Why do old games break?

This is more of a general question about how games work. I have an old back to the Future Sega game. It used to work fine. When I play now, it gets like half way through level one and just starts glitching out and breaks. I don’t think it’s the Sega because all other games are fine. So my question is, what is happening with either the code or Sega to actually begin execution of the game, then just break? Shouldn’t the code be executed and just run?

The cartridges consist of multiple electronic components each with a different life expectancy: capacitors and batteries are the most prone to failure and can be destructive (acid leakage and voltage ripple increase) towards the rest of the components, then there’s the ROM (stores the games code and assets) which is much less likely to fail and as a last candidate there are logic chips which are even less likely to fail then all of the other components.

Maybe the memory chip got corrupted somehow resulting in a crash when the corrupted part get’s executed ???

See this for more information: https://retrocomputing.stackexchange.com/a/6156

With cartridges it’s quite common for the pins on the connector to, over time, oxidize or corrode.
Give them a bit of a clean, and you might restore the cartridge to proper function.

Plenty of resources on youtube showing the best methods.

Back to the future is quite cool, used to play it when I was younger :smiley:

You don’t have to use the original hardware though, there are plenty of emulators out there for all the retro guys, for example MAME which emulates most of the old machines pretty well.


Thanks for the responses, I didn’t realize there were any until right now…@Abuse I tried to clean it but it still didn’t work…I think the cartridge is messed up. @Shatterhand it was more of a question as to why it happens over time…I’m not a big fan of mame because I collect games…I think I’m up to 350 physical copies now, not counting digital or games on stuff like the SNES Classic. With that said, half the games are shit cheap ones like Barbie the Super Model. I was going to put MAME on that Dodger Dog cabinet I built, but then started thinking that I like my cabinets to only really play one game and serve one function like how arcades used to be.

I wonder if the folks at the MADE might have an answer for you. There is an “info@” email that might work. I sometimes go to a coworking space they have.

Ok, I’ll check it out! Thanks @philfrei