Category Archives: Handhelds

Storing Game Boy EPROM Prototype Cartridges

Through trial and error, I’ve found that Sega Game Gear cases are perfectly sized to store Game Boy prototype cartridges. With them, you can stack and box Game Boy prototypes without worrying about damaging the cartridge or EPROM. Just something I thought I’d share.

There's a little bit of room on the sides of the case, but other then that, prototypes fit nicely.

There’s a little bit of room on the sides of the case, but other then that, prototypes fit nicely.

Closed Case

Closed Case

Identifying Fake Nintendo DS (NDS) Games

In addition to the fake GBA games I went over in my last post, I’ve also ended up with a number of counterfeit Nintendo DS games as well. In this post, I’ll go over how to spot a fake Nintendo DS game, both from the inside and out.

Fake.

Fake.

As with fake GBA games, fake DS games can come in all titles, both sealed and unsealed. Some tell-tale signs of a fake DS game from the outside are an incorrect case (North American titles should come in black, white, or blue cases, while European titles should come in clear cases), a missing black production number on the rear of the cartridge, incorrect cover art (As with GBA games, anything with an ESRB RP logo can safely be considered fake), a poor quality,  low resolution, or incorrectly regioned manual, or missing text on the game board itself. If a North American game has a CE symbol and no ESRB rating, chances are it’s also fake.

When disassembled, a fake DS game becomes quite identifiable. A fake game will be missing the usual MX-labelled chips, will not have the Nintendo logo on the board, may have “glob-top” (black plastic blob) circuits, and will have an incorrect ID number on the silkscreen (the white printing on the board – every title should have a different ID number).

Front view - Right is real.

Front view – Right is real.

Rear view - Right is real.

Rear view – Right is real.

As with the GBA fakes, should you accidentally find yourself having purchased a fake cartridge on eBay, open a buyer protection case right away. If you can prove the cartridge is counterfeit, you’ll be refunded and be required to destroy the cartridges rather than sending them back.

Identifying Fake Game Boy Advance (GBA) Games

Since I’ve started purchasing large lots of games on eBay, I’ve acquired a number of Game Boy Advance games of dubious origin (All of which were covered by PayPal’s Buyer Protection on counterfeit items). In this post, I’ll go over how to identify counterfeit GBA games, and what steps you can take to avoid getting scammed.

Only one of these is real.

Only one of these is real. (middle)

Looking at the exterior of a counterfeit cartridge, there are four tell-tale signs of a fake cartridge; the label, the plastic, the visible portion of the board, and the writing on the back of the cartridge. On a fake cartridge, most, but not all labels will be thicker than the originals. They’ll also usually be printed in a lower resolution than the originals. Most original cartridges also have a small number imprinted in the corner of the label which fakes will not have, however, some originals are missing this too; so it can’t be relied on, on it’s own. If it’s a Pokemon game, the label may not be printed on the shiny foil. Sometimes, the label will just be wrong. For example, in the photo above, one of the fake FireRed cartridges has the word FireRed written with a space in the middle. I’ve also seen labels that use incorrect artwork and even some that have RP (Rating Pending) as the ESRB symbol instead of the correct rating. Both of the cartridges below are fake.

Incorrect artwork. Notice the lack of the ESRB rating.

Incorrect artwork. Notice the lack of the ESRB rating.

RP ESRB Rating

RP ESRB Rating

When looking at the plastic casing of a fake cartridge, it will usually seem to be slightly larger than an original cartridge, and you may find it somewhat difficult to insert into a Game Boy. Most, but not all fakes will also have a small rectangular opening at the bottom, as shown below.

Top - Real, Bottom - Fake

Top – Real, Bottom – Fake

On the visible portion of the board, most but not all fakes will also be missing the “(c) Nintendo” on the silkscreen (the white writing on the board). On the rear of the cartridge, many fakes may also have typos or incorrect model numbers on the text, or may not be using Nintendo’s tri-wing security screws.

All fake

All fake.

Bottom right - real.

Bottom right – real.

When you open up a fake cartridge, however, it becomes clear that a cartridge is fake pretty quickly. Nintendo cartridge boards will never have “glob top” (black blobs of plastic) circuits on the board, and almost all Nintendo ROM chips are labelled “MX”. If your cartridge is missing at least one chip labelled MX, it’s almost definitely a fake. For GBA Pokemon games, only Ruby and Sapphire use batteries, so if you have another Pokemon game with a battery, again, it’s almost definitely a fake. Here is a comparison between fake and real cartridge boards:

Front. Bottom left is real.

Front. Bottom left is real.

Rear. Bottom left is real.

Rear. Bottom left is real.

Fakes come in all titles, not just popular ones. Here are some fake titles that I’ve come across:

All fake.

All fake.

All fake.

All fake.

All fake.

All fake.

All fake.

All fake.

If you accidentally find yourself having purchased a fake cartridge on eBay, open a buyer protection case right away. If you can prove the cartridge is counterfeit, you’ll be refunded and be required to destroy the cartridges rather than sending them back.