Identifying Fake GBA Games
One of the worst things you may encounter when buying online (And sometimes in a store!) is the fact that you'll buy a bootleg game that isn't made by Nintendo or any of it's companies, rather a Rom dump from the internet is taken, flashed to a card and shoved in a box for money's sake. I got one of these cards a while ago, and I thought I'd share with you what to look for when buying a GBA game. Pokemon games also have this happen to them often as it's a hot-selling series, so this tutorial will also apply to Pokemon besides the game you see here.
Part One: How does it look on the outside?
You'd be surprised how easy it is to mistake a game that is legit for one that is bootleg. But when you know the differences, you can spot them with ease.
1. Check the label.
First, look at the two games in the image below. Can you identify the bootleg?
FFIV Advance (Real) :
FFV Advance (Fake) :
Now, there are a multitude of differences that show the fakey-ness of the bootleg.
- The FFV Advance game pak doesn't have an "Official Nintendo Seal" on it. The Final Fantasy series is approved by Nintendo.
- There is no Nintendo or Square Enix logo on the bootleg.
- The official FFV Advance card does not have an image of the main characters on the front. This is what it actually looks like.
- Below the grip where you can pull the card out of the system, Where it says "Gameboy Advance", the font on the fake is smaller than the legit card.
- The game code on the fake does not match. AGB-BYME-USA is the GBA game Monster Trucks Mayhem.
The back has two key identification methods. Compare the three (blurryish) images. (Note the screws were removed in advance of taking the images for the next part of this guide.)
Do they look the same? Or do they look different? There are 2 things that identify the fake from the legit here.
1. The fake has thin writing for the words on it. They aren't as thin on the legit card.
2. The fake card has AGB-004 on it. That is not the correct part number. AGB-004 is a Japanese battery charger for the GBA. AGB-002 is a GBA Game pak casing. Now, the outside has a lot of telltale signs on it, but if you're fortunate enough to crack one open, there are many more signs that they are fake.
Part Two: How does it look on the inside?
Now, first of all, let's grab that tri-wing screwdriver and open it. This is what the two cards look like on the inside.
There are even more differences here than on the outside of the card.
- The most obvious change is the chip itself. The fake game has a battery on it, which the retail game does not need. The battery is used to store the rom on it. If that battery dies, the game dies.
- The job of soldering on the chip is shoddy. It will fail easily and loose connections.
- There is no text on the bottom of the card. This text can be seen partially by looking in the slot of the card.
Part Three: List of known fake GBA games
Now that you have been enlightened with the knowledge of fake GBA games, I will proceed to make a list of fake games.
- Final Fantasy V Advance with the main characters on the front of it.
- Any game card with Pokémon Shiny Gold on it.
- Any game card with Pokémon Naranja on it.
- Any game card with Pokémon Quartz on it.
- Any game card with Pokémon Chaos Black on it.
- Any Final Fantasy VI Advance card with Edward, Rydia and Rosa on it (GBA Code AGB-BKWE-USA)
- Any Super Mario Advance with "Nintondo" on the back
- Any Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced card with a green, blue and yellow swirl on it
- Any Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow with AGB-ACTE-USA front of it (That game code does not exist).
- Any Kirby: The Amazing Mirror with Kirbys on the front of it and AGB-033 on the back
- Any F-Zero with a Blue Falcon on the front
- Any Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga with the official box art on the Game Pak as opposed to having Cackletta on it
- It's an obvious fan game, not a retail-released game
- The stickers are not reflective (Retail Pokémon games have shiny stickers)
- [FIRE RED & LEAF GREEN] If you see the top portion of a battery near the top of the label (Lined with yellow), it's fake, since Fire Red and Leaf Green do not require batteries.
- Ensure that the ring around the battery is of a correct color. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire have a red-ringed battery, Emerald has a light-blue ring. If it's yellow, chances are very high that it's fake.
- Ensure the positioning of two metal squares on the PCB, one to the top-left of the label, one to the right-hand side middle of the label (If the cartridge is of a translucent color)