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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

  • @Anguril image now posted. I just found something that talks about the smaller chip. It says it is a small chip because it is a later made model of the game. Btw, I bought this knowing it would most likely be a fake because I don't have money for a real one but Now I'm starting to think I have a real one. – ThatNoobGuy Apr 6 '17 at 15:43
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    Grats on finding a working Pokémon Emerald! – Slacklord the Terrible Apr 6 '17 at 19:17
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    "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. – David Schwartz Apr 6 '17 at 20:31
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    The "(c) 2002 Nintendo" is a good sign that this is real; usually counterfeits won't have it – Justin Apr 7 '17 at 0:50
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    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 '17 at 14:45
37

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. – Ismael Miguel Apr 7 '17 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 '17 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 '18 at 9:47
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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.

-1

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.

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    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. – Ismael Miguel Apr 7 '17 at 14:52

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