N64 Controller Pak conundrum

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PostN64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Christmas Name Change » Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:39 am

Hello everyone, I really fancy playing through Mystical Ninja again on the N64, but unfortunately it's one of the '64 games that requires use of a "Controller Pak" to save. Now, even during the N64's lifetime, third-party memory packs were utterly unreliable. I've got hold of an official Nintendo Controller Pak (second-hand) but it's just as useless, with the saves rarely lasting longer than 24 hours - I think it's an age thing. I doubt very much I could get hold of anything not second-hand in terms of N64 accessories nowadays. I know I could play the game via emulator but it just isn't the same. Anyone got any suggestions?

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Lastpostamorph » Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:54 am

Sounds like it might just be the battery in the controller Pak that needs changing. Unfortunately the official Nintendo ones had the batteries soldered in rather than just held in by tabs like most of the third party ones, so it could be difficult to replace.

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Green Gecko » Fri Sep 26, 2014 1:59 pm

I have a decent soldering iron. If you can find the battery etc I could do it for you.

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Christmas Name Change » Fri Sep 26, 2014 4:18 pm

Cheers for the info / offer guys. If it's the battery, though, then wouldn't the pak be 'dead' and so unrecognisable by the console? As opposed to working but failing to retain any save information?

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Lastpostamorph » Fri Sep 26, 2014 4:35 pm

[iup=3575537]Dan.[/iup] wrote:Cheers for the info / offer guys. If it's the battery, though, then wouldn't the pak be 'dead' and so unrecognisable by the console? As opposed to working but failing to retain any save information?

I believe the battery is just to actually retain the save data once it's disconnected from the mains power provided by the powered on console.

Of course it could also be something entirely besides the battery, but that just seems like the most obvious reason from a brief look.

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Green Gecko » Fri Sep 26, 2014 4:47 pm

It's the exact same reason old cartridge games lose their ability to save and computers and consoles forget what the time is. A small battery provides just enough charge for a few years to retain some data in a memory module, a bit like a digital watch.

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Christmas Name Change » Tue Sep 30, 2014 1:30 pm

Thanks for the replies Laga & GG. I'm going to try it tonight and I'll take some screenshots too.

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Christmas Name Change » Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:57 pm

Somewhat bafflingly, it appears to be working fine now :lol:

I'll take the controller pak out of the controller and leave it for a few hours, see if the memory holds.

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Christmas Name Change » Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:22 pm

OK, so it all seemed to be rosy yesterday evening. The game/console recognised the pak when I tried to use it:

Image

And it let me do this:

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So I hit reset and the save file loaded. Then I turned the console off, removed the pak, and left for a few minutes, then put it all back together. And, huzzah! The save state remained:

Image

I've tried it again tonight aaand...

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:(

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Green Gecko » Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:34 pm

The batteries are actually slightly recharged, a bit like you used to be able to turn a GameBoy on and off again a few times with the contrast set higher and higher so you could actually see what you were playing. But that charge will dissipate the longer the battery is disconnected from the voltage source, resulting in the total loss of data.

You need to replace the battery.

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Christmas Name Change » Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:07 pm

That's what I feared.

Thanks for the help!

Now to search for a new one...

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Lastpostamorph » Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:37 pm

A new battery shouldn't be hard, it's just a regular lithium one I think, not some special Nintendo only one. It's replacing it that's the tough part if it's soldered in.

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Christmas Name Change » Wed Oct 01, 2014 9:16 pm

Yeah, I don't back myself to do it adequately. I think gambling on a new one may be the way to go.

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Hyperion » Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:32 pm

I had a problem with a Super Metroid cart and thought that it might be the battery. I bought a gamebit screwdriver and a new battery to fix it but before I replaced the battery I just tightened the screws on the cartridge to see if that worked and it did.
May be worth trying that first.

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PostRe: N64 Controller Pak conundrum
by Green Gecko » Mon Oct 06, 2014 3:15 pm

You can also try cleaning the battery and contacts with isopropyl alcohol.

If there is a mechanism where the battery is actually pressed into place by a plastic mould on the inside of the cartridge, that would explain how tightening the screws can work. Good idea!

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