CULT .45

The Guild of Belmont

This is a resource site, run by collectors, that provides reference material to authenticate vintage and collectible video games. We call ourselves The Guild of Belmont.

Amazon, eBay and other auction sites are full of fake game carts. It's easy to print out boxes and labels (especially with resources like the Cover Art Project) and only slightly harder to copy cartridges (there are several methods of doing this and the only way to be sure is to open up the cart and check). See our cart pages for photos of authentic Nintendo ROM boards.

Piracy ruins the collector market, and while we have no problem with fan art, homebrew or customisation, we do have a problem with reproductions, fakes and copies sold as originals. This site is a resource for serious collectors or buyers wishing to verify their carts' authenticity.

Identifying Fakes & Reproductions

For this guide I will be using my copy of Castlevania: Vampire's Kiss. There are many like it but this one is mine.

Checking the front outer cart

Checking the rear outer cart

Vampire's Kiss front cart SNES Vampire's Kiss rear cart SNES

Checking the circuit board

Vampire's Kiss front board SNES Vampire's Kiss rear cart SNES

The boards below are pretty obviously fake. The left hand one is partly authentic - it has an authentic Nintendo board and another circuit board on top of that. Real games do not have this, and it means that someone has used the board from a cheap game for authenticity and then put another game (quite literally) on top of it. This kind of modification is a dead give-away. The right hand board is an awful fake because it is the wrong size, wrong colour, the pins look wrong and it has "RetroStage 2016" written in the top left.

Fake ROM board SNES cart Fake ROM board SNES cart2

The below picture is an ePROM chip. If one of these is anywhere on your board then it is a fake board. Nintendo carts use Mask ROMs, not ePROMs. Mask ROMs are read only and their contents are programmed by the manufacturer. It is common to use ePROMs during the development stage, and then switch to Mask ROMs for the actual product manufacturing process. Mask ROMs are significantly cheaper so make sense for mass-production. ePROMs are programmable ROMs that retain their data when the power supply is switched off, and can be erased by UV light. The chips have a silicon window on their top side, through which the light is shone for the chip to be erased. This makes them very easy to spot - all ePROMs will have this erase windows. that are very easy to recognise because they have a transparent window on their top side. EPROMs are easily recognizable by the transparent fused quartz window in the top of the package, through which the silicon chip is visible, and which permits exposure to ultraviolet light during erasing. so it's fairly easy to take an old, authentic circuit board from a cheap game (say, Super Soccer for the SNES @ around £5) and then reprogram it with Vampire's Kiss for a much higher sale price (around £130). All you need is a new Vampire's Kiss sticker.

It becomes slightly confusing because ePROM chips were used by Nintendo in authentic carts, but only for prototypes. Regular sale games did not have them, only the prototypes did. More about ROMs here.

an ePROM chip can denote a fake Nintendo cart

Tips for purchasing safely:

Further reading

There are some excellent online resources for chcking boards, covert art and other details. If you believe a photograph to have been altered, you can also use some of the photo checking tools in the final link.

Submit a cart

If you have a cart you are unsure about, please contact us for assitance and we will help you verify your cart for no fee or charge. We only ask that you report the seller if it is proven that the item is fake.

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