How to Pimp Out Your Nintendo 64




I made my N64 capable of playing Japanese games and gave it a fresh new look.

Things you will need:

Nintendo 64
1 can of spray paint (I chose a metallic gold)
1 can of plastic primer
1 pen
A rotary tool (helpful but not really needed)
A few sheets of sandpaper (320 grit or higher)
1 can of high-luster lacquer

Step 1: Disassembling Your N64

A lot of companies have a nasty habit of making it hard to take apart their products. Nintendo is very guilty of trying to crush the DIY spirit. But, we will prevail! Why? Because their tamper-proof screws are not so tamper-proof.  You can go online and buy the proper screwdriver, and spend money, OR you can use a pen and a lighter to get past those stupid screws.

It is pretty simple. All you have to do is find a hard plastic pen (mine was a Pilot brand), unscrew the back, melt it a bit with a lighter, and jam it into the screw hole.  After you have let the pen cool off for a little bit, it should now be nice a mold of the security screw, and you should be able to remove those annoying little screws without much problem.

You are going to need to do this several times because the plastic screwdriver you just made strips very easily. Also, you might find it helpful to have a piece of tin foil to roll your melted screwdriver on should it mushroom out too wide to fit in the screw holes.

Step 2: The Innards

Now that we have outsmarted the security screws that hold the N64 together, you will be happy to discover that everything inside is held together with Philips head screws.  On the top of the N64 is attached the cartridge tray; on the bottom, all of the electronics. Time to go to work with a screwdriver.

Once you have detached all of the innards, set them someplace safe for later.

Step 3: Modifying the Cartridge Tray

When Removing the cartridge tray you may have noticed two square protrusions on either side of it.  Those protrusions are there to keep the average American from playing games that were not sold in the US.  If those were to be removed then one could play any game ever made for the Nintendo 64.

I must admit, I don't own any Japanese games for the N64, but I like to keep my options open.

Removing the protrusions can be done with either a rotary tool or a razor blade.  There is no need to fret about how pretty it looks because after this project is over nobody will ever look at the bottom of the cartridge tray again.

Step 4: Popping Off the Logo and Prepping the Case for Painting.

The N64 logo on the front of the console pops off easily by pressing a screwdriver to the back of it.  I also took a rotary tool to the area that the label was attached to because I plan to someday backlight the logo with a white LED (I'll be sure to update this instructable when I do).

Also now would be a good time to remove the power and reset buttons. They are held in with two tabs, and are really easy to pop out.

Step 5: Sanding

Sand everything. Yeah, the entire outside of the case, doors that cover the cartridge tray, both buttons - everything. I used 320 grit sandpaper and it worked great.  Sand a little more around the sides of the power and reset buttons. I had trouble with them sticking after being painted.

Step 6: Priming and Painting

It is time to make you the coolest kid on the block by painting your N64 gold!

1 coat of primer

2-3 coats of paint, about an hour apart

4 coats of lacquer.

It is easy to get carried away and lose your patience, but trust me, let everything dry before going to the next step or handling anything that has been painted.

Step 7: Done!

After you have let everything dry completely, all you have to do is put it all back together and pop in your favorite game. 

If you have the gold copy of Ocarina of Time, now would be the perfect time to play it.

I plan on painting the ugly grey controller when I get around to it. I've got to use the last of my gold paint somehow.



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    16 Discussions


    Reply 2 years ago

    Might I suggest spending the money on the special screwdrivers/bits. Because not only using them over and over again but you can also open up more systems as well. Like for some examples the Sega Genesis,the original Nintendo,the Gamecube,the Super Nintendo, and a few more that I can't think of at the moment. Also you'll be reducing your environmental impact because each time your outer pen shell or plastic rod breaks some of you will just throw it away instead of recycling it.


    2 years ago

    color changing led power light. and rgb light strips down the sides


    7 years ago on Introduction

    why stop at paint..?
    you could have changed the power LED, and maybe add a fan in there for cooling the expansion pak, i know in my old 64 it caused problems when it got hot.

    the gold paint looks really nice with the gloss, i think krylon makes a reflective gold paint, i dont have my 64 anymore, but im sure i have other nintendo systems that lack a little gold-ness.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I am going to put i a new power LED at some point. I'm thinking white will look really good if I put the LED slightly higher up so that it backlights the logo (I dremmeled out the area behind it for this purpose). Another thing I've been pondering is adding some lights under the vent so that the top lights up. LED Christmas lights should do the trick if I run them from the power supply.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Maybe try using something reflective behind the logo. Im working on my second one now and anxious to see how it works with a bright white directional led


    Reply 3 years ago

    You should add a tail and wings ^.^


    3 years ago

    I bought a Mario Kart Japanese version. And since I dint know why it wouldn't fit. I just removed the extra plastic as it seemed that was the only difference between the cartridges. And Viola It worked ^.^ u can just cut the cartridge and not open the whole console. .. but now I know how to make mine majoras mask purple^.^


    4 years ago on Step 1

    use a plastic rod instead of a pen, it's much sturdier so you can use it longer than a pen


    4 years ago on Step 6

    How long should I wait for the primer to dry and the lacquer between coats?

    CustomPainting NL

    4 years ago on Step 5

    Hi! I am also going to customize my N64... but i don't know how much i have to sand.. can you help me with this? i don't want to sand to much...


    7 years ago on Introduction

    all you need to get past region lockout is a cartrige that has two slots one on top and one on back put one from the n64s region in the back and the one from the forign region on top


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very detailed and some great pictures. 5*

    Also, I'm amazed to see there isn't any Triforces on your N64 considering it's gold XD