Pieces Of 8-Bit: A Glorious History Of Console Piracy

NES/SNES/Sega Genesis

Most of us didn’t even know what piracy was when the NES came out; all we knew is that the cartridges were gray, plastic keys to happiness. They were revered. Especially the gold Zelda ones. We did as we were told by Nestor and joined the Nintendo Fan Club and bought the crappy Nintendo cereal. And there was always that one weird kid down the block who had a Genesis—you know, Olaf who ate blood pudding for breakfast. What we didn’t realize, though, was that those NES/SNES/Genesis cartridges were piracy cockblockers. In the US, the system was pretty secure, but had we grown up in Russia or China/Taiwan, we’d probably have been little thieves because our parents would have been too poor to buy the consoles for us—and we would have had to work long and hard in order to unlock our bootleg goodies. Some pirate groups actually went so far as to build an entire NES console from scratch in order to bypass the copy protection. Overseas, fake SNES cartridges were more the norm than the exception.

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