Heidi over at retro-video-gaming.com is super cool and did a really detailed review of the 1UPcard. Be sure to check out her website! A copy of her review is found below. Enjoy! Isn't her photography awesome? I love it.
The 1 UP Card is an alternative to Q-tips for cleaning retro video game cartridges. I have actually grown quite attached to my Q-tips, I’ve found a brand at my local super market (the more expensive brand) that works great! The stick is stiff and doesn’t bend too easily and they do not generate any fuzz, the cotton merely stays on the Q-tip ^__^ I am however open to try new things! :D So here’s what the 1 UP Kit looks like:
There’s a fluid bottle with 1.25oz of 99% isopropyl alcohol. The dispenser is really neat and easy to use, and it doesn’t create as much of a mess as my giant bottle of alcohol that I usually use. However, I’m afraid it won’t last as long ;D
You also get a 1 UP Card with a fluid side and a dry side for rubbing the connections on the cartridges. On the pic below I’ve wet the fluid side ^_^
So I’ve tried this out! First of all I tried an NES game. The pad and the card fit perfectly. Rubbing was smooth and fast. You got a better grip than with a q-tip and could therefore rub faster. Another benefit is that you managed to get the edges of the pins, which is usually a bit of a drag with a q-tip since it easily falls between the gap at the end of the pins before the plastic.
After this I tried out the Game Boy cartrdige! Here the 1 up card did not fit, I managed to force a corner of it in there, but the 1 up card is still wider than the cartridge. So here it’s still more effective with 1-tips.
Next I tried a Famicom cartridge! This worked perfectly! I think it’s got kind of the same dimensions as an NES cartridge in the space between the pin connector and the plastic.
Then I went on to some heavy duty stuff! I just got 5 really really dirty Neo Geo MVS cartridges of Metal Slug 1 – X in the mail today! The 1 up card was smaller than most of the gaps, but on one particular cartridge the last pin towards the plastic had a really thin gap where I couldn’t reach with the card. Apart from that it went well. Here it was much faster working with the 1 up card than with q-tips. I usually spend around 20 q-tips on one Neo Geo cart…
After these games (1 NES, 1 Famicom and 5 REALLY dirty MVS carts) the card looked like this:
What bugs me with this apart from working with q-tips is that you can’t really tell when the game is thoroughly clean. When I use q-tips I pick a new one until they don’t turn dirty anymore, then I know that the cartridge is as clean as can be. Sometimes it’s enough with 2 q-tips, sometimes I have to work through 20! Here, the 1 up card looks dirty after a while and you won’t know if the new cartridge you’re cleaning is clean enough or not…
After this I picked a new 1 up card because I felt the other one was dirty. On Adam’s site he states that it’s ok, because the dirt goes into the pad and stays in the bottom.. but I still felt like it was dirty, and didn’t wanna rub that extreme MVS dirt onto the other less dirty carts ;D So I went on with a new 1 up card on a Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) cartridge! It worked, but you had to force it down a bit for it to fit.
After this I tried Sega Master System. In the front there was lots of space for the 1 up card to fit, but in the back I had to force it down even more than on the Mega Drive (Genesis) cartridge. It worked though, with some force ;D
Next up was Super Nintendo! Also very tight to fit the 1 up card. Like the back of the Master System. Had to force it in there, but once in it worked.
Then I tried a Nintendo 64 cartridge. A little bit better than SNES, but still tight.
And finally an Atari 2600 cartridge! :D These are difficult as is, since you have to push down the plastic to reveal the pin connectors, but I would say that it’s easier with the 1 up card since you can keep pressing the card down while cleaning to keep the pins exposed. When using q-tips you will have to hold it down simultaneously with your other hand.
After this the second card I had used looked like the picture below (middle card). These latest games I cleaned though were from the collection, however not used in a while, so they’ve been thoroughly cleaned once before, but of course collect more dirt by just hanging around.
After a final super-rub of the first NES cartridge I tried to rub it with a regular q-tip and the alcohol I usually use just to see how clean it was, and below you can see the result. Barely any dirt left ^_^
Now for the final test! 1 up card also states that it removes permanent marker, stickers, and grime from your games. I brought forth NES cartridges with stickers, gooey residue and permanent marker scribbles :D
First up is the sticker on Caveman games! After some rubbing and scraping with my nails I got it off. I do the same with q-tips which works just as well. The benefit with q-tips is that the rubbing surface is smaller, which makes it easier to avoid the actual label sticker on the cartridge (which you want to keep on there ;D). Apart from that it worked fine.
Then onto the old unidentified sticker residue on the back of NES cartridge. This one did not come off! I rubbed for over 5 minutes and scraped it, and nothing happened. If anything, it got a little bit cleaner ;D haha
Then the permanent markings ^_^ These came half way off, they revealed what was written underneath with an apparently more permanent marker! haha ^^ The sticker residue in the bottom came off nicely though. The pad was completely black after this procedure and while rubbing it on the sticker the surface got black smeared all over it.. so I will not re-use this 1 up card for any pin cleaning..
In my opinion the 1 up card is a good product! It’s faster than q-tips and less messy. It’s definitely a more expensive solutions though. I’ve used maybe 1/10th of the fluid only tonight, compared to my big bottle which lasts FOREVER! ;D The 1 up card kit costs $12.95 with one bottle and 1 card, and $15.95 with 3 cards and a bottle. Refill cards (set of three) costs $9.95. So it’s still not super expensive, for a small collector this is definitely a great and simple solution to cleaning your games! For me though, who get games in the mail almost on a daily basis, it would not be cost effective (especially not with shipping to Sweden) ;D
Something that was nice is that I didn’t have to re-wet the fluid part of the card, it stayed moist for the entire test! This saves time compared to dipping q-tips every 30 seconds…
I really liked the packaging of the product and it works with almost all retro game cartridges, you can tell that it’s based on the NES though, which it fit perfectly in. Unfortunately not with the Game Boy games though, but these are so fast and easily cleaned with a q-tip anyway so it doesn’t really matter.
I will save and continue using my kit for my Neo Geo games! Here the kit was a major time saver and q-tip saver ;D haha ^_^
There are many methods to approach game cleaning. In this post I take a look at some of the most traditional methods, as well as a couple vintage throwbacks.
This is the most common method for cleaning old game cartridges. Dip a cotton swab in some rubbing alcohol and you're good to go. Some of the things I discovered about using Q-tips when I got back in to retro gaming:
- They bend easily.
- Sometimes they leave fuzz on the game contacts.
- Poor surface area contact.
- I worry about spilling the bottle of rubbing alcohol on my floor or furniture.
- I have a pile of garbage next to me when I'm done.
Some of the advantages are that they are good for getting into corners and de-gunking hard to reach spots. Read more about why I don't like using q-tips to clean my games here
Nintendo Nes Security 3 Tool Video Game Cartridge Cleaning Kit
This is a kit which is currently sold on eBay and Amazon. It comes with security bits which can be used to open your cartridge games. I've found that in order to get a game in playable condition it isn't necessary to open the cartridge. (However, if you are a collector and want to restore your games from the inside out, security bits are how you do it. You can pick them up for a couple bucks on eBay.)
This kit comes with an ammonia-based cleaning paste that you wipe onto your game's electronics. Once it dries, you wipe it off with the provided paper towel. (The kit really comes with a disposable paper towel!) Then you use the spray (whose contents are not disclosed) to wash off any remaining residue.
I think the disadvantages to using this kit are:
- Ammonia smells really bad.
- You don't know what is in the spray bottle.
- The cleaning process is neither simple nor quick.
This product is early 90's vintage. It comes with a console cleaner and a cleaning wand for the cartridges. I'm not sure what's in the cleaning fluid, but it does say that it's isopropyl-alcohol based. The kit was made by Pfantone and is no longer in production. They had a kit for NES, SNES and Sega Genesis.
High Frequency Cartridge Cleaning Kit
This is another vintage kit also no longer in production. The cleaning pads appear to be mole-skin adhered onto a large card. I'm not sure what the cleaner was made from.
The newest and cleanest method for cleaning old games. It consists of high-quality, durable, felt pads permanently adhered to a rigid card the same size as your driver's license. The fluid is the most pure isopropyl alcohol you can find on the market, 99%.
The kit cleans games for Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, N64, Atari and more. It's super simple and super fast.
Available for purchase here.
Read about some of the other ways the 1UPcard can help your retro gaming cleaning needs here.
What's better for cleaning cartridge game contacts? Cotton swabs or the 1Upcard?
The 1UPcard provides considerably more surface area contact than cotton swabs, resulting in a quicker clean. The durable cleaning pad also retains more alcohol. No more dipping qtips repeatedly.
Cotton swabs are prone to leaving fuzz on your game contacts. If you don't pick it all out, you've introduced stray fibers into your pin connector.
Which one would you rather use?
If you love using cottons swabs to clean games, the 1UPcard is not for you. Would you rather be playing your games than cleaning them? The 1UPcard is your quickest route back to perfect pixels.
When I got back into retrogaming I did a lot of research about how to clean games. Brasso, windex, pencil erasers. There was a lot of info out there, much of it conflicting. However, I did notice that q-tips and rubbing alcohol seemed to be the most widely accepted method. So that's how I started. The cotton swabs cleaned the games, but they bent easily and piled up quickly. Sometimes they would leave fuzz on the contacts. So I would sit there and clean a game, but instead of being able to play right away I had to clean up my mess! There's no more of that with the 1UPcard.
When it came to dipping the q-tips into a big bottle of rubbing alcohol I was always concerned with accidentally knocking the bottle over. And I wasn't thrilled about having dirty Q-tips sitting around when all I wanted to do was start gaming. Also, rubbing alcohol will take the finish off of furniture. Just a little bump and I could have had a huge mess. On top of all that, I have three young kids and I didn't want them getting into any of that mess. So whenever I was looking for a dispenser, I wanted something that would slowly dose out the fluid, that had an easy cap, and that wasn't too big. Enter the oval dropper bottle.
I designed the 1UPcard to be mess-free and convenient. It's reusable. It doesn't leave a mess. And it's easy to put away after cleaning up a game. The polypropylene felt pads are durable and long-lasting, even after using it on a batch of games. They may end up not looking too pretty, but the pads actually draw corrosion and grime down into them so the card is still effective.
I hope you love using the 1UPcard to clean your old cartridge games. It works for Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, N64, Atari, Neo Geo MVS and others. If you don't love it, tell me why and I'll work on a solution.
Are you ready to give your vintage games an extra life? Head over to our shop and get ready to game on. Still not convinced? See what others have had to say here.
As an avid retrogamer, I tend to baby my games, especially my longtime favorites. This practice of cleaning my games with the 1UPcard will give my games extended life. I want to sustain my games so that I can see my son, Felix's eyes light up when he beats Bowser for the first time. Pay no attention to that iPad, boy, this here's a real game! (See our post about the best games for little kids)
Before playing I use my 1UPcard and 1UPcard fluid to clean off any corrosion on the game cartridges. I have found this is the quickest way to commence gaming - no blinking light, no trips to the medicine closet for Qtips, and no garbage. With the 1UPcard it's just a few swipes and done! The 1UPcard works for NES, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Atari, N64 and more!
Sometimes I get to combine my gaming nerdity with my passion for woodworking. I created this arcade cabinet piggy bank using an ink-transfer method.
Made in the USA by hand in any cabinet of your choice for $49.95. Let me know if you want one here.
The nostalgia of retro. The beauty of wood. I make real and digital wooden images in the artwork form called marquetry. Visit my marquetry website at www.lignapix.com
Prints available for $49.95. One of a kind, hand-cut marquetry wooden portraits $449.95 and up. Contact Adam here.
We love our house. Built in the 60's, situated between Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan, our quaint home is just enough for our family of four. However, it doesn't leave room for a dedicated game room. So my retro gaming haven also happens to be the living room. Here's how I have the consoles set up in a practical way that lets me game when I can, and keeps my wife happy.
(That's our little boy Felix. My wife fashioned our cable-hiding TV "umbilical cord")
I recently got a 8-in, 1-out AV switch. It really made the difference. I also had to buy AV cords for my Genesis and SNES since the outputs I had were RF. Now its as easy as the push of a button to switch between consoles and our DVD player.
The cabinet we got from Ikea does a really nice job of containing the consoles and games, as well as a drawer of accessories, controllers, cord extensions, and of course, the 1UPcard which I use to clean my games.
The design of the 1UPcard is themed after my favorite Mario game, Super Mario Bros 2. I bought a T-shirt bearing the likeness of the cover of the game. Excellent.
I have several other T-shirts on my wishlist including Goonies II, Contra, Kid Chameleon, and Kung Fu. Then a Super Mario hat....
Which consoles did you have growing up? Who were the friends you played with? I bet you remember their room or their basement where you played, the console they had that you didn't, or the games you would lend or borrow.
I had a Sega and a NES (and I actually still own and play the original consoles from my childhood), but I went to my friend Bill's house to play Super Nintendo. We'd play Street Fighter II and take turns at Sim City among other games. I still don't know what she meant by "reticulating splines"...
Well tonight, my Sega and NES have a new friend. The SNES I bought a couple days ago on eBay just arrived. The seller did a great job of packaging the system. And the one I got hasn't been subject to the notorious yellowing that many of the SNES' have suffered from.
I'm excited to take it for a spin! Only problem is, the only game it came with was Monopoly...
I think tomorrow I'm going to go to the local trade-in shop here in town and see if he will trade me some 1UPcards for some SNES games. That way, I'll get some games, he'll get something new to sell, and local gamers will have a better way of cleaning their malfunctioning cartridge games.
Here is the seller's item listing. Delivered as promised:
What makes a game "kid-friendly"? What games have you introduced your kids to? How old were they? Leave us some feedback! And be sure to give your game the best clean with the 1UP card so the next generation can game on.
- Super Mario Bros., NES
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sega Genesis
- Megaman 2, NES
- Super Mario World, Super Nintendo
- Super Mario 3, NES
- Super Mario Kart, Super Nintendo
- Disney's Aladdin, Sega Genesis
- Ecco the Dolphin, Sega Genesis
Games where you can't die (perfect for the really young!)
- Excitebike, NES
- Rad Racer 2, NES