When you think of things which add extra function to your SNES, one of the first things that come to mind has to be the Super Game Boy. Why wouldn’t it be? This thing let’s you take advantage of that portable game library you had been building for years by actually letting you play these classics on your television set! So without further ado, let’s take a look at what makes this an essential extra!
How It Works
Super Game Boy basically acts as a Game Boy unit in Super NES cartridge form. If you compare the guts of a Game Boy and a Super Game Boy, they are very similar. These chips act as sensors for certain games, which allows the SNES hardware to employ additional tricks, such as added borders for certain games, or displaying limited colors.
Some Game Boy carts also were Super Game Boy optimized, which means that they could allow for more colors, or extra options in the menu. These could be accessed by holding the trigger buttons of your SNES controller, and it allowed you to do things such as swap color palettes, change the controls, and create custom borders. It plays all gray cartridges, and will even play the original black Game Boy Color carts as well!
Sales and Legacy
The Super Game Boy made it’s debut in 1994 and retailed for 60 dollars. As of yet, I have been unable to obtain any reliable sales data for the Super Game Boy, but the fact that it was successful cannot be denied. In a time where people were beginning to question the SNES peripheral support, this device had the advantage of already having its support built in! People knew going in what it did, which saved them the guesswork of supporting yet another Nintendo add-on that the company would just abandon later on. If you had a Game boy, then it became second nature to get Super Game boy! In fact, I remember my parents getting this for me at the height of the Pokemon craze just to avoid having to buy my batteries!
Regardless of fuzzy sales figures, Super Game Boy obviously sold well enough to warrant a sequel. The Super Game Boy 2 released in 1998, but only in Japan. It was a far cry from offering the much hoped for Game Boy Color support, as it only added multiplayer function via link cable and a LED screen. It is still an interesting item. I was able to find mine for around 25 dollars, but at that price I can’t recommend it to anyone except hardcore collectors such as myself. Not when you can procure an original unit for around four dollars! And at that price, why not? The Super Game Boy is awesome! It set the standard for console/portable integration, paving the way for things like the Pokemon Transfer Pack and the GameCubes’ Game Boy Player. Not to mention that Mom and Dad were right; It DOES save batteries! As much as I love my SNES, it is impossible to forget that the Game Boy WAS around during the 16-bit period, meaning that it got the same craftsmanship and attention to detail that made the SNES the greatest system of all time.
BUT WAIT FOLKS, THERE’S MORE!!!!!
My Ten Favorite Game Boy Games For The Super Game Boy
I can’t talk about a device like the Super Game Boy without going over my favorite games for it, now could I? The games included below are all games I can play even to this day. I also find that many of the games on this list are either directly related to the 16-Bit SNES, or share sensibilities that were developed during this era. In that way perhaps this list, despite covering Game Boy, will further show my madness for the SNES. Enjoy 🙂
Super Mario Land 2: The Six Golden Coins
I fell in love with this game at about the same time I began playing Super Mario World. Call me crazy, but I almost liked this one as much as that classic. I think one of the things that makes it stand out are the level themes. How many times have we done Desert World, Fire World, etc? While Dinosaur Island was cool, we have never really gotten anything like Giant World and Piranha Plant Plaza like on Super Mario 3.
It would seem all of the creativity went to the Game Boy. While Mario Land 2 was modeled after the same gameplay concepts that made Super Mario World such a winner, Mario Land 2’s level themes were much more creative. You had Macro Zone, where you are in a giant house. Mario Zone took you on an adventure through a toy factory. Let’s not forget that Mario Land 2 took us to space before Super Mario Galaxy was even a twinkle in Miyamoto’s eye! My only complaint is that it is over far too quickly.
As it is a Mario game, Mario Land 2 was released in mass quantities, and it should be relatively easy to come across for less than 5 dollars. So no excuses on this one guys. Get it. Play it. Love it!
The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
If Mario Land 2 was the Game Boy equivalent of Super Mario World, then Link’s Awakening would definitely be the Game Boy’s A Link To The Past(ALTTP). It actually began life as a portable version of ALTTP, but it was later decided to be made as its own game. Link’s Awakening did not disappoint. With eight new dungeons and a fresh spin on Link’s adventures, the game was absolutely massive. I think that part of its success was due to its humor. The game almost seems like a comedy at times, with a combination of silliness and fourth-wall breaking humor. A far cry from the usually dead serious plot of past Zelda titles. It’s a refreshing change of pace.
Numerous references to other Nintendo franchises are also abound! See how many you can find! This game also provides us with our first fishing and trading mini-games, something you would see become a staple in the series for years to come. That is what I love the most about this game. It takes the old-school values of exploration and combat, and adds new things without making the entire game, including enemies, into one giant puzzle. Not to mention that this game directly continues ALTTP’s storyline. That alone makes it worthwhile, considering this is another one you can find for under 10 dollars if you look for a deal. Give it a try.
Metroid 2: Return of Samus
Is there any wonder why the Game Boy sold 118 Million units, or why Super Game Boy was so successful? It is because of games like this! Much like Mario and Link, Samus’ first portable outing was pure quality. However, it was not as universally acclaimed as the other two, due to the ‘linearity’. Codswallop!
Keep in mind that this game came before the godlike Super Metroid. There was NO MAP in these earlier games! I see the decision to limit progress to certain sectors at a time as a necessary decision to make the game more accessible. It may also just be my madness, but I think the black and white adds to the feeling of isolation and tension that Metroid is hailed for.
All the previous Metroid concepts are intact, with Samus learning new techniques as she progresses. The scavenger hunt gameplay is compelling. Samus controls like a dream, making for situations that are challenging, but also manageable. And did I mention you can find a copy for under 10 dollars?
I have always loved games that give you a feeling of exploring uncharted territory, and Metroid 2 delivers! True, it’s not Super Metroid, but then NOTHING is. Try it based on its own merits and I promise you a rewarding experience. There is a reason that this game is featured right on the Super Game Boy box!
Donkey Kong Land
Donkey Kong Country used pre-rendered graphics to push the SNES to it’s limits. So surely an appearance on the eight-bit Game Boy would be an impossibility, right? Well Rareware pulled it off, and it’s not a re-hash, they went ahead and gave us an all-new adventure!
This time around they gave us some new scenarios to try out. Things like moving vines and controllable cannons made their series debut here. Donkey Kong Land is also a game that awards exploration, as the only way to save your game is by finding all the K.O.N.G. letters! This makes the game even more challenging than the SNES games, which virtually let you save anywhere with little to no strings attached.
Some people do not like this game, saying that it is hard to see what is going on due to the backgrounds and the color. But some people are never happy. It is a miracle that a game like this could happen at all on a colorless, 8-bit system like the Game Boy, let alone an original effort. This is also one of the system’s cheapest finds, coming in at about 3 dollars. At that price, this is one jungle adventure you don’t want to miss!
Kirby’s Dream Land 2
Kirby is arguably the best character to to have his origin on the Game Boy. While he has never been able to stand toe-to-toe with Nintendo’s Big Three, he is right below them in terms of popularity. And while the first Kirby game is a whole lot of fun as well, you can play essentially the whole game on Kirby Superstar, hence its exclusion.
This sequel takes the concept of Kirby and applies it in new ways that were absolutely revolutionary at the time. The sheer number of ways you can play are astounding. Considering that your multitude of powers can now combine with the powers of your animal buddies, you virtually can create unlimited power combos.
It also takes advantage of a world map, more varied environments, and a hidden boss and ending for those who are particularly meticulous. The graphics and sound ooze style and cuteness, making this a great way for you to get your girlfriend or wife into gaming as well. For the 5 bucks that you can find this for, it’s a steal!
Pokemon Yellow Version (Or Any)
Who would have thought a Game Boy feature would include the Pokemon games, huh? Oneof the biggest phenomena in the history of the world began with three colors, Red, Blue, and Yellow. Let me be clear. Aside from different Pokemon, the only reason I chose yellow is that this is the one I had. Yellow has a few extras the others don’t have, but these are minor differences and they are essentially interchangeable.
I shouldn’t even have to explain this, but Pokemon is a collecting and battling RPG that has you attempting to catch and train 151 Pokemon to battle other trainers, even your friends. The genius of the marketing lies in the fact that the different versions had different Pokemon, so if you wanted to “catch em all”, you had to trade with other people.
But aside from it being a solid game, the reason I mention this is the Meta game. Contained within the Pokemon cartridge is one of the most deep and yet accessible multiplayer experiences in the history of gaming. Building teams, move sets, and battling strategies can quickly consume you, and I do not lie when I say that this game consumed my middle school years. But I have said enough. If you don’t know what Pokemon is, where have you been the last 14 years?
Seriously, that’s all I’ve got for this one! 🙂
Wario Land 2
Wario Land 2 IS the Yoshi’s Island of the Game Boy, taking the platformer genre into uncharted territory and giving fans a fresh new experience. Coming out in 1998, many may have missed this gem because of its appearance at the twilight of the Game Boy’s life. That is sad, as Wario Land 2 is hands down one of the most enjoyable games on the system. It is also under 10 dollars(notice a trend here?).
Propelling this game is the fact that you cannot die. Really. So how can a game be fun if you strip any semblance of challenge and pressure away from the player? Simple. Just give the game multiple paths and a collection element. Even though enemies cannot hurt Wario, foes are able to do things like set him on fire or turn him into a zombie. These features are the key to moving forward. When I say that you could play this game for hours, I’m not joking. It makes me wish that our repulsive little friend would have been given his own SNES outing. I think it could have been fun!
Final Fantasy Adventure
Ever heard of Secret of Mana? As a SNES fan I hope so. Its story, music, and gameplay rival A Link To The Past. And it happened on the Game Boy first. This game is actually the first in the Seiken Dentetsu series(Mana series to non-Otakus),and man does it start off well, setting up such series staples as the Mana Tree and Evil Empires. Funny enough, things that are standard fare in Final Fantasy such as Chocobos and Moogles also got its start on this Game Boy game, making this one of the most influential games in Square’s catalog.
The game is a top-down action-adventure game akin to the Zelda series, except with an emphasis on leveling up instead of exploration and uncovering secrets. The combat is real time, which is a plus for those who can’t stand traditional RPG’s like my Dad. But the real difference here is the story. It’s astounding for such a primitive game. You cannot help but get caught up in events as they unfold, and the ending is a true stunner.
Bottom line: If you like games like Zelda and Gaia, do not pass this one up. Especially when it will cost you less than 10 dollars.
Donkey Kong 94
More than any game on this list, Donkey Kong is synonymous with the Super Game Boy. It was the first cart to be ‘Super Game Boy Enhanced’, and it was the poster child of the add-on marketing campaign. It is also the sequel we had been waiting for since the original’s release in 1981!!!
What makes this game memorable is just how much of an expansion it is over the first title. An ingenious introductory sequence has you playing the original game, and it is only after the final level is beaten that your true adventure begins. With over 100 levels included, you may be in for a long haul.
While you may think that no game could hold your attention that long, you would be wrong. This is a game that constantly builds your skills up, only to introduce a new way to play. I cannot stress this enough; If you have a Super Game Boy, you MUST have Donkey Kong 94. It is 8 bucks well spent!
“Pack in Mario if you want to sell the Game Boy to boys. But if you want to sell the Game Boy to everyone, pack in Tetris.” Whichever Nintendo executive uttered those words should know how brilliant they are. Tetris is amazingly simple and deceptively addicting. As much as I hold up Mario, this is the game that has probably defined the industry more than anything. There are seven differently shaped blocks. Your goal is to make perfect lines from them until their sheer numbers fill the screen and finally overwhelm you. Simple. Anyone can play it.
A game so invasive that you see Tetris blocks in your dreams. A game scientifically proven to make you smarter and enhance your reflexes and cognitive thinking. The game that sold 118 million Game Boy and Game Boy Pocket units.
Even today it is EVERYWHERE! Naming one device that doesn’t play it is the hard part, and the Game Boy version is the best of the bunch. It just has the right feel. A fitting end to what I feel is a pretty good list, and still just as hauntingly good all these years later.
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