Fake GameBoy games are most definitely 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. And there are some people who want to exploit that.
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 an extensive 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. Some of the points made in this article can be broadly used with other game versions. I will at times point out differences in region releases. As always, there are also exceptions to the rules, so take this guide with a grain of salt. 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. Fake Gameboy games tend to be in pristine condition, so 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 GAMEBOY TM. This should be viewable on all regional variations. If not, could be a fake. In regards to my examples, my fake 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. Should the text be hard to read, either from the aforementioned print quality or from just poor general design, this can also mean it is fake. If the text is blurry or is situated in a place that makes it hard to read, chances are it’s a fake. This could mean it has been printed in an area with low contrast, or maybe a little too close to the edge of a boxed-off area.
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.
The Nintendo Seal of Quality
One final note on the front of the cartridge. The Original Nintendo Seal of Quality. This is a circular icon that is usually found on the lower left or right of the label. Every legitimate European/UK game I own has this on it. Japanese versions don’t. It should be a perfect circle with numerous small triangles poking out of it, much like a simplified rosette. The main area that includes the text should be white, and the surrounding triangles should be a gold colour. Likewise with the text.
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. This circles back to my first point about checking for wear and tear, but it should be more noticeable on the back. There tends to be a lot more damage here 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 circular prongs sticking out of it. Only removable with a specific screwdriver, I’ve seen this thing 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 centre of the lower section of the back 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!
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