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I have an N64 that will reset/restart back to the Nintendo 64 logo as if power cycling at random. It isn't a set amount of time into the game, or based on a button combination, but it always resets the same across various games. Sometimes the N64 will reset repeatedly at the logo screen. What are the possible reasons for this happening, and how can I stop it? Is it possible to diagnose or repair the issue myself? I'm using standard controllers and cables, no mods, and the little red/black expansion pack.

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Just curious if any of your buttons are sticky on the controller? Meaning do they stay down at times even though you are no longer pressing them. There is a button combination that can be pressed on a controller to reset the entire system, I don't remember what it was but I can recall doing it on occasion when I would be playing a game with my brother and he would start cheating. –  Ravekner Jul 21 '13 at 4:02
    
@Ravekner: Not to my knowledge, but it would also be tough to have L+R+Start stuck or depressed at once. I'm relatively sure it'd reset if I walked away from it for long enough. I get the feeling it has to do with overheating, but I don't have it on for ten minutes before it goes haywire and I know others have had similar issues, so I don't know what my symptoms or common fixes are. –  Sean Jul 21 '13 at 7:15
    
My friend's NES does this too. –  Timtech Aug 3 '13 at 21:28

3 Answers 3

A simple google reveals many potential explanations, but it's a common problem with older North American N64s and darn near impossible to accurately diagnose without trying almost everything. The hardware is notoriously finicky, now quite old, and generally difficult to troubleshoot.

Common explanations include overheating, dirt, and hardware failure.

Prevalent approaches to identifying/resolving this generally go like this:

  • Remove expansion pack and test for the issue. If this solves things, it looks like expansion pack has failed. It could be the connector pins or internal hardware or even just dirt on the pins, although that's less likely. Inspect and clean with isopropyl rubbing alcohol on a q-tip and dry with a q-tip as well - do not blow on or use compressed air. You may have to replace it.
  • Check if the reset button on the console is stuck down, even a little as that's been know to happen with this hardware. If it is slightly depressed, try to very carefully lift the button with a small flat tool such as a knife or flat-headed screwdriver. Test for the issue. If this fixes things, then keep an eye on the reset button - you might even consider jerry-rigging a way to prop the button up if the issue resumes.
  • Clean the pins and connectors of the console and games with isopropyl rubbing alcohol on q-tips. DO NOT BLOW ON OR USE COMPRESSED AIR - it's even in the manual that this can damage the system or games. After sufficiently cleaned and dried (again, with q-tips), test for the issue. If this fixes the issue, try to keep the system and area around it cleaner.
  • It doesn't matter if hardware is first party or original or whatever - all hardware eventually fails, but some are sooner than others. The most likely failure that is easy to diagnose is the power adapter fusing. The only way I know to test the adapter is to swap another adapter in and see if it does the trick.
  • Everything else involves opening up the system and poking around. Cleaning as described above any areas which are visibly dirty or dusty. TAKE EXTREME CARE WHEN MUCKING ABOUT INSIDE THE SYSTEM. The hardware of this device is very touchy and a wrong move can make the situation much worse. The most I'll recommend is a visual inspection to look for anything amiss, especially around the reset button housing and beyond that, I can't even find clear directions about where to start trying to fix this.
  • The only step remaining is professional repair or simply replacement. This issue is mostly prevalent in the first generations of N64 in North America and if that's the version you have, it might be more worth your while to replace the console outright. Trying to get it repaired anymore is likely not going to be cheap or easy so I'd recommend replacement of the console itself regardless at this point.
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I got the exact same problem. It's overheating, the base of the system suffocates when it's over any surface (except the anti thermal ones I guess) because there's no decent airflow. The solution is very simple and you don't need to tear it apart or buy a new one. I found that you just need to get it off the ground with the help of some supports. Try to find some cilinders or any object that can make the N64 stand on top of them like the parthenon of Athens (in my case I used those Wii U supports that comes with the black one). The airflow will then function properly and the resetting will stop.

Hope this helps ;)enter image description here

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I had this same problem with my system, using several different expansion paks and AC adapters. I'd turn it on and it would last long enough for "Nintendo" to appear on the screen, then it would reset over and over. Sometimes it would give me false hope, waiting until I got to a menu screen before it would reset. After taking the consoles, expansion paks, and games apart and cleaning the contact points with copper cleaner and alcohol, the issue was still there. I read somewhere that the issue could be from a broken solder point at the power source, so i soldered one that looked like it may have come loose a bit. Didn't help. I was about to trash the stupid console when I looked at the part where the AC adapter actually connects to the console and noticed that the pins were black and tarnished. I unplugged everything, then I proceeded to swab some copper cleaner into the holes on the AC adapter and worked it into and out of the connection at the back of the N64 a few dozen times, then cleaned the excess off and did the same thing with alcohol and let it dry. This completely fixed my issue! I've been all over forums looking for solutions and haven't seen this one yet. Check your power connection for corrosion if the other fixes aren't working. It took me an afternoon to figure out, but hopefully this will help some people in the future!

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