I've been dying to play Chrono Trigger for quite some time now, and Sabriena had mentioned that Neil had suggested she play it on an emulator, as it's basically his favourite game of all time. I'll probably never find a legitimate copy for a price I'm willing to pay, but I'd rather not play it on an emulator either... so what to do?
Let's check out what the "reproduction" cart craze is all about! I loathe the term "reproduction" - a reproduction is a subsequent production run by the original manufacturer (or a licensee thereof) in my humble opinion, and these most certainly are not... they're bootlegs. Still though, when I checked AliExpress, I found some that seemed quite reasonable - approximately $10AUD (about 8USD) including shipping.
So I ordered Chrono Trigger, in an NTSC configuration, and TMNT IV: Turtles in Time (another fantastic game I will likely never own a legitimate copy of) as well. That was weeks ago, but they're coming surface mail from China so that's to be expected.
They finally arrived yesterday, but we were too busy cleaning to give them a proper shakedown. Tested them out, and TMNT works flawlessly, however Chrono Trigger won't save. Balls! A speed run of CT is only about four hours long in most cases, but still. Time to pop it apart and see what's going on.
Turns out, one of the downsides to such a low price was it didn't include the CR2032 battery. Put that in, and it saved, but lost it again. Possibly there is a dry solder joint, but I've played it for a few hours and it hasn't lost my save yet. Tried contacting the seller to see if there's anything they can do, but so far they've not answered.
Interestingly enough, rather than using one of several methods for defeating copy protection/licensing (of which I'm told there are plenty), these carts have a legitimate Nintendo CIC soldered into them, which looks like it's pilfered from another cart (not New Old Stock). I wonder if they're buying up bulk lots of sports titles to take apart? And if so, why not use the boards and cart shells to give a bit more legitimate look? Perhaps there's more money to be made selling the boards and shells separate from the bootleg games?
There's absolutely no mistaking these for legitimate carts: I boasted on Reddit that I'm pretty sure I could tell these bootleg carts apart from the real thing just by picking them up, because the plastic is different. The label on TMNT is awful, like it's printed from thumbnail resolution, but CT's isn't too shabby at all. Really though, I didn't buy these to sit on the shelf, I bought them to play. I'm thinking I will hit them with a hammer, or take them apart and hack them somehow, if I get legitimate copies ever.