So, What’s Inside a SNES Cartridge (Opening and Poking About)

As part of my attempt to clean up and get working my SNES from the dawn of time  I thought I’d take a look inside the game cart I have.  Not for any reason… I’m just curious and happened to have the screwdriver bit that would allow me to look inside (it would be rude NOT to take a look).  The Game inquestion?  Zelda: A Link To The Past


Zelda: Limited Edition dirty version

Zelda is an awesome game and allowed saves (vs passwords) So I’m expecting to see some form of battery backup inside the game.  Opening one of these carts is simple. Undo the two security screws on the front of the case (3.8mm Gamebit) and the case will open up (careful of the clips at the back / top).


Not sure this could be dirtier

Once you’re inside the cart this is what you see.  Absolutly nothing special or interesting from the back.  I’m actually a little surprised that the case has this much empty space in it.  Time to take out the PCB and see what the front looks like.


Rear PCB, not taking much space

This is more like it!  Although I must admit it’s far less complicated than I was expecting.  I’m used to seeing the inside of Neo Geo carts or arcade ROM boards with banks of ROM chips in a neat row.  From a bit of deduction and PCB reading it looks like the save game area is the chip on the top right of the pic below with the battery feeding it power on the left.  This, amazingly, still works and is holding the previous owners save game from years ago (annoyingly, not date stamped)!  Bottom left is a Nintendo branded chip.  Pretty sure this is the security / handshaking chip in the cart to avoid fakes / pirates etc.  Above that is a Motorolla chip that is probabaly the memroy mapping / address lookup processor chip.


Front PCB with battery (RAM on the Right)

And, finally, we have the Mask ROM holding all that lovely Zelda game goodness.  marked onthe PCB as U1 ROM and a pretty standard Toshiba chip


Zelda: All of it…..

So there we have it.  The inside of A SNES cart.  Apart from a working battery, nothing super exciting.  Still, glad I looked and now I know!


About Alec Dunn (LegoYoda)

Alec is an IT Architect focused around large private / hybrid cloud design and automation. He's also a big fan of the 'arcade' culture and games of yesteryear and loves taking things apart to see how they all work.
This entry was posted in Games, retro, SNES, Software, Teardowns, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to So, What’s Inside a SNES Cartridge (Opening and Poking About)

  1. T says:

    dawnm, fo, thought. (instead of though), memroy, lovley, onthe, orking. Words for you to search and fix as they are all mistakes. Interesting article though

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