I bought this cartridge of Pokémon Emerald in a thrift shop. The seller wasn't sure himself about the cartridge, but I bought it anyway.

Playing it, there doesn't seems to be any difference in-game, so I can't differentiate based on the content.

What make me still think it is fake is that chip at the very left side, the second largest one. Even then it looks like everything is authentic.

It looks like they ran out of a certain chip at the factory and said 'screw it' and used a different type. You can even see the lines are for the authentic one and so they just made the wires longer.

Is this cartridge real or fake?

Cartridge Front Cartridge internals
Click for larger images

  • 5
    Grats on finding a working Pokémon Emerald! Apr 6, 2017 at 19:17
  • 6
    "It looks like they ran out of a certain chip at the factory and said 'screw it' and used a different type." And then went back in time and changed the design of the PCB to support both chips? Clearly, the PCB was designed to support chips of two different widths depending on what was available/cheapest at manufacturing time. Apr 6, 2017 at 20:31
  • 3
    The "(c) 2002 Nintendo" is a good sign that this is real; usually counterfeits won't have it
    – Justin
    Apr 7, 2017 at 0:50
  • 1
    @Justin Unfortunately, this isn't true anymore for two reasons. The most common is that counterfeiters can easily screen print a logo like this on their PCBs. Second, some of the more sophisticated techniques involve cannibalizing legitimate Nintendo chips, desoldering old rom chips and adding fake ones to legit boards. These guys will buy a lot of 100+ shovelware carts and replace the chips with better titles. NOTE: I've not heard of this with GBA games but I have with other systems (NES, SNES, N64). GBA is heating up so there's a moderate chance that this will happen soon to GBA carts too.
    – RLH
    Apr 7, 2017 at 14:43
  • 1
    Correction, I wish I'd saved the pictures but a few months ago I was part of a discussion on a forum regarding a specific eBay sell of a Shantae cart for the GBC. IIRC, the cart actually had a couple of later date stamps on the PCB than when the game was released. It was an amazing forgery and only those with experience and knowledge could spot the fake.
    – RLH
    Apr 7, 2017 at 14:45

3 Answers 3


This appears to be a legitimate card with a newer (SRAM) chip.

Other sites identify similar Pokemon Ruby chip as legitimate

enter image description here

And another identifies a similar chip as well (Note in the following image, only the upper card is legitimate, but has the same smaller chip style on the right)

enter image description here

  • An easy way to identify that that, on the 2nd image, the cartbridge that's on the bottom is fake is by noticing that it has silica blobs instead of actual chips. Nintendo never used those black blobs on their chips. Apr 7, 2017 at 14:47
  • As mentioned in JCRM's answer, the board is designed to take two different form factors. It's much cheaper to manufacture a single larger run of one board that can accommodate multiple parts (even if that board is more expensive than an equivalent that is designed for a specific part) than it is to have to change the board layout mid-run because a particular part was discontinued (or another part became significantly cheaper). Rather than being indicative of a counterfeit, it's actually indicative of the excellent planning one would expect from Nintendo engineers ;)
    – Doktor J
    Apr 7, 2017 at 20:03
  • I was under the impression that these specific cartridges used EEPROM, not battery-backed SRAM. After all, when the battery dies, all that happens is berries will stop growing. It's not like gen I where a dead battery means a dead save file. See for example gaming.stackexchange.com/a/259950/210306
    – forest
    Apr 19, 2018 at 9:47

The board is designed to take two different form factors for the component.

If you look at the PCM, you will see a smaller white box which matches where the chip is, and the parallel tracks are on the board, under the white marking.

If you look at the marking for the box you will see it is for 1M/512K flash. I don't know if the form factors are related to the size of the flash, or the providers.

Aa to the difference in gameplay between this and Ruby and Saphire, the pokemon have an animation at the start of the battle, and you capture a green dragon instead of a red or blue one.


See that bas-relief number "12" on the label? It's a good sign that this cartridge is the real deal. Counterfeits don't have that number.

  • 5
    This is a very thin argument, since fake cartbridges can easily have that "12" printed there. This like the battery casing, the chips, the logo font and the American "Seal of Quality" are better indicators. Other hidden things like the screw(s) and marks on the chips are indicators of it's legitimacy. Just having written "12" is really not enough. Apr 7, 2017 at 14:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .