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Battery life of old game cartridges


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With the NES carts, they're not expensive overall. Your main choice will be to get another "solder tab" type battery, or to "go for broke" and squeeze in a "proper" coin cell holder for an unsoldered CR2032 coin cell battery so you can swap it out later if you need to.

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  • 10 months later...

What about Pokemon R/B/Y. Those games didn't have a real time clock and they are dying. I would have guessed that those carts would have used a CR2024 battery because they're later Gameboy games, but I guess not.

The pokemon games actually have two PCB revisions. One is based on the MBC3 and uses a CR2024, while the other is based on the MBC5 and uses a CR1616.


But I have made a striking observation that may better answer this. Nintendo used a vast range of different brand names for the chips in their cartridges. Different brands of low-power SRAM can drain very different amounts of curent. A notorious example is two copies of Donkey Kong Land 2 which I own. They look exactly the same, have been manufactured about the same time, but only one of them saves. Then I did an observation. One has a HY6264ALLJ-10, a chip that drains a whooping 10uA on standby, while the other has the more commonly used XLJ6265BF-10SL. I can't find the datasheet for the XLJ part, but needless to say; that's the one that still saves.


So the brand and type of SRAM has a LOT to say for the battery lifetime. On the other hand of the scale, my copy of Pokemon Crystal has a BS62LV256SC-70 that claims to only drain 0.01uA on standby, and it still saves (unlike my copies of Pokemon Gold/Silver that use the LH52256CN-10LL, which has a standby drain curent rated at 1uA).

Edited by per
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Good timing for this thread..

I just pulled the old Gameboy out of its storage...

It was still in great shape, except for the vertical lines. But, armed with my soldering iron, that is now fixed.

But I noticed that my Final Fantasy Adventure cart wouldn't play.

All my other carts were fine.

So I opened it, cleaned it. Nothing.. Then I decided to remove the battery..

Game fired up fine.. Yay.. So, ordered some 1616s from ebay. Swapped it out recently and now its saving again.


Interesting tho, my SMB 2 (6 gold coins or whatever??) is still fine and the original save games are still there..

Probably won't last too much longer tho. Not sure if I should just replace it now or ??


Hmmm.. I wonder if I clip on another battery somehow for the transfer process, could I manage to keep my savegames? Hmm..

(No, they aren't that important; I'm not that good. Just wondering..)


I ordered 5 batteries, so I can swap a few more when needed (or if I get bored..).



p.s. Just some advice. I watched some youtube vids on this. Didn't see anyone ruin a cart, but if you are replacing the battery, use some snips and clip out the existing battery first. Then remove the remaining tabs with a soldering iron. That battery is a heat sink, and it will save you some heat to the cart. Some of the people spent quite a bit of time/heat trying to remove the old battery..

Edited by desiv
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Hmmm.. I wonder if I clip on another battery somehow for the transfer process, could I manage to keep my savegames? Hmm..

(No, they aren't that important; I'm not that good. Just wondering..)

That would work, but be aware that it might put some reverse curent over the old battery if it's discharged enough to have a lower voltage. Reverse curent and Lithium coin cells don't mix very well.


It's generally a better idea to use a backup device to duplicate the savefile prior to changing the battery.

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