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jahfish

Videogamers' Medical Check: Atari Diseases!

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let's find out what can hit your consoles and games over the years ... and feel free to add any "disease" that you're missing in the list

 

 

 

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BITROT: The code of a game is electrically charged onto ROMs/EPROMs and supposedly will fade away after 10-100 years. An EPROM can also become partially erased due to extreme changes in temperature, long term exposure to light, or static shock. When Bit Rot occurs, a game usually becomes unusable or suffers from corrupted graphics or other errors. Bit Rot is rare, but does happen. Specially EPROMs can suffer from Bit Rot naturally as they were not meant to be a permanent form of storage.

Some EPROM chips have the logic level 0 rising to "0.something" as time goes by: In this case, bitrot can be "healed" by lowering the power supply of the integrated circuit thus off-setting the logic 0 back to the valid electrical level. But this remedy is only recommended for experience cartridge doctors.

 

 

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ACTIPLAQUE: Actiplaque is a mottling of dark blotches that tends to appear on the labels of older video game cartridges due to the gradual discoloration of the glue used to affix the cartridge labels. It has been known to appear on the labels of games for various systems and made by various manufacturers, but is notoriously and most commonly found on Atari 2600 game cartridges manufactured by Activision, hence the name. Actiplaque has proven to be a major headache for collectors as most seek cartridges in mint condition, yet most Activision cartridges have light to severe blotching. It is reportedly caused by the combination of glue and paper used for the cartridge labels: the re-liquification of the glue and it's corrosion from oxygen softens it up and makes it sublimate into the label - giving the dark mottled appearance. It also has been theorized that exposure to light and moisture either causes or accelerates the development of actiplaque, but it has been observed even on newly opened factory-sealed games and it is unknown what, if anything, can be done to prevent it. Removing the glue from the label would probably restore the color. That means removing the glue from within the paper fibers and between the fibers and label painting, as well as the backside of the label.

 

actiplaque.jpg

 

 

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SHRINK-CONTUSION: Collectible games have a higher value if they are still sealed, so many collectors keep their games sealed with the shrinkwrap. But after the years, shrinkwrap sometimes tends to shrink even more and cause structural damage to the box that it is supposed to protect. This specially happens with Atari's red boxes, Mattel games and some others. The cause for this is unsure, but some collectors claim that cutting a small slit into the shrinkwrap helps releasing the tension, so that the box doesn't get crushed.

 

 

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ACCUMULITIS is a grunginess caused by the accumulation of food particles, soda, beer, and other substances in the speaker grill and cartridge slot. After some time, it dires out, mixes with the normal dust and then becomes a permanent hard solid which is hard to get rid of. there is many ways to get rid of accumulitis though: taking apart the console to clean it with water and soap, rubbing with alcohol and a Q-tip or using products like Goo-Gone, D-Solvit, WD-40, Armor All (be carefull with the use of the A-Word on the AtariAge Forum). You can also completely take apart the console and give it a shower if your console has a really severe case of accumulitis. Do not be scared of spiders and bugs you might find inside the console: usually , they've already been dead for a decade or two.

 

 

00dirt.jpg

 

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RESETIVISM AND SWITCH AMPUTATIONS: once you got addicted to a game and you're trying to reach a certain level or score, you will need all available lives to reach your goal (Kaboom is a good example). This might drive you nuts in some games, and will cause you to press the reset switch on and on and on. The repetitious pressing of the Reset switch will at some point cause the gradual wearing of it, and eventually you will even break the switch, as these switches are only made of plastic. Missing switches can possibly be glued back onto their place, but most of the time they will be replaced by a small screw (see picture).

 

 

resetivism_small.jpg

 

 

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ATARITHRITIS: There are different forms of Atarithritis; each has a different cause. The most common form of arthritis, is when joysticks break along the joints inside. Emerging evidence suggests that abnormal gameplay might contribute to the early development of Atarithritis Decathlonitis, usually occuring with games like Decathlon or Summer Games. Other forms of Atarithritis are occuring when the contacts of the stick start having malfunctions, or when cables get stiff and are breaking up.

Treatment options vary depending on the type of Atarithritis and include glueing, cleaning, part replacements and the use of joystick repair kits.

 

 

00stick.jpg

 

 

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FRY'S SYNDROME: Another classic problem is the power switch failure, either because of the power unit itself, because of moisture, rust, bad solder joints or because the cables simply break on the inside. The treatment is very easy though: just go to your local electronics supply store and get a new universal 9V DC power unit. They usually come with a few different exchangeable plugs and will fit in your old console.

 

 

00fried.jpg

 

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IMPORTRITIS: Since pirated games and consoles became highly collectible and american collectors buy european consoles and vice versa, new forms of the Fry's Syndrome have appeared. the most common ones are Importritis Stepdownitis, a weakness mostly observed in the USA, when european 220V power unit are used in regions commected to a 110V power net and the console simply won't start. It is a relatively harmless problem though, unlike Importritis Blasteristis, caused by the use of 110V power units in 240V regions. this disease can cause serious damage to the power unit, to the console PCB, to the gamer and even to it's housing. In extreme cases the disease can even be deadly. But there is some simple precautions that can be taken to always avoid such problems. Simply read the label on the power unit and make sure you are using the right one.

 

 

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STO-RASH: a disease that refers to label scuffing and badly stored cartridges. It happens especially on silver Atari, Spectravision, Data Age and Imagic labels. No cure has yet been found and we recommend acquiring a new cartridge with an intact label. there are protection measures that can be taken for intact labels though: the use of small ziplock bags for valuable cartridges is generally showing really good results wen collecting loose cartridges. Another solution is storing cartridges in vintage cartridge binders.

 

 

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STEALOPHOBIA: Initiated by panic attacks from cartridge owners, this disease results in Atari carts that spontaneously bear the name "TOMMY" in permanent ink on their label. Since this disease was first discovered in the seventies, it has mutated and meanwhile all kinds of names can be found on the labels.

 

 

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let me know if you can think of any other "diseases" ... or if you would add any information / "disease-name" / pictures, etc .... I'll be regularly updating this thread ...

Edited by jahfish
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Is there a term for the tendency for the Atari joystick to break along the joints inside?

 

maybe "Decathlonitis" ...

 

Decathlon was a classic joystick breaker ... any other games that come to your mind that would quickly use up joysticks?

 

summer games also deserves a place in the list ...

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Resetivism: The gradual wearing of the Reset switch due to repetitious, often angry resetting during gameplay.

 

Accumulitis: Grunginess caused by accumulation of dust, food particles, soda, beer, and other substances in the speaker grill and cartridge slot.

 

Fry's Syndrome: Power switch failure.

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Resetivism: The gradual wearing of the Reset switch due to repetitious, often angry resetting during gameplay.

 

My brother's term for this was "cheating." Except for when he did it. arghgghh...

 

My mother came up with "video finger." How did this come about? Well, one day after I played a lot of Atari stuff (especially Donkey Kong), I noticed that there were parts of skin near my fingernail that were actually transparent (hard to explain, but I didn't realize as a 9-year-old that it's perfectly normal, right where the side of the finger meets the edge of the fingernail), and I asked my mom (a registered nurse) if it was anything I should worry about. That's when she fed me the BS: "That's something we call 'video finger,' which happens after playing video games for too long." This is the same mother who also told me that the arcade at Sears (Inky and Sandy -- this was the Sears in Meadowview Shopping Center) closed down because some kid got brain damage from playing video games. Of course, I found out that was a lie when I went there several months later and saw that the arcade was STILL THERE (and found that the Robotron machine would play without putting a quarter in!)...

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I think Atarithritis would be better :) and yea thats perfect, the way those little plastic inserts snap...

 

the shrink thing happens when u have a cart that is actually air-tight and the contusion is due to pressure changes over time.

 

One that I hate is decapitius, the way many atari carts will loose their head over time (the front label falls off/disappears,)

 

Also there needs to be a word for what happens to the imagic silver carts,

 

like Imagi-Tarnish or something :)

 

and how about those damn screw-hole dimples that ruin otherwise perfect labels? Crateritis? :)

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Also there needs to be a word for what happens to the imagic silver carts,

 

like Imagi-Tarnish or something :)

 

and how about those damn screw-hole dimples that ruin otherwise perfect labels? Crateritis? :)

 

Epidermal Decay?

 

Surgical Scars?

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BITROT: The code of a game is electrically charged onto ROMs/EPROMs and supposedly will fade away after 10-100 years.

...

Specialy EPROMs can suffer from Bit Rot naturally as they were not meant to be a permanent form of storage.

 

Interesting point, Fish!

 

What happens to an EPROM chip as time goes by is that logic level 0 rises to "0.something". BITROT in this case can be "healed" by lowering the power supply of the integrated circuit thus off-setting the logic 0 back to the valid electrical level. I believe (not tested) that a diode serially conected to Vcc would do the job allowing you to copy the content of the memory at least. Yes BITROT does happen! :)

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Ring Cracks: Tendency for circular cracks to appear around solder joints on any game or system board over time.

Drowning: Tendency of games to show water damage after being wet for extended periods, as in a flood.

Stickiness: No, not the gunky stuff you clean off, rather, the tendency of dust doors to resist closing once they are opened.

Kidnapping: What happens to a cart when it's acquired by a reseller.

Cloning: What happens to a cart when acquired by someone with an EPROM burner or, in the case of Starpath games, a shoebox recorder.

Mauling: Pertains only to rare and fun Starpath games, usually Dragonstomper. Happens when shoebox recorder (above) malfunctions. Other wise known as "eating tapes". Affected largely by Murphy's Law.

Heat damage: Occurs during frustrating gaming sessions. Result of microwaving games out of sheer anger. Also results from overuse of the heat gun to remove labels afflicted with road rash or Actiplaque.

Road Rash: Refers to scuffing on silver Atari and Imagic labels.

Tattos: Phenomenon in which Atari carts spontaneously bear the name "TOMMY" in permanent ink.

Lacerations: Refers to long cuts found in otherwise pristine (and rare) game boxes.

Amputations: Refers to boxes, manuals, or even cart with missing pieces.

Concussion: Refers to carts with piece rattling around inside. Tends to happen to Title Match Pro Wrestling. See also "Ring Cracks" above.

Death: Condition in which said item, be it hardware, controller, or game, simply refuses to work no matter how many times you try to bring it back to life.

Brain Death: Similar to Death above, only in this case the ROM chip on the cart is dead while the labels, shell, and board are all in mint shape. Tends to happen only to games you really want to play. See also "Bit Rot" above, except this does not pertain to EEPROMS.

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i've updated a few things ... and i'm looking for a nice picture of a real dirty sticky console and of a shinkwrapped game with damage ... pics anyone?

Edited by jahfish

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How about "Pac Man Elbow", which was actually used for awhile to describe a carpal-tunnel-like malady from playing Pac-Man too much.

 

Also, over the years I've found many cartridges that, for some strange reason, have bite-marks in the plastic. It's not exactly a disease, but it is a condition ("fetchtoomuchis"?)

 

Then, there are all those carts that have someone's name written on the label with a Sharpie... ("vandalosis")

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Okay, here's something that needs a term...

 

A couple of years ago I saw that my 2600 was dusty, so I took some alcohol and paper towels and cleaned the console...and some really nasty yellow gunk came off: I had forgotten that my Atari had been exposed to cigarette smoke for years before my mother forbade him from smoking in the house! Yuk!!!! So...is there a term for old tobacco smoke stains coming up 23 years later during a cleaning???

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Okay, here's something that needs a term...

 

A couple of years ago I saw that my 2600 was dusty, so I took some alcohol and paper towels and cleaned the console...and some really nasty yellow gunk came off: I had forgotten that my Atari had been exposed to cigarette smoke for years before my mother forbade him from smoking in the house! Yuk!!!! So...is there a term for old tobacco smoke stains coming up 23 years later during a cleaning???

 

Yeah, emphysixema.

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Also, over the years I've found many cartridges that, for some strange reason, have bite-marks in the plastic. It's not exactly a disease, but it is a condition ("fetchtoomuchis"?)

 

I've seen lots of joysticks with bite marks on the top, which makes some vague sense... watching someone else playing, chew on the joystick while you're waiting. I've never seen a cart with bite marks, though... I guess it must be pets, cause surely people never chewed carts.

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Okay, here's something that needs a term...

 

A couple of years ago I saw that my 2600 was dusty, so I took some alcohol and paper towels and cleaned the console...and some really nasty yellow gunk came off: I had forgotten that my Atari had been exposed to cigarette smoke for years before my mother forbade him from smoking in the house! Yuk!!!! So...is there a term for old tobacco smoke stains coming up 23 years later during a cleaning???

 

Yeah, emphysixema.

 

 

wouldn't that rather be emphysixswitchema ? :D

 

 

i still need help with the picture ... can anyone make a closeup pic of a real nasty dirty console ... also a rusty (eprom) board would be nice ...

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come on ... more submissions!

 

and i need a big picture of a really really dirty console! ;)

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And Another

 

Atari user-itis/itus

 

Atari-itis/itus

 

Both pertain to people actively using any form of atari equipemnt for prolonged periods or over a period of years

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come on ... more submissions!

 

and i need a big picture of a really really dirty console! ;)

 

 

Here's one:

 

atari2600s_z1.jpg

 

 

Maaaan... That picture really makes me want to get out my old toothbrush and some soap. Did someone bury that thing? Where's the love? Oh the humanity!

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Okay, here's something that needs a term...

 

A couple of years ago I saw that my 2600 was dusty, so I took some alcohol and paper towels and cleaned the console...and some really nasty yellow gunk came off: I had forgotten that my Atari had been exposed to cigarette smoke for years thanks to my dad before my mother forbade him from smoking in the house! Yuk!!!! So...is there a term for old tobacco smoke stains coming up 23 years later during a cleaning???

 

Yeah, emphysixema.

 

 

wouldn't that rather be emphysixswitchema ? :D

 

Nope -- it was a four-switch. :)

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