Nintendo Game and Watch - Octopus (1981)

21 August 2018

I was looking for something in the garage yesterday, and rediscovered this sitting in my junk pile. It's a 1981 Nintendo Game & Watch - Octopus game. This was mine as a kid. At some point decades ago, it stopped working. I'd tried new batteries, but no luck.

I decided to give it a more thorough looking at. New batteries didn't help, but I noticed that if I put pressure on the corners of the case, it would beep and flash the display briefly. Time to disassemble.

Note the green capacitor in the left corner of that last image. It should have been seated in the empty space, but instead has been bent up and sandwiched between the board and the back of the case. That's what was getting shorted or disconnected when pressure was applied to the corner. A bit of de-soldering, bending into correct position, and some fresh solder, and it fired right up!

None of the buttons were working, so I scraped the contacts a bit and found that they were covered in some sort of oxidising junk. Cleaned them all off, and the buttons now work too.

A quick photo of the chip inside, then it was time to put it back together. It worked!

Seeing as I got it working, I thought I could clean it up a bit. The front panel has a bit of damage, so not much can be done there. The screen is pretty scratched up, and it looks like younger me must have decided to paint the octopus' eyes at some point. The plastic front of the screen comes out easily, so I pulled it all apart a 2nd time, cut a nice clean piece of plastic to replace the dirty one, and the put it back together again.

Of course, now it stopped working completely. #$*!!!

Back to troubleshooting for about half an hour, but nothing seemed to be working. The voltage seemed OK from the batteries, the capacitors had good voltage, but nothing on the screen.

To add to my troubleshooting woes, I found out at this point that the tiny little metal buttons come out, and will fall on the floor. Searching with a torch for 5 minutes found one underneath a nearby stereo, and another about a metre away behind some storage bins.

Back to the main issue. Eventually I noticed that there was something on the screen, if I looked at it on a funny angle with the light just right. Waaaaiiiit a minute. LCD screens. They have some sort of polarising filter. I knew that. AAARRRGGHHH.

The dirty piece of plastic that I'd removed and replaced was actually a polarising filter, that the LCD needs to be visible.

Put the dirty plastic back in, and hey, it is all working again.

It's all now working great, and I was able to sit down and play it for what must be the first time in about 30? years. Score of 304 straight off, which was hilarious, as my 11 year old had a go and got a total of 4. At last, a video game that I can beat him at!