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I recently bought a copy of Pokemon Emerald off the internet for a Nuzlocke, and it'll probably arrive within a month or two. Judging by the photos and a guide to the differences online, it's either real or a very convincing fake. According to the page I bought it from, it's brand new and hasn't been used before, and there doesn't seem to be any feedback indicating that the cart will be broken or glitched. While I wait for it to arrive, there are a few things I'd like to know more about, but I can't find a whole lot of information about online.
-How long does an internal battery last?
-Aside from the clock stopping, are there any additional side effects of the battery being dry?
-What are the major differences between a real and bootlegged copy of a Pokemon game?
-If the internal battery is dead, is there a way I can replace it safely and with relatively minor difficulty?
-What are common causes of unexpected save file loss or corruption? Are any of these likely to happen to my copy of the game based on what I know about its condition?
If anybody can answer even one of these, I would really appreciate it. I'm pretty sure that I covered all the information I know, but let me know if I need to make anything else more clear.

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The only system I own that's compatiable with GBA carts is a DS Lite, so I'll be using that. It's well-used and has seen better days, but everything is in extremely good condition save for parts of the screens, and I've never had a game crash or sustain damage just from being used on the system.
I think this is the best way to figure out if your cartridge is fake: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYyXjKXIfY0

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How long does an internal battery last?

It’s not possible to give a definitive answer, as the battery’s life ultimately varies depending on its manufacturing, storage, use and other factors. However, personal experience and some double-checking online indicates the usual lifespan is somewhere between five and ten years from the time of manufacture. My original copy of Emerald was closer to ten.

As production of Emerald in the past ten years has likely been very limited (or completely non-existent), it’s possible that your game will arrive to you with a dead battery. I won’t speak in absolutes though, since I obviously don’t know its precise circumstances.

Aside from the clock stopping, are there any additional side effects of the battery being dry?

There are some GBA titles that require power to save, but fortunately there are no Pokémon titles among them. The only features you’ll lose are time-based — for example, you won’t be able to grow berries if the internal battery is dry.

The game will actually warn you of the above if you load it with a dead battery (specifically mentioning the game is still playable), so you would have figured it out yourself besides. If you cannot save the game, it is caused by a fault unrelated to the battery.

What are the major differences between a real and bootlegged copy of a Pokemon game?

Emerald is an annoying game to pirate, because the real cartridges have a semi-translucent green colour, as opposed to the normal grey. The front label also has a glossy sheen, with polygonal shapes glazed onto it that reflect light when you move the cartridge. If you’re missing any of that, it’s fake.

Also on the label should be a manufacturing code that indicates where the cartridge ships to. Mine ends in AUS as I purchased it in Australia. If there’s a disparity between where you’re buying from and the region on the cartridge, it’s either fake or secondhand.

From there, obviously look for the telling signs, such as the game behaving strangely or the cartridge being really poor quality. Online guides can assist with this.

If the internal battery is dead, is there a way I can replace it safely and with relatively minor difficulty?

A search brings up several guides for how to do this — though I have no business explaining them to you, haha. The most promising one is linked here. There’s a specific model of lithium battery you need that I’m not sure the availability of.

What are common causes of unexpected save file loss or corruption? Are any of these likely to happen to my copy of the game based on what I know about its condition?

The most common cause is that the game is fake, which you should be able to detect quite easily. Otherwise, the main cause would be a failure of the flash memory, which would corrupt the data. When this happens is unpredictable, though it isn’t likely either.

Save for the odd manufacturing error or the game being fake, your game should work fine. If you’ve been careful, I don’t rate either as being very likely.

Flash memory can fail after too many write cycles or from very old age, but you’re not at a point where either of those things are a concern.

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The internal battery for Emerald usually lasts 5-10 years.

When the internal battery runs dry, time based events will no longer occur. Certain Pokémon won’t appear, and the game will either get stuck in high/low tide.

Bootleg games usually can’t trade with other games. Very well made fakes can trade with the real games, though. Bootlegs also have a chance to crash when you try to save.

The internal batteries were not intended to be replaced. You can replace them if you have the right tools, but it’s fairly complicated and I’m not going to try to tell you how to do it. I found a guide on the internet, if you want to try and replace the battery.

The only thing that would mess up your save would be the game not saving correctly if it’s a fake.

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