I've mostly migrated over to a digital game library but still enjoy having a small collection of physical games, such as first-party Nintendo. But these days even having a physical edition feels unsatisfying if the game on the cartridge isn't the most up-to-date version, which means you sometimes need to wait a year or two for the best (and hopefully "complete") physical version of a game.
...or at least that's how it should work right?
And yet, for reasons I still don't understand there are new "prints" of games like AC: New Horizons being sold at retail with old versions of the game (on the cartridge) even though it's been at 2.0.6 since Nov 2022.
With no updates for the past six months, it's beginning to seem like v2.0.6 is going to be the final version of the game and that's the one I'd like to have in my physical collection ...not one with v1.8 which I bought at the end of 2022.
I feel like this is something people do care about, that probably I'm not the only one and maybe publishers should voluntarily (or be required) to state the version of the game somewhere on the case ~ so you know exactly what you're getting. But until that becomes common practice the dilemma is how do you know or even guess what version is on the game cartridge?
Have heard there might be something to do with serial numbers and some folks have tried to track this with a community database but the one I had bookmarked now gives a 404 and I can't find any others. Besides, if I understand correctly you have to actually unwrap open the case to look at the back of the cartridge and that's a bit like going into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory in a futile search for a golden ticket ...only there are sirens, and handcuffs, and people putting you up on YouTube.
Does anyone remember during the Wii era they would have those special "Nintendo Selects" editions, with the fancy border (and didn't they also have the iconic Seal of Quality)? How great would it be if they brought that back...
So I guess here's the main question,
Is there ever a way to get the latest, or let's say if you give it enough time like a year or so with no updates, the "final" version of a game on a physical cartridge, where somehow you are able to know that it's the final version with just the information on the case? Or if not, what kind of system would make this better?
Initial investigation and background information
I know at least one person tried to get a community list going and the initial discovery relates to a six-digit code on the cartridge. My AC:NH cart has HAC-008 (ACBAA09S009) and contains version 1.8 of the game. They discovered that the 008 is what correlates with the version. HAC-000 would supposedly indicate v1.0. Couldn't say about the alpha-numeric printed underneath. But this only gets us halfway. There is discussion on this thread concerning information printed on the case. For example, my case shows HAC P ACBAA USA, 110817A printed above the UPC 045496596439. There is some conjecture that even with newer versions (such as HAC-008) the "product codes" on the box do not change or give any indication...but I can't help thinking this hasn't been fully explored, which brings us to the question at hand.