Useful Notes: Super Game Boy

Game boy games in color, intense!
Super Game Boy commercial slogan

A peripheral for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System released in 1994, the Super Game Boy is an adapter that allows users to play Game Boy titles on the Super NES. The device is essentially an SNES cartridge with a slot for Game Boy cartridges.note 

The Super Game Boy has the following other features:
  • Added two-player modes to some titles (particularly fighting games), allowing two players to play simultaneously on one cartridge.
  • Added extra sounds and game modes to some titles that make use of the SNES's hardware.
  • Allowed players to change the color palette of a GB game.
    • Some games, such as the first generation of Pokémon games, had built-in color data for the SGB to use. Game Boy Color and Advance can't read the SGB data, unfortunately- later black-cartridge Game Boy games would tend to include palettes for SGB as well as GBC.
    • For ones that didn't, you can still apply a four-color palette of your choice. (There are a bunch of pre-gen palettes to choose from, and you can also make your own.)
  • Made space for a border around the main display, and gave players a choice of borders. There was a default set of borders, most notably the default border looking like a gigantic TV-size Game Boy itself, as well as one drawable border on which you could draw whatever you wished.
  • Allowed players to draw all over the screen if they wished.

The device was sold for about 60 USD, and was packaged with a Players Guide—not so much a guide to a particular game (though it did have detailed information about some more popular Game Boy titles) as it was a bunch of suggested uses for the Super Game Boy and an extended manual for it. For example, it suggested palettes for use in various games, including some alternate palettes to get the effect of some scenery. It also talked about potentially amusing or challenging uses, such as palettes that cause Mario in Super Mario Land to be completely invisible, or the idea of drawing a big star on top of Mario.

"This star doesn't make Mario invincible. Quite the opposite, actually."

A Super Game Boy 2 was later released in 1998, but only in Japan. It had a different set of default borders, but mostly retained the same features. Some games such as Tetris DX had custom borders that were compatible only with SGB 2. It also fixed the clock speed; the original Super Game Boy ran 2.4 percent faster due to using a divided SNES clock,note  while the SGB 2 uses the same exact clock speed as the Game Boy. But most notably, the SGB 2 included Game Link cable functionality—if you couldn't trade Pokémon on the original SGB, now you can, provided you have another Game Boy.

Unfortunately, the SGB and SGB 2 can't play Game Boy Color only games.

Later, Nintendo would release a Nintendo GameCube device called the "Game Boy Player", which would allow one to play any Game Boy game (up to Game Boy Advance) on the television, similarly to this. This plays games exactly as the GBA does, which means Super Game Boy enhancements are unavailable.

A retrospective titled "Fuck the Super Game Boy" goes over how games used its enhancements-or, more often, didn't use them well or at all, resulting in the SGB being a missed opportunity. Don't let the title fool you; it's actually a good read.

List of games that had Super Game Boy functionality:

All Game Boy games work on the Super Game Boy.

The following games have special features for the SGB, such as custom borders and custom colors.

This list is incomplete; please help by adding appropriate entries to it.note 

This peripheral show examples of:

  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Game Boy Color games that have a black cartridge signifies that it can be used with the device. Other GBC games just refuse to load.
  • Interface Screw: The player can draw on the screen using the SNES mouse.
  • Letterbox: Games always appear with the Game Boy's native resolution, so one has to be put on. Some games have special borders that replace the default border. The first game to do this was Donkey Kong '94, which has a sprite version of the original arcade cabinet's bezel.
  • Password Save: The user-made palettes are saved this way.
  • Simple Yet Awesome: The SNES actually does not have the hardware capabilities of emulation. Instead, the Super Game Boy's cartridge actually contains internal Game Boy hardware.