At some point soon-ish I'm probably going to get very bored of this topic, so Education Yourself: Russian bootlegs: Before it developed a new hobby of targeting civilian infrastructure with unmanned aerial drones, Russia decided it would reinvent the Sega Mega Drive for the 21st century... by copying the designs of the 20th and pretending they were new and cool. It soon reached a state where a massive library of Russian-branded games were available for a massive library of Russian-branded consoles, and now it's a rabbit hole that doubles or triples in depth every time you look down. There were so many Russian bootlegs that I had Sega Retro devote entire pages to them, until it became clear not all of them were Russian. As a recap, most bootleg games come from South-East Asia, with most of the 90s Mega Drive carts originating from the likes of Taiwan. The really old stuff is therefore quite easy to spot: Slightly broken English titles, some traditional Chinese, and not much text to describe what the product is (which includes indications that "this is a Sega Mega Drive game"). These products could then be shipped all over the world without having to worry too much about language barriers, and I would expect the oldest bootlegs you'll find in Russia are identical to those you'll find in Taiwan, or South America, or whevever. You can apply similar rules to the consoles themselves, although in those cases there's a concerted effort to make the packaging resemble the real thing. At some point, probably around the turn of the millennium, there was a push to actually localise these titles. Or at least the packaging: This is from a company known as Gastin. We know this because it says so on the box (Гастин) and even gives a telephone number, because this is legitimate business guys. What follows is the first wave of pain: the Mega Drive library is vast, and a good chunk of it was being reproduced in Taiwan, shipped to Russia, and stuck in custom boxes. We also don't know how many companies were doing this, but enough so that these new "Russian" bootlegs outnumbered the standard "Taiwanese" ones (both of which outnumber legitimate Sega cartridges imported from elsewhere). At some point Simba's Video Games would become a big force in the market, both creating knock-off consoles, and rebadging knock-off games. This company likes to pretend it's Sega, so it's not always clear what the origins are, but again, their produce is everywhere. Not helped by the fact that Simba's started re-releasing their own games in this "silver" (or gold) attire. The problem with Mega Drive games is that most of them are in English - they'd sell better in Russia if they were translated into Russian... and so they were hacked, translated into Russian, and re-released on cartridge. As far as I'm aware, this hasn't happened anywhere else in the world, probably because by the time it became feasible, the console had been out of production for years and nobody else cared. This isn't communism anymore, so we need markets and competition and whatever. New Game was just as prolific at bootlegging Mega Drive games. And then bootlegging the same games again with (often different) Russian translations... or because they had a new box style... or just felt like it. You could buy that horrible unlicensed Bugs Life game in both English AND Russian! What a world. It's hard to date these things precisely, but I think both the Simba's and New Game sets have been out of print for at least a decade, which means they're no longer the most common Russian bootlegs out there. This is because K&S turned up with much sleeker box designs: These aren't the only sets out there, but they are the most prominent, and among the few we vaguely understand. It's also unwise to make assumptions. For example, This style, notable for always including a K-A ESRB rating on the front for some reason, is Ukrainian. Russian cartridges did make it over the border back in normal times, but Ukraine had its own business going on. Whether you get similar stories in other former Soviet states is still a mystery. The other thing to bear in mind is that as far as these bootleggers go, the Mega Drive library was defined in Taiwan, not the West. That means garbage like Squirrel King is treated just as legitimately as Sonic the Hedgehog, hence crap being re-released in fancy boxes, and some games being completely absent. But what's the situation in 2023? Well Mega Drive clones are still made en masse, but there's less of a need for individual games on cartridge anymore. Instead you either get hundreds of games built-in to the console itself, or supplied on one cartridge (or something like an Everdrive where games live on an SD card). Sega Retro might have played an indirect part in this - the internet will tell you the above carts are fake, and I'm going to guess importing real Mega Drive carts to build a collection might be a challenge if you're in Russia. There is one other terrifying thing to come from Russia: The Mega Drive Portable, i.e. an unofficial handheld Mega Drive with its own special cartridges.