Should You Blow Into Your Video Game Cartridges?

Video Game Cartridges

Remember the first time someone told you to blow into your cartridge to fix a buggy game? Does blowing into your cartridge actually make anything better? It’s the sort of thing that sounds like it makes sense. Mario isn’t working? There must be some dust in the way. To find out whether or not blowing into a cartridge would actually help things or make them worse, I talked to Christopher Grant, the Editor-in-Chief of Polygon and an expert in retro gaming hardware.

Game Cartridges

When your NES didn’t read the cartridge when you put it in and it blinked red blinking light if you blew on it and you put it back in, and you got it, you blew it just right to get that one piece of dust off, it would work. People did this over and over again thinking that this was the solution, that dust was the problem, when in fact all they were doing was re-inserting the game over and over again, and that the sort of placebo effect made it feels like the blowing was doing something when in fact it was just the repeating of the cartridge that did it.- Okay, so blowing into the cartridge doesn’t fix anything, but it’s okay if I still do it anyway cause I’m used to doing it, right?- You should not blow into the cartridge at all.

The Super Nintendo included a note on the back of each game saying that cartridges should be regularly cleaned but only with the proper cleaning kit. And the Nintendo 64 went one step further outright stating on the back of each game in large block letters, “Do not blow on the edge connector.” The myth dates back to the original NES which used a zero insertion force or ZIF,and while ZIF slots are great for making it easy to swap in and out a game, because, as the name suggests, it doesn’t require much force to slot it in, it also means that if the contacts in the cartridge aren’t properly connecting, you’re gonna get stuck with a glitched out screen instead.

Game Playing

But there is still a grain of truth to the whole thing because while the actual blowing on the cartridges didn’t do anything,simply taking the game out and re-inserting itas part of that process gave you another chance to have the contacts properly connect letting your game work right which may be the origin of why people assumed that the blowing was working in the first place.

So, yeah, don’t blow into your cartridges, but if you’ve got a retro console that isn’t working, there are solutions out there that might actually help you get your games up and running again that don’t involve you spitting on them.