Mystery of colored circles on Japanese/European NGPC games

Vectorman0

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I tried searching for info on this, but could not find anything.

On certain Japanese and English snapcase NGPC games, the insert and cartridge have a small colored circle with a letter in it. Either a blue "B" or red "A". Does anyone know why? What do they designate?

I presume it meant something in Japan, but was lost in translation/localization.

bDluYBa.png


Left to right: Japanese cart; European/Asian cart; later revision European cart

Pac-Man, Puyo Pop, and Neo Turf Masters have it on both the Japanese and earlier English releases. Both Dive Alerts and Shanghai Mini seem to only have it on the Japanese release. There may be more.
 

-SD-

Camel Slug
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Maybe it’s something to do with where the labels were printed, or where the game itself was manufactured? Could sort of explain why there’s so many different rear covers and random variants?
 

Missed

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Probably some kind of batch code, like those two digit numbers they used to etch into gameboy games.
 

[OCEAN]

Pm Rot. He'll Give You, A Great Custom Rank.,
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I started a thread about this same matter shortly after I joined the forums (2004) and nobody had an answer. Here are the ones I spotted back then:

I was just going through my NGPC carts (jap), and saw that some of them have a circled tag with an A(red) or a B(blue) inside. In particular, I found A tags in BTG and DiveAlert Reb.ver and B tags in Shanghai mini and PuyoPuyo.

Does anyone know what are these for or what are their meaning?

Could check the rest of the carts and compare against other member's ones, to see if A or B are constant through all copies or there are variations.
 

Vectorman0

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Batch code, or some other manufacturing mark doesn't make sense to me because I don't think the graphic design would be reworked for that.

At first I had the idea that maybe it was some kind of genre marker, like colored spines on home carts. I thought this when I noticed the blue B was on Pac-Man, Shanhai, and Puyo Pop. The fact Neo Turf Masters and Dive Alert share the red A seems to disprove this idea.

As Niko suggested, I think ROM revision seems to be the most likely explanation given how few games these circles appear on. I do plan to buy some of these to start dumping them, but prices are so high these days that it pretty painful to buy duplicates.

I started a thread about this same matter shortly after I joined the forums (2004) and nobody had an answer. Here are the ones I spotted back then:

Could check the rest of the carts and compare against other member's ones, to see if A or B are constant through all copies or there are variations.

Hah, that's great! I feel bad I missed it, my search skills must be getting worse...
 
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[OCEAN]

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I do plan to buy some of these to start dumping them, but prices are so high these days that it pretty painful to buy duplicates.

Maybe I can help with that (only missing one game from the jap set). IIRC a friend of mine had a pocket linker, which, if memory doesn't fail, could also dump carts.

I'll share a list of my carts with stickers, to compare if we have different versions.
 

[OCEAN]

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So I checked all of my games and only found the tags on 6 of them: (A) in BTG and both versions of Dive Alert and (B) in Shanghai Mini, Puyo Puyo and Pac-man.

The tag is present in both the cart and the front cover. All are clamshell releases from 1999, with the A ones having consecutive serial numbers and Shanghai and Puyo Puyo too.

Would be interesting if other forum members could check these to see if all have the same tag or there are different versions of those releases.
 

suicidekiller

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That's an interesting thread. I only have NTM and Pac-Man and both have the aforementioned letters. However, my Pac-Man has the letter only on the cart, not on the insert.

My first intuition was it might has something to do with first hand and third party developers. But that's a rather thin theory as Dive Alert was made by Sacnoth (which however was owned by SNK). So A would be games developed by SNK and B by 3rd parties.

Another idea that came to mind could be the use of periphals. B for cross-rings and A for the wireless communication (???). But I think NTM doesn't support it. So yeah, barrel burst.

Finally how about different regions in one region. Just with PAL-A and PAL-B on the Nintendo Entertainment System. What I mean: there are several variants of inserts/manuals for the games. Then again I have a 3-manual Pac-Man (English/German/Italian) with an English-only insert. And I think Shanghai Mini didn't have a multiple region release, did it?
 

The_Chosen_One

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Another idea that came to mind could be the use of periphals. B for cross-rings and A for the wireless communication (???). But I think NTM doesn't support it. So yeah, barrel burst.

I can’t recall exactly where but I remember seeing a promo for NTM with wireless compatibility. It was prior to release, and I assume they didn’t get it worked out in time for some reason. The time frame would be about right I think as Party Mail was the first wireless compatible game right? It’s number 32 and NTM is 35. So, might not be a total bust of a theory.


Regardless, I’ll check mine for the A & B circles later.
 

Vectorman0

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Keep in mind this could be some internal thing that doesn't relate to what we know about the games. If you are posting about your games, make sure to be clear what region they are from.

So I checked all of my games and only found the tags on 6 of them: (A) in BTG and both versions of Dive Alert and (B) in Shanghai Mini, Puyo Puyo and Pac-man.

The tag is present in both the cart and the front cover. All are clamshell releases from 1999, with the A ones having consecutive serial numbers and Shanghai and Puyo Puyo too.

Would be interesting if other forum members could check these to see if all have the same tag or there are different versions of those releases.

I didn't realize the serial numbers were close on many of these, good observation. It could be a coincidence, but it could be relevant. I don't have any of these japanese releases, but I searched online for versions differing from what you found and I could not find any without the circles.


That's an interesting thread. I only have NTM and Pac-Man and both have the aforementioned letters. However, my Pac-Man has the letter only on the cart, not on the insert.

My first intuition was it might has something to do with first hand and third party developers. But that's a rather thin theory as Dive Alert was made by Sacnoth (which however was owned by SNK). So A would be games developed by SNK and B by 3rd parties.

Another idea that came to mind could be the use of periphals. B for cross-rings and A for the wireless communication (???). But I think NTM doesn't support it. So yeah, barrel burst.

Finally how about different regions in one region. Just with PAL-A and PAL-B on the Nintendo Entertainment System. What I mean: there are several variants of inserts/manuals for the games. Then again I have a 3-manual Pac-Man (English/German/Italian) with an English-only insert. And I think Shanghai Mini didn't have a multiple region release, did it?

I'm pretty sure this was something Japan did and it just leaked over to Europe using the same game art templates that were localized. That would explain why later English snapcase releases of Puyo Pop and Pac-Man don't have them anymore. Shanghai Mini only had one English snapcase artwork style that I have seen.

I like the cross ring and wireless idea, but they also featured wireless on the cover, so why use another mark unless it was to match the smaller space on the cart label?

Another random thought I had: if I remember correctly, Pac-Man and Shanghai Mini are two of the few games that don't have save features. But I think Puyo Pop saves high scores, so this doesn't fit either...
 

Vectorman0

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Just wanted to bump this.

If anybody knows any hardcore Japanese native Neo Geo Pocket fans, please ask them if they know the meaning behind these markings.
 

Tripredacus

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Can't find a red A Pac-Man. Notice that the EU and JP versions that have blue B also match up to blue B being on the front cover, but some EU releases do not have it and still have blue B cart label. I can't tell from pictures, but the blue B on the cover might be a small label and not printed.

Here is PCB for a no-letter EU cart

And it seems that blue B is most common of carts on Ebay World.
 
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