How to tell if SNES Game is Authentic or a Bootleg Game Cart
Recently we obtained a handful of games. These were some really rare Super Nintendo titles, that someone was trying to sell to me as legit copies. At first glance, it was pretty obvious to tell none of these were an authentic game.
Below are points about how to spot counterfeit cartridges for the Super Nintendo.
The games are also commonly referred to as "fake", "reproduction" or "bootleg video games".
We also have a YouTube video if you'd rather watch than read about the topic. The game titles in reference are: Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, and The Legend of Zelda etc. For larger images, you can refer to the pinterest page.
Now keep in mind, I'm writing this article because someone is trying to sell me bootleg cartridges as the real thing. I have no problem if you buy reproduction games for your collection, but selling bootlegs as the real thing is where I draw the line. So just make sure if you are a collector of classic games, make sure you buy from a super-reputable store, like The Old School Game Vault.
First Impression is Key: The Condition of the SNES Cart looks New & Cheap
--- I was just amazed at how clean the games look.
--- The front & back labels look pretty new for the 25-year-old game.
--- The cart color looked practically brand new as well.
--- The Screws, were not the typical gold screws used to keep the game shut. These screws had an odd shape, and were not perfectly circular like an actual screw would be. The screws used were jagged and appeared to be just cut from a manufactured sheet of screws.
Step 1: Observe The Back Label
When analyzing the back of the cartridge, look at the cartridge label. You are looking to see if the label has a number imprinted into the label, like "00 or 40" for example. All Nintendo cartridge games from Super Nintendo, Nintendo NES, and Nintendo 64 will have a number imprinted on the back label. This does not apply to handheld game boy games, as they don't have back labels.
Step 2: Open Up the Game Cartridge & look at the board
--- The easiest and most sure fire way to spot counterfeit Super Nintendo games. Is to open up the game cartridges to examine the internal circuit board. Like I've mentioned in previous articles, you need to buy yourself a 3.8 mm size game bit opener.
--- Just look at the difference in the above board photo The game boards in comparison are that of Chrono Trigger - You can certainly see the difference between the legit chrono trigger board vs the fake board.
--- Now observe the game cartridge board size - You'll notice the fake cart has a tiny game board compared to authentic copies of the game.
--- The legit game board will have a year and Nintendo imprinted on the board. – like the Chrono Trigger board in the photo, says 1993 Nintendo on the board.
Step 3: Check for a Product Number Code
--- If you look inside, right above and below where the game pin connector is located. On a legit version, you'll see an alphanumeric product code stamped into the shell. As the Top Shell has a four digit stamp of (F(A)- 55) and the bottom shell has a similar three digit stamp of B - 32.
--- None of the bootleg video games had any product number markings of any kind.
--- This tip is also an easy identifier for to spot counterfeit versions of NES carts, and bootleg N64 cartridges.
Step 4: Analyze The End / Game Title
--- "In the Video" The writing is not clear on the “Chrono Trigger" game, and it was hard to Read” due to the blurry image. As you can see by the Earthbound Photo below, the fake Earthbound game has the font & color all wrong on the end label. Really, if you take the time to actually look at a game label, you'll pick up on the flaws.
--- Most of the font's on the fake games were wrong, the print wasn't clear and at times the end label was just hard to read.
Step 5: Analyze The Front Label & Tell-Tale Signs
The same thing applies to the front labels as did the end labels. Really, if you just look at the details of the label, the vast majority can spot the imperfections pretty easily. Just keep in mind that the graphics used on the counterfeits I have here, are really just poor images.
--- You'll notice front labels are out of focus, the print is not clear.
--- The game rating box was smaller on the counterfeit games.
--- The Player's Choice Logo on the Legend of Zelda game in the video was Tiny.
Check out our other posts on the Topic:
Read more about the growing problem of counterfeits & how to spot fake video games on other systems.
How to spot Fake Pokémon GBA Games
How to Spot Counterfeit N64 Games
Some lady that owns a couple game stores says if the board has a battery or says somethin rom that they are fake i opened up mine which i have gotten a whole bunch of snes nes sega and etc games in 2005 or 06 so i know they cant be fake. But so many people are saying things different from another online on how to spot a fake game. Ive opened 1 of mine and i noticed each game varies on the board size and etc
The actual cartridge board will say a year and Nintendo imprinted on the board. The boards come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. - Brandon
The game battery doesnt mean its a fake. The battery is for memory and saving a game. Only games that are able to save your gameplay have this.
I had just bought 2 games online - Starfox and Earthbound. Based on the information I got I'm confident my starfox is legit, but my Earthboud is totally counterfeit.
Step 1 does not apply to the later NES releases in the North American market from Konami/Ultra. Those games (for example, Mission: Impossible) have a "24" printed, not imprinted, on the back label.
The NES Cart DB is an excellent resource for comparing one's NES games with the data (including labels and board images) from their database. Some North American NES cartridges had several board designs.
Also, some people are replacing damaged labels with repro labels (of varying quality), and some gamers are buying repro game packaging (boxes, Styrofoam pieces, etc.) to make their games CIB.