How to Spot a SNES Repro vs Original Game | TechTrifle
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How to Spot a SNES Repro vs Original Game

In the realm of retro gaming, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) holds a cherished place in the hearts of enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the world of classic gaming, identifying a SNES Repro vs an Original Game can be a daunting task. Fear not, for we’re here to guide you and help you uncover the true gems.

First Impression: Condition of the SNES Cart:

One of the telltale signs of a repro SNES cartridge is its condition. While a brand-new appearance may seem appealing, it could be a red flag. Authentic SNES cartridges, especially those from the 90s, often exhibit signs of wear and tear such as scuff marks, faded labels, yellowing back plastic or minor scratches.

A pristine condition should raise suspicions and prompt closer inspection. While this is not a sure way to confirm a game is not legit, it’s a good start. Bear in mind some gamers may have kept their original games in pristine condition or will have cleaned or wiped down their cartridges prior to a potential sale, so clean doesn’t always mean repro. Likewise a dirty cartridge doesn’t mean it’s legit either; an unscrupulous seller could have intentionally weathered or scratched up a repro game to make it look older than it actually is. Remember the old saying, You can’t Judge a Book by its cover. Also keep in mind the person or retailer selling the game to you may also be unaware of the authenticity or provenance of the cartridge especially if it has been traded or sold multiple times, so it’s up to you to do the research here. It’s Fake or Fortune! kind of!

Identifying Game Region (PAL/NTSC/JAP)

Understanding the region codes is crucial in spotting counterfeit SNES cartridges. As reference is key when comparing Labels and Internals. The SNES library consists of games designed for different regions, primarily PAL (Europe), NTSC (North America), and JAP (Japan). A mismatch between the cartridge’s region and its label could indicate a counterfeit.

Look for region indicators on the cartridge label or packaging, and use SNES Central website to compare the label on the game you are considering buying against their library of confirmed and authentic SNES labels for that specific region.

Only of these SNES cartridges is an original, which is it?

Does the Serial Code Match?

If we start with the game on the left, it’s clearly mentioning it’s an EU cartridge based on the text on the bottom right corner of the label showing SNSP-AFZP-EUR.

If we run a search for the EU version of Batman and Robin through SNES Central website we come up with this page here and a quick click on the section ‘Cartridge label information’ shows the EU game should have a serial code of SNSP-ABTP-EUR. The Serial code on the game does NOT match this, ( it shows AFZP and not ABTP).

Does the Label Match that shown on SNES Central?

if we click on the link to the EU Label on SNES Central, we can also see the EU Label for Adventures of Batman and Robin does NOT match the label on the left. The original Label is supposed to show the Konami Logo and be purple on outer edges (not black), and the batman and robin logo is different. So this doesn’t seem to be an original SNES Cartridge and is likely a reproduction.

Original Logo of Batman and Robin SNES Cartridge (EU) – Credit: SNES Central

Out of curiosity I ran the serial code through a google search on SNES Central and this code SNSP-AFZP-EUR actually belongs to another game – ‘Final Fight 3’. Possibly someone slipped up in Photoshop when creating the reproduction label, then got the colours wrong, label design wrong, and the serial code wrong.

Gamebit Screws

The presence of specialized screws, known as Gamebit screws, is a hallmark of authentic SNES cartridges. These screws feature a unique pattern that requires a compatible screwdriver for removal. Counterfeit cartridges often use standard screws, so be wary of any deviations from the norm. However many repros now also use Gamebit screws, but if you do see standard screws, chances are it is an older repro.

Examining the print quality of the cartridge label is essential in spotting repros /fakes. Authentic labels boast crisp, clear graphics and text. Blurriness, smudges, or inconsistencies in printing indicate a counterfeit. Although now with repro labels readily available on marketplaces like Etsy for multiple regions, it can be harder to distinguish a counterfeit from a label alone. Pay close attention to details such as logos, fonts, and artwork for discrepancies. If the label images are blurry, or the label is overly glossy this could indicate a reproduction.

Labels Front and Back

Don’t overlook the back label of the cartridge. Authentic SNES cartridges typically feature a serial number imprinted into the back label. This unique identifier serves as an additional layer of authentication. Absence or irregularities in the serial number could signify a counterfeit.

Comparing a REPRO Cart with an AUTHENTIC one

Shell Plastic

The quality of the plastic casing can also provide clues about the cartridge’s authenticity. Authentic SNES cartridges use high-quality materials that feel sturdy and durable often with a slight texture. Inferior or overly smooth plastic with flimsy construction may suggest a counterfeit.

Open Up the Game Cartridge

For the discerning eye, inspecting the internal components of the cartridge can reveal its true nature. Opening the cartridge and examining the printed circuit board (PCB) is a reliable method for authentication. Websites like SNES Central offer comprehensive databases of PCB images for comparison.

Size of the PCBs is not a tell, but… solder on the PCB on the right suggests an older PCB

So here you can see the Batman & Robin Game has a smaller PCB. This isn’t an issue as the PAL SNES game actually does have a smaller PCB if we check SNES Central, it’s almost identical in size and should be using PCB Type with serial code SHVC-1A0N-30 and ROM chip ID should be SPAL-ABTP-0.

To be 100% sure it’s a repro based on the indicators from the label, we need to check the other side. So we need to remove the PCB and turn it over to see the other side. Bulky rectangular Microchips with visible legs and capacitors are usually a good sign as would be a Nintendo logo (although some repros have this too!).

If we compare the photo of the PCB to the photo on SNES Central SPAL-ABTP-0 we can see this PCB Below is clearly not original.

Identifying a SNES Reproduction Cart

Ok as you can see not only does the PCB not match the image in SNES Central. The game here has no Nintendo Logo, and there is penciled hand writing on the chip (which is a flatter more modern type) suggesting it’s not authentic and the Batman game is a reproduction cart..

Remember, every SNES board should bear the Nintendo logo printed on the PCB, (Sometimes slightly hidden near the battery for save games) along with the manufacturing year, and accompanied by a unique serial code in this case SHVC-1A0N-30.

While this serial code may appear across various SNES games, it serves as a vital identifier. By cross-referencing this code with the SNES Central database, you can ascertain whether the game you’re considering has ever been manufactured with that particular type of board.

If we do the same for the Mario All Stars game, the other side of the PCB looks like so:

As you can see the Nintendo logo is present on the PCB along with the date 1993, it is just slightly obscured by the Battery (used for save games). You an also see the PCB serial number which is printed as SHVC-2A3M-01 on this Super Mario All Stars SNES Game. If we run that through the SNES Central database do we get a match? Yes we do! See the listing for the Mario All Stars game here, and the image of the board here. So I think we can be 99.99% confident this is a legit original SNES cartridge.

AUTHENTIC SNES CART
  • Nintendo Logo & date on PCB
  • PCB Serial Number printed on PCB
  • Solder on back of PCB
  • Chunky Protruding Microchips
REPRO CART
  • May not have Nintendo Logo*
  • PCB Serial number not on PCB
  • No visible Solder (modern PCB)
  • Slim or Flat Microchips

Tools to Open SNES Cartridges

Logo of Nintendo embossed into the back of the cart

Authentic SNES cartridges feature the Nintendo logo embossed into the back of the casing. This subtle detail is often overlooked but serves as a definitive mark of authenticity. Counterfeit cartridges may lack this embossment or feature a poorly replicated Nintendo logo. As in the image above, Repro cart logo is not as sharp as an original, PAT.PEND MADE IN JAPAN text is a different narrower font. The repro font it is also slightly wonky and not aligned perfectly with the left and right edges of the logo (as is the case with the original cart above)

AUTHENTIC SNES CART
  • Sharp and clear Logo
  • Made in Japan text is aligned
  • Cast Plastic is textured
REPRO CART
  • Slightly Blurry or No Logo
  • Made in Japan text is NOT aligned
  • Cart Plastic is overly smooth

Difficulty Identifying newer Repros

As technology advances, counterfeiters have become increasingly adept at replicating SNES cartridges. Improved printing techniques, sophisticated molds, and better materials make it challenging to distinguish between originals and reproductions.

When purchasing a rare of pricier title or even if you have doubts about authenticity, it’s advisable to inquire whether the seller has verified its authenticity, and is that enough for you? Requesting permission to inspect and open the cartridge and verify the legitimacy of the board is a prudent step.

While buying from a reputable store generally mitigates concerns even stores like CEX have occasionally been caught out by impressive looking repros, instances of repros in brick-and-mortar shops underscore the importance of exercising caution. It’s always better to err on the side of caution to ensure a genuine purchase. When it comes to Ebay Sales, if there is no photo of the PCB, ask them to update the listing accordingly to include one if you are really interested.

If you are in doubt about the authenticity of a cartridge, move on, should you later want to sell the game in future years down the line, your future buyer may have the same concerns you have now. If in doubt, walk away..

Compare and Contrast!

When in doubt, bring along an authentic SNES game cartridge along with you for comparison. Armed with a Gamebit screwdriver, you can inspect the internals of a prospective purchase side by side with a known original. Discrepancies in components or construction will be readily apparent under scrutiny.

In conclusion, identifying fake SNES game cartridges requires a keen eye and attention to detail. By scrutinizing factors such as condition, region, print quality, internal components, and subtle markings, you can separate the wheat from the chaff. Remember, the pursuit of authenticity is a quest worth undertaking in the realm of retro gaming. Happy hunting!

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Ninja Silhouette 9 hours ago

Joe Doe in London, England purchased a

Joe Doe in London?

Joe Doe in London, England purchased a

Joe Doe in London?

Joe Doe in London, England purchased a

Joe Doe in London?

Joe Doe in London, England purchased a

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