I recently bought some new games to play on my Xbox 360 while I wait for Guitar Hero 3 to come out, those games being Bioshock and Blue Dragon. I started playing Bioshock first.
It was really awesome for the first day.
The second day, it bricked my 360.
The 360 would lock up during the startup screen most of the time. Sometimes, the startup logo would not display at all. Sometimes, I got the Red Ring of Death (three blinking red lights on the ring of light around the power button, with the upper right one not lighting up). Sometimes it would boot properly, but as soon as any 3D rendering started in any game (for example, loading up a saved game in Bioshock), the system would freeze, or switch to displaying static, or switch to a blank screen.
Surprisingly, Guitar Hero kept working (during the times I could boot up the 360). Since Guitar Hero II was just ported from the PS2, the graphics aren’t demanding at all, which I think is part of the reason why it wasn’t freezing. Although doing anything more complex than just playing the game (for example, pulling up a dashboard blade over the game) would freeze it.
Fuck the Red Ring of Death.
“Just send it in to get replaced!” is what you’re saying. Here’s the problem: my 360 has been cracked open and modified. I didn’t do it, someone else did. But I never got any burned games for it, so in reality, all the mod was good for was screwing me out of warranty replacement.
So here I was, with a bricked 360 that couldn’t do anything, no warranty replacement, and not enough money to buy another one. So what was the next step?
The towel trick.
If you don’t know what the towel trick is, I’ll explain briefly here. What you do is you take your RRoD 360, wrap it in a number of towels (about 3 is good), or a heavy blanket, or anything like that that keeps in heat really well. You have to make sure to cover all vents, including the top and bottom, the sides, and the back. Then you leave the 360 on, heating up inside these towels, for about 25 minutes. If the machine shuts down (you can tell by the color of the light on the power brick), turn it back on again and continue to bake it until time is up. Then, unwrap your 360. There should be only two flashing red lights instead of three (meaning an overheat error). Let the machine cool down for 15 or 20 minutes, about the same amount of time you baked it for. Then turn it on.
More details about the towel trick here: http://thexboxdomain.net/2007/01/15/the-towel-trick-fixes-360s/
The initial idea made me really queasy, because as I’ve mentioned before, heat is a computer’s worst enemy (and the 360 is just a computer in a box). But hell, if the 360 wasn’t working to begin with, then what’s the point of being careful with it?
But the towel trick worked. The 360 booted up, and I was able to play Bioshock without locking up the machine.
I’m not entirely sure why the towel trick works. I didn’t invent it, and hell, that’s the last thing I’d think of when trying to fix my 360. But I think it may have something to do with resetting the chips or hardware inside. Perhaps there’s some kind of equivalent to a CMOS in a computer, because when it started up again, the internal clock was reset to November 2005.
Now, this is definitely a temporary fix. The night I first did the towel trick, I had an epic 8 hour Bioshock session right after. The next night, it also worked properly for several hours. Two nights after the towel trick (yesterday), it was bricked again. So I performed the towel trick again, and it works ok, and I played Bioshock for a few hours right after the trick. However, I am pretty certain I’ll have to do it again. I have heard that some people only do the towel trick once and never do it again, but I suspect mine is beyond that level of minor issue, because I have to keep doing it. But at least it gives me a partially working 360 to keep me occupied while I save up for a new one.