Those of us in a certain age group remember the trick that never failed to get our NES and other game cartridges working again: taking them out of the player and blowing on them. You blew on the actual console sometimes just for good measure. It always seemed to do the trick. However, based on a recent study of the action, it probably didn’t help and might have actually done more damage.
Chris Higgins of Mental Floss took it upon himself to speak with experts and figure out if the solution was scientific. It’s like Mythbusters on a smaller scale! His findings show that any issues with the NES were probably not caused by dust; instead, it was possibly caused by a problem with the connection. When you removed the cartridge to blow on it, you most likely fixed the connection issue when you put the cartridge back into the console. That’s especially the case if one of the pins was weak or crooked. I do remember straightening pins from time to time.
The second part is that blowing on the cartridges could have harmed them. Every time you did it a little moisture from your mouth transferred to the cartridge. Over time that continuous build up of condensation could have made for a shorter shelf life for the game. Possibly. Gamer and host Frankie Viturello says:
While there are some collectors/enthusiasts who will defend their position that the moisture in human breath will likely cause no damage to an NES cartridge, based on what I’ve personally seen over the past 20 years, I not only disagree with them, but feel strongly that the connection/correlation between blowing into an NES cartridge and the potential for long-term effects including wear, corrosion of the metal contacts, mold/mildew growth, is sound logic.
How about that—I’ve been living a lie. Check out more details on Mental Floss.