How do I shut down a store selling bootleg video game systems?
August 31, 2004 1:16 PM   Subscribe

There's a kiosk at my local mall selling Virtual Stations, which appear to be bootleg video game systems. They have hundreds of games inside, all appear to be Atari or Nintendo games. This can't be legal, although the people at the kiosk claim they are. The Nintendo logo is gone from the games, but its clearly Nintendo property (ie Donkey Kong). The controllers are molded n64 and Playstation controllers. it just screams BOOTLEG.

They are selling them for an outrageous price, and I hate to see people taken for a ride. How can I get them shut down? Who do I call? Local Police? The Mall? The FTC?
posted by quibx to Law & Government (11 answers total)
I don't think that the cops are likely to do anything about it, and neither is the mall, unless tons upon tons of people complain. The FTC might be someone to call, but they are probably too busy to care.

If I were you, I'd call the cops and the mall, and carefully record their "sorry, but..." responses. Next, I'd go down to the local TV news station and pitch them this "controversial story of innocent locals being ripped off by our own hometown mall, while the local authorities do nothing". Get a few friends together and play indignant homemakers whose dewy-eyed children were cruelly exploited by ersatz Donkey Kong. I'm not sure about where you are, but the news stations in cities where I've lived love that sort of local-interest blather, especially if it involves kids. If the news guys take the bait, it should lead to the mall dropping that kiosk like a hot potato.
posted by vorfeed at 1:50 PM on August 31, 2004
posted by caddis at 2:04 PM on August 31, 2004

Recording audio without informing the person being recorded is a felony in the United States

In some states. Not all of them. And is it really a felony? That seems a bit high.
posted by yerfatma at 2:29 PM on August 31, 2004

These kiosks seem to be everywhere- at least at every mall I've visited lately. I find it highly improbable that Nintendo and other industry players are not already aware of them. Their continued existence may be due to a combination of small potatoes and ultimately unstoppable bootleg manufacturing, or simply the glacial pace of litigation.
posted by ulotrichous at 2:33 PM on August 31, 2004

Yep, contact Nintendo. I asked the guy at the EB Games in the mall here about the stand when I saw it, and he said he had already called Nintendo and that they'd been in two other malls in the area.
posted by j.edwards at 2:34 PM on August 31, 2004

and carefully record their "sorry, but..." responses

Recording audio without informing the person being recorded is a felony in the United States, so you may want to tell the police that the call is being recorded, if you choose to go that route.

Actually, by "carefully record" I was thinking "carefully write down". I suppose audio recording would work, as well, but I doubt the local news station is going to care that much.
posted by vorfeed at 3:07 PM on August 31, 2004

it's a repackaged nintendo entertainment system. with a refinished gravis gamepad pro. how can this not be pirating somebody's stuff? you know damn well the nintendo logo would be all over the thing if it were legit. (and it would be a lot cooler looking.)

seriously, if you really wanted one of these, can't you just buy the real thing used for like $10 at a garage sale or used game shop? how much are they charging for these?
posted by caution live frogs at 6:07 PM on August 31, 2004

seriously, if you really wanted one of these, can't you just buy the real thing used for like $10 at a garage sale or used game shop? how much are they charging for these?

'cause you get like 40 games in one cartridge (i actually saw one in a little junk store that had something approaching the entire collection of ROMs).

i'd be all for these, because I really don't care so much about bootlegging what's essentially abandonware, except for that the quality of the controllers/box is usually quite low. It's no fun playing video games on something that feels like it came out of a cereal box.
posted by fishfucker at 7:12 PM on August 31, 2004

While EB Games was right this time, generally, they're completely and absolutely full of shit when it comes to products not straight authorized from Nintendo.

Examples of products the local EB Games will shout out as illegal that I'd even sell to Sony (if they wanted one):

- HD Loader (backup PS2 games to a hard drive)
- Modchips
- XBOX HDD Upgrades / Linux Kits
- Flip-Tops / Slide Cards for PS2s
- Homebrew games (ok, you get those for free :)

They just like to pretend everything they don't sell is illegal so you feel all scummy and dirty for buying it. You know, the same way people tell you you're a horrible man who deserves to die for smoking.

[ For those wondering, I live in Canada, in the US of DMCA, the modchips aren't legal]

Oh, the chinese bazillion in one consoles and carts have existed for decades. This is nothing new, definately boring (probably has about 50 copies of the same game in it in different colours, and most of them will be REALLY BORING OLD CRAP, not EXCITING OLD CRAP), and most certainly illegal.

I have one of those sitting about I bought on a whim. I think it is advertised as having 100,000 games in 1. ROFL. OH YEAH... when I discovered it was illegal I melted it down and all. Sure. Yeah. That's what happened.
posted by shepd at 9:59 PM on August 31, 2004

Nintendo carts in the 8, 16, and 64 bit varieties are starting to appreciate. Consider that the N64 is almost 10 years old now.

Consider that even playing the NES and SNES games on a clean emulator on a fast computer still isn't the same as playing it on the original hardware, and N64 emulation is still spotty at best.

My girlfriend and I have been scouting for deals on carts and hardware in all three realms, and some games are already getting really pricey. We're seeing less and less of them at thrift stores and yard sales.

Some of these inflated prices are for SNES or N64 games with obvious (if dubious) collector value due to anime tie-ins or movie tie-ins or the like.

Generally speaking, we could care less about the collecting, we actually play 'em.

So no, caution live frogs, it's just starting to be actually difficult to simply go out and pick up used systems and carts, especially if you're looking for playable titles and working hardware. The N64 market seems to be heating up the fastest, probably due to the sucky emulation. For contrast, I played three different SNES titles today in an emu with flawless performance and playability. (Enhanced of course by that handy "save rom state" function so I can make my own damn save-points. Essential for an old codger playing a twitch-shooter like R-Type 3.)
posted by loquacious at 1:20 AM on September 1, 2004

so wait - my jungle green n64 is cool again? don't need no emulator for that.

for for those of us willing to play this on a computer rather than an ugly hacked box, what's the best NES emulator out there now? i was using something older to run Adventures of Link and Zelda (now that my actual nintendo started randomly deleting saved games during the jiggle-shake-reset-blow-in-it-and-pray dance everyone who ever had a nintendo in North America is so familiar with). but the sound emulation sucks, and for some reason it won't let some of the game features work correctly (as in, nothing ever drops a life potion in AdvOfLink - just magic - which makes it damn hard to get anywhere. but maybe i have a bad ROM...)
posted by caution live frogs at 5:55 AM on September 1, 2004

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