Bootleg GBA games
You might know that feeling: you've found a great game on the internet, but when it finally delivers and you're very eager to play it, it turns out to be a bootleg. In this post I'll give you tips to distinguish genuine GBA cartridges from bootleg ones.
When you want to buy a game via the internet, you should ask the seller to show a picture of both the front and the back of his cartridge. This way (given he posts pictures of the actual cartridge, instead of googled ones) you can often easily see if a game's genuine or not.
I'll post pictures of my games and tell you why they're bootleg or not.
First, a cartridge's back should have the Nintendo logo, and two lines saying "MODEL NO. AGB-002" and "PAT.PEND.MADE IN JAPAN".
This SMB Jr cartridge is an example of how it should be.
This SMW cartridge is obviously fake. The "PAT.PEND.MADE IN JAPAN" line is missing and it says "MODEL NO. AGB-022", which isn't a thing.
This M&L:SS cartridge is fake too. It says "MODEL NO. AGB-004", which doesn't exist either. You should just look for AGB-002.
This is an example of a genuine front. It has got the Nintendo logo, the Original Nintendo Seal of Quality and if you look closely, you can see the number 41 in the sticker. The sticker is of good quality.
The front of my SMW is obviously fake as well. The sticker is not of good quality. It's also not put on horizontally, it's uneven.
This Brother Bear cartridge says "LICENSED BY" but completely forgets the Nintendo logo. The sticker is put on poorly and of poor quality again too.
Another thing too note is that, depending on from where you're buying, you should look at the last letters of the code on every game. There are different genuine ones, like DU and UKV, but the two most used are EUR and USA (in Western countries). I bought all my games from Dutch and German websites, so my games should have EUR on it. My bootlegs don't though, they say USA. So when the place it's supposed to come from doesn't match up with the location of the seller, you should ask the seller where he got it (because of course he could've bought it on vacation or something).
This tLoZ:tMC cartridge is genuine. It says it comes from Europe, and it does, plus when you look closely you can see numbers in the sticker here too.
This cartridge is somewhat more interesting though, because this is the proper PAL (Europe regions) version, but when you're buying your Minish Cap cartridge from USA its front is supposed to be red. So cartridges' stickers can vary depending on where they're from.
This bootleg has a thin font for the Nintendo logo instead of the usual fat one.
Lastly, this bootleg's back forgets the "PAT.PEND.MADE IN JAPAN" line, uses "MODEL NO. AGB-022", which, again, doesn't exist, and says NIntondo, instead of Nintendo. Sometimes I wonder what these guys were even thinking...
Alright, now say you've checked these things, and the game you want seems to be genuine, and you ordered it.
When you get it, you should watch out for 3 more things that could tell you it is in fact a bootleg.
The first thing is something I've never seen any bootleg do right, while all genuine games have got it. It was too hard to take a picture of it, so I took one of the internet.
When you tilt the cartridge so you can look in behind the contacts, you should see text which says Nintendo and a few other things. If you can see this text (it may take some practice to look in at the right angle) you can be sure it's genuine. If you look in, but see nothing or even a hole, it's bootleg.
Some bootleg cartridges, not all of them, are a little too big. You'll immediately notice it if you try to get them into your GBA, because you'll really have to use force on them. It'll often also be hard to get them out of there again. All Nintendo GBA cartridges are perfectly identical in shape, so when you find one that's too big it's fake.
Lastly, one hint for a game being a bootleg is that it doesn't save anymore. Games not saving an more brought me to googling it, because I didn't know of bootlegs' existence before that. Most bootleg GBA games use a battery-powered save if they have one at all (password-based games don't need a save function). The battery often isn't of great quality either, so if it was made a while ago it will likely have run out by now. On the contrary, not only did Nintendo use high quality batteries, most GBA games actually don't use a battery-powered save. I found a list of games that do, although I'm not sure how complete it is.
That was all I had to say, I hope you and I will not be disappointed next time when we've found that one great game online!
The last part was updated in 2019, when I found out that most GBA games don't use a battery for the save system. The rest of the article is old, but still useful. Thanks for reading. :)