First-party/Third-party/Licensed/Official games (whatever you want to call them) aren't the only games I collect. When importing games, I also collect bootlegs that came from Brazil, China, Taiwan, Poland, etc. Over the last three decades, many of these bootlegs have found their way into the U.S. and Canada.
I read about many of these and other bootlegs in the early and mid 2000s. In the last decade or so, I've managed to get some of them. Some were bought on eBay, some are from friends, and some I got from a certain Famicom enthusiast here on VGS. Heck, some of them could be found at retro game stores, mixed with licensed, unlicensed, hacks, and homebrew games.
Of course, Rockman/Mega Man bootlegs were a priority, but I've also come across multicarts, Mario bootlegs, and Donkey Kong bootlegs. And then there are the systems, some of which are plug and plays that look like N64 Controllers.
Here's my current top 10 for bootleg games and systems.
Top 10 Bootleg Games/Systems
10.Super Mario Bros. 3
I thought I'd start off with a less exciting, yet still interesting bootleg. I found out about this cartridge on an NES site called NES Player (now Nintendo Player) in the early 2000s. Last year in 2022, one of my friends finds it from a nearby seller and decided to give it to me for free (knowing that I like collecting imports).
This is the entire Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 3 on a bootleg cartridge. While the cartridge resembles an NES cartridge, the actual game is a Famicom game connected to an adapter.
The game is identical to the official Japanese release, with one exception: the copyright info on the title screen was removed.
Being the Japanese version of the game, there are some differences compared to the American release. After selecting a level on the map screens, there is a fade-in that was removed from the American release.
The World 1 Mini-Fortress has a minor change in the room with the spiked ceiling. The Japanese version has an extra set of spikes after the door that were removed from the American release. The American release also moved the door slightly to the right, underneath the two higher spikes.
World 5-1 has a different goal. A pipe was removed from the American release that leads to the goal in the Japanese version. It's still in the American version, and can be found by using Game Genie code AOSUZI and removing blocks from the wall in the room with the treasure chest. The goal from the Japanese version was shown in the movie 3 Ninjas.
If you use a whistle while riding the World 3 canoe in the Japanese version, the game thinks you're still riding on it and you can move around the Warp Zone map screen. This glitch was fixed in the American version.
There are other differences too, but these are some of the more notable differences.
9.Super Joy III
A plug and play. This one looks like an N64 Controller. The analog stick can't be used.
It's like a muliticart, in that it has a bunch of Famicom games. There are a lot of games included that can be found on multicarts, like Super Mario Bros. and Kung Fu. The highlight in this plug and play is Super C. There are about 50 or 60 different games, while the rest are repeats. There is a slot on the bottom for Famicom cartridges.
Sound emulation isn't quite accurate. The music in Super Mario Bros. sounds different, and it's faster (wonder if they used the PAL version, with NTSC emulation). Most of the games sound a little different. At least the picture quality looks good. The games look bright, and the colors are vivid.
A bootleg, Sega Genesis version of Mega Man X3 that I remember recording videos of in 2009 (2008, actually...they were re-uploaded in 2009).
It's based on the Saturn version, believe it or not. The boarders around the screen are from the Saturn version. Also, the second option on the title screen says "CONTINUE" (instead of "PASSWORD") like in the PS1, Saturn, and PC versions. Two bosses/Mavericks were removed. Collecting all of the Heart Tanks causes the game to crash
There are multiple versions. Music differs depending on the version, as well as the Emulator used. I remember in 2008, I played the game on GENS and Zero's theme played in every level. Then I played it on Kega Fusion, and other music tracks played but they were mixed up (the music for Blizzard Buffalo's stage played in the opening stage, while the music for Gravity Beetle's stage played in Blizzard Buffalo's stage).
The videos I recorded of this bootleg got a fair bit of attention in 2009, and were mentioned in news articles on some sites such as Rockman Corner.
Rockman Corner news article: https://www.rockman-corner.com/2009/07/mega-man-x3-snes-vs-genesis-bootleg.html
Press The Buttons news article: https://www.pressthebuttons.com/2009/07/mega-man-x3-for-sega-genesis-tries-hard-bless-its-heart.html
7.Sonic 3D Blast 5
A game that I played with one of my friends a few years ago on a Game Boy multicart (note: I'm silent and off-screen the entire video). We also played the Rockman 8 Game Boy bootleg below.
The game isn't really anything like Sonic 3D Blast/Sonic 3D Flickies' Island, other than the opening having pictures of the opening from the Saturn and PC versions of Sonic 3D Blast. The game more closely resembles Sonic 1, 2, and 3, though that's being a little too generous. It has several glitches, the music is annoying, sometimes you can get stuck, and it takes a little while for Sonic to speed up. Still, I thought it was kind of interesting.
Oh yeah, this game. I remember it. I found out about in on a Mega Man site called The Mechanical Maniacs in the mid 2000s. I bought it on eBay in 2013 or so.
The opening has pictures of Mega Man 8's opening. This is followed by a Rockman 8 title screen, then a stage select screen with pictures of Mega Man and four of the Mega Man 8 bosses (Tengu Man, Frost Man, Clown Man, and Grenade Man). However, the names of the bosses are mixed up and after selecting a stage you see some of the bosses from Mega Man 3.
None of the levels are actually from Mega Man 8, though they do have similar themes. If you select Mega Man's picture on the stage select screen, you go to an island stage sort of like the opening stage in Mega Man 8. There is a sky level, an ice level, a carnival kind of level, etc. Also, none of the bosses are from Mega Man 3 or Mega Man 8, and you don't get their weapons.
The game is full of glitches. You can fall through platforms. If you shoot too many enemies, the other enemies don't even appear (except for the bosses).
5.Super Donkey Kong 2 (Donkey Kong Country 2)
This is another bootleg I found out about on NES Player/Nintendo Player in the early 2000s, and bought on eBay much later (2016 I think).
It contains only three levels, and only Diddy Kong is playable (Dixie Kong only appears on the title and ending screens). The levels have basically the same layouts as their SNES counterparts. The last level has one of the animal buddies from the SNES version: Rattly the Rattlesnake.
The music tracks are recognizable and translated well to the NES, for the most part.
4.64 in 1 Multicart
I bought this multicart from a certain Famicom enthusiast here on VGS (along with King Kong 2).
This cartridge has hacked versions of several well-known games. One of the games is Dig Dug, but with Hello Kitty. There's an Arabian game, which is actually one of the games included on the Caltron 6 in 1 cartridge for the NES. The sound effects on the game selection screen, by the way, are the same as Action 52 (which uses a modified version of a menu from a different multicart that also uses the same menu sound effects).
3.Donkey Kong Country
The now well-known bootleg of Donkey Kong Country from a company called Hummer Team. I made a video of it in November 2006 (the original video from that time is included in my compilation video), and it was one of my first hugely successful videos. The video was successful because this bootleg was unknown at the time, and many were surprised that it was good.
Both DK and Diddy are playable. A bunch of levels from the SNES version are included, though several were removed. The graphics are some of the best on the NES. The Bonus areas and animal buddies were removed.
Pretty impressive overall, and the best Donkey Kong bootleg I've seen.
2.110 in 1 Multicart
Another bootleg I got from a friend, who found another 110 in 1 bootleg around the same time (one of which was bought at a retro game store). It's similar to the 64 in 1 above and even has the same menu, but it has more games.
This cartridge contains both original versions (with modifications to the title screens) and hacked versions of games. One of the games included is The Goonies for the Famicom, which only got an American release on some Play-Choice 10 Arcade machines but was never officially released on the NES. There's a hacked version of Super Mario Bros. that changes the graphics to that of the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, but is the same otherwise. A hack of the original Pac-Man called "Super Pac-Man" (not like the actual Super Pac-Man game) changes some of the colors, speeds up the game, and is somewhat harder. One of the highlights is Antarctic Adventure, a Famicom game released only in Japan from Konami featuring a Penguin and levels with a pseudo 3D look similar to Rad Racer. Some other games include Galaga, Dig Dug, Gradius, Adventure Island, Mappy, Milon's Secret Castle, and two versions of Tetris (the Famicom version, and Tengen's NES version).
Some of the games have strange titles on the game selection menu, like "Din Dun" (Dig Dug) and "Mario Bors II" (Super Mario Bros., with the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2's graphics).
1.Zook Hero Z and Rockman DX3 (a.k.a., Zook Hero 2)
Couldn't decide which one I like most, so they both place 1st. They are similar to the Mega Man Xtreme games for Game Boy Color, but have ideas and features from the original Mega Man series as well. They're from a well-known (among bootleg collector's) company known as Vast Fame, and are part of a series (which extended to the Game Boy Advance).
Both games use sound effects from Mega Man III, IV, and V for the original Game Boy. The music seems to be original in both, but sounds similar to the Mega Man games for the original Game Boy (it sounds like they use the same sound engine as those games). The music in these games js actually pretty good; noticeably better than a lot of other bootlegs.
Zook Hero Z has a Cop who becomes a robot (gee, I wonder where they got that from). Rockman DX3/Zook Hero 2 has two playable characters like Mega Man Xtreme 2, but they're not X and Zero. The characters have Mega Man's slide and X's dash, and can also jump on walls like X and Zero.
I remember watching a video of Rockman DX3 in 2007. There are multiple versions of the game. The one I saw in the video had all of the stages already completed and the final stage already accessible, you started at a checkpoint in some of the stages, and it reused the music from Zook Hero Z. Some versions are also compatible with the original Game Boy. In the version I have (complete with box and manual), the stages aren't cleared, the music is mostly different, you start at the beginning of the stages, there's a save feature, and it's for color Game Boy systems only. One issue with the version that I have is that the collision during boss battles is broken, so you can sometimes take damage even if the bosses shots don't touch you. Regardless, the games manage to be more playable than many other bootleg's and seem more professionally made.
Another plug and play. This has 15 games that are rip-offs of well-known NES and Arcade games, like R.C. Pro Am and Space Invaders.
One of the included games is "Big Racing", which is a rip-off of two games: R.C. Pro Am and Micro Machines. The title screen has the R.C. car from R.C. Pro Am II's title screen. The game has an overhead view like Micro Machines (rather than the isometric kind of view R.C. Pro Am as), and the score info and map look similar to the first R.C. Pro Am. The game uses sound effects from R.C. Pro Am and Micro Machines (NES version).
One of the other included games is Space Castle, which is a rip-off of Space Invaders. It uses sound effects from the NES version of Gradius.
Super Donkey Kong (Donkey Kong Land)
A Famicom bootleg version of Donkey Kong Land. I recorded a video of it in 2007.
There are five levels (well technically fifteen, but the other ten are repeats). The music is from Donkey Kong Country (first one). DK and Diddy are both playable, and they have their signature moves (roll and cartwheel).
It looks and sounds reasonably good for a bootleg, but has some issues (besides the limited amount of levels). The game is kind of slow, When you climb ropes and move from one rope to another, there's a bit of a delay (DK also looks weird when moving to another rope). The animations are choppy compared to the official version of the game for the Game Boy.
There's kind of a funny part in the second level. There's a kremling ("Kritter") who's just walking in one area. If you move away and just leave him, he just sort of walks out of the level.
There you go, I play and collect bootlegs too (and also have others not listed here). Which isn't too surprising, because I've been collecting imports for decades.
That wraps up MegaMan52 blog #28. Thanks for reading.
Edited by MegaMan52
Fixed typos and added pictures