Spotting Fake Pokémon LeafGreen (and FireRed) Cartridges: A Guide for Gamers

Are you a Pokémon fan who wants to relive the nostalgia of playing the older Pokémon games? With the release of Pokémon X and Y just a few months away, now is the perfect time to revisit some classic titles. But beware! Fake Pokémon cartridges are making their rounds in the market, and it’s essential to know how to spot them. In this guide, we will explore the telltale signs of counterfeit Pokémon LeafGreen and FireRed cartridges.

The Deceptive World of Fake Cartridges

You may think that you can easily spot fake cartridges by the pictures posted online or by checking the seller’s location. However, counterfeiters have become more cunning, making it harder to distinguish genuine cartridges from fake ones. Let’s dive into some key indicators that can help you differentiate between the two.

Take a close look at the Nintendo logo. In a genuine cartridge, the logo is perfectly centered within the red border, with the ® symbol slightly above the last letter. But in a fake cartridge, the logo appears off-center, with the ® symbol in line with the text. Additionally, the border of the fake logo is thinner, and the font may differ slightly.

2) The Nintendo Seal of Quality


The Nintendo Seal of Quality is another crucial aspect to consider. On a genuine cartridge, the text on the seal is clear and easy to read. However, on a fake cartridge, the text may be blurry or hard to decipher. Furthermore, the ® symbol on the fake seal has a solid white background, whereas on the genuine seal, it is transparent, revealing the metallic green behind it.

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3) ID Code and Impression


Identifying a fake cartridge becomes slightly trickier when examining the ID code. On a genuine cartridge, the font of the ID code appears bolder, and there is a specific spacing between the code and the edge of the label. Additionally, genuine cartridges have numbers impressed into the label behind the letters, typically on the right side.

gba logo

An often overlooked detail is the Gameboy Advance logo. Upon closer inspection, you will notice that the letters on a genuine cartridge appear thicker compared to those on a fake cartridge.

5) The ESRB Rating


The ESRB rating can also provide valuable clues. A fake cartridge may contain a typo, such as an added space in the word “content,” making it read as “con tent.” Furthermore, the rating on a fake cartridge may be closer to the edge of the label, have a thinner font for the “E,” and be slightly rotated counter-clockwise compared to a genuine cartridge.

6) Inside the Cartridge

While it may not always be possible to open the cartridge, there are other ways to spot fakes. By holding the cartridge up to the light, you may observe the silhouette of a horizontally oriented chip within a fake cartridge. However, genuine cartridges should display a vertically oriented chip, appearing much thinner from that angle. It is worth noting that new fake cartridges may lack the save battery found in older counterfeits.

7) Playing the Game

When playing a fake cartridge, you may encounter various issues. During the saving process, the music may momentarily cut out, and upon its return, other sound effects may become quieter than the music. Additionally, you may notice a slight delay or hang when exiting menu screens.

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8) The Pal Park Problem

If you insert the cartridge into your Nintendo DS and start a Generation IV game, you may find that you cannot access the Pal Park. The game fails to recognize the cartridge, trapping your Pokémon in their original game.

9) The eBay Listing

When purchasing cartridges online, exercise caution. Fake cartridges tend to be significantly cheaper than genuine ones. Scrutinize the listing’s photos, and be wary of sellers using stock images of the box. If you have doubts about a listing’s authenticity, ask the seller for additional photos. You can also perform a reverse image search, drag and drop the photo into Google Images, to check if the same image appears on other websites. Authentic listings should show consistency.

10) Educate Yourself

Lastly, read through previous guides on spotting fake cartridges. The world of counterfeits is ever-evolving, and understanding the history and nuances will empower you to make informed decisions when buying Pokémon games.

By familiarizing yourself with these telltale signs, you can navigate the market with confidence and ensure that the Pokémon LeafGreen or FireRed cartridge you purchase is the real deal. Enjoy your gaming experience and catch ’em all!

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