Amazon allows the sale of pirated Nintendo games on its marketplace

  • For around $100 you can buy a handheld game console on Amazon that looks like a modern Game Boy.
  • It comes with dozens of games preloaded, including Nintendo classics like “Super Mario World.”
  • The handheld is made by a Chinese company that is not associated with Nintendo.

For just under $120, you can buy a gaming handheld on Amazon that looks suspiciously like Nintendo’s classic Game Boy gaming handheld.

The prize includes an extensive suite of games, including some you’ve no doubt heard of: “Super Mario World” for the Super Nintendo, “Mario Kart 64” for the Nintendo 64, and dozens of other gaming classics created by the legendary Nintendo. internal game development teams.

I’m not talking about a discounted Nintendo Switch, but a device made by a Chinese company named Anbernic which is not associated with the Japanese gaming giant.

Nintendo hasn’t licensed its games, and many of the other dozens of major game publishers whose games are included on the device probably haven’t either.

The vast majority of games on the handheld are pirated.

Representatives for Nintendo and Anbernic did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication. An Amazon representative made the following statement to Insider:

“Amazon is relentlessly innovating to allow only genuine products on our store and to produce brand intellectual property. In 2020, Amazon invested over $700 million and employed over 10,000 people to protect our store against fraud and abuse Bad actors trying to abuse our system represent a tiny fraction of the activity on our site and we use sophisticated tools to combat them and make it increasingly difficult for them to be concealed. our store and take prompt action against bad actors who attempt to evade our systems, including deleting the item, permanently deleting the bad actor, withholding funds, pursuing legal action, or referral to law enforcement Appropriate enforcement action has been taken.

Shortly after we reached out, the page for one of these Anbernic consoles was removed from the marketplace. Many others still exist.

The Anbernic gaming handheld, a Chinese-made knockoff Game Boy with pirated Nintendo games sold on Amazon.

The Anbernic RG351V gaming handheld home screen is a selectable menu of game console emulators, from NES to PlayStation 1.

Ben Gilbert / Insider

I used the Anbernic RG351V pictured above.

When first started, the handheld displays a startup screen for one of the many game consoles it is capable of emulating: the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo 64, Game Boy, Nintendo DS and many others.

That alone is not piracy.

Technically speaking, game console emulators – software applications that replicate the functionality of physical gaming hardware – aren’t illegal. Portable Uses of Anbernic Emuelecan open-source emulation tool that can be downloaded legally.

It is the games themselves, shared through various online channels, that are illegal.

A “Super Mario Bros” “ROM” for the NES, for example, is a version of the game that can be played entirely in an NES emulator. (It was copied from a “read-only memory” chip to a shareable format, hence the name.) You don’t need the cartridge, or proof that you paid for the game in any way it would be. Nintendo has repeatedly threatened or taken legal action to shut down websites and services offering ROMs of its games for download.

The Anbernic RG351V I used, ordered through Amazon, was absolutely loaded with hacked classic game ROMs.

The Anbernic gaming handheld, a Chinese-made knockoff Game Boy with pirated Nintendo games sold on Amazon.

Ben Gilbert / Insider

I was able to select a console and browse through a long list of games already preloaded on the device via a microSD card, from “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” to “Street Fighter 2”. I veered around corners in SNES’s “F-Zero” and Nintendo 64’s “Mario Kart 64”. I jumped over the heads of Mario’s many enemies in “Super Mario World”.

Although it allows users to load their own ROMs, one of the main selling points of the RG351V is that it comes out of the box “with 2521 classic games pre-installed”. The device’s Amazon listing doesn’t explicitly say what those games are, but the listing does explicitly list the game consoles emulated by the device.

The devices are popular enough on Amazon to have dozens of positive reviews, and the handheld I used was one of many devices featured as “sponsored” listings, i.e. the company that makes them pay Amazon to appear in search results.

Anbernic gaming handhelds and other counterfeit devices featured by Amazon search results as sponsored listings.


For all intents and purposes, Anbernic’s handheld performed just as well as you could hope for.

I pressed the button and Mario jumped. He does not have to feel like a cheap counterfeit, even if that’s literally it. The build quality of the device was solid, like an adult Game Boy Color, and it even has a rechargeable battery that plugs into



It’s not as nice as a Nintendo Switch, but it’s also less than half the price. And hey, if it breaks, you can always contact Amazon customer support for a refund.

Do you have any advice? Contact Insider Senior Correspondent Ben Gilbert via email ([email protected]), or PM Twitter (@realbengilbert). We may keep sources anonymous. Use a non-professional device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

Timothy C. Mayo