December 07, 2021, 01:52:08 am

SNES Pirate Carts

Started by 133MHz, March 28, 2009, 10:50:27 pm

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I remember some discussion a while back about the existence of SNES pirate carts, I replied to it saying that they exist because several of them passed through my hands, but now I have the ultimate proof, having found two of them at the flea market:

BTW I'm really happy about finding these games, I had both of them as a child (especially Prince of Persia, I had the original SFC version and I used to play it a lot with my dad).

The first thing that strikes as weird is the Japanese version of Prince of Persia in a US cart shell. At first I thought that somebody did a board and label swap to "Americanize" the game, but further inspection revealed that it's a pirate cart.

Both of the carts have the usual engraved Nintendo logo on the back. The Sonic cart has no warning label, but the PoP one does (though the back plastic part could've been swapped from an original SNES cart).

And the moment you're all waiting for... board pictures!!! ;D

Prince of Persia (J)

Sonic the Hedgehog 4

No Nintendo markings on the boards or the ROM chipsl, typical solder pads used as dip switches (probably for region selection)... and a glop-top!

You can clearly see the CIC clone chips at the right side on both carts, with their mysterious labeling. Some CIC clones are also labeled with standard logic chip part numbers like 74LS138 or similar, probably to deceive and thwart casual looking/reverse engineering/Nintendo's lawyers. There's a pic somewhere on the Internets with a bunch of different CIC clone chips, but I can't seem to find it now :'(.

Also, the PoP board has been conveniently labeled

ZGY   1993-2-8

Blue Protoman

Isn't STH4 just a hack of Speedy Gonzales?
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Correct, and Prince of Persia is the full, unmodified Japanese version.


Retro Gaming Life


Cool I've never seen a SNES pirate before.


What is the purpose of this "glob" thingy?


Interesting. I didn't think that anyone would have pirated Region 1 SNES stuff. Those a bit more obscure then? I have not seen a pirate SNES cart before. I have seen SNES reproduction stuff before, or Japanese games dumped to a US cart... I don't think that these are even close to the same thing in that regard though. Very cool.


Quote from: manuel on April 01, 2009, 07:03:26 am
What is the purpose of this "glob" thingy?

That's the ROM chip where the game itself is stored. You see, inside a common integrated circuit (IC) there's a very small silicon die:

The signals are connected to the exterior through a very fine gold wire (called 'wire bonding' and clearly visible in the picture).
The ceramic or plastic packaging only provides pin routing to the outside and protection from the elements.

Now, the cheapass Chinese pirates in order to save a few cents on IC packaging, pin routing and soldering, they just stick the silicon die directly into the printed circuit board, routing the silicon directly into the board traces (no pins or soldering required), and to protect the fragile die from the outside world, they put a glob of hard epoxy over it.

Glop-top carts are massively cheaper to manufacture than traditional carts, and if the chip fails you're SOL because it's not replaceable.


Ah, so that is!
Thanks for the info.
Damn cheap pirates, ARRH!


Great 133mhz I didn't know that !
Retro Gaming Life


I have a few snes pirates!........some even have boxes and instruction
With English box, instruction...........but Japanese game! ;D

I'll get some pics!
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Please do! Got any multicarts? I had a 6-in-1 with reset-based logic and a 10-in-1 with a really bland menu screen.

I've seen these games on single pirate carts, besides the ones shown earlier:

  • Donkey Kong Country

  • Donkey Kong Country 3

  • International Superstar Soccer

  • Pikachu (Pokémon HK original? Hack?)

  • Ronaldinho's Soccer '98 (a hack of ISS)

  • Sonic Wings (by far the most common SNES pirate I've ever seen)

  • Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3


Yarr mates! Got my hands on another SNES pirate! This time: PICACHU! XD
It's a terrible Pokémon pirate for the SNES (HK original?), I've seen some carts labeled PICACHO which is even worse!

The cart itself (click to zoom):

No screw holes! Cart is held by two internal plastic tabs, much like Famicom games. Complete with fake SNES logos and Nintendo Seals of Quality. DVS ELECTRONIC CO, LTD. appears to be the manufacturer.

And for the kinky ones like me, naked board! (click to zoom):

THIS is what I call Cheapass Chinese Engineering at its finest! Not a single proper chip, even the address decoder and the lockout clone are gloptops! And to top it off, there's an unpopulated gloptop to the right of the main ROM. Notice the 16M and 8M markings next to the ROMs, meaning that this board was also used for other, different sized games.

I remember JC (or was it manuel? or both?) wanted to see how a gloptop looks like under the epoxy blob. Now you can see a virgin, unpopulated one. The silicon die which conforms the ROM data is placed over the large copper rectangle with the + sign (the same silicon die used in traditional ROM chips), then the contact points are connected to the surrounding board traces with some really fine gold wire, and finally the extremely fragile product is sealed from the outside world with our well-known blob of hard black epoxy. Thanks Pikachu for satisfying our curiosity :).

Here's some weird shit about this game. According to this, this terrible, crappy game employs copy protection! I think that's utterly hilarious considering how awful and illegal this game is.

YouTube video of the game (not mine).


Thanks for the pics.
That's quite interesting!


Your pirate looks awesome!  It actually looks a little fun.  That reminds me of that Pokemon SNES pirate that is only a picture of Ash in front of a scrolling background :D
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