What was the point of "Hold Reset before Power off" on the old NES?

I’ve been messing around with some NES ROM’s of games I owned long ago, and I noticed on a couple that they request you hold the NES “Reset” button when you’re powering down (to save).

If I remember right from my childhood, it was so you’re data didn’t get corrupted. As a grown up though, I don’t see how holding a RESET button on a super-basic console would help more than telling you to wait 3 seconds while it saves.

I suspect that it was give the game a chance to finish any instructions it was currently executing, just hitting the power button might interrupt something halfway through and that could be bad.

Of course, if this is the case, then I wonder why I was never told to do it on the SNES.

You’ve got it. The thing it had to finish doing was saving to the battery backed RAM. The SNES was faster at saving (as it was actually designed with the saving feature in mind) and had less problems with it. (I think Nintendo thought they’d fixed it.) Still, you sometimes had problems. I lost my saves on Super Mario RPG that way, and thought it meant the cartridge was dying. I wish I’d’ve known what I do now–it could have been the first game I liked enough to beat properly (sans cheats).

Anyways, the modern way of handling this problem it is just to, while saving, put up a screen saying not to turn the system off or remove anything. Saving is quick enough that this is usually only a few seconds at most.

Simply turning off the power could fry the cartridge’s internal battery. Holding Reset put it in essentially a standby mode, off but still receiving power. The combination prevented a powers surge to the cartridge.

garygnu’s reasoning jibes more with what I remember the explanation being given. Power surges, not needing time to finish a write. You were still supposed to hold down the reset button even if you weren’t saving right before turning off the system.

Interestingly, they only started putting that warning on games some time after the initial run of Legend of Zelda. My copy didn’t have the warning, so I never held reset when I first played the game, yet I never lost data. Later games with the warning got me so used to doing it that I think half the time I would do it even on games without battery back up!

The only game I ever lost data on was Final Fantasy III on the SNES. And I had just gotten to the World of Ruin, too! Lousy, stupid…:mad:

Thanks guys, guess that pretty much answered my question.

My old laptop got stolen, and I’ve been stuck playing with my new netbook for 2 weeks. No CD= none of my currently owned games, hence while I’m reliving some nostalgia through old emulators. I just totally forgot about the “Hold RESET during POWER OFF” until I started replaying FF1, when it tells you that every time you stop at an Inn.

I found this thread after searching Google for “NES hold reset”

The actual reason wasn’t really mentioned in this thread, so I thought I should register / post to clear it up.

I recall reading that the NES CPU has something like electrical “spasms” as it loses voltage, and values get written random registers. This is somehow suppressed by holding the reset button as you power-off the system.

I’ll try to find something to back this up and I’ll edit my post with a link…

Strange. I don’t see the option to edit my previous post.

This knowledgable guy (“whicker”) explains it in detail:

Wow… I had forgotten all about that. :slight_smile: I remember those memory “cards” for N64 did have something of a frustratingly limited lifespan. But last I I checked, I still have at least one card that is still holding its data…I’ve long since lost my GoldenEye (?..) and other game data. :frowning:

ETA: Zombie alert…

Sounds like a great excuse to replay one of the best games ever made.

“Oops, lost all my saves, better play through again so I can unlock every damn cheat code even if it takes me forever.”

Based on what I’ve read and this thread and else where, I’m getting that the original NES really was a piece of poorly engineered junk. Is that true?

In some regards, sure (this issue, and the often poor contact between the socket and the cartridge), but then, it was so much further advanced than its competitors as to be no comparison. And really, it was never even designed for savable games to begin with: You can’t blame the console designers for not anticipating what clever ideas the cartridge makers would come up with. You could, in fact, argue that the “hold reset” was due to poor engineering on the cartridge-makers’ part, not the console.

First, welcome to the Dope.

FYI, this is a nearly 3 year old thread (you might want to check dates before posting).

And actually, between garygnu and TBG, the answer of a power-related mishap was already given, even if the details weren’t entirely correct.

There’s a time limit on editing your previous posts. I think it’s 5 minutes. There are various rules for posting on the boards as well as weird subcultural things, and it would be a good idea to become familiar with them.

You’d think that the designers of the NES would have added a power-good reset circuit, which can be as simple as a generic comparator chip plus a few other parts (nowadays one can use a specialized reset controller) which monitors power and resets the CPU if it is below a certain voltage (and adds just a few cents to the cost). Then you wouldn’t have to press reset when turning it off; all computer systems, at least those that save data, should have a power-good reset - your computer does for the very same reason - after all, you don’t want it telling your hard drive to overwrite data (hard drives almost certainly have their own POR circuitry since they have a CPU).

In the later consoles, they did add something like that. But in the original NES, why would they? It didn’t have anything that could be written to that wouldn’t get reset when it powered off, anyway.

As Chronos points out, it simply wasn’t designed with a consideration for preserving saved games on cartridges. No one had ever included the ability to save games with a battery backup until Zelda.

Personally I wouldn’t say so. Yes there were a couple of quirks and design weak points (blowing on/using eraser the cart contacts to keep them clean, the latching mechanism breaking, resulting in the need for a bic lighter to keep the cart wedged down), but I wouldn’t call it poorly engineered overall and I definitely wouldn’t call it junk. While this is just anecdotal, I had mine from '86 until '01 - and it was still working (other than the latch) and playable when I got rid of it.

And the NES Advantage joystick? Hands down the BEST joystick to come out for consoles until the arcade-quality decks started coming out in the last number of years.

From what I understand, Goldeneye 007 had no memory pak support at all. The cartridge’s internal save was EEPROM, so there was no battery cell to wear out. Every Goldeneye cartridge should still have its internal save data.

I was aware of the thread’s age and deliberately updated it after reading every post. Here’s the reason:

I had been searching to confirm an explanation I heard years before. I found speculation and misinformation, so I concluded that someone might appreciate if I offered the explanation I heard so long ago.

This thread still comes up on Google for people who search for “NES hold reset.” Previously, it didn’t contain an satisfactory answer to the question of why some cartridges recommend holding Reset when you press Power. Now it does.

Bumping an old thread is only a problem when it adds nothing to the discussion. Don’t you agree?

I read the whole thread and felt compelled to update it. Save corruption isn’t the same thing as getting “fried” or physical damage. Read/write operations to random addresses aren’t the same thing as a “power surge.” I wouldn’t want other people to find bad information through Google and start spreading it until it’s accepted as fact.

I’m not new to Internet forums and messageboards in general. I understand that each one can be configured differently and some don’t allow editing posts at all. It’s not good to restrict editing. Information and links that become out-dated can’t be corrected or updated. Also, accidental misinformation can’t be corrected and might spread as people find the bad info.

An anecdote: I remember discovering the reason why Crysis wouldn’t show the option for 2560x1600 resolution. I couldn’t respond to help some folks because the discussion was “too old.” :smack:

This x1,000

I still have my NES connected to a 52" HDTV. I played it today, last week, and the week before.

The NES Advantage joystick is one of the best-built pieces of hardware ever. I didn’t even have one back then and actually hated using any kind of joystick for console games, but the Advantage has won me over. I’ve recently used it to play-through Ninja Gaiden, Batman, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Punch Out!!.

…expecting someone to complain about a triple-post.

Sue me. :stuck_out_tongue: