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Beware the DS pirates on eBay

How to spot a fake
Product: True | Genre: True
True DS, thumbnail 1

One of the joys of looking after the DS section of a European-centric website is you spend a lot of time studying the Japanese and US release dates of games you know won't surface over here for months.

Hence the need to trawl the various game import sites, to ensure we keep up-to-date with the latest reviews. But what with the downfall of Hong Kong-based games importer, Lik Sang, we've increasingly had to rely on the Wild West environment that is eBay.

And we were unpleasantly surprised when one of our most recent purchases, Mario Hoops 3-on-3 (due to be released in Europe as Mario Slam Basketball on 16 February), turned out to be a fake.

Perhaps the best clue was the price – the 'Buy-it now' price was £4.99, with P&P at £12 – which was significantly lower you'd expect for an import DS game. However, the seller, heyh_sz, seemed like a good bet. A member since 7th December 2004, his feedback score was 990, of which only 16 were negative.

The game arrived promptly, too. And when trying it out, it worked fine. Only some close attention to the goods revealed its counterfeit nature.

From the front, the pirated game cart itself (right) looks quite similar to a real import game (in this case Pokémon Ranger, left). One subtle difference is the cutoff on the bottom left hand corner of the sticker on the fake is slightly more rounded then it should be.

The differences become more obvious when you turn the cart over.

The first thing to notice is that while the fake says 'NTR-005 PAT(ent) PEND(ing),' it doesn't have an individually printed number beneath. The back of the cart is smooth, not indented like the real game, too. And finally, although impossible to see on this resolution of image, the bottom of the PCB board on the fake says 'Nintendo 001-01' instead of a more complex manufacturer code (in the case of Pokémon Ranger, it's I N-5 003-10).

[UPDATE - please see this article's comments section for further discussion of the numbers on a game's PCB board]

The game box of the fake was also made of lower quality plastic – it felt cheap – and didn't have an official Nintendo logo embedded next to the game cart holder.

Finally, the quality of the printing of the cover and instruction manual was much lower than an official game. In fact, in the case of this fake, the instruction manual was actually just a game review from a US website. Being real gamers of course, we only bothered looked at the manual last, even though this was the biggest give-away.

Heading back to eBay to make our case for getting heyh_sz kicked off, we found he'd already been removed. Indeed, checking through his feedback listings, it was clear he had already been pointed out as an alleged seller of fake/pirated games by a couple of other buyers.

So the moral of this story is if it's too good to be true, it probably is. Of course, sometimes you do get bargains on eBay and other import game sites, but it's always worth doing a bit of digging around, especially on eBay feedback, if you're suspicious.

You might also want to read our guide on how to import DS games.


Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan 23 January 2007
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Jul 2013
Post count:
Dixie White | 01:44 - 25 July 2013
Oh and, my Black 2 game may freeze sometimes, but it's because I didn't watch what I did, and it is in a bit of bad shape, but I can play it.
Jul 2013
Post count:
Dixie White | 01:42 - 25 July 2013
People, if you want a legit Pok
Aug 2012
Post count:
Matthew Gushue | 18:56 - 23 August 2012
I just got a Digimon world Dawn game and the was listed as brand new but nothing was original the booklet sounded like it was cut and past from a game review and the case is clear and about 50% larger then the normal Black Case the game it's self has a printed code but the sticker on the card don't match what I see online so I'm thinking it's fake or repackaged and resold as new...
Apr 2012
Post count:
Carole-Anne | 07:30 - 5 April 2012
I bought a Lego Indiana Jones game for my son, and it kept saying 'error' when we inserted it into the DSi. After 5 prompts of trying to make it work, it suggested it was counterfeit. I am really angry at this since I bought it for my son way back in January, and due to his recent illness I decided I'd give it to him before Easter. Luckily, his other new game, Pirates of the Caribbean, (Also Lego) Works fine.
Mar 2012
Post count:
diablo8019445 | 17:40 - 3 March 2012
well i purchased pokemon black of ebay and when it came it looked diffrent from my other pokemon black what i lost.its cover was darker it said e from esrb the game card was not black it was light grey and at the back of the game card it didnt say numbers it said nintendo in white writing advice i am never buying a game that has e on it im never buying on amazon or ebay i suggest if you want a game that works it may be deerer but you want it working so i suggest you wait til it comes out and purchase it in a shop.
Aug 2011
Post count:
SonicGirl | 11:10 - 11 August 2011
I had enchanted folk and the school of wizadry. It had evry aspect of a real game. It worked fine for months until one day it kept sayng no card inserted. I blew on the card, blew in the game card slot, nothing worked. My other games worked fine so it made me start to suspect...
Jun 2011
Post count:
random person | 23:22 - 15 June 2011
Dont buy games from http://www.deal-cool.com/Category/Nintendo_DS_Games.htm?gclid=CM2W0ZKFuakCFcsZQgodFBIC-Q because the site says "for DS and DS Lite only
Anonymous | 06:42 - 23 June 2009
hi i am 8 years old i really want a ds if this is were u win a ds i really want to win it my heart been broken from every body braking my ds so sad if u want to give it me well thanks if you have the heart to
Anonymous | 15:30 - 14 May 2009
my ds hinge is currently boken( the ds still workks ) i am wondering if i can trust this seller from hong kong
Anonymous | 15:24 - 14 May 2009
Also the pirate had the code on the back of the ds card. So the pirate was smart !
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