Over the past few days news has been spreading online that copies of the 2014 Nintendo 3DS games Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire from the PAL regions are failing leaving users unable to play their games and access their data.
Pokémon content creator Lewtwo took to Twitter to warn people that this has been happening, and to gather more data on how widespread this issue is.
Various users and video game preservationists have investigates this issue and have found that it appears to stem from Nintendo switching from using the MaskRom in their game cartridges to Flashrom. The MaskRom format has an average lifespan of 30 to 50 years, while Flashrom lasts for 5 to 15 years. This issue is a problem that will potentially show up in all Nintendo DS and 3DS games as time goes on making the physical copies of the games unpreventable.
Joe of Serebii.net provided an anecdote from a friend of his with a failed copy of the game and when he tried booting the game up in a 3DS that didn’t have updated firmware the game booted up like normal. Serebii proposes that this could be related to the 3DS Firmware or a combination of both the firmware of the system and an issue with the cartridge that leads to failure.
Investigations into the exact causes of the failure and if there are any ways to prevent it are currently ongoing.
In the meantime, it’s best for people to check out the physical copies of Nintendo DS and 3DS games in their library by booting up the game, and playing it for at least one hour to ensure that there are no failures. Homebrew users are also advised to create backups of their games to preserve any valuable game data.
At this time it is unknown if Nintendo is aware of this issue. This will likely change as more people become aware of this problem and get in contact with Nintendo customer support.