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Be careful when buying GBA games
on March 21, 2014
Whether you are the person playing these games or buying a gift, you need to know! There is a large market of FAKEs out there. you can guarentee you're buying a fake unless you buy from a seller who has a history of selling legitimate copies. (Like CMA gaming) If you buy these games from new sellers or sellers who have not sold GBA games before it is possible you will receive a FAKE.
Where ever these fakes originate from (mostly hong kong) they have thoroughly invaded our retro markets here in america. Some boot legs are so convincing that even retail stores like console game exchange have been fooled and accidently sold bootlegs before they understood that these cartridges were fake. Let me explain a few things about GBA cartridges:
These games have been out of print for, in many cases, a decade. The cartridge should not look new unless you're buying a $400 factory sealed copy. (in which case, how dare you remove it from the casing). Legitimate copies are becoming increasingly hard to come by, so expect to pay $40 dollars for a cartridge that looks beat-up.
Quickest way to spot a fake is a brand new label. you may have come across a mint copy, but please, take a closer look! (for emerald, ruby and sapphire) is the label metallic? are there four embossed letters near the top right? is the ESRB rating skewed or the wrong font? Is the nintendo seal of approval crisp and clear? Look inside the cartridge (at the bottom, don't take it apart) can you read "2002 nintendo" clearly on the chip itself? Is the plastic of the cartridge the same color as the label? is it translucent? flip the cartridge over, is the screw a phillips head or a Y shape?
If you answered no to any of these, you could have a fake copy! please test the game cartridge to see if everything is working. you should be able to: save and load easily, trade forward pokemon to Gen 4 using a DS lite. if you are unable to do those two things, this is a fake.
(Firered and Leaf Green) Labels will not be metallic on legit copies, but they should be fairly shiny. Earlier copies wont have embossed letters near the right side like newer copies. (there were multiple printings of these games, earlier printings did not have as many security features.) the plastic should not be as transparent as ruby sapphire emerald. On the actual chip should still be "nintendo" and a serial number which should match up to the serial number on the label. the print year may or may not be present. besides that everything else should work the same.
*****IF YOU ARE UNSURE OF A NEW SELLER******
Have a new seller, or a first time GBA seller, take pictures of the product they are selling, possibly even a video. If any of the security tests are failed, ask them to demonstrate that the cartridge plays fine by saving/loading and possibly even trading forward to gen 4 using a DS.
PS thinking: "My kid wont know the difference" does not apply here. you kid may not be able to save their game! They WILL notice that and they will come crying to you asking you to fix it....