How to Spot Bootleg Pokemon Game Boy Advance Games


Bootleg Pokémon games are getting more & more frequent in the gaming community.  Really, it's not just Pokémon games, it's pretty much all the popular games from the Game Boy Advance library. 

For today's article, we are going to talk about counterfeit versions of pokemon games, but the same principles can be applied to other GBA games. Below is a list of (7) seven points that have helped thousands of gamers make a determination if that pokemon emerald real vs fake.

With large online auction platforms allowing counterfeits to freely be sold.  We all have to be careful we don't pay good money for fake Pokémon games.  For this article, we are going to examine a fake Pokémon emerald game cartridge and an authentic Pokémon emerald game cartridge.    

Unfortunately, many counterfeits are looking more and more like the real thing. Below is our guide to help weed you out bootleg video games.  If you want to view larger images, you can see them on Pinterest @ TheOSGVault or make sure to go and watch the YouTube Video on the topic

If you enjoyed educating yourself with this type of knowledge, we have several other great reads about spotting bootleg Super Nintendo Games, Fake Nintendo DS Games, and How to Spot Counterfeit N64 games on our site as well.  Not to mention plenty of authentic pokemon games for sale in our store.

 The Nintendo Seal / Imprinted Numbering:

The Nintendo seal should always be clear and the Nintendo seal print should be very visible and legible. With the fake label, the Nintendo seal has worn off. The label on the fake game does not have a number imprint just above the Nintendo seal. A true Pokémon game will have a number print such as: [11, 08A] etc. 

This is probably the quickest way to check for a fake or legit copy is whether there is an Imprinted Number.  95% of all the pirated carts I've encountered don't have the imprinted numbering.  Labels do get worn, so you may need to angle the cartridge to get a good view of the label.

pokemon emerald real vs fake

The Game Cartridge Board

For many games, opening up the game and examining the circuit boards can be a dead giveaway for spotting bootleg pokemon game. A real Pokémon gameboy advance game has its internal chips; on the motherboard, marked with the lettering “MX”. Where most bootleg carts do not or have Japanese writing on them. (Refer to the Photo below)

how to tell if pokemon emerald is real

You will also notice in the photo, the font, and font size for the lettering “Nintendo” is different on each board.

This photo was taken with a real and a fake Pokémon emerald. A Pokémon emerald always has an internal battery. The battery has been removed, but you can see the solder points for the battery. As you can see, the fake game, does not have a battery.

The Back of the cartridge shell:

As you can see, the cartridge color for the game is light green. A genuine Nintendo shell, has two square rectangle stamps on the inside of the back cartridge shell. As, if you look closely, the fake cartridge does not.

pokemon emerald authentic vs fake

The inside of the front of the cartridge shell:

On legit Pokémon games, you will see an imprinted rectangle; this is located just behind the label.  Also, to note on the bootleg cartridge shells, see how the label shows through the shell.

fake pokemon games

Color of the Cartridges:

NTSC Pokémon cartridges have colored cartridge shells, which means Pokémon Leaf Green and Emerald should be green. Pokémon Sapphire has blue cartridge shell, Pokémon Ruby & Pokémon Fire Red both have a reddish cartridge shells. As you can see from the photo below, based on all the information I’ve presented above, you can clearly see the difference in the legit carts and the counterfeit cartridges. The only versions that are not colored is Pokémon Mystery Dungeon & Pinball for GBA, as they are gray.

bootleg gba games

The Nintendo Font on the Back of the cartridge shell:

Pokémon cartridges will have Nintendo stamped into the back of all Nintendo NTSC cartridges. Look at this and make sure Nintendo is spelled correctly on the back of the cartridge, and do the same on the front of the cartridge. Many of the Pokémon bootleg games will have a spelling mistake.

Watch Out, Fake Pokémon Games Work:

This point is really what got me started with this article.  With bootleg pokemon games, the game will start up like normal. Except, the save files are not immediately accessible. The game will ask you if you want to load the save file, which is definitely different from the authentic games.   With authentic pokemon games the game will load up like normal, and once you press start you have the option to view your save profile.

These are just a few of the points to look for with pokemon fake games. Is there any missing here? Do you have any tricks to tell if a Pokémon game is real vs fake? Please use the comment section below to further educate ourselves with any experiences you’ve had dealing with reproduction carts.

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Comments 2

Guest - Delta Ray Z on Friday, 28 January 2022 17:06

thanks for the emerald comparison

thanks for the emerald comparison :)
Guest - Delta Ray Z on Friday, 28 January 2022 17:07

there's a lot of repros there ;(

there's a lot of repros there ;(
Tuesday, 28 June 2022