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The ac adaptor has to be set to the correct voltage , there should be a small adjuster on the mains plug. 1.5v for each battery ( regardless of battery size ); so 6v for a 4 battery , 9v for 6 battery , etc.
Sounds like the contacts on the games need to be cleaned. On the game cartridge, push back the little cover and clean the gold colored contacts on both sides. I use a cotton ball or q-tip with alcohol on it. Let it dry before you put it back in the v.smile.
Do you still have your receipt? You could try to echange it at the store. Vsmile is coming out with a newer slightly different handheld model you could try. Though, we have a vsmile for the home and a leapster as a handheld game. Which both of my children have loved. Have you tried calling Vtech about the problem? I've had to call before about the home unit and they were very helpful. (Incedently, I have had problems with that, so if you ever do here's a helpful tip: Reset the machine by unplugging EVERY cord and pressing the two front buttons together for one full timed minute! We were having problems with a power issue and this solved it) They may be just as helpful as Leapster's Leap Frog company and send you a replacement! Once on a long car trip my daughter got sick in the car, while playing, so needless to say the game system got it too. And when I called Vtech about what to do, they sent a replacement! Try calling Vtech and see. You never know! Good luck!! :)