- things to consider
- Game Boy / Game Boy Farbe
- Game Boy Advance
- nintendo ds
- General tips to note
With many Pokémon games being remastered for the Nintendo Switch, many people, myself included, are looking back to previous eras of Pokémon games. Some people will argue that previous Pokémon games are among the best video games ever released. From the popular Kanto region in Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow to the originally misunderstood but now revered Black and White and its sequels, Black 2 and White 2, Pokémon games are always in demand.
However, this unfortunately means that many people want to take advantage of this popularity and demand by making and selling reproduction cartridges without the buyers' knowledge. It's easy to fall for these scams.
In the end, when buying a used copy of Pokemon Platinum, I didn't do my due diligence and ended up getting a counterfeit copy while being charged the price of the authentic cartridge. This mistake is more common in Pokémon games, despite being among the best selling games on the console.
Notice: Some cartridges shown in this article are counterfeit, while others are authentic. We flag them every time so you know if they are real or not. Be sure to pay attention to how fakes differ from real copies.
Things to consider when spotting fake Pokemon games
Pokémon games exist on all of Nintendo's handheld systems, from the original Game Boy to theNintendo 3dsit's atnintendo switch, so we have a section dedicated to Game Boy, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS games.
Fake Game Boy and Nintendo DS games abound. However, fake Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch games are much less common. The Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS have sold millions of copies, and since their release, gamers have worked tirelessly to uncover fake games and inform each other.
The Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS saw 20 entries in the Pokémon series:
Swipe to scroll horizontally
|pokemon red and blue||Game Boy||31.37 million|
|yellow pokemon||Game Boy||14.64 million|
|pokemon gold and silver||cor do gameboy||23.10 million|
|Pokémon Cristal||cor do gameboy||6.39 million|
|Pokémon Ruby e Sapphire||Game Boy Advance||16.22 million|
|Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen||Game Boy Advance||12.00 million|
|Pokémon Esmeralda||Game Boy Advance||6.32 million|
|Pokémon Diamond and Pearl||nintendo ds||17.67 million|
|Pokémon Platinum||nintendo ds||7.06 million|
|Pokémon HeartGold e Soulsilver||nintendo ds||12.72 million|
|Black and white Pokemon||nintendo ds||15.64 million|
|pokemon black 2 and white 2||nintendo ds||7.63 million|
Fake Pokémon Games: Game Boy and Game Boy Color
It all started with the Game Boy, 1996 with Pokémon Red and Green in Japan and 1998 with Pokémon Red and Blue in the US. Fake Game Boy games are relatively easy to spot, so you shouldn't have any trouble getting your bearings.
Special tools to open: While it's not too hard to spot fake Game Boy and Game Boy Color games based on their physical appearance alone, it's always best to have a handful of tools to help you open games. You can find specific toolkits online that provide security3.8mm Gamebit Screwdriver, which are needed to open Game Boy cartridges.
Cartridge color and embossed text
Check the sticker image, spelling and marks:Look at the label and text on the cartridge to make sure it matches the appearance of the original cartridge. It's not uncommon for a counterfeit cartridge to have very similar text but one or two misspelled letters. The Nintendo logo must have a trademark symbol on the far right. If it is missing, the cartridge is fake.
Beware of the gray cartridge:If you see a North American or European Pokemon game on a gray cartridge, run away. Nintendo has never produced a Pokémon title on the Game Boy or Game Boy Color in a gray box. Each game's cartridge color matches its name - Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow have red, blue, and yellow cartridges. Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal have Gold, Silver, and Icy Blue cartridges. In Japan, Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold and Silver were produced in gray cartridges, with Gold having a darker cartridge than the others. If you see a gray cartridge with a sticker showing a language other than Japanese, it is not authentic.
Look for the thumb grip and embossed text:At the top of every Game Boy game is a concave thumb with the text "Nintendo GAME BOY™". Meanwhile, Game Boy Color games have a convex thumb that says "Game Boy-FARBE". Fake games often don't have this text or just say something like "GAME". Be sure to look for this text, as it's one of the easiest ways to tell a dud from a real game.
battery and circuit board
Check the battery:The battery size of each Pokémon Game Boy and Game Boy Color game is engraved on the game board itself. Pokémon Red, Blue, Gold, Silver, and Crystal use a CR2025 battery, while Pokémon Yellow uses a CR1616 battery. Your batteries aren't inside any metal cages, so stay away from them. To open the cartridge, you need a special Gamebit screwdriver.
The previous owner may have changed the battery: Since these games are no longer manufactured, chances are you're buying a copy from someone who's had the battery changed (which is fine if done correctly). So it's recommended to check all the boxes if the battery looks third-party - your buyer may have just replaced it. If this is the case, look for other clues to prove the authenticity of the cartridge.
Beware of messy soldering or gluing:Game Boy games manufactured by Nintendo will never contain black solder sludge. If you open a Pokemon game and are greeted by a big black bubble, it's a replica. There are online databases with this functionboth the exterior and the circuit board(opens in new tab)of all Pokémon games from Red to Crystal. So whether you're buying one online or in person, have a picture of the frame ready to compare.
Fake Pokémon: Game Boy Advance games
Starting in 2002 in Japan and 2003 in the rest of the world, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire made their debut on the Game Boy Advance, followed soon after by the series' first remakes, Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen. At the end of the Game Boy Advance's life, the definitive version of the Hoenn region: Pokémon Emerald was released.
Get the right tool for the job: Game Boy Advance cartridges can be opened with a 1.5 mm triple screwdriver.
Cartridge color and embossed text
Find out what the cartridge should look like:Like the Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles, Pokémon games on the Game Boy Advance have a distinct look and feel. Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald have deep, translucent red, blue, and green, while Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen have bright red and green cartridges that are more opaque.
Note the thumb grip and embossed text:Game Boy Advance cartridges feature a small front flap with "GAME BOY ADVANCE" in bold just below. On the back of each cartridge are two screws holding a rectangle with the Nintendo logo, model number AGB-002 and "PAT. PENDING. MADE IN JAPAN."
Check spelling and trademark symbols: Before purchasing, make sure there is no incorrect text on the cartridge. It is common for counterfeit cartridges to look correct most of the time and have a slightly different spelling somewhere. Wherever "Nintendo" is featured, there should be a trademark symbol next to it. If it is not there, the cartridge is a fake.
Look for the numbers stamped on the front:Unique to Game Boy Advance cartridges is the presence of some "stamped" numbers on the right side of the sticker. These numbers are found on all Game Boy Advance cartridges and can survive some wear and tear. As long as the sticker on the product you're buying is intact, it's probably legit. Of course, there are manufacturing differences with each batch of games produced. So if your copy doesn't have the lettering embossed on the sticker, stay calm and look for other signs before assuming it's a fake.
battery and circuit board
Knowing which ones should have batteries and which ones shouldn't: Batteries in Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald are not kept in a cage, but may have a yellow or blue ring around them. FireRed and LeafGreen, on the other hand, do NOT have battery as there are no time-based events in the game.
Remember that a battery may have been replaced: Since these games are old and no longer manufactured, chances are you're buying a copy from someone who's had the battery changed (which is fine if done right). Therefore, it is recommended to check all other boxes to determine if the cartridge is genuine. If the battery looks third-party, your buyer may have replaced it to keep the game running.
Look for authentic serial numbers on the circuit board:Each cartridge also has a series of numbers and letters just above the pins on the circuit board. Although different batches of cartridges may have different model numbers, as a general rule, Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald have the same model number.AGB-E05-01. FireRed and LeafGreen are readAGB-E02-20orAGB-E02-30. All of them are printed in white text in a specific font and can be seen even without a triple screwdriver if you tilt the cartridge.
Look for the four golden rectangles on the back of the board:While not completely failsafe, you can authenticate your game by locating the gold rectangle on the circuit board, located in the upper left corner on the back of the cartridge. This rectangle is made up of four smaller rectangles, with each smaller rectangle having one to three points. This can be seen in any Pokemon GBA game without opening the cartridge. When in doubt, look for this rectangle. It's possible for counterfeiters to replicate this design, but if it's not there, you'll know right away that the cartridge is a fake.
How to know if you've been scammed
If you've found a Pokemon GBA game at a garage sale and you're not sure if it's legit or not, there are two easy ways to test its authenticity:
1. The text before the memory selection screen
Put your game on your GameBoy Advance or Nintendo DS Lite. Upon game startup, a fake Pokemon GBA game will simply read:"The previous save file is loading. The game is playable."before the memory selection screen appears. Authentic games will not show this message, they will simply take you to the save selection screen.
An authentic copy of Ruby, Sapphire or Emerald with a dry battery will display the message,"The internal battery has run out. The game is playable. However, time-based events will no longer occur."Your game is fine; The battery only needs replacing to complete specific tasks that require a day-night cycle.
2. Compatibility with 4th generation games
If you have an original Nintendo DS or DS Lite and an authentic copy of Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold or SoulSilver, you can test whether your GBA Pokémon game is authentic. Just put both games on your DS or DS Lite and launch the DS title. While a Pokémon GBA game is loaded, the option "Migrate from (Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed, LeafGreen)" will appear on the save selection screen. Fake Pokémon GBA games will not enable this menu option.
To remember: For the migration option to be available in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, players must have seen (not caught) all 150 Pokémon in the Sinnoh Dex - except Manaphy - and spoken to Professor Rowan to obtain the National Dex. In HeartGold and SoulSilver, players must have defeated the Elite Four, entered the Hall of Fame, and achieved the National Dex before migrating Pokémon from the GBA Pokémon games.
Fake pokemon games: nintendo ds
The Pokémon games available on the DS are Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, SoulSilver, Black, White, Black 2, and White 2. These games, especially the Generation 4 games, are arguably the fakest Pokémon games out there. HeartGold and SoulSilver, in particular, have risen sharply in value on the used market. So while you want a deal, it's also important to play it safe. These games have a lot of indicators, so there are a few things to look out for.
1. Nintendo's ESRB Rating and Seal of Quality
If you're buying Pokémon games for the Nintendo DS, be aware that you're not limited to games in your region. Nintendo DS games from Europe and Australia (PAL) will work on systems in the North America (NTSC-U) and Japan (NTSC-J) regions. However, the language cannot be changed in most games, so make sure you speak the language of the game you purchased.
If you buy a game out of region, you may notice that the decals look different. Pictured here is my (extremely damaged) NTSC-U copy of Pokémon HeartGold next to my relatively new PAL copy of HeartGold. Both games are real but both have very different stickers.
Here's what you can look for in North American and European/Australian games:
Swipe to scroll horizontally
|NTSC-U games||PAL games|
|ESRB rating in bottom left corner||CE mark in the lower right corner|
|"Official Nintendo Seal" oval in lower right corner||Round "Nintendo Official Seal of Quality" in bottom left corner|
|"The Pokémon Company" placed above the official Nintendo logo||"The Pokémon Company" placed under the official Nintendo logo|
The differences are subtle, but they still exist. Also, games have a different three-digit code in the bottom right corner of the sticker. Show North American games"USA", European and Australian game show"EUR", and Japanese game function"JPN". If you see a game with a North American code that does not have an ESRB rating, the game is fake.
2. The game's unique code
As mentioned, each Nintendo DS game has a 10-digit code on the bottom of the cartridge label. The code breaks down as follows:
- system code— The first three digits indicate the lettersNTR. This stands for "Nitro", a codename for the Nintendo DS during its development. Every game has these letters at the beginning of the code.
- game code— Each game has a four-digit game code specific to its region. As seen above, Pokémon HeartGold has a game code ofIPKEin North America andIPPCin Europe and Australia. When purchasing, consider your game's region and compare the game code to other cartridges sold online.
- Postal Code— Make sure the region code matches the game code.USAfor North America,EURfor Europe/Australia andJPNto Japan. A genuine North American copy of Pokémon HeartGold should always have the codeNTR-IPKE-USAat the bottom of the sticker.
3. The code on the back
Does the sticker look legit? Excellent! Now look at the back of the cartridge. Remember that game code we talked about earlier? If your game is legit it will ALWAYS match the serial code on the back of the cartridge. The serial code is below the embossed text and the first four digits always match the game code on the bottom of the front decal.
However, we know that you might be buying a used copy of the game, so don't worry if that code gets wiped! This can only mean that the game was very popular.
4. Embossed text and marks
If the code is missing from the back of the cartridge, the embossed text should provide some information about the game's legitimacy. This text appears to be "pressed" into the cartridge, but only slightly. Because they are cheap to produce, reproduction copies often have embossed text that is pressed very deeply. Check out the cartridges above. If you look closely, the fake cartridge on the right (my fake Pokémon Platinum copy) doesn't have the trademark symbol in the top right corner of the "Nintendo" logo. These inconsistencies can give away a reproduction car.
Also pay attention to the text itself. All Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum games, as well as all other Nintendo DS games with a gray cartridge, will contain the textNTR-005 BED. PENDING.However, all Pokémon games with infrared (IR) functionality - including Pokémon HeartGold, SoulSilver, Black, White, Black 2, and White 2 - contain the textBED NTR-031. PENDING.. Keep this in mind if you're looking for a Pokémon game with IR functionality to avoid being tricked.
5. The circuit board and pins
Take a look at the game's circuit board. At the top of the visible area at the back of the board are some white numbers and letters which may vary from game to game. Note that the left game in this image shows numbers, but the right one does not. Real game contact pins are also gold-plated, while reproduction cartridge contact pins are usually made from cheaper tin, which can wear out more quickly. Since contact pins allow your system to read the game, you always want the best quality to ensure longevity.
6. The upper cavity of the cartridge
This is without a doubt the surefire way to tell if a Nintendo DS cartridge is counterfeit. Take a look at the top part of the cartridge that sticks out after you insert it into your system. The molds from which actual Nintendo DS games are made are shaped so that there is always a rectangular indentation of varying length and width at the top of the cartridge. Look at the two images above. On the left is a regular gray Nintendo DS cartridge with a notch revealing its authenticity. The image below shows a fully slick reproduction car.
If you buy a game from a physical store, you can always ask to inspect your cart. Any reputable seller understands how precarious these situations are and shows goodwill by letting you see a product before you buy it. Not all sellers on second-hand storefronts like eBay post pictures of the top of the shopping cart, but this is something to keep in mind if you want to verify authenticity upon arrival.
7. The color of the car
As mentioned earlier, most Pokémon games on the Nintendo DS have IR functionality. Because these games rely on infrared light to communicate with technology like the Pokéwalker, their cartridges are made from a different material. Under normal conditions, these cartridges appear black to the naked eye. However, shine a bright light through it and you will see that the material is a dark reddish-purple color.
Nintendo never produced a gray cartridge version of the Generation 2 remakes or any of the Generation 5 games. Any IR-compatible Pokémon game has a reddish-purple cartridge. Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver are some of the most popular games in the franchise, and they can be quite expensive. If you're looking for one of these games and it's gray, stop. It's a scam. Do not give your money to scammers unless you specifically want to buy a reproduction. If you agree to purchase a reproduction copy, please be aware that these cartridges are not authorized by Nintendo and may not perform as well as official copies.
Fake Pokemon Games: Things to Watch Out For
Here are some things to look for in general when determining whether or not your game is legit. This applies to all games on those systems, so don't hesitate to apply this advice to any retro handheld game you're looking for.
1. The seller
None of these games are in official production anymore, so you should always be careful who buys them. Today, reproductions and forgeries pass even through the most experienced hands. So if you find one from someone you trust, don't necessarily assume they were trying to scam you on purpose. Most importantly, no matter where you shop, whether it's a brick-and-mortar store, GameStop, Amazon, eBay or whatever,Don't automatically assume it's legit.
When a game sold online is shipped from China, you immediately assume it's counterfeit. Breeding copies come in droves from Chinese sellers, and it's unlikely that legitimate US copies of Pokémon games were being sold in China in the 1990s or 2000s.
When shopping on cost-effective platforms like eBay, make sure you find a seller who offers eBay's money-back guarantee. This also applies to all online platforms you buy from. If you're shopping at a brick-and-mortar store that sells retro games, ask about returns before you buy. Any seller worth their salt will let you return the game if it turns out to be a reproduction copy, or open it up in front of them to examine it. It's your money, so don't be afraid to ask for confirmation! Just remember to be respectful at all times.
2. The listing and clear pictures of the cartridges
Be wary of kits that are too cheap to be true unless you've inspected the car thoroughly. It's a tough call - it could be a shady scammer or a parent looking to sell their kids' old stuff without checking how much it's worth. You can see cheaper games at flea markets and flea markets, so people might be reluctant to let you open them in front of them, but there's no harm in asking.
Do not buy games from online retailers who only use stock images of the game's box. Trusted sellers understand the importance of security for potential buyers and will always provide multiple images of their products from different angles. If you can't see it, don't buy it.
3. Liveliness and composition of the sticker
When you first see your potential purchase, take a look at the in-game sticker. Check it out and ask yourself a few questions before clicking the buy button:
- Does the decal look short or misaligned?
- Are the white stripes on the top and bottom of the DS stickers too thick/thin?
- Are the GBA decals glossy or glossy enough?
- Are the colors bright?
- Is all text clear?
- Are the fonts used similar to other games?
- Does the sticker look like other authentic DS games you've seen online?
- Are brands where they should be?
Because breeding carts are, well,reproductions, means your imitations will never be perfect. Check the sticker for anything that doesn't seem to be working. If you've been collecting Pokemon games for a while, your sticker-tingling senses should be in overdrive. Due to poor print quality, reproduced shopping cart stickers often have blurred text and faded colors. If you cannot read the sticker, this is an indication of the authenticity of the cartridge.
You are a Pokémon Master!
And that's it! You are now an official Pokémon game detective. ADetective Pikachu, if you want. When purchasing items from online and in-person sellers, remember to stay sane and watch out for shady behavior. A reputable seller will always consider your desire to prove a game's authenticity before purchasing it. Familiarize yourself with their games and check out some previously sold games online to get an idea of what an authentic copy looks like. Soon, you'll be a Pokémon Master in no time!
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Nadine is a freelance writer for iMore specializing in Nintendo-related topics, frequently working on news, guides, reviews and editorials. She's been a huge Nintendo fan since she started petting her own Nintendog and enjoys exploring Nintendo's place in the video game industry. Writing is her passion, but she does it mostly to pay off her ever-increasing debt to Tom Nook. Her favorite genres are simulation games, rhythm games, visual novels and platform games. You can find her at @stopthenadness on Twitter, where she'll likely be reposting cute Animal Crossing content.
With contributions from
- Rebekka Speergame editor
What are fake DS games called? ›
Don't be fooled by counterfeit imitations when completing your game library. Bootleg games are illegal copies of legitimate games. There are four quick and easy ways to spot if a Nintendo DS cartridge is a bootleg. If suspicious, check multiple items – not all bootlegs will have the same flaws.Can fake DS games play in a 3DS? ›
Yes, it's possible to play Nintendo DS games on Nintendo 3DS family systems. However, select Nintendo DS games that use accessories in the Game Boy Advance slot of Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite are not compatible with Nintendo 3DS family systems.What does DS stand for game? ›
The DS, an initialism for "Developers' System" or "Dual Screen", introduced distinctive new features to handheld games: two LCD screens working in tandem (the bottom one being a touchscreen), a built-in microphone and support for wireless connectivity.Do DS still exist? ›
So it's with some shock that you may have not realized that Nintendo has not only ended production on all DS handhelds in 2020 and the entire line is now inaccessible in its original form, and there are no new copies left at major retailers.Are gold Pokémon fake or real? ›
Gold Pokemon cards or better known as metal Pokemon cards are highly sought after cards. Metal Pokemon cards are unofficial Pokemon cards that are covered in a gold-colored materials. The most well known metal Pokemon cards are the those included with meals at Burger King in 1999.What do fake Pokémon packs look like? ›
It is true that authentic packs will have color saturation that varies slightly, but fakes will still stand out. Sometimes they will be severely undersaturated, sometimes over-saturated. Basically, if the colors of the pack look wrong, Google or find an authentic pack to compare.Can you go to jail for pirating a game? ›
Finally, it's important to remember that using pirated gaming content is illegal. Depending on the jurisdiction in which you live, it could lead to fines or even jail time, if use of cracked software can be traced back.Are pirated games illegal? ›
Video game piracy is illegal.Do fake GBA games work? ›
The batteries die, or never work at all, which means your save files will often get deleted. Cheaper build quality, which sometimes means they are too big and scrape your gameboy as you put the cartridge in and out. Zero resale value if you ever want to sell it.Are Pikachu's real? ›
Pikachu is a fictional species in the Pokémon media franchise. Designed by Atsuko Nishida and Ken Sugimori, Pikachu first appeared in the 1996 Japanese video games Pokémon Red and Green created by Game Freak and Nintendo, which were released outside of Japan in 1998 as Pokémon Red and Blue.
What animal is Charmander in real life? ›
Charmander, as its name suggests, owes much of its origin to the salamander.How to tell the difference between real and fake Pokémon DS games? ›
The main noticeable difference is the font on the back of the cartridge. The Nintendo on the back of the cartridge is in a larger font than a "genuine Nintendo DS game". Then if you look at the font for the model number & the [Pat. Pend.], it is the same similar larger font as the "Nintendo Lettering".Do fake Pokémon games have a battery? ›
A Pokémon emerald always has an internal battery. The battery has been removed, but you can see the solder points for the battery. As you can see, the fake pokemon game, does not have a battery.Are Gold Pokémon fake or real? ›
Gold Pokemon cards or better known as metal Pokemon cards are highly sought after cards. Metal Pokemon cards are unofficial Pokemon cards that are covered in a gold-colored materials. The most well known metal Pokemon cards are the those included with meals at Burger King in 1999.Do fake Gameboy Advance games work? ›
The batteries die, or never work at all, which means your save files will often get deleted. Cheaper build quality, which sometimes means they are too big and scrape your gameboy as you put the cartridge in and out.Can Fake Pokémon cards shine? ›
A fake card usually feels thin and flimsy and you may be able to see through it if you hold it up to the light. Some fake cards, on the other hand, are too hard and look shiny. If it's the wrong size, that's also a telltale sign.What do fake Pokémon cards feel like? ›
The feel of a fake Pokémon card is often the first thing that gives it away as being fake. Fake Pokémon cards tend to either feel especially papery or a bit plasticy because of the low-quality materials used in their creation.What games do not waste your battery? ›
- Edge (Download on iOS / Android)
- A Good Snowman is Hard to Build (Download on iOS / Android)
- Forget-Me-Not (Download on iOS / Android)
- Euclidean Lands (Download on iOS)
- Little Alchemy (Download on iOS / Android)