Give Your Classic Pokémon Eternal Life with This Game Boy Cartridge FRAM Mod
Pseudonymous tinkerer "9943246367" has penned a guide to fixing one of the biggest problems with classic Pokémon games for the Nintendo Game Boy: The internal battery which, over time, loses power — and stands between your Pokémon and immortality.
The original Pokémon games launched for the Nintendo Game Boy, as Pocket Monsters Red and Green, in 1996 — and proved an instant hit, spawning a franchise which has delivered dozens of games, trading cards, toys, augmented reality applications, theme parks, and blockbuster films both animated and live-action.
The older games are still worth playing, but there's a technological limitation: Your save is stored in a battery-backed memory, and over time the battery fails.
"We all know the feeling. You find your old Game Boy in a drawer somewhere with Pokemon still plugged in to the cartridge port," 9943246367 explains.
"After scouring for AA batteries, you boot it up to check out your old team and they're GONE. No save file, nothing. It's like your little brother wiped it as part of a cruel joke."
One solution is to crack the cartridge open and replace the battery, though this only delays the inevitable. The solution: Replacing the battery-backed static RAM (SRAM) chip, which holds the saves with something a little more modern.
"There's a new, Non Volatile memory technology called Ferroelectric Random Access Memory (FRAM) that we can use to replace the old volatile Static Random Access Memory (SRAM),"
9943246367 writes. "Since FRAM is non-volatile, we don't need a battery any more! It should retain your Pokemon essentially forever, making them immortal."
The maker walks through the process of removing the battery and SRAM chip then soldering the FRAM in its place, and notes one non-obvious wrinkle which requires a further modification: "For stability reasons, you should add a 10K pull-up resistor to the Chip Enable (/CE) pin of the FRAM," 9943246367 says.
"The logic on /CE is inverted, so high means disabled and low means enabled. This resistor helps the FRAM stay disabled by pulling the /CE line high when it's not in use."
The full tutorial is available over on Imgur.