Whether it came from a yard sale, a retailer, or from a less-than-trustworthy online seller, maybe you are unsure of the authenticity of your newly-purchased games. In this case, it’s best to know the signs to look for when checking if your game is official or not. Of course, the most convenient way to check is using our Playback app that displays the status of your game cartridge. But there are other methods as well that complement our own checks. In this article, we’ll be looking at different aspects of bootleg cartridges and how they compare with official ones.
Let’s start with the cartridge case.
Easy to spot - first step is flipping the game over and checking the back/outside of the cartridge. GB/GBC games and GBA games feature the Nintendo logo and/or the phrase “Made in Japan”. We can clearly see in the photo above that it is not the case here. Instead, we see the unrelated phrase “Voice”.
All official GB/GBC carts use 3.8mm screws , and all official GBA carts use tri-wing screws. Look closely at the photos above and see if you can notice the difference in the screws.
Common for bootleg GB/GBC games is the cut-away on the inside, presented in the example above.
Unofficial art stickers almost always have a different colour scheme. Sometimes bootleggers will print the box art of the game and stick it to the cart instead of using the official cartridge artwork.
They may also use a different coloured cartridge or make localization mistakes by translating the Japanese title of the game.
Most official GB/GBC/GBA games feature 2 digits stamped on the sticker of the cart. This was part of Nintendo's quality control and revised games feature a letter at the end to indicate the version. Bootleggers usually don't bother to replicate this stamp.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts.
By far, the best way to spot a fake game is by opening up the cartridge. Inspecting the PCB (printed circuit board) inside and comparing it with what the real version should look like helps a great deal.
Right off the bat, we can see numerous red flags.
Many bootlegs feature this COB (chip on board) covered in a black protective layer or "blob" because of its cheap nature. Very few early official GB games featured it (Tetris, for example).
There is no chance for circuit boards found in official games to be stacked onto one another.
There shouldn’t be any stickers inside the cartridge.
Official GB/GBC games do not come in all shapes and sizes, and especially not cut in half. Official PCBs fit the case.
There shouldn’t be any holes on the cartridge pins.
”Nlhlehde” instead of "Nintendo"?
You might be inspired by this article to open up the games in your collection and check their authenticity. Even if a prized childhood game turns out to be a bootleg, the hours spent playing it, having fun and making cherished memories will forever remain real.