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 a Super NES 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 Pokémon Red and Blue, 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 (such as the DX version of Link's Awakening) would tend to include palettes for SGB as well as GBC.
- If a Game Boy game didn't support the Super Game Boy, you can still apply a four-color palette of your choice. (There are a bunch of premade palettes to choose from, and you can also make your own.)
- Since the Game Boy's resolution is smaller than the SNES's (160×144 rather than 256×224), there's now a border around the main display. The player can choose from 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 player's 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, due to the fact that both peripherals use the circuitry of an original Game Boy.
Nintendo would mostly skip over the Nintendo 64 when it came to playing handheld games on a consolenote , but for the Nintendo GameCube, they'd release a successor 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. Similarly to how the Super Game Boy acts as a Game Boy in a cartridge, the Game Boy Player serves as a GBA in an add-on. However, Super Game Boy enhancements are unavailable with the Game Boy Player (primarily due to it being optimized for GBA games).
A retrospective by Christine Love 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 note ; it's actually a good read.
List of games that had Super Game Boy functionality:
While all original Game Boy games work on the Super Game Boy, the following titles have special features exclusively for it, such as custom borders and color palettes, enhanced sound, etc.
- Asterix & Obélix
- Bomberman GB series and Wario Blast: The games support 4-player multiplayer on one cart with a Super Multitap.
- Donkey Kong '94: One of the earliest titles to specifically support the Super Game Boy, it had a custom border designed like an arcade cabinet, used the palette feature to a much greater extent than most other titles, and even featured higher-quality versions of some sound effects based around the SNES's PCM sound chip.
- Donkey Kong Land seriesnote
- Dragon Quest & II: Had a unique switching SGB border. There are four different images that display depending on where you are in the game.
- Game & Watch Gallery
- Killer Instinct
- The King of Fighters '95 and '96
- Kirby's Block Ball
- Kirby's Dream Land 2: Like Donkey Kong '94, this game was specifically designed to support the Super Game Boy, and has prominent Rainbow Motifs as a result. Each level in the game is themed to a specific color of the rainbow, which is only visible on SGB. Also like Donkey Kong '94, the game also has a few SNES-oriented sound effects that only play in Super Game Boy mode.
- Kirby's Star Stacker
- Konami GB Collection Vol. 1-4note
- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX: The original Game Boy version lacked special functionality, but the Game Boy Color version included a custom border.
- Magic Knight Rayearth (the SGB/GBC RPG)
- Mega Man V
- Mole Mania
- Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow
- Pokémon Gold and Silver (but not Crystal)
- Space Invaders: The Game Boy cartridge came with a SNES ROM that the SGB could run instead of the standard Game Boy ROM (though that was still an option).
- Street Fighter II
- Wario Land II (both the Game Boy and Game Boy Color versions)
This list is incomplete; please help by adding appropriate entries to it.note
This peripheral shows examples of:
- Border-Occupying Decorations: Certain Game Boy games had their own unique decorations on the side borders featuring graphics and characters from the game being played. Otherwise, those that didn't could choose from generic, premade borders. The Super Game Boy also featured drawing tools to create your own custom borders ŕ la Mario Paint.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Game Boy Color games whose game paks look identical to regular Game Boy ones signify that they can be used with the device. The game paks usually came in black, though some, such as the game paks for Pokémon Yellow & Pokémon Gold and Silver, used unique colors. Other GBC games (which are translucent and more rectangular) just refuse to load.
- Color Wash: Because the Game Boy and its games can only display up to four shades of gray, the Super Game Boy is only able to substitute those shades for specific colors across the entire playing field rather than for individual assets. While games that were optimized for the Super Game Boy can use unique four-color palettes for individual static areas of the screen, this only had practical use on still, unmoving backdrops, and most of the time it was more practical to only use four colors on moving areas. This led to an interesting technique where the screen would use different "tints" for each world/area/stage; Kirby's Dream Land 2 and Pokémon Red and Blue are two games that use this rather effectively thanks to the color motifs of their settings (Dream Land 2 is set in the Rainbow Islands, while every town in Red and Blue is named after a different color). The Super Game Boy also has specific default palettes precoded within the cartridge for specific games that came out before the SGB's release. For example, Kirby's Dream Land uses a pinkish-red palette, Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 uses beige-yellow, and Metroid II: Return of Samus uses the palette of a traffic light. Games that didn't have precoded default palettes simply used the first listed option in the SGB's preset menu (meant for Balloon Kid), leading to an abundance of games looking like iron rust unless the player went out of their way to manually change the palette themselves (either from the list of available presets or by making a custom one).
- Green Boy Color: The 3-H preset palette emulates this appearance. This palette is precoded to automatically load for Golf.
- Idle Animation: The screen borders that came native to the Super Game Boy had idle animations if you let the games sit for a few minutes. You can see some standout examples here.
- 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 peripheral has no way to save data for the user-made palettes, so it utilizes a password system.
- 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.