You just purchased Contra Hard Corps on eBay for what was an amazing price. This will be the latest addition to your personally curated SEGA Genesis collection. You’re a retro gamer and this has been a long time coming. It’s such an underappreciated hidden gem. A week goes by and it finally arrives in the mail, which is great because you’re hanging out with your friend that night and you can show it off. He arrives, you show him the game and he points out that it’s a fake/reproduction.
This happens daily to the novice game collector. With online tutorials, cheap manufacturing costs and Overseas companies trying to make a quick buck reproduction or fake cartridges are more prevalent than ever. Now, the fact reproductions exist isn’t inherently bad or wrong, but it’s good to know what your buying. The merit of reproductions is a whole separate discussion in itself. another time. Sometimes this is the only way to obtain a cartridge of a classic at a reasonable price. As the old adage goes, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is”.
SEGA Genesis, or Mega Drive for those in Asia & Europe, is a fun platform to collect for. The games themselves come in all shapes and in different looking cases. I can personally verify that all the games I own are authentic. In general here’s what to look for:
- If the Genesis cartridge comes in a classic genesis clamshell box, pay close attention to the artwork. Authentic SEGA Genesis games most of the time will have a small blue SEGA Genesis logo at the top left corner of the front of the box. They will also have a Quality seal on the bottom left corner. Also, the word Genesis will appear along the left side written in white against a red background. The spine of the box will also have a game registration number at the bottom in small print below where it reads “Genesis”. Below you will see my copy of the timeless class “Risk”. This is one of the most common case formats you will come across.
- The cartridge of reproduction games will have a glossy label sticker. Genuine Genesis carts have a matte finish that is far less shiny. Below you will see several variations of cartridges. Sometimes authentic games will even have the game registration number printed on the label itself. Take a close look at Joe Montana Pro Talk Football ’93. It has the number printed below the word “Genesis”. Micro Machines is a bit of an oddity. It has a very unique cartridge style that would be complicated to reproduce. Most knock-off carts would be in the style seen in the image containing World Series Baseball, College Slam and Risk, regardless of what type of game they are reproducing.
- The vast majority of reproduction cartridges don’t include screws. They may have the appearance of screws, but the casing of the cartridge will snap apart.
- Some reproductions will have wires inside them that are soldered on to the games board. Authentic cartridges never were produced this way. Also, take note of the large black rectangle in the middle. This component is called the Mask ROM “. When been replicated, manufacturers of reproduced carts will use an “EPROM” chip. Eprom stands for erasable programmable read-only memory. Authentic games typically have the title to the game printed on the Mask Rom or will have SEGA printed on it. EPROMs for the genesis will always have a window that allows for UV Erasure.
- Another easy giveaway that you have a fake is if it’s a game produced by Electronic Arts. EA games will always have the yellow clip installed on the cartridge. This piece is purely cosmetic and manufacturers of counterfeit cartridges don’t go to the trouble to produce this type of cartridge.
Game collecting can be a fun and rewarding hobby. When purchasing a game in person, especially a high dollar value game, never be afraid to ask the seller to open the game up so you can examine it. Any reasonable seller will accommodate this request. Be sure to make sure the soldering on the games circuit board is clean. When made in a factory there should not be any extra solder. This could be an indication that someone has repurposed a circuit board from another game and loaded some other games rom onto the eprom. Also, if purchasing online don’t be afraid to ask for photos of the inside of a cartridge. Remember, as the buyer, you have the right to walk away from a deal.
Special thanks to RebootRevival on Reddit for educating me on the intricacies involved in spotting fakes.
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