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Zelda Link's Awakening Game Boy Date Code


tidaldreams
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Yeah, what Default said. They print the boxes ahead of the release date.

Also, it's good to note that number doesn't mean the box was printed on that date. That date code, "30607", is very common among the first major revision. I'm not entirely sure when they decide to update the numbers (as sometimes the date code is the only thing that changes), but they don't change enough to suggest that that's the printing date. So, June 7, 1993 could be when the box design was finalized.

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41 minutes ago, 0xDEAFC0DE said:

Also, if anyone's curious there's the date codes I have for the two major box revisions. I don't keep the best track of LA boxes, so I'm probably missing plenty.

-0: 30607, 40418

-1: 961209, 970130, 970502, 970619, 970714, 970730, 971002, 980728, 980819

Wow, there certainly are a lot of them 😄

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19 hours ago, 0xDEAFC0DE said:

Yeah, what Default said. They print the boxes ahead of the release date.

Also, it's good to note that number doesn't mean the box was printed on that date. That date code, "30607", is very common among the first major revision. I'm not entirely sure when they decide to update the numbers (as sometimes the date code is the only thing that changes), but they don't change enough to suggest that that's the printing date. So, June 7, 1993 could be when the box design was finalized.

I kinda disagree on that. For instance, there are three date codes for white-ESRB Pokemon Yellow boxes, but those boxes are identical in all other regards. Nothing at all differs between them but the date code.

So I don't see that the date code can indicate anything other than the date the box was printed. I don't see any problem with the notion they could've printed hundreds of thousands or even millions of boxes on a single day. They're using commercial printing equipment, not an HP Inkjet! Remember, major newspapers used to routinely print millions of copies every morning...

Edited by AdamW
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59 minutes ago, AdamW said:

I kinda disagree on that. For instance, there are three date codes for white-ESRB Pokemon Yellow boxes, but those boxes are identical in all other regards. Nothing at all differs between them but the date code.

So I don't see that the date code can indicate anything other than the date the box was printed. I don't see any problem with the notion they could've printed hundreds of thousands or even millions of boxes on a single day. They're using commercial printing equipment, not an HP Inkjet! Remember, major newspapers used to routinely print millions of copies every morning...

That is entirely possible. I know next to nothing about how these printing processes work, so I could always be wrong about that. The main thing that seemed weird is I have yet to find any LA boxes with a date code between (9)40418 and 961209 which seems like a pretty long stretch compared to the denser packed date codes after 961209. But, that doesn't mean there aren't more out there that I'm missing or they made enough during the last run.

Another thought I had is maybe the date codes could indicate when they start a "run" of production, where the run could last a couple of days or weeks even.

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5 minutes ago, 0xDEAFC0DE said:

That is entirely possible. I know next to nothing about how these printing processes work, so I could always be wrong about that. The main thing that seemed weird is I have yet to find any LA boxes with a date code between (9)40418 and 961209 which seems like a pretty long stretch compared to the denser packed date codes after 961209. But, that doesn't mean there aren't more out there that I'm missing or they made enough during the last run.

Another thought I had is maybe the date codes could indicate when they start a "run" of production, where the run could last a couple of days or weeks even.

Well, I've seen similar patterns there with Pokemon too. It doesn't seem that unusual if you think about it...

Before release day, for a game they think will be popular, they'll print a lot of copies. For instance with Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen I'm pretty sure they printed a million copies of each in the first batch (this is based on serial numbers from the player's guide offers). Ideally, if you're Nintendo, you probably want to print enough to satisfy at least the first couple of months of demand, so you don't have to run back and rush print / ship more - but you don't want to print too many and have them lying around taking up inventory space.

So, if you got it right, it kinda makes sense for later print runs to be much shorter. Most games sell most of their copies shortly after release. After that, you're usually dealing with a kinda 'long tail' scenario where you'll be selling a few thousand more copies, not a few hundred thousand more in a short period of time.

To go back to the FireRed/LeafGreen example - based on my theory, the second and third print runs of each corrected errors on the box, happened before or right around release day, and consisted of 300,000 copies each. Then after that, the runs of the fourth print - the print with no wireless adapter in the box, but not yet player's choice - were smaller again; I see runs of 100,000, 40,000, 7,000 and even 3,000 copies. Similarly with the fifth print (the main Player's Choice print) - I see a ton of small runs of that print. I don't necessarily have records of all the 'splits' I use to calculate this, but there seem to be runs as small as 9,000 copies, 5,000 copies, 2,000 copies(!), 3,000 copies...

Later prints of the Gen I games are similar. There are a ton of recorded date codes for the black-ESRB prints of Red, Blue and Yellow, even though they're the least common prints overall. This also fits the pattern of later prints being done in much smaller numbers, but quite frequently. I guess Nintendo just monitored reseller demand for the titles and fit in a little run of the games they needed more copies of whenever the schedule allowed for it, or something.

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Sticking to the Zelda theme someone recently on here asked about the gold Zelda cart and being early.  I got curious because I knew I've retained mine since the day it came out so I cracked it open and depending on the chip or stamp on the battery(still works!) they all pre-date release some by like a couple months or so.

When they know they have a hit on their hands they ramp up months in advance and start pumping out parts, even paper in this case when they know they'll need million + copies.

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