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The Ultimate Original Game Boy (DMG-01) Troubleshooting and Repair Guide

Something wrong with your Game Boy? Let's fix it!
howchoo   (467)
September 28, 2023
15 minutes


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gameboy • 8 guides
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Nobody wants to spend the whole day troubleshooting. Do you have a problem with your hand held?

Nintendo doesn’t offer official support anymore, so we’re stepping up with our own official Gameboy troubleshooting guide! In this guide, we’re taking a look at some of the most common issues to arise from the Nintendo Game Boy.

1 – Game Boy shell is damaged

How it happens

Shell damage is often caused by natural wear and tear. Game Boys were made to be mobile, so it’s common to find scrapes, scratches, dents, and much more on the outer shell.

How to fix it

The Game Boy shell can be removed to be cleaned with warm water and dish soap. If the damage is beyond something you can fix yourself, it might be necessary to replace the shell completely.

Head over to our Game Boy shell replacement guide to get started!

How to replace an original Game Boy shell
In this guide, I’ll be updating a back-lit Game Boy with a yellow Play It Loud shell.

2 – Game Boy buttons are sticky

How it happens

Another common problem with mobile devices is the inevitable build up of grime. This can cause some serious issues with moving parts and is the leading cause of sticky buttons.

How to fix it

You’ll need to open the Game Boy and thoroughly clean the internal components. There are several pieces that need to be addressed, including buttons, contacts, and silicone pads. You can find more information on fixing sticky buttons on your Game Boy here.

How to Fix Sticky Game Boy Buttons
You can’t play anything like this. Let’s fix it!

3 – Game Boy is missing parts

How it happens

It doesn’t take much for something important to wiggle loose and completely out of sight. Some of the most common components to go missing on a Game Boy are link port covers, screws, and battery covers.

How to fix it

Official support for the Game Boy from Nintendo is no longer available. Parts must be replaced from used Game Boys or using third party reproductions. The Game Boy community is alive and well. It’s not hard to find several online retailers with custom parts, components, and shells.

4 – Game Boy screen has scratches

How it happens

Game Boys were released with plastic bezels (the front plate covering the actual screen). This plastic is very sensitive to scuffs and scratches—especially after almost 30 years of gaming.

How to fix it

Scuffed screens can be easily replaced with aftermarket bezels. Vendors offer custom colors, designs, and even tougher materials like glass.

5 – Game Boy screen is hard to see or blurry

How it happens

Game Boy screens are already hard enough to see. Anything that makes it harder isn’t doing us any favors. But if you’re struggling to make out those pixels, it’s not the end of the world!

How to fix it

Make sure of the obvious stuff is out of the way and find yourself a good lamp. It’s impossible to make out a Game Boy display without an appropriate light source. But if lighting isn’t your issue, you may have to look a little deeper.

The Game Boy features a component not found on modern hardware. The contrast can be adjusted with a small wheel found on the side of the device. Use this to adjust the display until you find the perfect resolution.

6 – Game Boy has vertical lines

How it happens

This issue is caused by micro-tears and general breakdown of the display cable wires. This ribbon cable is very delicate. As a result, it’s common to find vertical lines on the display as it breaks down.

How to fix it

The wires can be reheated using a soldering iron. This rebuilds the broken connections and allows display information to pass through again. You can find more information on how to fix Game Boy vertical screen lines here.

7 – Game Boy won’t turn on

How it happens

The most common reason that your Game Boy won’t turn on is due to battery corrosion damage.

This is a common issue for Game Boys that have recently been dug out of storage. Many Game Boys end up in storage with a full pack of batteries. Battery corrosion can cause a multitude of problems if it reaches the internal components.

How to fix it

Battery acid damage does not mean the end of the world for your Game Boy. Most of the time, all you need is a little patience to get the hardware restored. Follow our guide here to learn how to clean the battery contacts on your Game Boy.

8 – Game Boy has no sound

How it happens

If your Game Boy has no audio, the cause is likely due to one of these three components—the speaker, the speaker wires, or the headphone jack. Damage to any of these pieces can cause a complete lack in audio.

How to fix it

It can be tricky to identify the problem component, but each can be resolved by soldering a replacement into the Game Boy.

9 – Game Boy games won’t save

This is actually an issue with the game, not the Game Boy, but it’s easy to fix by replacing the battery in the game. Learn how to fix your Game Boy games that won’t save.

10 – Backlight-modded Game Boy has speaker whine

How it happens

Backlit Game Boys draw a lot of power. This draw can cause a serious strain on the components inside. If you find your backlit Game Boy extra whiny, it’s time to do something about it.

How to Install a Backlight in a Game Boy
You can play your Game Boy in the dark now!

How to fix it

The Game Boy can be upgraded with a specific capacitor to let more power through, reducing whine from the speaker. I wrote an entire guide on how to fix Game Boy speaker whine!

How to Fix Speaker Whining on a Backlit Game Boy
Was that a boop or a beep? I can’t tell—let’s just fix it!

11 – Still having issues?

If none of the fixes below worked for you, post in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to help you out!

12 – Next: Mod your Game Boy

Now that your Game Boy is up to snuff, let’s get to modding!

Ever wanted to play your Game Boy in the dark? Or install a bigger screen or new Game Boy case and buttons? Check out my ultimate Game Boy modding guide!

The Ultimate Original Game Boy Modding Guide
Game Boys are awesome. Let’s make them even better!


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howchoo   (467)
September 29, 2023

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