A counterfeit GBA ring operating out of my car hole! Er, ebay!

June 3rd, 2006 by Tommy Gun

I realize I’m a bit late to the party here, as this has been written about many times before on the net, and even Nintendo has their own site about it. Unfortunately, I never saw any of those sites until after I got burned. I frequently scour ebay for good deals on games, particularly handhelds. One such good deal was a used copy of “The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap” for a crazy-low Buy-It-Now price of about $14 including shipping, when the stores sell it used for $27! I’ve gotten a lot of DS games for really cheap, and they’re all in great condition complete with box/manual, so I thought it was just another good find. I grabbed it right away, being totally unaware that there are tons of GBA scammers out there.


After playing for a couple hours and getting through the first dungeon, the game froze up on me when I entered the “Trilby Highlands.” “Okay, maybe it just overheated, or maybe it’s a dirty cartridge,” I tried to convince myself. Well, it happened every time I went there, even after cleaning. I looked closer at the cartridge, and sure enough, there were enough differences that I could tell something was a bit off. I googled it just to make sure, and found the sites mentioned above. They list many differences, but the ones I noticed on my own (when comparing to a genuine cartridge) were the logos and the size. It fits fine in my GBA SP, but you can feel the pain of my DS trying to fit it in the GBA slot. The engraved logos are clearly different — the line thickness of the letters varies on each one, like a bad scan. The Nintendo logo on the back was so bad I didn’t even have to compare it, I’ve seen it enough to know what it looks like.


I honestly had no idea this went on — console games, sure, discs are cheap to make, but cartridges? It seems like more trouble than it’s worth to copy a cartridge and actually manufacture the things, not to mention the cost involved. Nintendo makes tons of them, so their costs can’t be too high, but a small scammer company replicating them? I guess if you make enough of them you’ll make a profit.

Some people have said their copies work perfectly despite being fake, but that wasn’t the case with me. It worked flawlessly (no glitches, no slowdown, saved fine) until that one point, but I can’t get past it. I’m at least a little glad that it froze relatively soon, rather than when I was 80% through the game or something. I’m still way more pissed about the 2+ hours I’m going to have to do all over again than I am about the money I lost, although I am mad that the money went to scammers. If I’m going to pay for a game, the money damn well better be going to the people who made it (I know, it was used, but someone still would have had to buy it originally if it were genuine). If you’re thinking about getting a GBA game on ebay, and the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. Read the description carefully, and if it gives you a bad vibe, avoid! It really isn’t worth it. If you think about it, even with a low paying job, you’d make enough money in those two hours I “wasted” to pay for a brand new copy.

The seller lives in the US, has perfect feedback, wasn’t selling much else (i.e., didn’t have 300 copies of this game up for auction)…it all seemed legit. Afterwards I emailed him asking if he had played the game, or if he was just a seller. He responded right away, saying it was his kid sister’s game and she was stuck and got bored, so he sold it. He refunded the money (minus $4 shipping) and let me keep the cartridge. Good enough for me. I actually wanted to keep it anyway, just to have a fake for reference. I asked where his sister got it, and he said he bought it for her from a seller in Hong Kong.

The funny part is that the label on the cartridge isn’t even the right color! The real one is solid red with triangles, the fake is white, as you can see in the above photos. Too bad I didn’t know that at the time, plus the ebay photo was a stock image, not an actual photo.

I won another copy (seen above) for $17 including shipping, and this one is definitely real. It’s kind of hard to see, but on the circuit board it says “(c) 2001 Nintendo”:


Update: Well, it turns out they’re starting to make bootleg DS games too!

11 Responses to “A counterfeit GBA ring operating out of my car hole! Er, ebay!”

  1. Mobat555 says:

    After reading this I checked out a GBA cartridge I got from the UK, Dragon Ball Advanced Adventure. When I first received the cartridge everything looked fine and played great. However it would not hold a save game. Of course the eBay seller “nationwide_delivery” (item 8283540544) never decided to return my mails about this “Tested” game. But sure enough the Nintendo on the back looks thin and there is no Nintendo stamp on the circuit board. Thanks for making me aware.

  2. Tommy Gun says:

    If the ebayer is still selling, there’s a way to report them to ebay. People have said ebay doesn’t really do anything, but you can try anyway. I didn’t bother since the person I bought from wasn’t the actual bootlegger, and I don’t think he’s scamming other people.

  3. Areeb Bajwa says:

    You gotta give kudos to the guys who came up with the way to make them look so similiar.

  4. […] didn’t find anything, but found this site describing the difference between a fake and real copy. A counterfeit GBA ring operating out of my car hole! Er, ebay! Cracked Rabbit Gaming. Seeing as nothing has come up on the boards so far, I don’t think this is that widespread a […]

  5. [quote comment=””][…] didn’t find anything, but found this site describing the difference between a fake and real copy. A counterfeit GBA ring operating out of my car hole! Er, ebay! Cracked Rabbit Gaming.

    Seeing as nothing has come up on the boards so far, I don’t think this is that widespread a […][/quote]

  6. tYGER says:

    iNTERESTINGLY i’M A SELLER ON ebay and I noticed it too. these cracked sellers are selling ONLY the games which are highest rated, they are ALMOST NEW to sellng (according to thier sales numbesr yet they have incredible ratings from people, selling the SAME GAMES over and over. you wil see about 20 or 30 ebay ads all with the same FONT and graohic layout, all selling ONLY the highest selling DS games and sold for the CHEAPEST around. If you read thier reviews at least ONE person pics out that they’re selling fakes before the guy folds and opens his shop under a new name.

    ALMOST always shipping from HONG KONG and sold from Australia or some other similar SETUP OF shipping from a diff country that sold in. They usually only sell about ten types of games. But they keep selling them! over and over, the same popular ones!

    These ads are easy to spot once you start knowing what to look for. And YES, many people DO buy them and happily use them and often never realize they are playing b ootlegs. Just go into a stor like Game stop and you’ll see only about 5 of some classic game and then 100 BRAND NEW POKEMON Ruby (Older game) that were traded in, when they realized they were fake and often they dont even realize that after all. Game stop doesn’t care as long as they play…


    WHY IS IT [the cart] NOW brand new if it is actually so old a game ?

    Check for yourself… Even your local trade in store is loaded with them now as trade-ins.

  7. tYGER says:

    BTW there are THOUSANDS OF THESE SELLING ON EBAY, Ebay JUST NOW sees this as a problem (now that someone else has brouhgt it to thier attention (they can’t ignore it anymore without reprocussion to themselves also). EVEN AS OF TODAY there are DONZENS that I spotted still selling BUT proving it to ebay is yat another challenge to catch them..

  8. Linebeck says:

    I got a white stickered minish cap from a kid who got it from Thailand, and the back of the cartridge says “Nintondo”. Everything works great exept it freezes during the credits, so I can’t get the mirror shield.

  9. amichsi says:

    i bought “Rayman: Hoodlum’s Revenge” not from ebay and it’s a fake too.the circuit board looked like this:
    so beware of this bootlegs.

  10. logan1252 says:

    I just bought the legend of zelda and the minish cap a week ago on ebay and it would freeze right after going through the trilby highlands and no matter what I do to clean it nothing would help so I took it apart and noticed something wasnt quite right so after a little web surfing I found this site and everything came into light… even years after this post there are still fake minish cap games on ebay wasting your money. Always be careful and do your research before buying.

  11. Tommy Gun says:

    Sorry to hear that, Logan! Funny thing is, I FINALLY got around to playing Minish Cap and beat it a couple weeks ago! I was so pissed after this happened I just put it in a box for a while.