Dead EarthBound / Adventures in Fixing SNES Games


This is a simple article documenting my adventures with repairing a dead Earthbound SNES game.

The owner reported the game stop booting up.  No graphics and no signs of life. I offered to take a look and attempt repair.









After confirming the game was not functioning I searched for a Donor cart. Often transplanting the ROM (game program) to a new board is simpler than diagnosing and repairing the board.




Earth Bound uses a SHVC-1J3M-20 board. Luckily this board is shared with more common and cheaper games.

Games that use this PCB type:


    Bounty Sword
    Breath of Fire II
    Chrono Trigger
    Dai-4-ji Super Robot Taisen (Super Robot Wars 4)
    Dragon Quest III - Soshite Densetsu e...
    Dragon Quest VI - Maboroshi no Daichi (my version did not match, online database needs updating)
    Earthbound
    Fire Emblem - Seisen no Keifu
    Front Mission
    Gakkou de Atta Kowai Hanashi
    Human Grand Prix IV - F1 Dream Battle
    Illusion of Time
    NHL 97
    Romancing Saga 3 (ロマンシング サ・ガ3)
    Secret of Evermore
    Seiken Densetsu 3 (せいけんでんせつ3, 聖剣伝説3)

As you can see my copy of Dragon Quest was not compatible.  Hopefully this news will help others update the donor database.  All list suggest Dragon Quest VI was a SHVC-1J3M-20.  I had to reorder a new donor cart but this time I selected NHL 97 and it was a perfect match




Next step is to Desolder the ROM chips. Specialized tools are required for this step. This can be difficult for most home hobbyist. 


ROM Removed.


Earthbound ROM soldered onto the NHL 97. Soldering is clean and matches the factory look as much as possible (I'm not a robot)







Next step is testing in the SNES console....








Fixed! Game booted up perfectly!  I rescued a $200+ collectible SNES game with a $5 NHL 97. Awesome!

Later I will replace the old Game Save battery and return this to the owner.  He was trilled to have his game revived.

10 comments:

  1. Wow, that's great. And I mean that.

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  2. Finally a reason to use sports games! ^-^)/

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  3. Long ago I backed up the SRAM on my carts using a chip clip in a Commodore 1541 drive that I added RAM too so I could see the cart data and save it and I even made sure it worked by restoring it. Last longer on a floppy disk.

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    Replies
    1. That's awesome. C64 users always surprise me. So clever with "limited" computing resources.

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  4. This is the only thing vintage sports games are useful for.

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  5. You might be right. I saved the parts anyway.

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  6. I noticed that the other chips like the SRAM, address decoder and CIC have different numbers printed on them. Will that cause any problems in the game? I hear that Earthbound has some anti-piracy measures built into th code. Just yesterday I got a copy of earthbound that does not work. I've cleaned the pins like crazy but still does not work. I am interested in trying this out.

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  7. So if I put a earthbound Rom on a Rom and put it in a nhl 97 pcb it should work?

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