Fake Pokémon games are on the rise while SNES celebrates 30 years

Lucario Holding Pokemon Soulsilver Cartridge
Lucario Holding Pokemon Soulsilver Cartridge (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week's Nintendo news recap. This week saw some very interesting developments with retro gaming, including the potentially shady practices between an appraiser and an auction house. Additionally, many Pokémon fans have seen that getting an authentic retro Pokémon cartridge is a difficult task with how many fakes are in circulation. Fortunately, there are ways to spot fakes and even get your money back from certain auction hosts. This focus on retro gaming happened to correspond with a special anniversary for one of Nintendo's best-selling consoles.

Pokémon Go pandemic rollbacks get...rolled back

Pokemon Go Bulbasaur Wearing Mask (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

For the past few weeks, Pokémon Go fans have been upset after Niantic rolled back pandemic-era changes that required players to get closer to gyms and PokéStops and other players. Hundreds of thousands of fans boycotted the game by refusing to spend any money until the situation was resolved. Niantic responded by stating it had created a task force to look into the matter and would report back on September 1st.

Surprisingly, Niantic responded before its deadline and reinstated pandemic bonuses for US players. To come to this decision, Niantic took select community members and placed them on a committee. However, members have been prohibited from discussing the details of these meetings. Some fans are just happy to get things back to the way they were, while others aren't happy with the secretive nature of these talks and want more details.

SNES turns 30 🎈🎂🥳

Snes Classic Controller Yoshi (Image credit: Nadine Dornieden / iMore)

Yes, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) hit its 30th anniversary this week as the console originally launched in North America on August 23, 1991. Feeling old yet? You might recall that the SNES launched during the height of Nintendo's console war with Sega and spent its entire lifespan fighting for a lead on the Genesis.

So many influential games were released on the SNES and went on to define gaming as we now know it. My absolute favorites were Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, Yoshi's Island, and Super Mario World. If you're feeling nostalgic, this weekend would be a good time to dust off your consoles and dive into one of these classics.

Heritage Auctions accused of fraud with retro video game sales

Some crazy numbers have been flying around recently when it comes to retro game auctions. At the beginning of August, an unopened copy of the original The Legend of Zelda NES game sold for $870,000 and more recently, an unopened Super Mario Bros. NES game sold for $2 million. Makes you want to go through your storage to see if you've got any retro valuables, huh? But don't get too excited just yet.

An unopened Super Mario Bros. NES game sold for $2 million.

This week, Wata Games and Heritage Auctions were accused of influencing the market for their own gain when it came to retro video games. In the video above, YouTuber Karl Jobst points out some discrepancies and conflicts of interest in this arrangement. You see, people pay Wata Games to rate the condition of video games, which determines their market value. It can take thousands of dollars just to get rated, and then a percentage of the value gets paid for the appraisal. Once a game has been rated by Wata Games, Heritage Auctions then makes commissions off of the auction sale. Prices of retro games at auction have skyrocketed, and some people think this is due to manufactured inflation specifically to line the pockets of Wata Games and Heritage Auctions.

It's an interesting point. Up until recently, mint condition retro games sold for a pretty penny, but the most recent numbers have been staggering contrast. In an update from VGC, Heritage Auction refuted these claims and denied any unethical practices. It's hard to say what the truth is at present. The pandemic forcing everyone indoors awakened a larger interest in video games and retro collectors than we had previously seen. But these numbers are insanely different from before.

Don't get fooled by fake Pokémon games

Ds Cartridges Morpeko (Image credit: iMore)

Finding a working Pokémon cartridge in good condition can cost you $100 or more.

Speaking of retro games...Reddit user SimpleBeings' post about checking for a red glow when holding authentic SoulSilver or HeartGold cartridges up to the light exploded this week and had garnered over 14.2K upvotes last I checked. Why so much attention here? This authenticity trick has already been known to collectors for some time, but with the approaching release of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl in November, an increased number of Nintendo fans have been looking to acquire original DS Pokémon games. The problem is, finding a working Pokémon cartridge in good condition can cost you $100 or more since there aren't any classic Pokémon games on Nintendo Switch. Worst still, there's a thriving repo market selling fake Pokémon games as originals.

Pokemon Soulsilver Red Glow (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Nothing's more frustrating than buying an expensive retro collectible and realizing you've been duped. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to spot fake Pokémon games in addition to the red glow trick. It's also good to note that Diamond and Pearl do not have this glow. Some auction hosts like eBay offer buyer protection and will give your money back if you realize you bought a repo when you were told it was authentic. As such, I recommend only purchasing retro cartridges from sites that offer this protection. Even so, if you're currently in the market for retro Pokémon games, here's a friendly reminder to acquaint yourself with discrepancies between authentic and fake cartridges before buying anything.

You might be thinking, why should I go authentic if I can get a working repo for cheap? Many repos don't work properly and cannot transfer Pokémon to authentic games. Some are also very glitchy and won't save your data or will randomly dump it after a few hours. The authentic games are far more reliable and aren't likely to glitch out if in good condition.

That's all, folks

That's all of our Nintendo news for the week. With such a focus on retro gaming recently, it just helps you realize how much of an impact Nintendo has made over the years. Retro games will always sell well with collectors, but enjoying older titles would be easier on the wallet if Nintendo just made its classics easier to acquire in the first place. Sure, you can play select NES and SNES games with Nintendo Switch Online, but many Gamecube, N64, and GameBoy classics are locked away or can only be purchased from the 3DS or Wii U virtual console. It isn't likely that Nintendo will make them available on Switch anytime soon, but we can dream.

What do you think about the prices of retro games and repos? Are you an OG Pokémon cartridge collector? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Until next time.

- Rebecca Spear

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.