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Super Nintendo
Factory Sealing

by Dr. Steve Brinn

SNES sealing (packaging of the games) is a complex topic, but one which must be understood by the collector interested in collecting factory sealed (as opposed to resealed or open) games. Many collectors have the false impression that if a super Nintendo game does not have a vertical seam on the back of the box, it is a resealed game. On the other hand, collectors are often misled by a picture showing a back vertical seal (know as the H seal), thinking it must “be ok” when in fact it is resealed.

Backing up for a moment, a game is usually sealed ie the game box assembled and wrapped, in a factory, contracted by the game company or distributor or software maker. The true collector of factory sealed games tries to avoid games which are not sealed in a factory but sealed by a video game store or retailer. When a store seals a game, it means all contents have been opened and maybe even displayed, and so the game is not new as it came from the factory. On rare occasions, a fraudulent seller may even reseal a game, selling it as new and factory sealed, after he/she has opened it, played it, or even replaced the contents with other game parts or material which is not even game related. This practice may go undiscovered as the collector buying factory sealed games is not likely to open the seal and box and examine the inside contents.

The sealing or packaging of Super Nintendo or SNES games is particularly frustrating to collectors because of many acceptable variations in the “typical” box seal and because there are so many fraudulent resealed games looking like factory sealed ones. It is said that every SNES collector of sealed games will “get taken” at least once. This will more than likely happen with the most demanded, most expensive games, such as Final Fantasy 2 or 3 as the seller of such a game has the most profit to be made. It is much less likely to happen with cheaper less sought after games as there is no motive to imitate a factory sealed game since the less demanded game will most likely not be purchased by a collector, but a gamer who may actually open the game and find that the contents are not new.

Nintendo has complicated this problem. Unlike, PS1, PS2 or Microsoft X-Box games, the company has never gone with an adhesive barcode seal under the clear wrapper, which makes it much harder to tamper with a factory sealed product. In the case of Nintendo, the game is simply wrapped and it falls to the collector to sort out where the game was sealed. I find it very hard to understand why a game company would not want to try and protect their product from fraudulent sellers, but Nintendo, with NES, N64, SNES, and Gamecube has no protective seal under the wrap, creating havoc for collectors and at time sellers. An honest seller may buy a game, even from a retailer, think its factory sealed, but actually it is resealed by the store, ultimately leading to a very unhappy buyer/collector who can tell the difference. Worse yet, the collector is not sophisticated to know the difference, and the prize of his/her collection, a game which may have cost $400 or $500 is a resealed previously opened game worth perhaps $30.

So needless to say, its important to know which games are truly factory and which are not. When starting to collect, sealed SNES games, it was quickly apparent that this frustrating problem needed some sorting out. I wanted to prove to the collectors that games could be truly factory sealed without a back seam or with a seam on the short side of the box and at the same time set up some guidelines for how to recognize a truly factory sealed product.

It only makes sense, that when you consider that a factory may have many sealing machines, and there are many factories in different countries, that machines are going to end up producing variations that some collectors will call "fake, resealed, whatever" when they are absolutely factory sealed. These machines probably are not calibrated, and one loose screw or part is going to produce a deviation from the norm.

I spent weeks on Digital Press, discussing sealing, and I was ridiculed on a regular basis by postings insisting SNES games must have back vertical seals, or that I was wasting my time exploring the subject to begin with, as many forum members didn’t understand why one would even collect a sealed game and not play it. My reply was “why collect anything? Lunchboxes, pencil erasers, whatever? However unlike some collectables, certain factory sealed video games would predictably increase in value, an added plus for keeping them sealed. I then talked with many high end SNES game collectors who had literally hundreds of games in their possession, and we “compared notes”.

From these discussions, and my personal experience, I assembled the following list of guidelines to use in deciding if an SNES game is factory sealed or not. I would emphasize that this is an “evolving science” and the guidelines have been modified many times and future changes or additions are expected.


1) One typical variant is Made in Mexico, has an H

2) Another frequent acceptable variant is, Assembled in Mexico, a re issue or 2nd printing by Majesco. This truly factory sealed variant may not be the same quality of a First Print, ie. Manuals may be in black and white or games have less than perfect cartridge labels, but it is a factory sealed reissue or 2nd print, and may or may not have H seal BUT MUST have vent holes in a horizontal pattern in top or bottom in front or back of box or both.

3) Assembled in Mexico games (this is written in the right lower corner of the back of the box) often have a folded horizontal seam across the back of the game, this is a wide ¾ inch strip created by overlay of plastic wrap. BUT, on occasion, they may not have this overlay but hardly ever have the back H seal.

4) Assembled in Mexico games may have seams on short sides of the box, with or without a seam horizontally on the long edge. BUT they should have vent holes on back or front or both of the box.

5) Many games will have seams on ONE short edge which will extend up from long box edge seam. There are many 3 sided seams involving 1 short sides and 2 long sides. These may be made in Japan or made in Mexico. I think this is an example where the sealing machine “misses” the back center and puts the vertical seam on the short side of the box. NOTE THE SEAM SHOULD NEVER BE ON BOTH SHORT SIDES IN THIS MODEL, ONLY ONE SHORT SIDE, THE OTHER SHORT SIDE SHOULD BE SEAMLESS.

6) Assembled in Mexico games will have a different vent hole pattern than Made in Japan games and even most Made in Mexico games. Instead of the typical vertical 5 or so holes running top to bottom on the front or back of the typical H sealed game, these vent holes are on the bottom or top of the box in horizontal rows and be just 2 rows or extend up to near halfway on the box.

7) Made in Japan games (which may be written on the side and not the back) are 1st prints

8) A “ROLLER MARK” on each side of the vertical seam is a good sign that the game is factory sealed, but need not be present

9) STIPPLING of the vertical back seam is a good sign that the game is factory sealed, but that seam can also be fairly thin and even bent (as opposed to straight) and still be factory.

10) If a game has been opened, and resealed, there should be evidence of this in the form of a white line or cracking in the back of the flap on the side it was opened from.

11) An ACCEPTABLE VARIANT OF FACTORY SEALED should include the frequently found game, usually Made in Japan, meeting all of other criteria but has a seam running edge to edge on one or both long box edges i.e. the seam doesn’t stop short of long box end with typical puckering.

12) Most made in Japan games should have the vertical vent holes one row on front or back or both

13) A favorite trick of scam re sealers is to take a pencil or pen and “create” a back line seam. This is very hard to see in a picture but the box will of course show the indentation from the pen or whatever instrument was used, and when you examine the game it will not look like a typical seam, but instead look like more of a separation (which it is) in the plastic.

14) Previously we said that an acceptable variant of a factory sealed game, usually made in Japan, can have the seam extend from end to end on the long sides, ie not stop short of the long box edge and have the distinctive "puckering". This is true. BUT, I would add that many re sealed games also have the seam go across the entire long edge of the box. They even have the H seal with a line down the back at times. The important difference with these resealed games, is instead of just ending at the box edge, there is a triangular "flap" which is noticible in the pictures. If that triangular flap is present then the game is problably resealed. The quality of the "wrap" on these games is also different, the plastic is much heavier than the factory used plastic wrap but of course a picture won't devulge that, You will only know it when you get the game and feel the plastic, especially that part of the plastic seal making up the triangular overhang at the end of the long box seam.

The subject of SNES game sealing is an interesting and complex one, which I personally find fascinating. Learning the guidelines will help the collector avoid large disappointments, many times expensive lessons, and help sellers evaluate their games as authentically factory sealed.

A BIG thanks to Steve Brinn for his research
and documentation concerning SNES SEALING GUIDELINES


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