Brace Yourselves! High Quality Counterfeiting Has Begun!

Wolf

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Apr 8, 2001
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Before reading any further, take a look at my sample picture here and say to yourself: which one is the original SNK product?



So I recently acquired a second copy of Metal Slug 2 in hopes of upgrading the quality of my existing copy. Upon placement next to my existing copy, I discovered that the gray spine color doesn't quite match. Upon VERY close inspection, the copy I have owned for a year and a half is in fact a forgery! :(

Before getting into the details, I must make a few points and notes:

  • Only close inspection or comparison to the original will reveal a forgery!
  • The quality of the forgery, while high, does not quite match an original SNK product, but is easily missed due to the high quality
  • The purpose here is to get awareness out there so that people will scrutinize every high-dollar cart purchase
  • If anyone else has any forgeries passed on as originals, please post here so that we can ensure the source is revealed
  • EVERY image in this post is available in higher resolution by simply clicking on the image. The default image resolution I've used is slightly better than what you'd see with the naked eye. The high resolution photos are what you would expect to see with a magnifying glass
  • This cart has actually been compared (in person) to two different copies of Metal Slug 2. Only one of the two copies was available for this shoot.

Insert:






Spine:






Cart:




Manual:











Summary:
I have made the differences of the counterfeit cart as obvious as possible, but I cannot reinforce how good the quality of this conversion is. Shawn has seen it in person and has also never seen anything this close. The paper stock used for the insert is EXACTLY the same as SNK's. The manual has a slightly different sheen, but is close enough not to raise any flags. I would strongly recommend carefully examining every acquisition from here on out and, when possible, comparing to someone else's copy of the game.

I should also mention that I took a peek into the cart and I did not see any EPROMS, so this was likely a Japanese copy before it's life as a US copy. In the event that I can't get a refund for the title, I will of course open it up to be sure.

The Seller:
And you all might be wondering "Who is the seller"? I have only just now let him know that the title is fake and I want to give him adequate time to respond before "roasting" him here. I want to be clear that although I bought a REAL MS2 recently from SabbraCadabra, it was NOT his copy that was fake.

The only clue that I can reveal right now is that this game came from France. Given that there are several fake Metal Slug 1 artwork sets on ebay (also from France), we must assume that someone in Europe (or more likely France) is setting up shop as a counterfeiter.

If there is one fake Metal Slug 2, there must be more
 
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L4byr1nth

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They're damn close, aren't they?

It's the sharpness of the ink in the bold letters (SNK, ROM, etc.) that gives it away, though...

Ben.
 

Bskull

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The fake seems to be lower in resolution compared to the real one.
 

Verythrax

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Maybe it's not just a different print batch?

It's not that uncommon to some goods having varied print qualities. Dunno about the Neo, though.
 

Electric Grave

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Nah, seems like the fake is just a reproduction of a scan of the original. The print "dotted" pattern is a clear sign of improper scanning procedure, thus the printing seems to be subpar, however there's still a chance of being original as vertthrax pointed out but the chances are extremely slim.

If the repro was done from the ground up you wouldn't notice the difference really but alas the work is not that great if you look at it up close like the owner did with the comparison.
 

BobbyPeru

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Wow, That is an incredibly elaborate ruse!

Just the trouble of getting the manual professionally printed alone... wow.
 
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i agree it´s a fake

hope you can track down the source of it.

edit: there´s also fake slug 1s around but it´s common knowledge.

and the most obvious thing I could see, without high def print patters pics is that the manual cover in the fake was wrongfully cut misses a bit of the upper part.
 
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Shawn

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Great pics John, that camera of yours rocks, yielding beautiful color saturation. Thanks for sharing your findings here in such a detailed way and I hope you receive a reasonable solution from the seller.

I was able to examine this very MS2 reproduction in person yesterday and like John said, the paper quality of the insert is virtually the same if not the exact same in texture, sheen, and perhaps weight. (would be good idea to weigh to the fraction of an ounce see if there is any variation) It definitely required a very close inspection to detect the subtle differences and without an original to compare to, this reproduction would likely fool many unsuspecting buyers.

The cut of the cart sticker appeared quite accurate (correct slope) and the production of the gold warning label was incredibly close if not an original taken from a cheaper English version home cart (which is what I suspect as there were more sticker bubbles than normal). Now the manual was the easiest to discredit at first glance because the cover had an unnatural texture and the bleeding/blurriness of the print was more pronounced (see SNK logo on reverse cover). Just imagine how someone could easily overlook this fake manual when it’s masked behind a moderately wrinkled plastic baggie (which it did come in a rather worn baggie, perhaps part of the scam).

As electricgrave mentioned, this certainly appears to be a scan and print job from an original copy which is what is causing the inferior resolution in the fake. Now that the cat is out of the bag I think that most any serious collector should be able to detect a fake of this caliber by comparing to the quality of any original SNK production. However, I doubt the counterfeiter(s) will stop here. The next generation of fakes will likely try to improve on the most obvious flaws that we are pointing out here but there should always be subtle difference that will reveal a knock off such as: color variations, inferior resolution, texture discrepancies, & weight difference in the manual/insert.
 
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Electric Grave

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Defenately all good points to look out for Shawn, I did forget to thank Wolf for the contribution there. So tahnks both. I've done a lot of repro work (Not counterfitting though) and I know a thing or two about printing, anything counterfit is usually reproduced on a smaller scale than the original of course and that's where the mistakes are visible, so watchout for that. Unfortunately is hard for regular ebayers to find out the authenticity of a cart, I suggest to stay with good sources like the Neo store here, Southtown and so on.

This hasn't just begun either, this has been going on for a while now and it isn't difficult for these counterfitters to obtain professional results out of simple methods, mostly with conversions of well sought after US releases like Metal Slug, Neo Turf Masters, Ninja Masters and so on.

Keep an eye open for the paper feel above all. The inks on a original print usually have a "lining" on the print, meaning you can actually see some embossing of the print colors on the outlines and what have you. Also color count is extremely important, as you saw on the comparisons the darks are too dark and the brights were too bright, so watch out for that too.

Best thing you can do is stay with trusted sources and if you see a deal being too good to be true it is only 'cause it usually is. printers and scanners have come a long way, is just a matter of time before things become more difficult to discern, this is happening everywhere not just with homecarts but with MVS full kits as well.

The esiest way to find out is with the PCB itself but I know is hard to open it up without compromising the mintiness of the item. Paper weight should be a good source, the manual will be the place were most mistakes will happen so that's a good source 'cause the trimings on a fake scanner would be smaller than an original given that the original goes unto a spread sheet called "full bleed" where is marked with a crosshatch on the edges for the cutters to be guided with. The fakes don't have these guides so they abide to a smaller cut and thus the manual and insert might be smaller than the original but only by mm's so it might be hard to catch.

Paper consistency is a hughe point. Porous paper is usually a big sign that is fake, but you never know some counterfitters may use a higher grade polygloss which might make it difficult, but poly doesn't yellow like the original paper does, so look out for the back of the insert and compare the grade of glossyness if possible with another original homecart of somewhat same time. The edges of the origonal paper have a tendency to yellow as well so look out for that, the counterfitss susally have zero scratches on the edges and at less something is new this would be most unlikely on an original homecart.

A big giveaway would be the smaller fonts on any print, like the words between the NEO GEO on the top black end of the spine, the small fonts there should be prefectly readable no inconsistencies in the ink or thiickness of the letters. Also the trademark should be clear so look out for that. Many repros remove this 'cause is hard to replicate without sacrificng the quality of it. SNK used a whole lot of "AE" in some of their products rather than "TM" or "R" so look out for that too, the AE should be together almost beling on the right leg of the A blending with the main vertical shaft of the E.

Only a very meticulous counterfitter might be able to get a very close replica and even if so, a process so precise shouldn't be something to worry about. As dumb as it sounds, somone that precise usually is just as good with the PCB thus the work alone is worth the money. Not that I'm condoning it, but if you happen to get shafted without knowing I wouldn't be too worried.

Good luck guys.
 

Comrade Porn King Mikhail

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I was wondering what took so long. The NGF KOF2K was the first great forgery and that was over 9 years ago.

KitKit recently showed me a really high quality production of a Neo Drift Out conversion. The cart label and insert are definitely the two areas where the most advances have been made.

This honestly makes me happy to be out of the home cart scene. Unless I was to purchase all of my exact original carts from the people I originally sold them to, if I was to go back at all, I wouldn't even bother trying. This hobby is going the way of original comic art: too expensive compared to actual enjoyment value and more collectible than fun.

Sincerely,

Mikhail
 

Praise the Lard

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Great pictures you've provided Wolf! I hope this will shine some new light on the subject and hopefully make newer buyers a bit more cautious.

This is something that stretches back quite a ways now. Metal Slug JPN and Metal Slug 2 US/Euro in particular are known to have some very real looking fakes.

The story as I recall: These were sold to used game shops in Japan in the early 00s and almost no one involved, the shops or the original buyers, could tell the difference.

It's likely if you try to track your MS2's history you'll find it came out of Japan, but something else entirely is always possible. Best of luck if you are intent on finding the source, and I hope that you'll post your findings here.
 

Takumaji

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Yep, great pics, thanks for all the work, Wolf. Hope this lets people look twice before shelling out cash for expensive Slug carts.

That's why I hate convs with a passion, and it doesn't even take a tech-savvy forger to make high-q inserts like that if this person has access to pro equipment. Guess the guy(s) who made this have connections to/are working in the printing or publishing biz or at least know exactly where to find certain types of paper and high-end scanners and printers.

If on your journey, you should encounter the forger, the forger will be cut. :mad:
 

Xian Xi

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Good eyes John. This is why I'm scared to buy the expensive home carts.
 
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As a professional printer for 15 years in the industry, I can tell you the differences in the shades of the colors does not mean this is a forgery. I've found that some of my SNK carts have had imperfect printing over the years. The batch of Sengoku 3 cart labels for instance were horribly out of alignment of the 4-color process. Anyone with a Sengoku 3 simply has to take a close look to find the magenta and cyan colors bleeding in everywhere on the label where it should be white reverse. These kind of mistakes happen for a wide variety of reasons.

The fact that you can see the individual dots on the alleged 'fake' isn't a clear giveaway. I can see in the 'fake', what is called the rosette (look closer, notice the flower pattern within the printing?), which is something that appears to be real, professional 4-color process work. The reason it's not seen on the 'real' insert is most likely because that one is at a much higher lpi (screen lines per square inch). You would need a microscope to see the dots, but they are there.

This tells me that what is possible is that there were more than 1 printings of this game, and that there were art revisions. Whoever was commissioned to do the artwork and printing for one of the runs did some obvious changes to the back of the insert (the size of things is different all over), and the lpi was lowered for the 'fake', thus the dots are larger on that one, which is why you can see them with a little magnification. To the naked eye it would look fine though.

In my professional opinion the only way to be sure would be to open it up and inspect it. People should not take what they perceive as lower print quality as a dead giveaway to that Metal Slug 2 being a conversion. If it is a conversion, then someone paid a shit ton of money to have all that stuff made.

This picture you can see the rosette. It appears clearly on the gray area to the left. (on the 'fake'). That is Professional. :
megcount_L.jpg
 
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kernow

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Kiselgof said:
This hobby is going the way of original comic art: too expensive compared to actual enjoyment value and more collectible than fun.

Sincerely,

Mikhail

Yup
 

P00t

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Damn Wolf, that sucks man, sorry to hear you laid out your hard earnt cash to get scammed.

One thing you've gotta think is its a pretty good conversion and if you didn't have the other copy you wouldn't of noticed at all, that said its still a scam. I wonder if the seller actually knows, I guess we'll never know since a criminal wouldn't confess would they.

Metal Slug 2 is one of those easy to make conversion carts in reality, there's loads of conversions out there, I know since I've made a few myself. but I would never pass them on without the buyer knowing its a conversion, especially when they can be caught out. Reputation wouldn't look very good for the seller here.

Hope you get it sorted man, I would be really pissed myself, can't be doing with the hassle, so I feel for you.

By the way, those are some great pictures, what camera have you used there? you using a tripod for those steady images too?
 

Xavier

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As a professional printer for 15 years in the industry, I can tell you the differences in the shades of the colors does not mean this is a forgery

Yeah I was thinking the same thing, Id also like to see what the insides look like as well.
 

SuperDeadite

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I'm guessing the cart pcbs are legit. Probably was a Japanese Slug 2 originaly. Most people willing to buy these carts are smart enough to open them. So changing a real JP cart into a more valuable US one was the next step.

You really have to check everything now, not just the cart. A great example is here:
http://moeroshop.net/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=16330

Look at the PCB pics. I only see factory fresh soldering. Looks to be a legit cart.
AESJ-Metal-Slug_17_LRG.jpg


The insert looks legit too. The bricks, muzzle flash, spine logo all appear correctly.

But look at the manual... it's not right. It's missing a bunch of small details. I'm positive it's a fake!

AESJ-Metal-Slug_10_LRG.jpg


So even if you have a legit cart, you still have to examine the insert and manual to the smallest details...
 

themisterfalcon

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The print "dotted" pattern is a clear sign of improper scanning procedure

I agree with Gunstar that this could be a simple printing error but it looks more like a digital reproduction to me.

The dotted pattern in the originals is a very fine line screen, used in traditional offset printing. We know the originals were printed this way due to the fact that NGF got their hands on the original printing plates for some games. Digital printing existed during the Neo-Geo era but was not nearly as affordable or efficient as 4 color process at the time.

The reproductions were most likely scanned then filtered in photoshop to reduce "moire" pattern that often shows up when using this process.

Dot patterns on full color images are expected but as other people have stated to have that on the outer edge of text and such (things printed process black) is a dead ass giveaway.

A moire pattern will occur in the printing process when two, or more, repeating patterns overlap each other. Similar to the distortion effect on television when a presenter wears a crisscross pattern on their suit, the moire pattern effect will occur in halftone areas of the print if the line screens of two different inks have been output at the same angle. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the screen angles of each printing plate are different.

Moire patterns can also occur when a halftone image is scanned and printed, as the dot pattern from the printed halftone can clash with the new line screen. There are numerous ways to reduce this, from blurring the scan slightly, to reducing the size of the scan, to various Photoshop techniques and filters.
 
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That is definitely NOT a moire pattern. The rosette is a clear indication of the 4 color plates lined up accurately, with the angle of the screen lines being sufficiently different from the angle of the anilox. If it was a moire it would look like a spirograph/spiral shape.

The artwork that you guys think is the 'real' one was definitely done on an offset printing press, that's why it looks sharper and you can't see the rosette (it might actually not even be there). Offset printing is done for sheet-fed applications, such as posters and any kinds of things that don't require adhesive particularly, and it typically looks alot nicer than flexo. Those cartridge labels are certainly flexographic, which are printed on web printing presses. Usually you go to flexo plate printing for quantity, or if you need an adhesive application.

You can also do some non-adhesive sheet applications on a web-based printing press (the paper comes on rolls), and that looks like what you have with that lower quality insert. SNK could have had the same printing company do the inserts that did the labels (on a subsequent production of MS2), and this could account for the lower quality, but remember this is under magnification people. Typically, print shops focus on one or the other, offset or flexo, not both.

Whatever the case, you do not get that quality of printing, the 'fake' one, at home on your ink-jet printer. I'm not saying for certain that isn't a conversion, I think only opening it up would tell us for sure. But what I am saying is that what I see, as a professional, is legitimate professional printing on both those copies of MS2. And, I can tell you that it would be prohibitively expensive to produce a couple of inserts and labels of that quality just for a conversion. Each printing plate alone would cost you $65 on the cheap end.
 

Wolf

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Ok, I'm still working on it with the seller, but before he sold the game to me, he opened it and there are no EPROMS. However, I have been informed this game was one of 4 other games that were fakes sold to him: MS1 JP, MS2 JP, and Pulstar JP.
 

SuperDeadite

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Only very recent fakes have EPROMS in them. Most conversions use normal mask roms from a sacrificied MVS cart. You have to check the solder points to see if it's been converted or not. Legit roms+legit SNK boards does NOT = legit game.

So he knew the cart was part of a group of fakes, but never bothered to tell you after a year and a half of owning it? :(
 
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