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Everything retro - big and small! Live from Perth, Australia!

Monday, March 7, 2016

I'm a Dirty Famicom Pirate. Arrrrrrr!

Sorry, Nintendo.

I contributed to piracy (in a remote manner) by accidentally buying secondhand none-legit Famicom cartridges from the mid-1980's. I swear it was only because I'm ignorant and uneducated in the ways of spotting real Famicom cartridges - I really do hope we can still be friends.

I didn't even know pirated Famicom cartridges were a thing until I purchased them the other day. I'm not even mad, though. In fact, I'm a bit impressed. I have seen pirated Game Boy and DS games in my lifetime - but these would have been in the last 15 years. The cartridges I bought the other day, however, would have been from the 1980's. It's pretty amazing they exist at all, in my opinion. The amount of effort and time it may have taken to create these surely would have counteracted just buying the damn game legally - although I can't say I'm an expert on the subject. In fact, I don't really know much about it at all since I've never been interested in the pirated stuff. Oh well, I guess I have some in my possession now regardless.

These were bought from the same secondhand store where I saw that broken NES for $100 which I mentioned in the post about fixing my own NES. Here's a photo I posted of that on Facebook if you want proof or want to cringe at it - since unsurprisingly it was still there.
The only reason I was even in the store at all was because it was a Sunday and all the op-shops were closed, and I guess I wanted to buy some more NES games (since I very rarely find those at all in the same op-shops).
At first, I thought I had a newfound respect for the store since I bought four Famicom games for $5 each (since there is nothing there under $15) but since they're pirated I guess that respect has turned back to disgust.

I also bought other stuff, but I guess I'll mention those further down.
I'll never know if the owners knew they're pirated or not, but they obviously weren't labelled as such.
On the flipside, though, three out of four work. Super Mario Bros 3, B-Wings and Ninja Hattori-Kun all needed an intense clean (I've never seen q-tips so black) but worked eventually. Karateka, on the other hand, wasn't that dirty at all in comparison - but I never got it working. I opened it up to find scratches all over the top-left of the circuit board too - many of which were over traces so I guess that's what's causing the malfunction.

I still don't really know much in regards to the piracy of these games - except for one clue. B-Wings and Ninja Hattori-Kun are both labelled with "Whirlwind Manu". I looked this up, and it turns out it was a company in the late 80's/early 90's (probably) based in Taiwan that distributed pirated cartridges all over the world. It seemed to be a huge operation - but otherwise, not much else is know about them. The games that do work seem to be quite flawless copies of their original counterparts, even the case design.
As somewhat of a Famicom noob (even though I've owned one for years) it's hard to spot the differences unless compared to an original.

The cartridge on the left is real... I assume.
I guess the sticker is a huge giveaway, but I honestly didn't even notice that when buying them. They were in a display case facing upwards in the store (with the price sticker on the back) so when I was inspecting them, all I was  really doing was flipping them over and checking the prices. I hardly noticed the sticker design at all, which is something I'll have to rectify in the future.

While there, I also bought Xevious on the NES for $15. Luckily this is a legit copy, but $15 is more than I'd ever want to play. I let it slip this time, however, since I'm having a hard time finding affordable NES games anywhere. I'm beginning to think that my NES collection will remain small and only consist of specific games I've bought online - since it really seems like my only option at the moment.
On the flipside, though, I looked up Xevious on eBay and for some reason only the Famicom versions are listed in Aus - all other listings seem to be international and NTSC, oddly.

Lastly, I bought some PS2 games. Yes, more blasted PS2 games - both of which were $3 (my kinda prices!). There's a method to my madness, though. For one, I bought Driv3r because the copy I already had was too scratched to play. I made sure this one was clean and working, so I now have that in my collection for reals.
I also bought WRC because, for one, I really love that series and two, I need racing games on the PS2 for an upcoming hardware review for a Logitech steering wheel (the Driving Force EX specifically). I don't think I ever mentioned it on this blog when I bought that last year, so stayed tuned for the video in the coming months.  

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