A very common problem when purchasing second hand Gameboys, or using one that has been kept in the cupboard for many years, is the START and SELECT buttons do not function anymore. We can easily perform this cheap and easy GameBoy repair ourselves! No need to throw it away just yet.
Frustrating to be stuck on this screen
This issue also happens a lot (or is made worse) when cheap batteries have been left in the unit and have started to corrode over time, as the leakage from the battery spills partially near or onto the START and SELECT connectors. Its always a good idea to take out batteries if you aren’t playing on it. Alternatively, buy reliable Duracell, Eneloop, or Energizer batteries instead of the cheap $2 stuff that leaks. Many of the units I buy in bulk from Japan have cheap no-name batteries inside that have been inside for years.
How to Fix
Its an easy fix to restore operation of these keys. Simply start by opening up the unit using a Triwing and Phillips head screwdriver. Remove the START and SELECT buttons, and scrape off the corroded or marked up bits of the gold plated connectors. What you are after is to clean off as much as possible without damaging the connectors. I used a small flat head screwdriver to carefully do this, followed by using a tiny bit of isopropyl alcohol on a q-tip to clean it off (try to not get any onto the rest of the circuit board). Use the other end of the q-tip to dry off the alcohol when done. Take your time, and try not to scrape the gold metal off the PCB.
If all goes well, it should look good as new!
Put it all back together again, and your buttons should be working yet again. Enjoy gaming!