NES Game Saves: Nearing Extinction?


Everybody feels a bit of nostalgia at times. For many the NES was one of our first real gaming consoles.  The love affair we had with it provided many hours of late night rendezvous and satisfying weekends.

As the nostalgia overcomes you, the butterflies in your stomach glide you to the shelf that has collected a base of dust.  the frowny face hastily drawn on the boxy beautifulness. Thoughts of our days spent with Lolo and Lala traversing the labyrinths of Egger’s castle or how you traded Ultima: Quest of the Avatar for Joust  (quite frankly the dumbest video game trade of all time) race in your mind.

The urge overpowers you and you hastily press the power button.  Your heart jumps a beat when the screen loads and the Zelda splash screen smiles back at you!  You forgot that you were replaying the game with the intent of setting your foot on every accessible spot of land.  Then you realize your save game is gone.  Your heart plummets in your chest.  Anxiety takes over and you contemplate taking it out on your little brother.

What happened to your save game?  It appears the little watch type battery in your cartridge finally bit the dust.  We are upon a sad time in Nintendo history.

According to Nintendo, the battery should last approximately 20 years, however there have been reports of the batteries lasting much longer.  It seems that the battery life is connected to the amount the game is played.  The more it was played and save data was created, the shorter the battery life. For those of us that love to replay the classics, this can be horrible!  How can we brag about our High Scores in T&C Surf Designs Hacky Sack competition!

Although the death of the battery also means the deletion of your saved game and scores, it does not mean that the cartridge is ruined.  There are a couple of options.  the first is to simply play the game without a save file.  Sure, you have to play through in one marathon sitting, but didn’t we used to do that anyway?  Now that we have fancy camera phones and this thing called the internet we can take pictures and post them on sites such as this one!

Another option is to replace the battery.  Sure this will technically void the warranty but let’s be honest, the games are no longer under warranty anyway.  The process is fairly simple.  First you carefully pry open the cartridge.  Second you remove the battery.  Third, you scour your local battery supplier for the correct size battery.  Finally, you reinsert the new battery and closeup the cartridge.


Do you have any horror stories of lost save games?  Have you attempted to replace the batteries yourself?  Do you just want to brag about an epic accomplishment?  Feel free to comment below!


Essel Pratt has spent his life exploring his imagination and dreams. As a Husband and a Father, he doesn't have as much time to write as he would like. However, his mind is always plotting out his next story. Someday he hopes to quit the 9-5 grind and focus on writing full time. Currently, Essel has three published short stories and is working on a handful of novels. Essel focuses his writings on mostly Horror/Sci-Fi, however is known to add a dash of other genres into his writings as well. In his spare time, he can be found playing one of the 40+ video game consoles in his collection, especially his Wii U (NNID: EsselPratt). Click the links below to follow Essel's exploits in the writing world, and be sure to follow his blog at as well as his articles on