When Consoles Fail
Well, seeing as I can’t seem to get MechAssault 2 out of my classic Xbox, I think this would be a good time to rant about hardware failures in gaming systems. We’ve all had some kind of problem. From a cracked disk to the red ring of death, you know you’re screwed when the hardware fails.
In the old days of non-Internet gaming (a.k.a. anything fifth generation or back), a gamer’s worst fear was a software failure. A designer would fail to catch a glitch in their game and we could not fully enjoy their game. Thanks to the Internet, this problem rarely happens now. Designers release patches to fix anything that is wrong with the game as well as to add new content.
However, there is very little the Internet can do when the hardware fails. I remember the days when blowing into the cartridge would fix everything. Nowadays, if you want to keep your warranty, you can’t do anything other than scream.
I had an interesting problem last year that taught me a lot about gaming systems. There was a gas leak at home, and after an odd chain of events, we had a new ventilation system installed. The intake passed through the basement before reaching the filter, so I got the brunt of any crap that came into the house. I found out after exposing three disk readers to the basement that this very fine rock matter from drilling the ventilation holes was coming into the basement. I lost a CD player and a friend’s GameCube to the incident. However, while the CD player had a fatal error, the GameCube displayed the same error message that happens when you remove a disk during a game. Thus, I could keep cleaning the disk and the eye and keep going. This was nice, but my Xbox 360 seemed to do more. While the GameCube no longer functioned normally anywhere, the Xbox made an almost full recovery without me having to do anything. I don’t know how this worked, but why didn’t the GameCube have a similar feature rather than “the disk is unreadable, try again” crap I was getting?
It is impossible to prevent all hardware failures. However, manufacturers must do more to anticipate these problems. Otherwise, we’ll have another version of the Red Ring of Death epidemic occur.