Commanding an army of ancient machines can be a lot of fun. Maintaining them... not so much. For the most part, they don't really require a whole lot of attention. They're plugged in and ready to go whenever, but they don't recieve anywhere near as much use as they did in their hey-dey. So, in theory, you'd think they'd last indefinitely, but you'd be wrong.

Unfortunetely, the laws of nature dictates that all things must march on towards a state of entrhopy, a law that technology is not inherently immune to. Sometimes stuff just doesn't work. One month you're playing your Dreamcast without any issues, then next month you're got it upside down with a towel wrapped around it with a book inbetween. There's no real law to it and a million reasons why it might not work. Stuff happens.

When something does go wrong, I've found that the problem tends to fall into one of three stages of broken. The higher up it goes... the worst it gets.

STAGE 1: Game is Busted - The first go-to check on a old console that's not working is to try another game. More often than not it's the game, not the system, that's giving you problems. Sometimes you can fanagle something, but almost always this means your game is dead. Not fun, but sometimes preferable to a dead console

STAGE 2: Cords are Busted - If the games clearly aren't the problem, the next stage involves praying that it's just a console's power adapter or A/V cord that's the problem. This isn't as unusual as you think - I've lost a couple power adapters over the years, and have had some A/V fail on me. Usually it's not a big problem to replace, although some of the more unusual systems may give you trouble. However, often times you'll find that certain systems share components with each other - the Sega Master System and the Genesis share the same A/V and RF cords, and the Virtual Boy has the exact same power adapter as the Super Nintendo.

STAGE 3: System is Dead - This one hurts. Sometimes your system is just dead. You can attempt surgery, and you might have some luck with older systems, but often times there's no clear indicator of what the problem is. Some systems also change their hardware over time - I have three different Dreamcasts and none of them look the same on the inside. When system failure does occur, most often the only result is complete replacement.

My Atari 2600's been on the fritz the last couple months and finally bought it. It's the third system I've had to replace (2 Dreamcasts, 2 360s) , and while I'm not thrilled about it, it's a pretty good track record all things considered. A funeral may be held sometime soon, we'll see. I have to decide on a replacement first. I had a jr. model, so I might opt to get one of the more classic, boxier versions manufactured by pot smoking hippies. Or I might delay a 2600 replacement and finally get a 7800 (which is backwards compatabile).

Either way, hitting Stage 3? Always a bummer, but I think the fun of having a console army on hand more then makes up for it.

Posted by Kevin on 6:55 PM


Colure said...

1. You have to post a few of the pictures of you and Josh taking it apart...
2. You still need to get a 7800!

Kevin said...

Agreed on both counts!

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