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Old April 2nd, 2013 (2:40 PM).
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Incineroar Incineroar is offline
the spirit of the fighter
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Iki Town
Age: 22
Gender: Male
Nature: Brave
Posts: 13,595

Pokémon Bootleg FAQ

One of the worst things you may encounter when buying online (And sometimes in a store!) is the fact that you'll buy a bootleg game that isn't made by Nintendo or any of it's companies, rather a Rom dump from the internet is taken, flashed to a card and shoved in a box for money's sake. I have a few fakes myself, but I decided to showcase this so people can find out what is fake and what is not. When looking at games, take all of this into account and you can prevent yourself from wasting your money on a fake game, and get only the genuine article.
Just a quick note, I'll get this updated when I get an actual fake copy of Fire Red or Ruby.

Anyways, let's get started. Checking just the outside of a card will reveal plenty. Take a look at my copy of Pokémon Quartz I have:


Now, there are a multitude of differences that show the fakey-ness of the bootleg. Keep in mind that some Fire Red or Ruby bootlegs look very similar to this.
  • All of the labels (ESRB, Nintendo) are in the incorrect places. All names are centered, and the ESRP and Nintendo logos are up and to the right more. As well, the "The Pokémon Company" is in small, black or white font, non-bolded.
  • The Catalog Number (AGB-PQV-USA on this example) is wrong. The following is a list of all official game codes, regions included:
    • Ruby: AGB-AXVE-USA (North America) / AGB-AXVJ-JPN (Japan) / AGB-AXVP-EUR (Europe) / AGB-AXVP-AUS (Australia)
    • Sapphire: AGB-AXPE-USA (North America) / AGB-AXPJ-JPN (Japan) / AGB-AXPP-EUR (Europe) / AGB-AXPP-AUS (Australia)
    • Emerald: AGB-BPEE-USA (North America) / AGB-BPEJ-JPN (Japan) / AGB-BPEP-EUR (Europe) / AGB-BPEP-AUS (Australia)
    • Fire Red: AGB-BPRE-USA (North America) / AGB-BPRJ-JPN (Japan) / AGB-BPRP-EUR (Europe) / AGB-BPRP-AUS (Australia)
    • Leaf Green: AGB-BPGE-USA (North America) / AGB-BPGJ-JPN (Japan) / AGB-BPGP-EUR (Europe) / AGB-BPGP-AUS (Australia)
    It will never deter from this list.
  • Ensure the label is shiny. All official Gameboy Advance Pokémon games have reflective labels.
Looking at the back also can show examples of improper plastic pressing methods. Note that some bootlegs don't look like this, but can resemble authentic cards very closely.

  • The Nintendo logo has thin writing for the words. They aren't as thin on a legit card.
  • Some fakes may have something other than AGB-002 on it (This one does not). This number is referring to the part number (Which, in this case, is a cartridge case). Ensure this number is AGB-002. It will be the same in all regions.
  • Some fake cards come with a Phillips screw (A + or x-shaped screw) rather than a tri-wing (Pictured above)
If you have the ability to open the cartridge, there's plenty of differences.

  • The most obvious change is the chip itself. All bootlegs are constructed in the same way. Fake cards have a secondary chip attached to store the game data on.

    Key Notes:
    If you have a Fire Red or Leaf Green cartridge, and you're wondering if it's a fake, look inside the cartridge (If you are able to). If you see a battery, it's fake. Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green have no RTC (Real-Time Clock) so they do not require a battery. In the case of Pokémon Emerald, the battery will have a light blue ring around the battery and Ruby/Sapphire will have a red ring. If it's ringed in yellow, it's fake. Otherwise, the battery may have been replaced. The battery ring color will remain the same in all regions.
  • The job of soldering on the chip is shoddy. It will fail easily and loose connection.
  • Case quality is sub-par. Bootleg cards will never last as long as an authentic card. Especially where the screw is.
  • One thing to take note of is the printed text on the chip. It will always reach from the left side of the chip and go all the way to the right side. You don't even have to open the card to do this, either. Just look where the contacts are. If it isn't there, it's fake. If the font looks funny (Like in the above example), it's fake. The best way to verify this text is to ensure that the word "Nintendo" looks like it does in the official logo.
  • All legitimate games will have 2 reflective metal squares highly visible on the chip that you can see through the case. One of the squares will be in the top-left of the cartridge, and the other will be approximately halfway down the righthand-side of the label. If they're missing, it's fake.

Two others thing to keep note of. Firstly, bootlegs aren't the best for keeping save data. Some bootlegs of Pokémon Emerald will delete their data once you defeat the Pokémon League, and all DS Pokémon games (Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, Heart Gold, and Soul Silver) will detect bootlegs and delete the save data. And secondly, if you start the game, and it says "This game can be played." before the Continue screen, it's fake.

Credits to KazoWAR for the battery/metal square/reflectivity information, and Evil Arms for kindly donating his bootleg games for this use.