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The Bacconeer’s Guide to Spotting Fake Pokemon GBA Games

The Bacconeer’s Guide to Spotting Fake Pokemon GBA Games

Welcome once again Baconeers to Doc’s Melancholy Hour! Where I reach deep into my painful past to pull out something educational for the masses. Today we’re going to talk about how to not buy fake Pokemon Game Boy Advance games and how to tell if you already did. And to clarify, I’m not going to be talking about Pokemon rom hacks that were sold as the rom hack. No, I’m talking about fakes that were sold as legitimate titles, specifically English ones.

As sad as it sounds these days, we still have tons of fake games still floating around. Pokemon ones, in my opinion, are the easiest to determine the legitimacy of and also the most common ones to be faked. Sometimes, it’s really easy to figure out if a Pokemon game, for the Game Boy Advance specifically, is fake by just looking at the label design or the cartridge color. However, there are a lot of fakes out there that are almost perfectly identical to the games they are posing as, which means one has to be even more careful when considering purchasing a game.

As it turns out, I have bought fake Pokemon games before, even though I’m usually really careful. And due to the effort on the counterfeiter’s part, it actually took me until I saw a few of my GameStop purchased Pokemon games to realize I’d been doped. Instead of just hanging my head forever in sorrow of my fallen money, I decided to break open my fakes so that other Pokemon collectors don’t make the same mistake I did.

First I’m going to show you my two GameStop games and my two fakes side by side from a bit of a distance. Besides the rip on Pokemon Sapphire, to a regular consumer, these games don’t particularly appear any different.

Can you spot the differences?

However, to a lot of seasoned Pokemon gamers and collectors, the shells of the games on the left are clearly not as see-through as the real things. This was the first indication I had that there might be a set of fakes in my collection. I then looked closer at the games themselves, the labels, the backs, even the bottom insides. I began to notice a big difference in font. This was especially easier to tell on the lighter Pokemon Ruby games.

Let’s start with the label on Pokemon Ruby. The first things you’re going to be looking for are the game’s title, the Nintendo seal of approval, the game’s rating, the catalog number below the seal, and that the small Nintendo logo. Right above the label on the top of the cartridge should also be the name of the system, the Game Boy Advance, with the words “Game Boy” in a different font than the word “Advance.”


The real Pokemon Ruby.

On the label of the fake you see the game’s title correctly stated, the Nintendo seal of approval, the game’s rating, the catalog number, and the Nintendo logo are all on the label as well, the embeded Game Boy Advance wording is also still above the label. However, take a look at the spacing and fonts of both labels. If you look really closely at the fonts used for the game’s rating and the Nintendo logo, you’ll notice that they aren’t the normal fonts. In fact, the Nintendo logo looks as though it was smudged during the printing of the label. The catalog number on the right-hand corner also strangely doesn’t have dashes like it normally does. Even the game’s title “Ruby Version” is abnormally large on the front label. If you look at the embeded heading at the top, you’ll also notice that the lettering is thinner than it should be.


The fake copy

On the back of the game you’ll see the model number, the Nintendo logo, Pat. Pend, and Made in Japan. You should also notice that you can see the back of the game’s circuit board with the pins visible along the bottom of the casing.


Back of the real game.

Once again, a good try, but there are tons of noticeable differences in the fake. The first thing you should notice is that the back of the fake isn’t nearly as see-through as the real game. But yet, in the parts of the back that you can see, such as the bottom, you should notice that the pins from the bottom of the circuit board are not visible on the back at all. Instead, the back is just an empty circuit board. Not as noticeable as the label, but the fonts on the back are also off. The easiest one to tell is the Nintendo logo, which is incredibly thin compared to the real game.


Back of the fake copy.

Now, these two views are the most likely ones you will get of any game you intend to purchase online, so making sure you remember what to look for is your key to avoiding a fake game. However, should you have a view of the bottom inside of the game right above the pins, make sure to look for the year, the word Nintendo, and AGB-EO5-01. If you notice that the year is missing and instead of simply the word Nintendo, there is a Nintendo logo, it’s a fake.


Loosey goosey

To make sure that I was correct with my observations about the fake game, I decided it was high time to open it up and take a gander at that circuit board. To my luck, and as it commonly is, the casing on the fake game was incredibly easy to remove even without the screwdriver. All I had to do was rip open the sides with a scalpel and I was able to pull the circuit board right out.



Once I had the fake circuit board out, I decided to not even bother opening up my real Pokemon Ruby game because no comparisons really were needed. The circuit board didn’t have a battery. If you’ve played Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, or Emerald before, you should already know that the game requires a battery in order for the berries and other time-related functions to work. The fake circuit board not having a battery in it was an obvious sign that the game wasn’t even real. In fact, even attempting to play it on my Game Boy Advance, I thought it was strange that the message about the battery being dried up had not occured at the menu screen. Sure, sometimes people change the batteries, but that would typically bump up the price in the game instead of lowering it. So, mystery solved.


The circuit boards of both fake Firered and Ruby.

Just for reference, I ended up ripping open my fake copy of Pokemon FireRed to see what it looked like inside, since Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen don’t have a battery on their circuit boards like the other three third generation Pokemon games that take place in Hoenn. What would you know, the circuit board looked exactly like the one inside of the fake Ruby, with spacing for a battery and all.

Now that I’ve finally seen the fake Pokemon copies I had for what they are, I’ve decided that it’s high time I looked into how these fake copies work and how they’re made. Perhaps you’ll hear from me soon on that Baconeers.

In the meantime, I will be hiding in my cave of sadness playing my REAL Pokemon Ruby. But, if you’re interested in spotting some fake Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, we’ve got a new guide up for your game collecting needs.

Written by Doc Croc

Doc Croc aka Kelly is Nerd Bacon’s Editor-in-Chief and resident narcoleptic. In the off-chance she isn’t already asleep, you can find her here at the Bacon!


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  1. Thank you for such a useful article, Doc! A friend of mine tried to avoid the high prices for all the DS titles and found a set of all them together for $60. Of course, they were fake. The only Pokemon titles I haven’t seen loads of fakes of are the GB and GBC games.

    • Doc Croc
      Doc Croc says:

      The difference between GBA fakes and GB/GBC fakes is that the GB/GBC ones are either too obvious to mistake or too hard to tell the difference. The GBA ones are a lot more well-known in my opinion. DS is kinda in the middle.

      But you do give me a good idea…

  2. The gba shells are just flash carts, the same kinda ones gba homebrewers use. The labels you can buy online pretty cheap too. All ya gotta do is hook the cart up to a computer using a linker to toss the rom on it.

    This is what I’ve found during my investigation so far…

  3. This is so weird, but good stuff to know. I’ve mentioned it privately, but for the record I’d like to say that I can’t believe there’s some factory out there manufacturing not-quite-identical GBA shells (and specialized ones at that) and that there’s still the ability to turn a profit on these fakes….not to mention the labels and circuit boards.

    Do they actually play like the original titles? Except for the non-existent battery?


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