By Eric Caoili - 06.13.06
While hardware designs for the Nintendo DS homebrew community continue to evolve, ne’er-do-wells hoping to make a profit selling pirated games have kept pace with their progress. Not long after cheap, slimmed-down versions of PassMe devices (a homebrew tool that allows the DS to run “unsigned code”) became market-ready, photos of pirated game carts emerged, already manufactured and presumably for sale.
This new dilemma not only affects the pockets of developers behind these titles, but anyone hoping to buy legit copies of DS games through eBay or other online methods. GBA bootlegging is already prevalent on eBay, plaguing both bargain-hunters and collectors alike. Pirated carts are notorious for poor construction, second-rate manuals, and crashing savegames.
Fortunately, there are several inconsistencies one can look out for to avoid the contraband carts. Using the posted pictures of the initial black-market batch, we have noted irregularities to look out for when buying your next DS game online.
Shoddy label placement. - The label sticker should be properly aligned and centered.
Poor-quality printing of the label. - Companies are not printing the cartridge labels with a Lexmark inkjet, using the “medium-quality” setting.
Incorrect label. - If possible, make sure the label artwork matches what’s on other carts.
Black contacts. - Metallic contacts should be visible.
Vertically-centered logo and text on cart’s back. - The logo and text should be placed higher than the center.
Enlarged logo and sunken text. - The logo and recessed text on legit copies should be smaller and more subtle.
We highly suggest that you also run through the usual checklist when buying games through eBay: research the item you’re buying, review the seller’s history and feedback, ensure the manual/box are authentic, etc.
If you have any corrections to the above tips or possible abnormalities you’d like to add, please let us know. We want to make sure that you all have a safer game-buying experience online.