I bought a used N64 system and I was told it was tested and works. But I only have one old game I haven't played in years that I tried with it. When I turn it on, the light turns on on front of the system. But nothing displays on screen.

What I want to know is if it should turn the screen black when turned on even if there is no game cartrigue connected so I can determine if the system is not working or the game.

The video cable does work because I've tried it on a gamecube.

3 Answers 3


There is no image on the screen when an N64 is turned on with no cartridge (but mine hums). So it may be the game that is faulty.


This usually happens with older cartridge-based consoles. The game and the console can work perfectly fine, but when you insert the game, you have to make sure all the pins line up and connect or you'll get a black screen.

Remove the cartridge and reinsert it, then try the power again. You could also try blowing into the cartridge, as this has (perhaps superstitiously) been found to work in the past. The bottom line is that you'll probably have to try reinserting the cartridge at least half a dozen times before you get lucky and it works.

  • The thing is this is the 3rd system I've gotten with the same problem. So I'm starting to think it's the game itself. And yes I've tried blowing on the cartridge, cleaning it with alcohol, even opening the system and cleaning it on the inside.
    – fent
    Oct 7, 2011 at 18:01
  • 1
    I've seen it take up to 30+ tries to get more than a black screen, but it always works eventually. Just be persistent.
    – Keaanu
    Oct 7, 2011 at 18:56
  • I'm not getting a black screen. The screen doesn't change when I turn it on. I've noticed a few times that the screen slightly flickers right when I turn it on, that's it.
    – fent
    Oct 7, 2011 at 20:25
  • I've seen this happen too. Sometimes the screen doesn't even flicker when you turn it on, so it feels like your video cable is disconnected or you're set to the wrong channel. But sure enough, after a few more tries, it suddenly works. N64s are fickle beasts.
    – Keaanu
    Oct 7, 2011 at 20:58
  • @fire.eagle: I thought blowing on it only ever worked for the original NES... and even then only sometimes?
    – Mufasa
    Jul 27, 2012 at 16:27

this is an old question but hopefully my answer will help some others.

if the system is known to work then you either have an issue with the game's contact pins or with the capacitor on the cartridge board. If you have time and a few tools you can figure it out. Unfortunately you only have one game. You really should grab another so you can rule out the system as the issue.

many people say to clean the game's contact pins you should use rubbing alcohol. I find that using metal/aluminum polish works extremely well. I use the Mother's brand in the small round can. You should only need a good cleaning with the polish one time and the game should not give you issues ever again. It works wonders on NES carts. To apply it use two pieces of old t-shirt. One to apply the polish and work it in until it turns black. The other to clean up. Keep the polish off of the chips. Use masking tape if you are unsure. You will be amazed how nasty brown pins slowly turn black then come out blinging after you clean them off.

The other potential issue is specific to n64 carts. Some have a capacitor surface mounted on the board. Over time capacitors will fail, as evidenced by what happens to old sega game gear units. You can open the cartridge and get the numbers off of the side of the capacitor and radio shack usually stocks a replacement. It's a quick replacement if you know how to work a soldering iron.

edit: since posting this i've found out about boot chips also being an issue for a black screen so check those too.

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