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The Bacconeer’s Guide to Spotting Fake Game Boy Games

The Bacconeer’s Guide to Spotting Fake Game Boy Games

Since my last excursion into the world of fakes was a success, I thought I’d take another look at my own games and provide a guide of sorts for anyone else buying games online; specifically Game Boy and Game Boy Color this time. Once again, I’m not going to be talking about fan-made games sold as fan-made games, just fakes sold as the real thing. Most of my examples will be of Pokemon games, however, because the majority of the bootleg Game Boy Color and Game Boy games out there are Pokemon games.

Now, unlike Game Boy Advance games, bootleg Game Boy and Game Boy Color games actually aren’t that common. However, there still are fakes around and while some are pretty easy to spot, some are a little more difficult. To my luck, a search on eBay for a number of extremely popular Game Boy and Game Boy Color games only yielded me a few examples of this, and not the ones I preferred. While eBay’s been cracking down on bootlegs of English copies, there are still tons of bootleg foreign copies of popular games out there. And while not everyone is in a huge rush to buy the Japanese version of Tetris, there are some Japanese exclusive games that are popular enough to want to grab. My first example here is going to be one of them, Pokemon Green.


Example one.

Now, right above this is a picture of a game I found on eBay while searching for a copy of Pokemon Green. It’s a good example of what one of your regular obviously fake Game Boy and Game Boy Color games looks like. Let’s examine it for a minute though. First of all, if you know your Pokemon history, you know Pokemon Green was never released in the United States or translated to English, like the left side’s model number would claim. And while the actual cartridge checks out alright, the game’s rating and the Nintendo logo both appear smashed. Also, the lettering at the bottom “whatever version” didn’t start appearing on the bottom of English Pokemon cartridges until the second generation Pokemon games, so it being on an original Pokemon game doesn’t make sense.

However, I know someone is likely to bring up the fact that there are fan-made cartridges of Pokemon Green in English on Etsy, this is not from Etsy. This is a game that was actually listed on eBay as the real thing for $80. Luckily no one was dumb enough to fall for it.

My real Japanese copy of Pokemon Green.

My real Japanese copy of Pokemon Green.

Above is a picture of the real Pokemon Green which I own. As you can see, the cartridge is a plain light grey with a green label. There’s no big picture of the game’s mascot like the English cartridges, but a small little Venusaur in the middle of the game’s logo. The cartridge itself looks just like any normal Game Boy cartridge, it even has the same writing on the upper back, “Made in Japan” and “Pat Pend.” The other Game Boy Pokemon games all look exactly like this with a similarly organized label that dons the mascot and game’s color.


Example two.

Here’s a game from the second generation of Pokemon that most of us know and love; Pokemon Gold. However, this is the Japanese one….or so one would think. Now this picture is from someone who wanted to know if it was an actual fake in order to sell it. To someone unfamiliar with the games, this would appear to be a real Japanese copy, I mean, it’s gold right? Well, if the lone engraved “Game” at the top of the cartridge didn’t give it away for you, here’s what my copy of the real Japanese Pokemon Gold looks like.

My real Japanese Pokemon Gold.

My real Japanese Pokemon Gold.

Dark blue front and a dark grey back, never would’ve guessed huh? Like the last example, this one assumed that the cartridge for both versions was the same color, and none of the Game Boy or Game Boy Color versions were except Pokemon Crystal. Also, remember the engraved “Game” I mentioned before? You can find a number of Pokemon bootlegs out there with that same single word. Most likely, those bootlegs all came from a single source. But once again, a small little detail to watch out for.

My real copy of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX.

My real copy of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX.

Now for your viewing pleasure, I’ve attached a copy of my The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX. The label may be ruined but the USA-1 model number on the side and the Nintendo logo and seal are still visible. If you thought this copy was a fake, it isn’t. Even looking at the cartridge, everything checks out fine. But keep in mind when looking at the next image the model number on the left side.


EUR Model

Now here’s another image of a cartridge for the same game, this time the label is black. Everything’s in English so it can’t be a Japanese copy of course, but don’t automatically assume it’s a fake. Right on the left side you should see the model number which ends with the letters “EUR.” As you may have thought, this means that the above cartridge is actually the European version of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX. If you ever are confused about if the game you’re looking at is real, always make sure to check the version. Sometimes it really is a fake and other times it’s just a different version of the same game.


USA Model.

Now here’s another picture of a The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX cartridge. You should notice that it looks almost exactly like my copy except the label isn’t ripped to hell and there is no Nintendo seal on the right side. However, this version is also not a fake. This version of the cartridge is actually model USA. The one I own is simply a different version label from the same region. Some regions may have multiple labels of a game, like The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX and some may not. Keep in mind what version you’re getting and what the label should look like and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a real copy.

A_Locomotive's fake copy.

A_Locomotive’s fake copy.

And here’s a fake copy for you. As you can see, grey cartridge, really large text on the sides, and the label itself looks almost as if it was a copy of the box art. A cool guy on the Atari Age forums who goes by A_Locomotive discovered this one. While it’s easy to mistake the Game Boy Link’s Awakening with DX, I have never actually seen another fake copy of any non-Pokemon games.

And this has been another adventure into the world of fake games. Hopefully next time I can find some Game Boy and Game Boy Color games to rip open for everyone’s enjoyment. Until then, be observant, be smart, spend safetly!

Written by Doc Croc

Doc Croc is Nerd Bacon’s Editor and handheld maven, who spends one third of her time working on the site, another third splurging on Amazon, and the final third sleeping.


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  1. Question what does the 12 mean on the label of this cart. It’s as if it was stamped on the only thing that i can think of is that it was either 12th in production or it signifies the 12 images that this game keeps as well as the items he’s is allowed to store as far pictures is concerned as per the games evolution rather. I can furnish image if you wish as well.

    • EDIT: You must be talking about the imprinted 12 on the Link’s Awakening cart on Ebay. I’m not sure myself as to what it means, but the prevailing rumor is that it’s to identify the facility the cart was made at. Every legit NES, SNES, N64, and Game Boy (Original, Color, Advance) cartridge has an imprinted number on it, usually two digits with a letter sometimes attached at the end. And it varies by game cartirdges too.

      For example, I have two copies of Spyro: Season of Ice for GBA with an 11 and the other with a 19 on it. However, my two Turok Evolution GBA cartridges both have 13s imprinted on them. I believe GB/GBC/GBA imprints are on the front right while NES/SNES/N64 are on the back. DS games, on the other hand, don’t have the imprints, although the game’s serial number is printed on the back.

      Regardless of their meaning however, it’s a good sign of whether a game is a fake or not (although it isn’t unheard of of folks switching out a fake’s circuit board with a real one and using the same cart).

      I hope that answers your question?

  2. LinksNap says:

    Thanks for this– so that 3rd Link’s Awakening is not in fact a fake? Shouldn’t it have the Nintendo Seal *and* an imprinted serial number on the sticker?

    If it is in fact legit, it makes me feel much better about an eBay bid I made yesterday, so once again thanks for this! Haven’t found this specific information about the game anywhere else on the internet.

    • Doc Croc
      Doc Croc says:

      Not a problem! Yep, the third one is legit. Not many GB/GBC fakes exist out there, and the ones that do exist are usually Pokemon games that can be sold for a high profit. If you’re ever concerned about whether your GB/GBC game is legit, the best way to check is usually by looking up the ID on the left side.

  3. Another excellent guide!

    You have to wonder if they were even trying, printing “GAME” alone there at the top of the cartridge :l


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