Beware Of Fake Retro Games

Beware Of Fake Retro Games
Image: <a href="">jabberlooper</a>

While fake retro games are certainly not new, now is a good a time as any for a reminder to watch out when shopping.

In the past few years, more and more retro games have been sold in Japan via e-commerce sites Mercari and Yahoo! Auctions. Twitter user Jabberlooper cautioned that many phony versions of rare games are being sold this way and that quality of the fakes is getting better and better.

Below is Magical Pop’n.

Kotaku previously found a real version of this rare game in Akihabara that was priced around $1763.

More of the fake Magical Pop’n in the reply tweet:

Here, the tells are the positioning of some of the text on the printed circuit boards. The back sticker is wrong. Also, the soldering isn’t as carefully done.

Another giveaway I’ve seen among some Magical Pop’n fakes, the pcb reads “N1ntendo” with the number 1.

In Japan, Super Famicom Games and Famicom games, in particular, seem to be susceptible to forgery.

For example, here are two copies of the Famicom game 4 Nin Uchi Mahjong. Just looking at the photo, can you tell which one is fake?

The top one is fake. The clear giveaway is how the kanji for mahjong (麻雀) appears. According to this Twitter user, the feel of the plastic is different and the cart is rather heavy.

Since game collecting is global, this problem isn’t unique to Japan.

Some of these fakes appear to have spread internationally. There are threads like “Is my copy of Magical Pop’n fake?” on and “Magical Pop’n: Real or Repro?” on Reddit.

Beware if you are buying online or even in person! Be sure to check out Kotaku’s video game collecting tips.


  • As long as you’re interested in playing the game rather than for speculative purposes, I suppose the cheap knock off is fine, and may even work better than a legitimate 20 year old cartridge.

    What I’ve been finding bizarre is all the ‘english translation replica’ carts on eBay for games that never had official localisations. Given the ones in question are Nintendo first party games, I’m surprised the hammer of Big N haven’t come down on them.

    • You may as well pirate the ROM in that case. If the game’s developer isn’t going to profit from the sale (which they would have indirectly for a second hand sale), then why give money to the counterfeiter?

      • Yeah, but the countefeiter in this case has translated the game.
        You could look at it that you’re paying for them acquiring a copy of the game for you (albeit illegally) AND translating it (which is their own work*).

        • The cartridges the article is talking about are not translated though. All the counterfeiter is providing a reproduction of the cartridge and PCB.

          If all you want to do is play the games on the original hardware and don’t care about having original cartridges, you may as well get a flash cartridge. It’s piracy both ways.

    • problem is that when people buy original carts, they are bought for a collection. because these games are rare, people are selling off counterfeits at ridiculous prices disguising them as the real deal.

      • That was the part I wasn’t addressing, when people charge the full speculative price for fakes. If they ever claim that it was a legitimate or original cart, then you’d be able to get a refund from eBay at least (and report them to whoever your consumer/law enforcement group is) so its being careful when reading the writing. Normally you can tell the fakes because they’re asking a price far below how much its worth on the market. If its too good to be true, it quite possibly is.

        What gets me is the people who sell the case and manual (or even the two separately) for the same amount as the going price as the game on the market, and clearly hope that whoever bids didn’t read the full name of the auction. There is no way that a gamecube game case and manual can be worth hundreds or thousands of Euro. I got to see how many people try that recently (and who know. They might be fakes too!)

        • Depends on the game but there’s way less manuals around for older games than the games themselves. The manuals are listed for more than the games because they’re generally worth more than the games.

  • Usually, your best bet for getting legit carts is to buy from local retro gaming stores rather than eBay.

    Stores that specialize in these games won’t buy/sell fakes if they are a good store, And the people who run them can usually spot them quite easily.

  • Considering the high price of retro carts these days, I’ll happily drop money on a repro cart instead. I want to build a Nintendo 64 collection but the prices on consoles, controllers and games are higher than they were during their era.

  • This has become a problem with Neo Geo AES carts in the last few years, not only with crude bootlegs using PCBs harvested from cheaper titles, but also converted MVS carts. Basically put me off buying them anymore. I remember a group from France were notorious for selling a bunch of Garou AES carts for sub-$1000 prices on eBay.

    • You mean converted AES carts?
      People would break the locking tab out of AES carts to run them in a MVS because the AES carts were cheaper.
      AES; home console.
      MVS; arcade.

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