Cartridge blowing is a practice most often employed on older Nintendo games and systems, but is sometimes required to remedy problems with the old Sega and even game boy games.

Cartridge blowing becomes an important ritual when your system has been subjected to products not bearing the Official Nintendo Seal of Quality, or simply when it has become old and dusty. At a certain point, your games no longer just appear at a touch of the power button. Instead, you are subjected to a slow purple strobe effect. It's time to start blowing.

Hold the cartridge and blow into the business end from left to right and back. Do this several times. Some believe it's good to get some spittle going, as it will increase your chance of making contact. However, this is a quick fix only, because it will probably corrode the metal. Use the corner of your shirt to wipe the inside. For good measure, blow into the cartridge dock as well. Replace the catridge and try again.

It is important at this stage to learn to diagnose the severity of these flashes, or how far your Nintendo is from being healthy. In this respect you must get to know your NES in a deep and personal way. Usually if you can get it to stop flashing and if you get fragments of text or patterns, you're on the right track. Keep at it until you get your reward, the title screen of your favourite game!
In the case of the NES, it would later degrade to even worse stages. I'm always surprised at the complicated rituals people come up with when dealing with failing electronics. I had a really old stereo once and the speakers would occasionally stop working. For some reason, and I don't know how I figured this out, you could get the speakers back on again by fiddling with the function buttons. There were 4 buttons: Radio, Tape, Turntable (I told you it was old) and Aux. If you were listening to the tape, for instance, you would press that button in and then slightly press in a couple of the other buttons and the speakers would turn on. Listening to a tape while holding buttons in isn't very fun so I figured out that you could depress them a little and then stick toothpicks into the gap to hold them in place.

Anyway, with my NES we had several ways of dealing with getting a game to start. Cartridge Blowing was a necesary start to any attempt to use the machine. The next problem was that if you put the cartridge in and pressed it down like normal it wouldn't work. The cartridge had to be at just the right height to get a picture. One good way to achieve this height was to stick a second cartridge above the first. Another method was to not actually push the cartridge all the way in and then force it into the slot. The friction from the back of the cartridge would then hold it at a lower height than normal. Of course, after all this as done, one had to be very careful not to bump or move the box. Therefore people who moved the controller around a lot when they played had to be banned. The worst problem of all was that you never knew if a game wasn't working because it was actually broke, you hadn't blown it enough, or you didn't have it at the right height.

Man, Nintendo was a blast!

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