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This is an in-depth guide dedicated to both legitimate and fake Nintendo DS cartridges. We have made this wiki entry as clear and accessible to all as we can.

Batch Identifiers (The M8 and MB Problem)

M8 (13 when obscured by the plastic contact guards) on the PCB is a bonafide way to determine counterfeit carts. However, the M8 should not be confused with "MB", which is a legitimate cart identifier. Unfortunately, we are aware of some fake carts that use MB as their batch identifier.

Fake Mario Kart DS

Legitimate Kirby Mouse Attack

We've tried clearing up the M8 and MB problem as much as possible, but when verifying a game is legitimate or not, you must read the next section carefully, as this provides you with ample evidence.

DS Fakes

Cases

Dark grey for NTSC/J. Clear for PAL.

Seals

NTSC: No Nintendo strip around the sealed plastic wrap. PAL: There is a Nintendo strip around the sealed plastic wrap.

Carts:

There are multiple ways to determine a fake DS game. We'll start with a game shared on this subreddit for numbers 1-6, Super Mario 64 DS, 7-10 for Pokemon White 2; and a numbered list of what to look for to determine a fake cart. We'll also share a legitimate cart for you to compare.

Super Mario 64 DS

No. Fake Legit
1. Lower-left label corner is curved. Lower-left corner should be straight-cut.
2. Middle 4 digits do not match the start of the 9-digit serial code. NTR-ASMP-USA Middle 4 digits should match the start of the 9-digit serial code, ASMP-USA not a legit code, ASMP is PAL and would be ASMP-EUR. Front serial should be NTR-ASME-USA. Rear serial number should start with ASMP.
3. Licensed by Nintendo. Super Mario 64 DS is a first-party published game, not licensed.
4. NTR-005 font is thick and blocky. NTR-005 font should not be thick, and should look slim like this cart rear.
5. Nintendo logo font is thick, blocky and not level. NTR-005 font should not be thick, and should look slim like this cart rear.
6. Plastic tab is curved. Tab should be chamfered at a 45° angle.

Pokemon White 2

No. Fake Legit
7. Cart has curved sides. Cart should have straight sides.
8. Blank margin from label to cart is almost non-existent. Cart should have a noticeable margin (0.5mm) from label to cart.
9. Serial cart font looks similar to Calibri. Font should look slim and blocky.
10. Cart colour is grey. Cart colour should be translucent black with a red/purple tint - See NTR-031 carts.

What about IR carts?

These are harder to fake due to the IR technology needed. Here's an example of Pokemon Black, the front - awaiting image and back - awaiting image of the cart. The biggest difference of the NTR-005 and NTR-031 carts is the colour. In direct light, the NTR-031 carts give a slight purpley-red tint as the cart is translucent. In comparison, NTR-005 carts are always grey. See List of NTR-031 carts below for more information, and a list of game that use IR carts.

Please note:

  • The "Official Nintendo Seal (of Quality)" is not a viable way to determine a fake. Some games have ONS, other games have ONSoQ, but in some cases a game could have ONSoQ, and in a different printing batch at a later date by the manufacturer, the game could be printed with just ONS. Pokemon Platinum is a definite miscreant (for lack of a better word) for this. As a result, we won't be weighing heavily into the seal for this guide. Yes, the seal can be a factor in determining a fake, but it's no way near as viable or a dead giveaway as most people think. Japanese carts lack the ONSoQ in its entirety for some carts, namely SoulSilver.
  • Shaking the cart for it to make a sound doesn't always prove a legit cart. Legit carts without the interior making a noise while shaking do exist and are common. After cracking a DS cart open (DON'T), this is because of the DS's carts symmetrical mounting system. Images can be found here, of the interior of the cart.
  • Regarding the "PAT.PEND." theory - ALL legitimate carts show "PAT. PEND.", with a space in between the first full stop and "PEND"; however there are fakes with both the spacing, and omitted.

Decoding Cartridge Codes

Nintendo DS cartridges have one of the following two formats: NTR-βγγδ-εεε TWL-βγγδ-εεε

While there are two different formats of code, there are actually three different types of cartridge; original DS, DSi enhanced, and DSi exclusive. All original DS cartridges use the NTR code, and all DSi exclusive use the TWL code, but DSi enhanced can be both. The decision seemed to be up to the publisher.

β is the cartridge type.

Value Type
A, B, C, T or Y Standard Cartridge
D DSi Exclusive (TWL Only)
I Built-in IR Transceiver
V DSi Enhanced

γγ is the ID code. Both characters are alphanumeric. δ is the game region.

Value Type
C Chinese
D German
E English (American)
F French
H Dutch
I Italian
J Japanese
K Korean
M Swedish
N Norwegian
P European (Multilingual)
Q Danish
R Russian
S Spanish
U English (Australian)
V English (British)

εεε is the packaging region.

Code Region Language
AUS Australia English
CDF Canada English/French
CHN China Chinese
DEN Denmark Multilingual
EUR Europe Multilingual
EUU Europe Dutch/Italian
FRA France French
GER Germany German
HOL Netherlands Dutch
ITA Italy Italian
JPN Japan Japanese
KOR Korea Korean
NOE Germany German
NOR Norway Dutch
RUS Russia Russian
SCN Scandinavia Multilingual
SPA Spain Spanish
UKV United Kingdom English
USA United States English

Now, the 5 digits left will be different for every cart, dependent on batch, factory and time of manufacture.

Labels

This is important, so it's under a different section. Contrary to popular belief, the section of the label where the NTR code resides does not have to be white. This can also be black dependent on regional variations, namely European and Japanese copies.

Legitimate Mario Kart and Tetris Party

List of NTR-031 carts

Pokemon games are among some of the most counterfeited carts, including those that use the Pokewalker add-on. Luckily, these fake carts are very easy to spot in comparison with other grey NTR-005 carts. The main difference between the standard NTR-005 and NTR-031 carts are that the NTR-005 carts are grey, NTR-031 are black with a reddish tint when held up to any form of light - this is because of the IR used with the Pokewalker add-on. We'll also supply the serial codes to ensure you have a legitimate cart. NTR-031 carts were also used with DS games that required the use of a pedometer, such as Personal Trainer: Walking.

Cart Australian Code Canadian Code EU Code French Code German Code JP Code Spanish Code UK Code US Code
Active Health with Carol Vorderman N/A N/A NTR-IA8P-EUR N/A N/A N/A N/A NTR-IA8P-UKV N/A
Aruite Wakaru/Personal Trainer: Walking/Walk With Me! N/A N/A NTR-IMWP-EUR N/A N/A NTR-IMWJ-JPN N/A NTR-IMWP-UKV NTR-IMWE-USA
Pokemon Black/Noire/Schwarze TWL-IRBO-AUS N/A TWL-IRBO-EUR TWL-IRBF-FRA TWL-IRBD-NOE TWL-IRBJ-JPN TWL-IRBS-ESP N/A TWL-IRBO-USA
Pokemon Black 2/Noire 2/Schwarze 2 TWL-IREO-AUS N/A TWL-IREO-EUR TWL-IREF-FRA TWL-IRED-NOE TWL-IREJ-JPN TWL-IRES-ESP N/A TWL-IREO-USA
Pokemon HeartGold/Goldene NTR-IPKE-AUS NTR-IPKF-CDF NTR-IPKP-EUR NTR-IPKF-FRA NTR-IPKD-NOE NTR-IPKJ-JPN NTR-IPKS-ESP N/A NTR-IPKE-USA
Pokemon SoulSilver/Argent/Silberne NTR-IPGE-AUS NTR-IPGF-CDF NTR-IPGP-EUR NTR-IPGF-FRA NTR-IPGD-NOE NTR-IPGJ-JPN NTR-IPGS-ESP N/A NTR-IPGE-USA
Pokemon White/Blanche/Weisse TWL-IRAO-AUS N/A TWL-IRAO-EUR TWL-IRAF-FRA TWL-IRAD-NOE TWL-IRAJ-JPN TWL-IRAS-ESP N/A TWL-IRAO-USA
Pokemon White 2/Blanche 2/Weisse 2 TWL-IRDO-AUS N/A TWL-IRDO-EUR TWL-IRDF-FRA TWL-IRDD-NOE TWL-IRDJ-JPN TWL-IRDS-ESP N/A TWL-IRDO-USA

Please note: Due to space constraints, subtitles for the following games have been omitted:

  • Aruite Wakaru: Seikatsu Rhythm DS
  • Walk With Me! Do You Know Your Walking Routine?

List of Pokemon DS carts

Cart Australian Code Canadian Code EU Code French Code German Code JP Code Spanish Code UK Code US Code
Pokemon Card Game: Asobikata/How-To-Play DS N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A NTR-TBWJ-JPN N/A N/A N/A
Pokemon Conquest N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A TWL-VPYJ-JPN N/A N/A TWL-VPYT-USA
Pokemon Dash N/A N/A NTR-APDP-EUR N/A N/A NTR-APDJ-JPN N/A N/A NTR-APDE-USA
Pokemon Diamond NTR-ADAE-AUS N/A NTR-ADAP-EUR N/A NTR-ADAD-NOE NTR-ADAJ-JPN N/A N/A NTR-ADAE-USA
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team N/A N/A NTR-APHP-EUR N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A NTR-APHE-USA
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness N/A N/A NTR-YFYP-EUR N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A NTR-YFYE-USA
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky N/A N/A NTR-C2SP-EUR N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A NTR-C2SE-USA
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time NTR-YFTP-AUS N/A NTR-YFTP-EUR N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A NTR-YFTE-USA
Pokemon Pearl NTR-APAE-AUS N/A NTR-APAP-EUR NTR-APAF-FRA NTR-APAD-NOE NTR-APAJ-JPN NTR-APAS-ESP NTR-APAP-UKV NTR-APAE-USA
Pokemon Platinum NTR-CPUE-AUS N/A NTR-CPUP-EUR NTR-CPUF-FRA NTR-CPUD-NOE NTR-CPUJ-JPN NTR-CPUS-ESP NTR-CPUP-UKV NTR-CPUE-USA
Pokemon Ranger N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A NTR-ARGJ-JPN N/A N/A NTR-ARGE-USA
Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs N/A N/A NTR-B3RP-EUR N/A N/A N/A N/A NTR-B3RP-UKV NTR-B3RP-USA
Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia N/A N/A NTR-YP2P-EUR N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A NTR-YP2E-USA
Pokemon Trozei! N/A N/A NTR-APTP-EUR N/A N/A NTR-APTJ-JPN N/A N/A NTR-APTE-USA

Opening a DS Cart

This goes without saying, that I highly recommend that you do NOT do this!!! The reason why I don't recommend this is because the rear and front casings are "hot-welded" together, meaning that if you break the seals apart in order to get into the cart (which is 99% likely), you won't be able to re-close the cart. If you really want to open a DS carts, please read our table of pros and cons first:

Pros Cons
You get to see what makes a DS cart "tick". You'll destroy the fucking thing.
A fun exercise for all the family. You've wasted your hard-earned cash.
Looks good on a CV. You'll have to live with the consequences of your actions.

Got that? Ok, let's continue...

At the top left and top right of the cart, you'll see a slight indent. What you'll need to do is, with a plastic spudger (you can use a metal spudger, but this will further damage the plastic of the cart), gently pry apart the front and back casings apart. You'll very likely snap the fused parts apart. Once these parts have come away, you'll need to pry open the indent at the top of the cart. The next part is to pry the left and right parts of the cart apart using the same plastic spudger until you're near the bottom. Then the bottom of the front of the cart should be able to be unclipped off of the back. Once unclipped, you should be able to see the board.

However, if you do wish to replace the DS cart casing, you could use a third-party casing. The linked casing does not show any Nintendo markings and you'll need to create your own reproduction sticker. This will show that your game is custom, but if you're looking at custom DS cart cases you already know that. We don't recommend it, but we're just showing you that the option is there. Please note that these casings are not compatible with the NTR-031 carts.

Back-side of the PCB for Clubhouse Games

Stamps

The 9 digit alphanumerical stamps on the back of the DS carts are easy to be rubbed off via the natural oils in human fingerprints and the use of isopropyl alcohol. The lack of a stamp is not an indicator on whether or not a game is fake - fake games have stamps too, and usually recreate the legitimate style of stamp Nintendo utilise.