There's nothing like a well-built video game system, but even the most beloved and famous pieces of hardware are subject to weaknesses. Some are more glaring than others. Pins were out, screens lose their pixels, joysticks snap off, and lasers lose their ability to lase. Over at Topless Robot, Shaun Clayton has a list of ten of the most common hardware failures of video game consoles and handhelds both past and present. For instance, consider Nintendo's original Game Boy and how, over time, its screen degrades:
The Game Boy came onto the scene in the late 1980s, and essentially established the firm pylons of portable gaming that Nintendo clings to this day. Still, it had one slight problem - over time, the screen edges would start losing pixels, or having garbled pixels, and eventually the view space grew narrower and narrower, like a digital glaucoma. Apparently one of the cables would just start wearing out and begin losing the connection. It wasn't a huge problem for Nintendo as they had released successive Game Boy models by the time massive failures started to arrive; still, a Game Boy with a good screen after three years is a small miracle.
I can vouch for that one. I still have my original Game Boy from 1989, but it's not like I can see anything on its screen anymore. The darkness began to close in in 1995 and steadily grew worse over time until, eventually, only the middle third of the screen had enough active pixels to show what was happening. As it turns out, it's very difficult to play Donkey Kong Land when one cannot see what's coming up ahead. The solution was to buy a used Game Boy Advance SP that will play my old Game Boy cartridges with a clarity not thought possible by my eight-year-old self. I still hang on to the increasingly faceless Game Boy though. There's a lot of memories and a lot of miles in that little plastic brick.