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Over the years, Nintendo has developed and released various iterations of Game Boy, its popular handheld video game system. This journey began with the original Game Boy portable console in 1989. Since then, the company has developed new versions of this gaming device, including different accessories, custom shells, and new titles.
Our post today will focus on the Game Boy. However, the various topics we cover here could apply to the gaming system’s successor, the Game Boy Color, just as well. Although the original Game Boy is the second handheld console Nintendo released, it is one of the most famous versions of this gaming system. Further, gamers enjoyed its robust shell, long battery life, and wide range of game titles.
Despite the praise it received, the Game Boy also has its share of criticisms. One of those is not being as advanced as its competing consoles from other developers. Yet, the portable device has become a cultural icon in the gaming world.
It received different version updates, and Nintendo continued to produce it even after releasing new models that succeeded it. For this article, we will discuss Game Boy cartridge save issues.
Why Do Game Boy Games Stop Saving?
Before we get into why Game Boy games stop saving game progress as they go on, it may be helpful to contrast these titles with some more modern ones.
Many of today’s handheld consoles feature internal system memory chips. Depending on how each company develops this technology, the memory inside the unit can store saved data.
Most of the memory cards you can get for consoles today should be able to save your progress for many games all at once. Then, when you load a game online or offline, you can access your saved data. Further, you can keep this data even if you lose the physical cartridge.
Original Game Boy games function a bit differently, however. With a Game Boy title, each cartridge has a tiny battery of its own inside it. This battery connects to a chip and needs to maintain power to track and save data.
Typically, this battery could last for a while, and Game Boy users would be able to enjoy many of their favorite titles for years. However, like all batteries, these cartridge-based ones would discharge completely over long periods. Once done, the games themselves could no longer save progress data.
While the battery plays a significant role here, it may not be the only component preventing a particular Game Boy title from saving your game progress. It is the most likely to wear out over time, but all Game Boy cartridges have some circuitry inside them to help them run.
Theoretically, these circuits or delicate components could get damaged over time. Similarly, they may fail simply due to age, rendering the cartridge unusable.
How Do You Fix a Game Boy Game That Won’t Save?
There are a few things you might be able to try to fix in Game Boy games that seem to stop saving your progress. However, before we get into them, it is essential to understand that there aren’t any solutions if the battery expires.
We may be able to find ways to restore some of a dead battery’s functionality or prolong that battery’s longevity. However, all Game Boy cartridges hardware needs battery power to save and restore game progress. That said, there are a few tweaks you might be able to use to fix one of your cartridges.
Get a New Battery
This process is somewhat technical and may not be possible for every Game Boy owner. It involves removing the old battery and soldering a new one to restore its save capabilities. Also, you will need a particular type of battery.
Furthermore, they need to have special tabs on them already when you get them. It is the only way to ensure the batteries will sit inside the Game Boy case properly. Even if some readers can do this, keep in mind that taking a Game Boy game cartridge apart can be challenging. So does putting them back together.
As with many game companies today, Nintendo did not like the idea of players taking apart the original handheld Game Boy cartridges. So you can open the case but do so gently and carefully.
Failure to follow these guidelines may damage more than just the dead battery inside the video game. If you cause damage to other parts of the hardware, the cartridge may fail to boot once you replace the battery.
- Each Game Boy cartridge has a security bit on the back that keeps the casing in place. First, you’ll need to remove this bit.
- Once you do, you can slide the case down to expose the motherboard, which you will also remove from its housing.
- Using a soldering iron and tweezers, you can heat and remove the old battery.
- You should be able to install a new battery in reverse order.
- Close the cartridge case.
Use a Secondary Saving Method
Some accessories allow you to save your Game Boy game progress. In most cases, these will not be actual game saves like the ones the cartridge would make for itself. Instead, these data files hold game progress in the proper format.
If your Game Boy is not saving, the battery for the cartridge is the issue. To get around this without losing progress, you can make a backup. Once you do that, you’ll need to replace the battery using steps similar to those we covered above.
After that, you can restore your save progress utilizing the backup. There are also computer programs you can use for this job. These cartridge reader applications can pull data from the game as a .sav file and store it for later.
Do Game Boy Games Contain Batteries?
Yes. All Game Boy cartridges have batteries. The same goes for all games Nintendo licensed for its handheld console. The purpose of the batteries is to keep track of in-game events or time changes. These changes can alter how the story progresses for a player’s character, so the battery will monitor how much time passes in the game.
How Long Do Game Boy Save Batteries Last?
There is no definite rule for how long a Game Boy game’s save batteries might last. We can provide some rough estimates of the length of time you might be able to expect, but several factors influence battery life.
For example, how much one uses the cartridge, particularly if they need to keep saving data, can impact how long the battery might last.
When Game Boy cartridge batteries are not saving data to the memory, they are almost inactive. And they discharge extremely little energy when they are not in use, which should be true even over long periods.
Further, the quality of the batteries makes a big difference in how long they last. If a cartridge has low-quality batteries, it may last no more than a couple of years before experiencing some failure to save data.
Older Game Boy game cartridges use a small internal battery that might last approximately ten years under normal circumstances. They might fail sooner, but most could last longer than their life date.
Additionally, some of the later titles Nintendo released for the Game Boy used a different battery for their cartridges. These might last up to four decades or so under normal use. However, there are still exceptions, so you should check game cartridges to find out which type of battery they use.
Do Game Boy Color Games Need Batteries?
Yes. Game Boy Color games use small, internal batteries that save game progress. Much like its predecessor, the battery keeps track of your games.
What Happens To Save Files After Replacing a Game Boy Battery?
Typically, you will lose your saved files once you remove the internal cartridge battery and replace it with a new one. However, the earlier tips we mentioned can help you back up your data. Once you replace the battery, you should be able to restore that data and get back to the last saved game you had.
Game Boy games are very convenient to carry around because of their size. In addition, these game cartridges have batteries that save your game progress. However, you’ll lose that information once the battery dies, but it could happen decades later as they’re designed to last. So making a backup file can help keep your data intact.