Nintendo Gameboy gets the RetroBrite treatment.

I’ve got an old original Nintendo Gameboy which hasn’t worked for years, has dodgy controls and has a faulty screen…in otherwords, it’s a bit buggered.  It still has a use so I thought I’d clean it up a little and reuse the case for something else at a later date. Various other components s inside will be used as spares for my working Gameboy.

I think this Gameboy has played its last round of Tetris 😦

…and as you can see here, the once pristine grey/white plastic has turned yellow over the years due to reaction between sunlight and the flame retardant chemicals added to the plastic when manufactured.

The first job was to remove the six case screws – four visible on the rear of the case and the other two in the battery compartment. Curse you their other consoles, it requires an oddball shaped tri headed screwdriver and sadly I don’t have one in my tool kit. I managed to get four of the six screws undone using a regular flat-headed screwdriver but the other two wouldn’t budge.

Thanks to a colleague at work, I now have one. – Repairs, he said, to his children’s Nintendo DS handhelds where quite common therefore he had plenty spare!

I’ve  always found the inner workings of handheld consoles are totally fascinating and Nintendo’s Gameboy is wonderfully put together.

The spare parts list is starting to grow!

With the two case halves striped of all components, I gave them a both a quick bath in warm soapy water,dried with paper towels and placed on the window sill for 10 mins to dry.

The next step is to tackle that horrible yellowing on the front cover and I’ll be once again using a solution of RetroBrite. Ideally, this stuff needs between 5-6 hours of unbroken sunlight for optimum effect but here we are at the beginning of Autumn and so long sunny days are becoming few and far between. Still, today was very warm and bright so I thought I’d have a go anyway.

Although I’ve RetroBrite–ted, many classic computer cases before without a single problem or caused damage to any of my computers with this stuff including their decals, logos & keyboard lettering, it pays to be cautious when trying it on a case type that you’ve never done before. For example, one could find that Nintendo has used a chemical in the production of Gameboys which my RetroBrite could react to and leave me with a grey pile of goo 🙂 O.k, that’s a bit extreme but, I always try to RetroBrite a test subject casing of the same type of computer/console first. As this might not always be possible, I test a small section and keep an eye on it. Like i said, I’ve yet to have any problems at all so don’t let this put you off if you’re thinking about trying it yourself.

If all goes to plan, I’ll RetroBrite my working Gameboy, which although doesn’t look as yellowed as this one, could do with a bit of a touch up to restore it to its original color.

They’re a few methods of creating RetroBright, but I always choose the easiest method which requires only one ingredient, no mixing required, no full body chemical suit required (joking) and can be commonly brought at most hair and beauty shops.

For specific details and a few of my earlier examples, please see my previous blog post –

Old bread board with clingfilm cover, RetroBright solution, small paintbrush and our yellowed Gameboy. Don’t get any of this on your clothes or skin so it might be best to wear gloves…or if you did buy that full body chemical suit, go for it 😉 Likewise, don’t rub your fingers through your hair unless you want streaks 🙂

Simply paint on the RetroBrite getting it into all the nooks and crannies including  over the lettering and glass screen if you wish.

Once everything has had a good coating, wrap more clingfilm over the top of the case to prevent air getting at the case and drying out the solution before its done it’s magic. Next, simple leave the case out in the sunshine for a few hours. Leaving it out for hour upon hours doesn’t appear to damage the case (I had a very yellowed Amiga 500 out for 7 hours once), but it pays to keep an eye on it from time to time, not forgetting to turn it so all sides of the case get plenty of exposure to the sun.

Today was a mixture of sunny intervals and cloud cover so it wasn’t as affective as it could have been but even so, after a few hours the case color is a vast improvement to what it used to look like. After removing the clingfilm (you can also take off that chemical suit now)  and washing the case with the hose pipe to remove the RetroBrite goo, dried with paper towels and there we are – my restored Gameboy case.

Here’s a before/afterwards Photoshop mashup so you can see the difference.

It’s not 100% perfect so I might give it one more coat if weather permits. For now, I’ll put the case away until I can start my case mod project.

I’d love to see any examples of your own RetroBrite sessions if you care to post about them?

Oh…and just for fun…Nintendows XP

It’s just my iPhone with XP wallpaper, would be cool if it was real though eh?

4 responses to “Nintendo Gameboy gets the RetroBrite treatment.

  1. RetroBrite seems like excellent stuff. I’ve heard about it before, but never used it myself. Got some gear here that could use a make-over. 😉 I can see from your pictures that there is a huge difference between RetroBrited and not-RetroBrited. 🙂

  2. It is wonderful stuff and the hair product i mentioned in my post I use as a substitute works wonderfully without the mess/dangers of making up batch of real RetroBrite.

    I’ve used it on so may cases getting into to all the nooks and crannies. It hasn’t damaged a case, decal, logo or key letter. Even the Gameboy clear plastic screen wasn’t affected. Aka, you can slap it on thick without fear of damage.

    I’m swimming in yellowed Amiga mice so they’re next and my BBC Micro too.

  3. I did almost all my vintage hardware with peroxide.
    Amigas, several Ataris, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, several Macs and plenty of PSU’s, keyboards and mouses…..
    It’s working just great!
    The only thing I will never use again is the foil wrap around the parts: this will leave ugly streaks due to the wrinkles in the foil which will be difficult to remove afterwards.
    I use a plant sprayer with water mixed with peroxide, and keep my parts moist from time to time. That works far better than the foil.

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