Pokemon is a complex subject, mainly understood by the receiver of the present. As a result, many people are unsure when buying, and there are hundreds of Ebay scammers out there to take advantage of parents anxious to please their children. So please read this guide and I hope it helps.
List of known fake Pokemon Games
Pocket Monsters Go Go
Pokemon Jade / Diamond (NOT to be confused with Diamond version for the Nintendo DS)
Pokemon Crystal (in a small, clearly rectangular GBA cartridge. This is a Game Boy Color game only)
Pokemon Sapphire (in a much squarer Game Boy Color cartridge. The Game Boy Advance cartridge is rectangular and blue all over.)
Pokemon Chaos Black (BIG one to avoid - very popular among scammers. In fact, you'll probably see some listings for it on the adverts on this guide.)
Even if who you are buying for requests one of these games, quickly Google search for the game to see whether there is any bad press on it - you'll probably find some for all of the above, and possibly more. Ask them to read it. A lot of leading Pokemon magazines point out fake games, so PokeFans are generally clued-up.
Remember, even if they ask specifically for one of these games - do not buy fakes! It only means the scammers keep making them. Instead, check with the person you're buying for to make sure they know what they want.
Complete List of main Pokemon Games made officially by Nintendo to date: (19th June 2012)Pokemon Red Larger GameBoy Cartridge, Red coloured, Sticker on front with picture of Charizard
Pokemon Blue Larger GameBoy Cartridge, Blue coloured, Sticker on front with picture of Blastoise
Pokemon Yellow Larger GameBoy Cartridge, Yellow coloured, Sticker on front with picture of Pikachu
Pokemon Silver Larger GameBoy Color Cartridge, Silver sparkly coloured, sticker on front with picture of Lugia
Pokemon Gold Larger GameBoy Color Cartridge, Gold sparkly coloured, sticker on front with picture of Ho-Oh
Pokemon Crystal Larger GameBoy Color Cartridge, bluey-see through coloured, sticker on front with picture of Suicune
Pokemon Sapphire Smaller GameBoy Advance cartridge, blue see through coloured, shiny blue sticker with 'Pokemon Sapphire Version' written on it.
Pokemon Ruby Smaller GameBoy Advance cartridge, red see through coloured, shiny red sticker with 'Pokemon Ruby Version' written on it.
Pokemon Emerald Smaller GameBoy Advance Cartridge, green see through coloured, shiny green sticker with 'Pokemon Emerald Version' written on it.
Pokemon FireRed Smaller GameBoy Advance Cartridge, red coloured, shiny red sticker with 'Pokemon FireRed Version' written on the front.
Pokemon LeafGreen Smaller GameBoy Advance Cartridge, green coloured, shiny green sticker with 'Pokemon LeafGreen Version' written on the front.
NOTE: It is very important that this sticker be SHINY. It should reflect light fairly well. If it is just a sticker without much shininess, it is fake.
Pokemon Pearl Much smaller, flat DS Game Card, Gray Coloured, sticker on the front saying 'Pokemon Pearl Version'
Pokemon Platinum Much smaller, flat DS game card, grey coloured, sticker on the front reading 'Pokemon Platinum Version'
Pokemon HeartGold Much smaller, flat DS game card, black coloured, sticker on the front reading 'Pokemon HeartGold Version'
Pokemon SoulSilver Much smaller, flat DS game card, black coloured, sticker on the front reading 'Pokemon SoulSilver Version'
Pokemon Black Much smaller, flat DS game card, black coloured, sticker on the front reading 'Pokemon Black Version'
Pokemon White Much smaller, flat DS game card, black coloured, sticker on the front reading 'Pokemon White Version'
Pokemon Black 2 Much smaller, flat DS game card, black coloured, sticker on the front reading 'Pokemon Black 2'
Pokemon White 2 Much smaller, flat DS game card, black coloured, sticker on the front reading 'Pokemon White 2'
These are the main games, most likely the ones you've been asked for / are looking for. Other Pokemon games you may encounter are covered below.
For any of the above games, (excluding the DS games) the cartridges are NOT GREY. Don't buy if the cartridge is grey.
Note: If you don't know what a 'Blastoise' look like, do a Google image search for it and you'll be able to find out.
List of other Pokemon Games:
Pokemon Snap (Nintendo 64) Large cartridge, coloured sticker on front.
Pokemon Stadium (Nintendo 64) Large Cartridge, coloured sticker on front.
Pokemon Stadium 2 (Nintendo 64) As above.
Pokemon Pinball (GameBoy) Game Boy Color Cartridge, with large battery case attached. Yellow sticker.
Pokemon Trading Card Game (GameBoy) Black/dark grey casing, sticker with Pokeball on the front.
Pokemon Puzzle League (Nintendo 64) - Large Cartridge, coloured sticker.
Pokemon Puzzle Challenge (GameBoy Color) Gameboy Colour cartridge, coloured sticker.
Pokemon Pinball Ruby and Sapphire (GameBoy Advance) Small, Gameboy Advance cartridge. Blue and Red sticker.
Pokemon Box Ruby and Sapphire (Nintendo GameCube) This one's tricky. Only given away with Pokemon Colosseum, don't be surprised to see this bundled with it. If on it's own, it's a minidisc with Blue and Red on the sticker.
Pokemon Channel (Nintendo GameCube) Minidisc, clear writing.
Pokemon Dash (Nintendo DS) Grey DS cartridge, green and blue sticker.
Pokemon XD Gale of Darkness (Nintendo GameCube) Minidisc, clear writing.
Pokemon Colosseum (Nintendo GameCube) Minidisc, clear writing.
Pokemon Trozei/Link (Nintendo DS) (Trozei is American) Small DS cartridge, yellow and white sticker.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Red (GameBoy Advance) Grey cartridge, red sticker.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Blue (Nintendo DS) Small grey cartridge, Blue sticker.
Pokemon Ranger (Nintendo DS) Small grey cartridge, sticker with oval shaped logo.
Pokemon Ranger Shadows Of Almia (Nintendo DS) As above.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky (Nintendo DS) Small grey cartridge, blue/red/green sticker.
Pokemon Battle Revolution (Nintendo Wii) Game Box with two notable Pokemon on the top half, disc is mainly silver shiny with purple/blue writing.
Pokemon Green is not a fake but it is Japanese. It has a picture of a Venusaur on the front of the cartridge. Be warned that all the writing will be in Japanese, and will not be changeable to English or any other language. This is more of a collector's item, so if the person you are buying for it not a serious collector, I suggest you warn them away from it.
Pokemon Conquest (Nintendo DS) Small grey cartridge, yellow sticker
Pokemon Ranger Guardian Signs (Nintendo DS) Small grey cartridge
PokePark Wii (Nintendo Wii) Comes on a CD-sized disc, white box
Pokemon Rumble Blast (Nintendo 3DS) - white cartridge, grey-ish sticker. Also known as 'Super Pokemon Rumble' in some areas.
Pokemon Typing Adventure (Nintendo DS) - small grey cartridge. Usually comes with a Nintendo keyboard - not worth very much without this keyboard.
PokePark 2: Wonders Beyond (Nintendo Wii) CD disc, white box
Other games are released occasionally. If you're unsure about a new game that came out recently, contact a local game retailer or do a thorough Google search to see if it's a real Pokemon game.
Any type of Pokemon game on the PC is fake, Pokemon games have only come out on the Nintendo GameBoy, GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 64, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo GameCube. There are PC Emulators, but I would suggest steering clear.
The single exception to this rule is Pokemon Play It! a promotional PC Pokemon game. Pokemon Learning League also counts, but this is a school-related package and not for 'playing' as such.
Tricks and Tips
Ask whoever you are buying it for whether the game you are looking at is real or not. So, if you have a son who wants 'Pokemon Ruby' show him the game picture and ask if it is real or not. Better to let him find out what he is getting for Christmas than to buy a fake game that doesn't work, and he gets upset.
If the game is 'brand new unopened' but not factory sealed, why? Who rips off the factory sealing just to sell it on Ebay? Be aware of those sort of games. Don't hesitate to email the seller to ask why.
Ask the seller questions about it, if they are withholding information, it's best not to buy.
Many Pokemon games are shipped from Hong Kong, so beware of language problems on the game. Ask the seller what language it is, and where the game was originally sold. If you're buying from the UK or Europe, try and get a PAL version.
On English/American Pokemon games, there is NO Japanese writing anywhere on the cartridge or box. If it is a stock photo, ask the seller whether that resembles the actual box they are shipping.
If in any doubt about the overall legitimacy of a game, Google it! After browsing a few pages, you will undoubtedly find some bad press or complaints about any game that is fake. All legitimate games will be featured on either an official Nintendo site (e.g Pokemon.com) or a well trusted fan-run site (Serebii.net and Marriland.com). You'll soon find something.
Google the game and click onto the images tab. You may well find a picture of the box or cartridge somewhere. Beware, as some of these may be fake. Match the pictures up with the information in this guide.
Beware of 'Buy It Now' auctions where the seller has many of the games. For new games, they may be just as expensive as the local video game shop. For older games, it's unlikely that they have very many in stock. If there's not a picture of the actual cartridge/disc/box you will receive, be careful. Check the feedback for the seller to see if they have any other bad feedbacks for fake items. Don't be afraid to bid on them, even if Buy It Now looks like a good option.
There are so many different people selling the same game, don't hesitate to keep looking, as well as finding the best price. Usually the best prices come from sellers who are just selling one at a time - and they're usually not fake!
That is about everything, feel free to email me with questions.
Thanks for reading, and I hope it will keep many a Pokemon Fan from getting upset!