was baffling.  And a bit worrying.

I first noticed it with Donkey Kong Country.  Then, it became even more bothersome during my last playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.  And then, during Super Bomberman 2, a friend accidentally touched the coaxial cable while the game was on, and the screen turned to static.  It settled down after a while, and the fun continued.  But, something was wrong.  I couldn’t get it out of my mind that something was terribly wrong.

After that, I became too afraid to play the SNES.  I literally didn’t play it for about two years because I was so afraid I would turn it on and find it was worse than ever before.  I couldn’t bear it, you see.  Yes, I did have to replace an ailing GameCube that froze just a few too many times, but it was easy to replace, being far newer, and it had been behaving strangely since the day I got it.  It was slightly defective, I believe, with errors when reading discs and inexplicably scrolling numbers when I tried to change the time, and it may have suffered in a particularly rough move across country, as well.  But, my dear SNES, that was a different matter.  It had been a part of my collection for so much longer.  It had shown no signs of its imminent death.  And it was so much harder to replace.  I couldn’t see it die.  I couldn’t.

And then, I grew sick of being afraid.  I really wanted to revisit an old favorite of mine, Donkey Kong Country 2.  I decided that I could deal with the maddening bounce as long as it got no worse.  And maybe, just maybe, the issue was not with the console at all.  You see, my SNES is plugged in through a confusing labyrinth of wires that I hoped so badly was the true cause of its troubles.  It’s plugged into a VCR, which is plugged into a DVD player, which is plugged into a TV.  The VCR died (well, to be more precise, it was banished when it turned on my cassettes and started eating them one by one), and I thought, wonderful, maybe the VCR caused the baffling bounce in the screen, after all, not the SNES.  I replaced it with another VCR and hoped ever so badly that the SNES’ troubles might be resolved.

With DKC2 ready, I turned on the console.  Crap, no power light.  It’s not even plugged in.  I plugged the SNES back in and tried again.  At first, the Rareware logo was surrounded by loud static, which went away.  Phew.  I noticed that the bounce was still there.  Okay, I can live with that.  And then, I started the first level, and pieces of Diddy kept disappearing.  Enemies turned invisible.  And when Diddy walked, a part of him would appear on the other side of the screen.  What the heck.  After attempting to play through the first level, I just couldn’t bring myself to finish, as the graphics were too erratic and distracting to play the game properly.  And I turned the SNES off.

So, it’s not dead yet.  Not yet.  But, it’s never been this bad before.  This was far beyond its previous symptoms, and I had to finally accept the fact that it may not last much longer.  It is still usable, but not to any comfortable degree.  In my desperation, I downloaded DKC2 onto the Wii, my first Virtual Console game.  It works great.  It looks great.  The classic controller feels like the SNES controller.  I couldn’t stop laughing, I was so happy the game was not out of reach, after all.

Nevertheless, I don’t want to give up on my SNES.  Maybe a good cleaning will fix it.  Maybe I can buy another SNES from Amazon that will work, to play all my old games again.  I don’t know.  I’ve never truly lost a console before, especially not one so old, where they are not as easy to come by.  I want all my old games to be playable again.  I don’t want to have to buy them all over again on the Virtual Console.  And some of them, such as Illusion of Gaia, are not available anywhere but on the SNES, and I can’t give up one of my most treasured games.  (I don’t know if those emulator things are an option.  If anyone knows about how they work, any info would be appreciated.)

So, I’m keeping my SNES.  If I’m desperate, I might still be able to use it.  It’s been with me so long, I can’t ever part with it, even if one day it won’t turn on at all (perish the thought!).  I expected such a day to be quite devastating indeed, to lose one of my precious consoles, but I guess it’s not so bad.  Fortunately, I have so many other games, and so many other consoles, that can keep me company.  And many of my favorite SNES can be salvaged through downloads.  So I haven’t lost that much.  Nevertheless, it’s hard to lose your first console.  I suppose it had a good run, though, and it really does deserve a good rest after all these years.

Sniff, I love you, SNESSY.

A Mourning Duck


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