Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I'll not bore you with the details of my PlayStation 3's long, grueling journey toward health, except to note that I still haven't sent it in yet. This is going to take awhile.

I was in the middle of griping to myself about how they just don't make consoles like they used to, when I realized that hardware failures are just a fact of life. The Xbox 360 has gotten all the bad press, but my systems have historically had about a 50% failure rate, no matter who made them. A look back:

Console: Atari 2600
Year Acquired: 1984 (?)
Serviced or Replaced: No.
Diagnosis: A solid performer, although we never touched the damn thing once we got the NES, so who knows how long it might have lasted.

Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Year Acquired: 1988
Serviced or Replaced: Replaced.
Reason: I can't recall the specific reason why our original NES bit the dust after only a couple years of service. It must have been that warranty-busting Game Genie. Damn you, Galoob!

Console: Sega Genesis
Year Acquired: 1992
Serviced or Replaced: No.
Diagnosis: The first star performer of any console I ever had. As of the last time I plugged it in, probably 2004 or so, it still worked. Can't say the same for the controllers, though. It's hard to play NBA Jam when you can't shoot.

Console: 32X
Year Acquired: 1994
Serviced or Replaced: Junked.
Diagnosis: I uninstalled the 32X to play Virtua Racing for the Genesis, which was incompatible, and after that the 32X never worked again. You may remember that hooking it up involved metal plates and about ten yards of cables, so I think this was actually for the best.

Console: Sega Saturn
Year Acquired: 1995
Serviced or Replaced: Serviced.
Diagnosis: A simple lens error was easy to fix, although dealing with customer service was a nightmare. (Me: "I think it's a disc read error." Them: "Try wiping the memory." Me: "It says 'cannot read disc.'" Them: "Try placing it on the floor, lighting some incense, and dancing around it in a circle.")

Console: N64
Year Acquired: 1996
Serviced or Replaced: No.
Diagnosis: Another solid performer, the N64 was in fine working order as of the last time I hooked it up, probably five years ago or so.

Console: PlayStation
Year Acquired: 1997
Serviced or Replaced: No.
Diagnosis: The first and last time Sony would not disappoint me.

Console: Super NES
Year Acquired: 1998
Serviced or Replaced: No.
Diagnosis: This was the smaller, redesigned SNES, which may have helped, but this thing even survived several weeks in the common room of a dorm, getting stuff spilled on it.

Console: PlayStation 2
Year Acquired: 2000
Serviced or Replaced: Replaced.
Diagnosis: Some kind of massive mechanical failure. The disc tray stopped working, and the whole system took to emitting a loud grinding noise. I attempted to fix it myself, following instructions on the Internet, and ripped an important-looking cable. Ended up buying the newer, smaller PS2.

Console: GameCube
Year Acquired: 2004
Serviced or Replaced: No.
Diagnosis: Like the 2600, this one was obsolete before it had a chance to crap out. Still, a win's a win.

Console: Xbox 360
Year Acquired: 2006
Serviced or Replaced: No.
Diagnosis: Knock on fucking wood.

Console: Wii
Year Acquired: 2006
Serviced or Replaced: Serviced.
Diagnosis: The reason it went in for service was because it couldn't read Smash Bros, for which Nintendo tried to blame me, but was really because the system is cheap and dinky. At least it was free to fix. The bigger problem with the Wii is the graphical artificating, which occurred as a result of my leaving it in standby mode for six straight months, because there was nothing to play.

Console: PlayStation 3
Year Acquired: 2007
Serviced or Replaced: Serviced.
Diagnosis: Pending. I'm not entirely sure what happened. It might just have overheated. Hopefully they'll say what the problem was when they return it.

There you go. 13 systems overall, and 6 died a premature death. I guess they make them exactly like they used to.

Note: This post has been updated since it was originally published, to include the GameCube.


Anonymous said...

hm... does MTBF ring a bell? maybe MTBF is getting worse... (mean time before failure)

a whistleblower

Julian said...

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Nels Anderson said...

I got my SNES in '92 or '93 and last time I tried it ('06 maybe?) it still worked fine. The plastic has kind of yellowed and the dust film on it has transformed into some kind of resin, but it still played.

The only console I've had to repair is a PS1. The lens assembly died, so I ended up getting another busted one off of eBay and Frankensteining the two together. I *think* that chimera still works, but I wouldn't put money on it.

Good luck with the PS3. May its return by free and expedient.

Jebus said...

What's that Wii artifact thing you were talking about? My roommates Wii used to look fine on my 50 inch HDTV, but lately I've noticed a lot more jaggies in Smash Bros than I remember. It's still in progressive scan so I don't know where they came from. I'm pretty sure it was also on standby for several months between No More Heroes, Metroid Prime and Mario Galaxy.

Mitch Krpata said...

As I understand it, although the Wii draws very little power in standby mode, it's still drawing some, and since the fan only runs when the system is all the way on, it can damage the machine to be left in standby for too long. I get a lot of sparkles on the screen, basically, just chunks of pixelated color that come and go. Not a big enough deal to ruin a game, but an eyesore.

Gravey said...

Except for a couple rounds of Mario Kart and a system update, my Wii had been otherwise off and on standby since the shine came off Boom Blox. I turned off standby the other day reasoning that it's finally not that important. Am I too late? I guess I'll find out if it's okay when I get back to Okami, or New Super Mario Bros. Wii comes out, whichever comes first. Hold fast, little guy!

Abbey said...

I had that graphics issue on the Wii. It got really bad eventually to where it showed up at all times and certain views of Metroid and RE4 would be filled with the vertical stripes of pixelated dots. I sent it in to get it fixed. They have to replace the GPU.

To prevent it, turn off WiiConnect24. I think it disables a few features, but who uses those anyway? I haven't had any problems since.

I also splurged on a $4 fan that clips to the back.