I was going to wait for clothes to get clean at the laundromat yesterday by playing some Nintendo Switch. Instead, I found out that it could not read game cartridges. Not just one single game; that would be too easy! None of the games whatsoever.

It could recognize when games were being put in and taken out, but that was only to then pass on the bad news that it couldn’t read the cartridges, complete with a troubleshooting weblink to visit. As is customary for things like this, none of the few troubleshooting steps listed at said weblink worked. I expected as much, but still, I was heartbroken.

However, it also became clear what had to be done next: I’d have to send my Switch in for repairs, along with two games, presumably to serve as sacrificial lambs ways to test whether or not their prospective fixes work. After placing a call with Nintendo’s customer support hotline later that night—quick sidenote, they were quite friendly and responsive—arrangements were made to have the system shipped out.

That’s where I’m at now. A Switch with its microSD card and screen protector removed, a Ziploc bag with two games, and a packing note summarizing the game cartridge issue and the things being sent in. All prepped to be packed and shipped out sometime later today. Hopefully to be seen soon enough in tip-top shape.


Apparently this is a somewhat semi-common problem? I was searching for sites and videos about how to independently fix this issue, and results pertaining to it were not all that hard to come by. One video was a short tutorial about doing a cartridge slot replacement, which I nope’d out of pretty quickly once it was clear that it involved dissecting some Switch guts and having a spare hardware piece on hand. There was even a video from typically fighting game-centric personality Maximillian Dood, dated March 7, 2017—a mere four days after the system’s release—about how he could occasionally get a game cartridge to read by fiddling with the headphone jack.

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Something tells me that I probably need to curse at that headphone jack for my woes. Or maybe it was one of those cases where the cartridge reader had some damage from ESD (electrostatic discharge) which only finally manifested in a broken electrical component a year or so later. Perhaps it is the latter, actually; I have to take a training each year for my job to renew ESD certification, since my work sometimes involves working with equipment packed with chips that are highly sensitive to that stuff, and a delayed equipment failure long after being inflicted with electrostatic damage is one of the possibilities always pointed out.