A Wild Fake Pokemon GBA Cartridge Appeared!

Today I had a chance to make time for one of my oldest hobbies, collecting video games. I’m certain in future posts I will be able to delve more into my collection and collecting habits but this is more of a cautionary tale. As far as game collecting goes, the Game Boy Advance Pokemon games (FireRed, LeafGreen, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald) are still sought out and average around $25 – $30 each per legitimate copy. Ebay is currently loaded with knockoffs and if you aren’t careful you will end up with a fake, a working fake, yet fake nonetheless.

Take a look at the two cartridges in the picture, both are allegedly legitimate copies of Pokemon FireRed but only the game on the left is authentic.

  • First look at the glare on the label, a legitimate copy of a Pokemon GBA game will have a reflective foil label.
  • Next a more subtle difference, if you zoom in on the picture you can see the legitimate copy has a round indention underneath FireRed, even if it is not visible you should still be able to feel it by running your finger over the label.
  •  Look at how bold the E is on the ESRB rating compared to the fake version.
  • Another subtle difference is the “Fat Nintendo” logo featured on the fake copy of Pokemon compared to the more “Svelte Nintendo” logo the real copy sports.
  • You will also notice that AGB-BPRE-USA on the legitimate copy is thinner than its fake counterpart.
  • The font for GameBoy Advance at the top of the cartridge is also different between the two.
  •  The most telling difference in the front of the two games is how clear of a case the fake copy of FireRed has in comparison to the legitimate copy. You should not be able to see through the front of a copy of FireRed or LeafGreen.
  • So, just off of the front of a Pokemon game for the GBA we can see multiple differences but it doesn’t end there. You should also be able to see how dull the coloring on the text in the label is on the fake version of FireRed.
  • Comparing the back of the cartridge we can see even more differences between the two. One thing I have yet to see a counterfeiter duplicate is Nintendo’s trademark tri-screw. The screw on the fake game on the right looks warped, like somebody tried making it look like the correct one on the left.
  • You should notice differences with the font on the two cartridges and the details the clearer, fake case shows. As counterfeiters get better they are going to start addressing some of the differences to make theirs look more real, its good to know several things to look for.

Lastly I will say look at the actual underside of the cartridge near the contacts, a legitimate version will read: ©2001 Nintendo instead of just “Nintendo”. Now with your newfound knowledge go take a look at how many fake copies of GBA Pokemon games there are on Ebay as opposed to how few real copies there are. If you find a listing from Hong Kong or China, chances are they are fake copies. If you see a listing where the photo is a generic box art and not actually the cartridge, chances are they are fake. If you see a listing for a Pokemon game that was never released on GBA (Pokemon Cyber, Pokemon Chaos Black, Pokemon Quartz…) , chances are they are fake. A few years back before I had this knowledge of GBA Pokemon games I “won” an Ebay auction for all five GBA Pokemon games, upon doing a little research online I discovered all five were counterfeit. I messaged the seller telling him I knew the were fake and the seller refunded me my purchase price plus I kept all of the games, which still work. I should also note that legitimate copies of Sapphire, Ruby and Emerald do have more of a see through case than LeafGreen and FireRed do.


2 thoughts on “A Wild Fake Pokemon GBA Cartridge Appeared!

  1. I think price might also be another red-flag for a fake game. A few months ago eBay was flooded with fake D/P/P and HG/SS games for $10 each. AS you mentioned, mostly from Hong Kong/China.

    I bought a fake Emerald from an Amazon seller. Have you found fakes at Gaming stores that sell used video games?

    Maybe the fake games would be OK to give away in order to introduce someone to Pokemon. Then they could start another game with a legit copy.

    • Great point. I have found fakes at local retailers and I would say in most cases they are thankful that I showed them how to tell the differences. In one flea market I spotted fakes, and prevented someone from buying them, the seller was very upset that I was preventing people from buying the fakes. and he seemed to have a lot with him.

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