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How Did The Original NES Save Games? (Did It?)

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Have you wondered how the original NES saved the games that were being played? No matter if you are playing one right now and want to know how to save your game, or you are looking ithis up for a friend, we are here to help. 

So how did the original NES save games? 

The original NES actually did not save games at all. After a few years of being released, there were somes games that came out with internal memory that would save your game on the cartridge, but the original NES game system did not save games on it.

If you are reading this you can go ahead and tell your friends you were right and back in your day you didn’t have the option to save a game and continue. You either had to pause the game and leave the system on until the next time you were able to play, or start all over again the next day. 

To learn more about the NES saving games you can keep reading or watch this video below.

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The Nintendo Entertainment System Game Pak

The Nintendo Entertainment System Game Pak is the product storage system for the Nintendo Entertainment System. All authorized NTSC-U and PAL district cartridges, or “carts,” are 13.3 cm tall, 12 cm wide and 2 cm thick. Early NES Game Paks are held together with five little, opened screws. Games introduced after 1987, assigned “REV-A” on the back of the name.

These were upgraded that made two plastic clips that were molded into the plastic itself, eliminating the need for the first two screws. 

This is the reason more established NES carts are known as “5-screws” and are recognizable by their level tops and, as the name says, five screws rather than three. Around this time, the standard screws were changed to 3.8 mm security screws to keep the ROMs inside from being altered.

The back of the cartridge has a name with guidelines and maintenance of the cartridge, stating that the cartridge isn’t to be stored in extreme temperatures, not to be put in water, and not to be cleaned with benzene, alcohol, or other such solvents.

These games come in grey color for standard games and in gold for games that had battery-powered storage. The codes for software and production were engraved as stamps on the back mark to relate with the product variant and maker.

Role of cartridges in saving games

The NES utilizes a 72-pin configuration, as compared to 60 pins on the Famicom. To decrease prices and stock, some early games released in North America are Famicom cartridges joined to a connector to fit inside the NES hardware. Original NES cartridges are held together with five little opened screws. 

Famicom cartridges are formed somewhat in an unexpected way. Different from NES games, official Famicom cartridges were delivered in numerous colors of plastic. Adapters, comparable to the famous gadget Game Genie, are accessible that allow Famicom games to be played on an NES. 

In Japan, a few organizations made the cartridges for the Famicom. This permitted these organizations to build up their designs for other gaming companies if they ever stopped making cartridges for Famicom.

Did the original Nintendo save games? 

The cartridge, not the console, did save games. The NES itself had no internal storage to talk about. This meant being able to save would rely totally upon the game. This capacity required additional storage or hardware to be included in the cartridge. This would cost more money, and wasn’t immediately achievable at the time of the consoles release.

This is why numerous games didn’t have this functionality and most people were used to not having a saved game. 

A lot of older NES games didn’t have saving features, as they were costly at that point. They generally utilized a password system because of this restriction. A few games presented a battery reinforcement, which could take into consideration saved information. The issue with this was that batteries don’t keep going forever. Even though you can replace the battery on the cartridge so it may be rescued, it was said that the saved information wouldn’t stay forever. 

Most NES games that saved your games to the cartridge used what are called “battery-backed memory.” This is a static RAM chip which is virtually the same as the system RAM utilized in the console itself. The main difference was that a battery inside the cartridge is used to ensure the information of this RAM isn’t deleted. In the long run, the battery will pass on, and this RAM will quit working until the battery is removed.  

A small bunch of games were released that were using an EEPROM. This is a precursor to present-day flash memory. These didn’t need a battery and apparently will recall the information until the chip itself begins to flop because of it being so old. 

If you own a NES Classic  (NES Mini) though and not an Original Nintendo, you can save your games anytime you want to by following these steps. 

How to save games on the NES Classic using a suspend point

  1. Press the Reset Button on the console while you are in the game. This will create a temporary Suspend Point in the home menu which is indicated by the flapping wings
  2. Keep in mind that A temporary Suspend Point is not saved automatically, and can be deleted if the system is powered off or if you start another game before saving it 
  3. Now press Down on the D-pad, which will move the temporary Suspend Point to a spare slot in the Suspend Point List. Then press A to save it.
  4. Up to four suspend points can be saved for each game.
  5. When there are no available save slots for a game, you can try to keep a new suspend point, and the previous Suspend Point data will be lost.
  6. The saved suspend point will be indicated by a blue save slot on the game list.
  7. You can lock the suspend points to avoid overwriting and deletion. To highlight an existing suspend point, use the D-Pad, then press Down to close it. To unlock it, press Down again,
  8. A locked Suspend Point is indicated by a yellow padlock sign in the Suspend Point List.
  9. While in the Game List, A locked Suspend Point is indicated by a yellow save slot while it is in the game list.

History of the NES  

The NES is known as the Nintendo Entertainment System, which is an 8-bit third-generation home video game console. It is a redesigned model of the company’s Family Computer (known as Famicom) in Japan.

The Nintendo Entertainment system has been one of the best gaming systems of its time and has brought some of the most brilliant games into the field. Popular Nintendo games such as Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid have created the basis for popular genres that are loved even today. 


Even though you cannot save the games with the original Nintendo, it was still one of the best gaming systems ever made! You would think that something that was produced back in the 80’s wouldn’t be such a world wide known name in today’s day and age.

The only reason everyone knows this name instead of a different one is for the simple fact that Nintendo cared. They cared about what games they put out, they cared about how many they would release, and they cared about what gamers thought of their games.

So even though you can’t go and save your game on the original NES, there is just something about the NES that makes everyone who plays it fall in love!