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Game USA was a popular series of multicarts for the Game Boy line of systems made during the late 1990s and early 2000s. They had different sub-labels according to the consoles the multicart was playable on and varied greatly in size.

Overview[]

The Game USA series is a label of multicarts for the Game Boy systems developed by an unknown Taiwanese or Chinese company[1]. While the publisher of Game USA multicarts is unknown, it's plausible to have been NGCA, an unknown company that's referred to as "New Game Color Advance" by the community, since all Game USA multicarts feature the same black stamp[2] on the circuit board. In addition to the "Game USA" prefix, the logos would be completed by either "Color", "Color Advance" or solely "Advance" depending on the time they were released to reflect their compatibility with Nintendo's handhelds. The multicarts were designed for the greater Western market, hence they were published under the Game USA label and commonly featured advertising such as "All USA Version" on the box and cartridge. They are still very common around Southeast Asia in spite of this.

History[]

The Game USA multicarts first started to appear around the late 1990s, after the release of the Game Boy Color in November 1998. At first, they went under the Game USA Color label and published multicarts containing the latest games in the Pokémon franchise and other popular game series such as Super Mario. With the release of the Game Boy Advance in 2001, the label was updated to Game USA Color Advance indicating their multicarts would work on the newer hardware, though the contents of them would stay relatively the same. They also rebranded some of their current releases to match the new branding.[3] Sometime after the release of the Game Boy Advance, the company behind the series started also producing, or shifting entirely, to making Game Boy Advance multicarts under the Game USA Advance label. These carts would differ from their previous multicarts, in that they only contained a few Game Boy Advance titles, while the rest were NES games run via PocketNES. The series wouldn't be continued with a similar label for the Nintendo DS released in late 2004, and it can be assumed they stopped producing the multicarts for the now outdated Game Boy line of consoles around that time.

Game USA Advance SP box + cartridge

One such Game USA Advance SP multicart.

There is also a Game USA Advance SP label that started to be used by a pirate company around the time of the release of the Game Boy Advance SP, but the connection to the Game USA series is uncertain since the logo, the cartridge art, and ID system are completely different to the ones used up until that point.

Branding[]

Game USA Advance box

The box of a Game USA Advance multicart.

Multicarts of the Game USA series were sold in their own boxes similar to Nintendo's official ones. They usually contain an array of box art covers of the games included on the multicart. Their branding is placed vertically on the left side of the box over a plain silver, reflective background. Additionally, there is colorful text advertising the game count and claims of no repeated games along with a mention of the games being the American versions, and that they can save.

The labels of the Game Boy cartridges follow the same style as their boxes. They usually show the most recognizable games in a grid along with the Game USA logo on the side, though in rare cases it is found at the top of the label. The number of games is printed in large letters together with text advertising the games being the US versions and that the player will be able to save their progress. The labels for the Game Boy Advance multicarts are simpler in style due to the limited space and show the Game USA Advance logo at the top. The body of the label is used to boast about the game count and typically shows only a couple of box art covers or some other video game character.

The cartridges are the size of an official Game Boy cartridge and come in several colors, those being the standard gray or black, or other colors like red and yellow. It's not uncommon to find the same multicart in multiple colors. The imprint at the top is inconsistent among different releases with some imitating Nintendo's and the Game Boy's branding, whereas others resort to bluntly saying "GAME".

The Menu and Games[]

CGB 100-1 menu

A typical menu of Game USA multicarts.

Being from the turn of the century, the Game USA multicarts all have an interactive menu instead of a tedious reset button to cycle through the games. They are simple in style and typically feature some text at the top saying how many games are on the multicart. Some multicarts use the characteristic moving checkerboard pattern as a background, whereas others are plain.

They contain no original bootlegs specifically developed for the Game USA multicarts and they instead steal existing games, both licensed and unlicensed. Pokémon games are among the most commonly featured on Game USA multicarts, often including several different official versions as well as hack translations and bootleg games centered around the franchise. Many of the multicarts also contain various Mario and/or Sonic games ranging from officially licensed ones to pirate hacks. Besides the popular franchises near the top of the games list, the multicarts are filled mostly with smaller titles, like puzzle or arcade games, most of which are English releases, though Japanese versions are sprinkled throughout. Lastly, the Game USA multicarts also contain homebrew games, usually from the late 1990s, of varying quality as some of the ones included are unfinished but put on the multicarts anyway.

ID System[]

The IDs used by the series are UC, UK, and AU. The UC and UK IDs were used for Game USA Color and Game USA Color Advance multicarts, whereas UA was used exclusively for Game Boy Advance multicarts. They follow a cohesive system to distinguish different versions of the multicarts.

The IDs are of the form CC-xxYzz, where CC is the multicart code depending on the console it was released for (UC, UK = Game USA Color, Game USA Color Advance, AU = Game USA Advance), xx is a one to three digit number representing the number of claimed games of the multicart, Y is a single letter that stands for the ROM size and finally, zz is a two-digit number representing the specific release or revision of a given multicart. IDs with the code UK have the xx and Y swapped, so they always look like this CC-Yxxyy.

Anatomy of Game USA PCBs[]

UC-32A22 (PCB back)

Source.

There are three defining features of a PCB manufactured by the company behind Game USA that allow identification of any multicarts made by them. Firstly, the ID of the multicart is always printed on the PCB in black ink (see blue rectangle). Second, every PCB will have a long string of characters printed directly on the PCB (see magenta rectangle). Lastly, there will always be a 4-digit number in a 7-segment display font on the back of the circuit board (see yellow rectangle).

List of Game USA Multicarts[]

Please see this subpage for a full list of Game USA multicarts.

Main article: Game USA Multicarts/List Of Game USA Multicarts

Gallery[]

References[]

  1. One of their earlier multicarts (UC-6W01) displays the game titles in Chinese or Taiwanese on the menu.
  2. See chapter "Anatomy of a Game USA PCB"
  3. UC-32A12 is the only known case of this happening as of July 16, 2023. It's probable this isn't the only example.
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