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Unlicensed NES TENGEN Cartridges

By Edited Apr 3, 2016 0 0

When the NES's popularity was at its peak, everyone was scrambling to grab onto Nintendo's coattails and make a buck wherever they could. Many third party companies produced NES games, and some of these companies (most notably TENGEN) didn't want to pay Nintendo's licensing fees or make games that were up to Nintendo's quality standards. One of these games is Vindicators.

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As you can see, the cartridge looks very different from the standard NES game packs. Since the cartridges are not Nintendo approved, sometimes they don't work too well, so these often need to be thoroughly cleaned before they work.

Things You Will Need

1. Plastic Scraper (Your thumbnail will work in a pinch)
2. Heat gun or hair dryer
3. #10 Torx bit
4. Windex
5. Goo Gone or similar product
6. Soft cloth rag (I use a t-shirt)
7. Scrubber

Step 1

These games aren't made by Nintendo, so you won't need Nintendo's 3.8mm security bit to open them up. Most TENGEN cartridges use a #10 Torx bit. After you take out the two bottom screws, you may be dismayed to find that it still won't open. This is because there is a third screw hidden under the back label. Unfortunately, you'll have to punch through or remove the label to access it.


Be careful when opening and closing these cartridges, the clips at the top are a little trickier than the regular NES clips.

Step 2

Once you've got it apart, it's pretty much the same routine you use for licensed games. Clean out the plastic shell with windex and a cloth or cotton ball, scrub the contacts on both sides, let it dry, and reassemble.

Step 3

Now that it's back together, let's take another look at the outside.


This cartridge has the remains of a price sticker on the label, so we'll have to get rid of that.

Step 4

Get out a hair dryer or heat gun and use it to warm the price sticker for about 25-30 seconds. This will weaken the sticker's bond with the label.

Step 5

After you've heated it up, use a soft plastic scraper to get under the sticker. You can use your thumbnail if you have to. If it gets too hard to get under the sticker, then you'll have to heat it up again.


Step 6

Once the sticker itself is gone, there is probably still some goo on the label.


We can't use goo gone or any other solvents because they will ruin the label, so we'll have to do it the hard way. Put your thumb on the gooey spot, apply firm pressure, and rub away from the label. The adhesive will start to gum up and move to the plastic. It usually takes a good while to get all the goo from the label onto the plastic, and you'll start to get a friction burn on your thumb if you go too quickly


Step 7


Now that the goo is on the plastic instead of the label, you can use goo gone to get rid of it.

Use a soft cloth (I use an old t-shirt) to apply the goo gone. Be careful to keep the label dry.


And there you go, no more goo! Ok, now we're finally done cleaning the damn thing, so let's pop it in and see if it works.

Yep! There it is in all its glory. From the look of it, it seems like it should be an Atari game. The gameplay certainly doesn't look as cool as the label. It's really hard too. Your tank can only shoot about a foot in front of it, and you barely have enough fuel to get through the level.

Also, what kind of tank needs to pick up keys? Terrible, terrible game. I looked up the value of the game just for fun, and it's worth $0.01. I think we know why Nintendo didn't license "Vindicators."

Anyway, that's how to get your unlicensed TENGEN cartridge working. The sticker removal method will work on licensed games as well.

Tips & Warnings

Don't put goo gone on the label.
Don't stab yourself with a screwdriver.
Make sure it's completely dry before you use it.
Don't give yourself friction burns.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: Don't spend more than $0.01 on "Vindicators."


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