Complete Guide to Authentic GBA Pokemon Games!

HELLO ALL! This is my personal guide to telling the Pokemon games for the GameBoy Advance series apart from fake ones!

This guide will go over Generation III and (unofficially) Generation III.5.

These games include the ever popular Pokemon Ruby, Pokemon Sapphire, Pokemon Emerald, Pokemon Fire Red, and Pokemon Leaf Green.

Now you probably found yourself here trying to dig for answers on if you are purchasing an Authentic or Genuine copy of said games vs one that just very well might be a fake bootleg copy.

So sit back, let your nostalgia run rampant while you struggle on trying to get back your childhood, which you may have ever so ungracefully discarded or sold regrettably in the past.

Enjoy! (Click the See More to get the full page!) All large HQ images too! Click the image to view it in PNG!


Now, to start things off, these copies here are from my personal collection over the years. Most of which I purchased online (after much digging on trying to authenticate stuff). The copies of Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald all contain a battery to keep their clocks running properly. As these games have aged over the years, they have dried up and died. All of them has been replaced by myself. Simple soldering process is all that is needed to replace them. Of course, having a tri-wing screwdriver helps as well.

First off we’ll start with Pokemon Ruby!

Here is the front of the game. Please note the embossed number’s just right of Pokemon title. Fake ones NEVER have that.


Front image showing the non-gloss, and the transparency of the cartridge. Note the position of the battery.


Obverse side. Note the four contact points in the upper left corner. Also the contact points of all the teeth that insert into the cartridge. They are all straight and level. Fake ones have variously positioned points.


When you take them apart, the cartridge slides a bit then comes right out. (I don’t have a fake copy so I can’t know if they are any different.)


Here is what the board looks like. Notice the battery position and the crystal used for the time on the left hand side. Also the chips placement on the board as well as their size.

(if I’m not mistaken this is a later model with the smaller chip. Look at the Sapphire and you’ll see what I mean)

Then the back side of the circuit board where everything is made clearly visible.


———Next we have Pokemon Sapphire!———


Please note everything as the Ruby version as to this one.




Reverse (x2)


Board. Now this is where I was mentioning the larger chip on this copy.


Back side, unobstructed view of the board.


———Pokemon EMERALD!———

Now for some reason my copy doesn’t have the embossed letters on it.


Don’t let that fool you though! Check out the actual holographic details on the sticker!


Obverse side, you can clearly see the contact points and pins with the 4-square in the corner.




Back side of circuit.


Pokemon Fire Red time!!!

Check out the shiny design of the sticker, and embossed numbers.


Back side you can see the 4-square and flat contact points.


Inside view. Note, NO BATTERY! This version has a smaller chip than the Leaf Green below. Probably a newer revision.


Back side of the circuit board.


Pokemon Leaf Green!

Note the shiny sticker and the embossed letters/numbers.


The lettering isn’t shiny while the background is.


Back side. Same as Fire Red. 4-square, flat contact points.


Internal board. NO BATTERY! Larger chip. Possibly Rev.1?


And back side of Leaf Green.



If your copies do not look like this, then they are most likely fakes!

I also found this page (Spanish webpage) it also shows some of the most common fakes and easy ways to spot them.

Hope this helps out!


All images are copyrighted by me, chieftain20. You are free to use these images as you like, just don’t alter them at all. Hence the watermark added to each photo. The watermark has been added to each image to be least intrusive as possible on the item, while keeping images secure from illegitimate potential sales on various websites.

10 Responses to “Complete Guide to Authentic GBA Pokemon Games!”

  1. I have a fire red that shows all signs that its real, the metallic sticker, the embossed number the board inside with the no battery on it etc, but the layout of the sticker is different, is it real or?

    • If thats the case you should check a “confirmed real version” of your layout… There are always a couple of different layouts depending on the region where they come from, but noneteless if its shows all the signs of being real…. it probably is.

  2. This is interesting! Are you sure the Leaf Green version is real? The Nintendo logo on the circuit board is different than on the others. Did Nintendo produce two different Nintendo stamps on the circuit boards? Thanks for your help!

  3. Try to look on your Emerald’s Nintendo Quality Seal. The embossed numbers are probably there, but hard to see.

  4. Hasson Abuharba Says:

    are you or do u have these authentic games for sale

  5. First of all, great post! There should be way more articles like this floating arround the internet which, sadly, it isnt the case. From what I can tell, one of the main differences between real and fake cartridges are often the fonts used, and the “shinyness” of the sticker. Some people also say that the plastic feels different but I cant really confirm on that. The main problem is when you are buying online, since you cant really open the game which is usually one of the easiest methods to spot a a fake.

    Nonetheless, either if you are buying online or in person keep in mind: all the fonts used (everything should be clear), the positioning of the sticker, in the case of FRLG check the positioning of the so called “swirlies” and see if they match, the layout of the sticker, the game boy advanced logo, if you cant open it up check the back and see if everything in the board matches, the white inscription above the pins that go into the console (note that there may be a couple of different inscriptions), and if you have the cartridge on your hand (or if you have good pictures) always check the “metalic” brightness or “shinyness” of the sticker, not forgetting the embossed letters and numbers which can also be very diverse. Once again, you can open the cartridge and see if its fake or not, even though you can check the battery and its position without opening the games. (FRLG dont have batteries)

    If you already bought the game you should always try it on and check if: there is already a save file, even though some people may delet it before selling the game, see if it saves, see if some weird message appears after the title screen (the batery has run out message is completely normal btw) and the last thing to do is probably check if the game can trade with other games. Fake games are getting better and better unfortunatelyand and all this aspects may work in a fake game, but keep them in mind nonetheless since if one of them doesnt check, your copy might be a fake.

    Anyway, ive ramlbed for way too much but i bought a copy of fire red and had a really hard time confirming it was real, so in case someone is in the same situation as me, they dont have to do as much research. One last thing, always check with reference that is from the same region of your game, and despite US fakes being more common, keep in mind that there are also PAL region fakes, and if you bought one european copy like i did its even harder to find images on the internet. Anyway, be carefull and cheers!

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