Saturday, March 24, 2012

This Game is Rated Aarrrgh!

Piracy. It's often brought up in relation to music and movies. And especially nowadays it's almost all digital piracy (my husband did unknowingly buy a pirated DVD set of GTO). What I never thought would have existed was pirated game cartridges. That's right, I'm talking about people out there selling fake copies of licensed games, specifically, for the GameBoy Advance. What I'm not talking about are unlicensed games for a system as was common in the NES days (this being games that were developed, released and sold as their own work, but not licensed by Nintendo to be sold for the system).

This almost fooled me.
This is a game I purchased recently from Ebay (the image is what the seller uploaded). Why Naruto Ninja Council? Well, while I'm not familiar with the series, I am a manga/anime fan, so I thought I'd give it a try.

This has most of the elements that are part of a real GameBoy Advance game:  the title, ESRB Rating, the Nintendo seal of quality, the developer's logo and the serial code. At a cursory glance (which is all it got from me when I placed the bid) it seems legitimate. So what is it missing? Well, all GBA games also have a Licensed by Nintendo logo on it. Sure this seems like a lot of information to require on such a small cartridge (about 2"x1"), but as I see it, this just makes it easier for us to point out the fakes!

The real deal.

Here we have a picture (again taken from Ebay) of the actual cartridge. As you can see, it looks different! Whereas the real cartridge has a fire background, the forger used a picture of the main character, Naruto, perhaps in an attempt to make it seem legitimate. Of course, the actual cartridge has the Licensed by Nintendo logo, but do you notice something else? The serial code! While AGB (the code for the system) and USA (the code for the region) are always the same, the four letters in the middle will differ from game to game. Though if you're a forger, I suppose it's easier to just bang your fist on the keyboard and go for something random.

Alright, well if I haven't yet bored you to death with details on the fake game I bought (and then returned) from Ebay, maybe you'd like to hear about the actual game. I did play it for about 10 minutes. I had already determined it was fake, but was curious to see if it actually worked. Well, it did. Admittedly, this was to be my first GBA game, so I'm not up to speed as to the system's game standard, but it seemed like an okay action platformer (run around, defeat enemies). I probably won't try to buy it again, but I also wouldn't be against owning it for reals.

Overall, I'd say this was an interesting and educational experience! That is, for a game geek like me who cares about this stuff . . . Who knows, maybe someone out there reading this will discover a pirated gem on their game shelf.


  1. I like your witty remarks. They make me chuckle, keep up the good work!

    1. Aww, thanks! If you ever feel like sharing your own writing, I'd love to read it too.