Why does the SNES turn Yellow? | TechTrifle
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Why does the SNES turn Yellow?

My SNES is yellow, what happened?

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) is beloved by gamers worldwide, but over time, you may notice something peculiar happening to its plastic casing—it turns yellow. This phenomenon, often referred to as “yellowing,” is a common occurrence in many older electronic devices, including the SNES and its controllers. But why does it happen?

The yellowing of the SNES plastic is primarily attributed to a chemical reaction triggered by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light and environmental factors like heat and humidity.

The plastic used in the construction of the SNES casing contains a flame retardant called bromine, which, when exposed to UV light, undergoes a process known as bromine migration. This migration causes the bromine to rise to the surface of the plastic, resulting in a yellow or brownish discoloration.

Additionally, heat and humidity can exacerbate the yellowing process by accelerating the chemical reactions within the plastic. Over time, these factors contribute to the degradation of the plastic’s molecular structure, causing it to become more susceptible to discoloration.

It’s essential to note that not all SNES consoles will experience yellowing to the same extent. Factors such as the amount of UV exposure, environmental conditions, and the quality of the plastic used during manufacturing can influence the severity of the yellowing.

While yellowing may detract from the aesthetic appeal of your SNES, it typically has no impact on the console’s functionality or performance. However, for collectors and enthusiasts who prefer their consoles to maintain their original appearance, addressing yellowing may be a priority.

In the following sections, we’ll explore the effects of yellowing on the value of your SNES, methods for restoring its original color, and alternative solutions for preserving its appearance.

The Effect on Value: Is My SNES Worth Less?

You might wonder whether the yellowing of your SNES affects its value, especially if you’re considering selling or trading it. The good news is that yellowing typically has minimal impact on the functionality and overall value of your SNES.

Collectors and enthusiasts often prioritize the condition and functionality of a console over its cosmetic appearance. Many collectors are willing to overlook cosmetic flaws like yellowing, especially if they plan to display the console rather than use it for gaming.

As long as your SNES is in good working condition, with all its original components intact, there’s still a market for it. In fact, some collectors may even prefer a yellowed SNES for its vintage appeal.

Yellowing can be seen as a sign of age and authenticity, adding character to the console and serving as a reminder of its place in gaming history.

While shoppers on online marketplaces like Ebay might initially favour clean looking SNES consoles, some diehard Nintendo Collectors in future may actually consider the console is worth less. So value could actually decrease when collectors learn it has been treated by a chemical like Retrobrite which will have further brittled the plastic shell.

That said, pristine, non-yellowed SNES units may command a slightly higher price on the secondary market (E.g Marketplaces like Ebay), particularly among collectors who prioritize aesthetics. If you’re looking to maximize the value of your SNES, restoring its original color or purchasing a replacement housing case may be worth considering. But there is an argument for an against doing so.

Ultimately, the value of your yellowed SNES will depend on various factors, including its condition, rarity, and demand among collectors. While yellowing may affect its resale value to some extent, it’s unlikely to significantly diminish the overall worth of your console, especially if it’s well-maintained and fully functional.

In the next section, we’ll explore methods for restoring your SNES to its original colors, allowing you to preserve its value and appearance for years to come.

Should I Retrobrite my SNES?

Before you go down this route you should read on to consider the arguments for an against retro-brighting your SNES or Gaming console. However in short, here is a quick summary of the pro’s and cons of retro-brighting your cherished console.

Pros Retrobrighting
  • Looks almost brand new afterwards
  • Yellowing looks old and dirty
  • May command a higher price (Ebay)
  • Opportunity to Clean all parts
Cons Retrobrighting
  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
  • Will degrade plastic making it brittle
  • Chemicals are hazardous
  • It’s a Temporary Fix see here and here
  • Value could decrease
  • Source a replacement shell instead
  • Or consider painting your SNES

Personally we feel there is nothing wrong with a yellowing SNES, and it should be noted there are a host of alternative options to using Retrobrite on an old console that are quicker and easier and safer to consider first.

Buying a New Shell for your SNES

For those seeking a more permanent solution to yellowing and aren’t crazy about the idea of using retrobrite, purchasing a new housing case for your SNES can be an ideal and hassle free option.

Numerous third-party manufacturers offer replacement cases crafted from high-quality, non-yellowing plastics. These cases are available in various colors and styles, allowing you to customize your SNES while retaining its original components and functionality.

This may actually end up cheaper and faster than investing in all the equipment you would need to retrobrite your console.

Find an Original SNES Shell on Ebay

In addition to third-party options, you may also consider purchasing an official SNES shell from online marketplaces like eBay or Etsy. These will be cases someone has removed from an original SNES that may have been faulty or damaged internally but the shell is perfectly fine to re-use.

Third Party SNES PAL & NTSC Shells

Alternatively, specialised online stores offer a range of third-party SNES shells in clear transparent and smoke grey colours.


Smoked Black USA SNES Shell

BitfunX shells on AliExpress offer a variety of colors such as grey, red, and purple, as well as clear and black for the USA NTSC SNES.

Stores like Retro Game Restore provide an array of options for the UK PAL SNES, including clear transparent and smoke grey shells.

Retro Game Restore

Smoked Black PAL SNES Shell

For those with a Super Famicom (SFC) Japanese or PAL design, Retro Game Restore also offers PAL shells in Purple , Smoke Black and Clear Transparent options. These shells allow owners of SFC models to rejuvenate their consoles while maintaining their original design aesthetic.

When purchasing a new housing case, it’s essential to ensure compatibility with your SNES model and to choose a reputable manufacturer to guarantee quality and durability. By investing in a new housing case, you can effectively address yellowing and prolong the lifespan of your SNES while enhancing its appearance.

3D Print a SNES Shell

Another alternative is 3D printing a new housing if you have access to a 3D printer or know someone who does (phone a friend?). Various designs for SNES shells are available online on platforms like retrorgb, providing opportunities for customization and personalization.

Consider exploring the various options available and select the housing case that best suits your preferences and needs. Whether you opt for an official shell, a third-party replacement, or a 3D-printed design, restoring your SNES to its former glory is within reach.

Other SNES Cartridge Playing Consoles

If restoring or replacing your SNES housing isn’t feasible, there are alternative devices available that can play SNES games that won’t have yellowed and look brand new. These options provide convenience and flexibility for enjoying your favorite games, even if they may not offer the same nostalgic experience as playing on an original SNES.

One option is to explore modern consoles that include built-in SNES games, such as the Nintendo Switch or the Super Nintendo Classic Mini. These consoles offer a selection of classic SNES titles pre-installed, allowing you to enjoy them without the need for original cartridges.

Additionally, handheld devices designed to play SNES cartridges are available from brands like Hyperkin and RetroAds 5+ HD Ultra SNES. These portable consoles allow you to take your favorite SNES games on the go, providing entertainment wherever you are.

For those seeking a more authentic experience, modern FPGA systems designed by companies like Analogue offer a solution. The Super NT, for example, is specifically designed for playing original SNES cartridges, providing high-fidelity audio and video output for an enhanced gaming experience.

While these alternative devices may lack the tactile feel and nostalgia of playing on an original SNES console, they offer modern conveniences such as HDMI output, wireless controllers, and save states. Additionally, they eliminate concerns about yellowing or aging hardware components, providing a reliable and hassle-free gaming experience.

Ultimately, the choice of alternative device depends on your preferences and priorities. Whether you prioritize authenticity, convenience, or modern features, there’s likely an option that suits your needs.

Exploring these alternative devices opens up new possibilities for enjoying your favorite SNES games, whether you’re reliving cherished memories or discovering classics for the first time. Embrace the convenience and flexibility offered by these modern gaming solutions while paying homage to the timeless appeal of the SNES era.

How to Restore Your SNES to Original Colors

Restoring your yellowed SNES to its original colour can be a rewarding and relatively straightforward DIY project, but it’s essential to take precautions, especially when using retrobright solution

WARNING: the high concentration of hydrogen peroxide used in retrobright treatments can be hazardous. It can cause chemical burns or blindness if it comes into contact with your eyes. If you insist on going down this route, ensure you wear safety glasses and latex or similar gloves. Avoid touching your eyes, face, or any exposed skin until your hands are clean. The mixture can also damage and bleach clothing, so wear something expendable.

Here’s a summary of the steps that would be required to bring back your SNES to its former glory, however we would recommend watching some YouTube videos for step by step instructions on what to do, and what not to do!

  1. Disassemble the Console: Begin by carefully disassembling your SNES. Remove the screws and separate the various components, including the casing, controller ports, and buttons. Keep track of each part to ensure they are reassembled correctly later.
  2. Thoroughly Clean the Components: Once disassembled, thoroughly clean each component with a mild soap and water solution. Use a soft cloth or sponge to remove any dirt, grime, or residue that may have accumulated over time. Allow the components to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.
  3. Treat with Hydrogen Peroxide or Retrobright Solution: To address the yellowing, you can use either hydrogen peroxide cream or a retrobright solution. Apply the chosen solution evenly to the yellowed plastic components, ensuring full coverage. When using retrobright solution, be sure to follow safety instructions carefully and consider wearing protective gloves and eyewear.
  4. Expose to UV Light: After applying the solution, expose the components to UV light for several hours. This can be done by placing them outdoors in direct sunlight or using a UV lamp indoors. The UV light helps activate the chemicals in the solution, promoting the reversal of the yellowing process.
  5. Monitor Progress: Periodically check on the components to monitor the progress of the restoration. Depending on the severity of the yellowing, it may take several hours or even days to achieve the desired results.
  6. Reassemble Your SNES: Once the yellowing has been successfully addressed, carefully reassemble your SNES. Take care to reattach each component correctly and ensure that all screws are tightened securely.
  7. Enjoy Your Restored SNES: With your SNES fully reassembled, take a moment to admire its restored appearance. Plug it in, power it on, and enjoy gaming on your rejuvenated console!

And as above, Before beginning the restoration process, we recommend viewers watch some YouTube videos for additional guidance and tips from experienced enthusiasts. A few popular ones can be found by TysyTube Productions and Macho Nacho Productions.

Retrobrite is a Temporary Fix?

Just like a hair transplant, they say nothing lasts forever! It’s worth noting that while retrobright treatments can effectively restore the original color of yellowed plastics, it is temporary and the colour will likely revert to a yellowed tone within 12-24 months if not before. Also while the appearance of a lighter grey may be restored, the plastic may remain brittle, if anything it may even be more brittle than before treatment.

Additionally, different plastic components from various batches may exhibit varying degrees of yellowing, contributing to inconsistencies in appearance. You should take all of this into consideration before you decide to use retro bright.

Retrobrite/bright has gained popularity as a solution for addressing yellowing in plastics, including those found on the SNES.

However, it’s essential to understand that retrobright treatments will provide only temporary results. Despite effectively reversing yellowing and restoring the plastic’s color, this process is unlikely to be permanent. It may only last 12 months – if that.

Over time, yellowing will reoccur, especially if the SNES is exposed to UV light and environmental factors. Even when not, and the SNES is kept covered in a bag in a dark room it will still revert to the yellowed tone (See example here of yellowing returning). Heat and humidity can also accelerate the yellowing process. So is it really worth the effort?

Before embarking on a retrobright treatment for your SNES, thorough research and consultation with experienced enthusiasts or professionals are recommended. Instructional videos and tutorials on retrobrite application techniques (see here on Youtube) can also provide valuable guidance and tips for achieving optimal results. Alternatively you may wish to consider just buying a new shell (awesome Purple one here) and skip the palava (unnecessary trouble) of the retro brighting process.

Ninja Silhouette 9 hours ago

Joe Doe in London, England purchased a

Joe Doe in London?

Joe Doe in London, England purchased a

Joe Doe in London?

Joe Doe in London, England purchased a

Joe Doe in London?

Joe Doe in London, England purchased a

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