The purpose of this guide is to educate the otherwise unsuspecting public as to the thriving business of FAKE Nintendo DS games for sale on eBay.
Some may already be aware of the sheer amount of counterfeit GBA games already avaliable here, and how hard the are to spot (if requested i can upload a guide about this, too) but may be unaware of how to spot the (mostly) very clever and more recent FAKE DS titles.
A couple of pre-purchase things to look out for are the same as any experienced eBayer would suggest:
1. Item location - It seems that the majority of fake DS and GBA games come from Hong Kong, Singapore and China. This is, of course not to rule out that a person selling from, say, Bradford hasnt managed to get hold of some ROM burning software and a few blank cartridges either and is running his business from his bedroom... which brings me onto my next point...
2. Item picture - A stock photo can, in some cases, tell you all you need to know. Personally, i've bought two items with stock photos but have only been disappointed with one (ironically, a DS copy of Final Fantasy Tactics A2 which was... yup, you guessed it, fake!). If a seller hasn't uploaded an actual photo of the item in question, you have to ask yourself, why?
A rule ive realised to be true, regarding eBay, is the simple sum of: REAL ITEM PICTURE + HONEST DESCRIPTION = GREATER SALES.
3. Is the game an import, or was it sourced from the UK - Although the Nintendo DS is a region free handheld, just like the PSP is, the packaging varies greatly from the UK PAL releases to the US and Japanese packaging. UK PAL packaging is always white/transparent, while game boxes from anywhere else are black and slightly slimmer in bulk.
Its always worth checking these three points of interest out before you commit to parting with your cash.
However, if you have been unlucky enough to actually purchase a copied game and are now wondering just how you could know for sure fear not, for i shall tell you!
The following is a check list designed to make you aware of the many inconsistencies the pirates have not yet been able to deal with. If one point isnt relevant, then its a certainty that another will be.
On the Outside - A copied game will nearly always have poorly printed box art. By this i mean the paper sleeve which states the title of the game. The colours on a copied sleeve will either look washed out, out of focus, or poorly cut.
1. As you open the case, look for the Nintendo DS logo just to the right of where the cartridge sits. If it isnt there, then you dont have a genuine case, although the game itself may still be... read on.
2. Also, most genuine titles will always have a recess for a GBA cartridge just above where the DS cartridge sits.
3. New games generally come with some kind of registration card which sits with the instruction booklet.
4. Instruction booklets on a copied game are always poorly constucted, with either staples placed off centre, colours being washed out or the images fuzzy and sometimes all three. In some cases the 'instruction booklet' is actually a review leeched from a gaming web site which has been converted to book format!
On the Cartridge - Your average fake DS cartridge will have a whole load of errors which, if you dont know what to look out for, will pass for the genuine thing.
1. Look at the covering sticker - Is it on wonky? Do the colours look washed out, does it not fit the recess created for it? If the answer to any of those questions is "yes" then you need to look deeper.
2. The back of an OFFICIAL Nintendo cartridge will always have: The logo, a patent pending no. (usually something like - NTR-05 PAT. PEND) and, most importantly, a UNIQUE cartridge number (AXFPN0J22 or something like it) The rule is that there should ALWAYS be THREE lines of information. If there isnt, then i think by now that you know what the answer is.
3. Are there copper contacts? - The rear of an official Nintendo cartridge will always have copper contacts, some fakes do too, but there is, so far, one bit of information that they have not yet been able to emulate...
4. The cartridge serial code - This is a killer for pirates. just above the copper contacts, on the PCB board, you will find (in small white lettering) a complex manufacturers code. It could be something like DI R-6 YO8-01, or I N-5 003-10 but on a copied game it will most likely read something like Nintendo (or Nintondo, yes you read it right!) 01-01-01, and if it isnt that then it will most likely be a collection of random alpha numeric characters which do not resemble the two examples i have just given.
Hopfully, someone out there will find this information useful and not be stung by buying a copied game.
Of course, there are those who really dont mind buying them, and see no harm in taking a risk on an obviously cheaper product which may not work, save or go corrupt in any number of ways after a few goes... i cant blame them, either. However, i know that i would prefer to buy Official and reduce my monitary outgoings in the long run.
Hope this was helpful!