Fake GameBoy games are a thing. I’m sad to say this, but it’s true. The Nintendo GameBoy has a massive amount of personal memories attached to it. It was the first handheld console that I ever remember having and I spent so many hours playing that thing. The iconic start-up ping fits very snugly into the soundtrack of my childhood. It has quite a nostalgic grip on me.
Look out for fakes
Unfortunately, a whole load of shady people want to capitalize on that nostalgia and sell off a whole range of fake GameBoy games. Or, in another scenario, maybe someone is selling a cartridge and doesn’t even know it’s a fake. Either way, it is probably smart to be able to figure out which is real and which isn’t.
This isn’t a laundry list of things to look out for, but it should give you a basic understanding of what to look for when thinking of buying any GameBoy games. I am also primarily dealing with UK/European releases, so your usage may vary. There are also exceptions to the rules, so take this guide with a grain of salt. I will at times point out differences in region releases. For this example, I will be using Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (real) and Pokemon Yellow (Fake).
Check for wear and tear
The first thing to look out for is kind of obvious. If the cartridge itself is in pristine condition, then be wary. It may well be an old game that has been extremely well looked after, but if it looks factory-fresh, then chances are it is fake. I’m not saying that every single well-preserved game is a fake, but it is worth keeping in mind. Look for imperfections. Does it look like the game has been handled? Are there signs of wear and tear? Many of these games were played extensively when they were first bought, with no regard for any future value. So, it’s more than likely there will be SOME visible usage. This is definitely a case-by-case thing, so it’s a little hard to advise on.
Something else that is a little easier to point out is the recessed area at the top of the front section of the cartridge. Within this area should be the words Nintendo GAME BOY TM. This should be viewable on all regional variations. If not, could be a fake. In regards to my examples, Pokemon Yellow instead only has the word GAME visible.
Quality of the label
Until now, I’ve only really talked about the plastic case. Let’s take a closer look at the label. The condition of the label can be a good indication. If it is a skewed angle, or of poor print quality, this can indicate if it is fake. If the text is hard to read, either from the aforementioned print quality or from just poor general design, this can also mean it is fake.
The right identification codes
The text itself can also tell us a lot. There should be an identification code somewhere starting with the letters DMG. For the American and UK/European versions, this should be displayed vertically on the left-hand side of the label near the top. For the Japanese release, it should be horizontally across the top right section of the label. If you type this code into a search engine like Google then it should come back with the corresponding game. If it comes back as a different game, or maybe not even recognised, you might be in trouble. For example, my version of Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins reads DMG-MQ-UKV.
Additionally, it should read Made In Japan somewhere on the label. This is usually in English but I have seen it in other languages. The colours or design of the label may be different also. This does kinda depend on being able to compare two versions but doing a bit of research on specific games will help immensely.
Back of the cartridge
The back of the cartridge is also a great place to find context clues on the validity of the game. Chances are there are groove marks from where it has been slid into a GameBoy to be played. There tends to be a lot more damage on the back as this is where it has directly been in contact with the handheld.
The last major piece of this puzzle is the screw holding everything together. Each game should be held together with a single screw. This screw should have a head with six prongs on it. I’ve seen this on every single legitimate GameBoy game. The only exception to this rule would be if it has been replaced, but even then I would be wary. It will be in the center of the lower section of the cartridge.
In summary, the above article features a few tips and tricks to check if your GameBoy games are legitimate or not. As I previously mentioned, take this advice with a grain of salt. There are exceptions to these examples. With that being said, thanks for reading, and good luck out there! Always be on the lookout for fake GameBoy games!
If you want to see a video version of this article, i’ve linked it below!