I’ve made it no secret that I am quite the classic game collector. For most of my video game collecting life, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) has been my primary focus, but a nifty product called the SupaBoy has caused me to shift my attention from Nintendo’s original console to its second generation console known as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (or SNES, for short).
The SupaBoy is a $80 handheld version of Nintendo’s console made by a company called Hyperkin. In addition to the portable variant of Nintendo’s console, Hyperkin also makes multi-consoles capable of playing NES, Genesis, SNES, and other classic systems. Hyperkin has an unquestionable pedigree when it comes to classic gaming, only rivaled by the original console makers themselves.
For any classic game collector, the ability to play their games on the go is an incredible proposition, and the SupaBoy delivers that and more. So should you buy one? Read on to find out!
Oh, and did I mention that we are giving one away to a lucky reader as part of Gaming Month? Check out the other giveaways we’ve organised this Gaming Month!
Making Use Of The SupaBoy
The SupaBoy is like a mix between a GameBoy and an actual Super Nintendo. Like a GameBoy, the SupaBoy is a portable gaming console. Like the Super Nintendo, you can hook it up to your TV, attach a couple of SNES controllers and play awesome SNES games on the big screen. Unlike an American Super Nintendo, the SupaBoy also supports Super Famicom games, which expands the options for collectors a great deal, as many Japanese games never made their way across the ocean.
Even if you are not hardcore classic game collector, and you just want a trip down nostalgia lane, you can’t go wrong with a console that works on your TV and in your hand for $80. Market value for a standard SNES is around $50, so for $30 more, you get the ability to take the SupaBoy and your games on road.
Either way, the SupaBoy is a device designed to let classic gamers make the most of their Super Nintendo and Super Famicom collections by being able to play it anywhere they go, whether on the road or at home.
The Hyperkin SupaBoy is pretty big for a portable device, even though I’d expected it to be larger than your standard handheld console because it obviously has to be large enough to accommodate an SNES cartridge. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how light it was. In fact, it only weighs 11.5 ounces, which is less than 3/4 of a pound. Slotting in a SNES cartridge adds a little more weight, but not enough to be noticeable. With its size, I expected it to be uncomfortably heavy, but it is actually just right for gaming, which we will get to later.
The next thing I noticed was the screen, which is 3.5 inches across diagonally. It’s a good size for a handheld console, but seems small proportionally compared to the device itself. Still, as I will get to in further detail during the gameplay section, the screen does its job, and it does it well.
What’s in the box?
Along with the SupaBoy, you’ll find almost everything you need in the box it comes in: a little carrying bag, a DC charger for the rechargeable battery, and an AV cable. It does not include SNES controllers for playing on the TV, so you will need to snag these through other means. Most classic game stores will sell SNES controllers, and you can easily find them on eBay for just a few dollars.
Overall, the build and look of the SupaBoy is quite good. It matches the color scheme of the Super Nintendo well; so even someone lacking intimate knowledge of gaming will know right away what the SupaBoy was made for.
First Gameplay Session
For the inaugural gaming session on the SupaBoy, I decided to pull out one of my favorite games of all time, The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past. When people think of Super Nintendo games, this is most certainly one of the first ones that will come to mind (along with Mario and his slew of games). It is easily one of the best games in the Zelda franchise, and I could not think of anything more appropriate for the first run.
I also elected not to hook it up to the TV and instead, use it as a handheld device. I must say, I was quite impressed with the experience it offers. The buttons are mapped in the exact same layout as a standard SNES controller, so it will feel comfortable to most gamers.
I was expecting the gameplay to feel a little different on the SupaBoy. Many of Hyperkin’s consoles offer some emulation and the ability to save game states, but the SupaBoy operates exactly as if you were to put the game in a standard Super Nintendo console. That’s not a bad thing, as it offers the purest gameplay experience. Also, it should be noted that there is no default interface; it just launches directly into the game.
Hooking The Hyperkin SupaBoy To A TV
One of the more interesting selling points behind the SupaBoy is the ability to hook the system up to the TV and play games as you would with a regular SNES. It’s a really cool feature, but there is one important thing to note; the system does not come with SNES controllers. I have a bunch of SNES controllers around from the various consoles I own, but if you don’t, you will need to remember that you will have to run out and purchase an SNES controller or two, as the SupaBoy only supports a maximum of two controllers.
Like any classic gaming device, the graphics are going to look as they did during the time. This also means that it will look less ideal on an HDTV, but it will still work. Games from this era were designed to run at a ratio of 4:3, so that’s something to keep in mind when you hook this up to your television.
Playing Games On The Go
Obviously, playing on TV is cool, but a standard SNES console can do that. The main feature of the SupaBoy is the fact that you can play it anywhere. So that begs the question: how does it work over the long haul? It’s definitely a solid gaming machine, and overall, I am quite happy with it.
The buttons feel exactly as you would expect them to. Even though the Supaboy itself is substantially larger than a Super Nintendo controller, the layout is a perfect match, so it’s familiar. That being said, the Left and Right buttons will take a little getting used to, as they remain on the top, but the extra mass of the device makes getting up there feels a little different. Also, the buttons, especially the D-pad, are a little stiff when you first pull it out of the box, but a short break-in period fixed that.
The life of the 2200mAh Li-Ion battery powering the SupaBoy is surprisingly good. I was able to get a little over four hours of gaming time before the device died. The only drawback is lack on an on-screen battery life indicator, or anywhere on the device for that matter. This obviously makes it difficult to tell exactly how much battery life is left. My best advice is be vigilant with saving your games, as the last thing you want is for the device to cut out and require to play back difficult game sections again. Remember, older games are not nearly as generous with checkpoints and saves, so it’s possible to lose a large chunk of game if you don’t save correctly.
There is a locking slider on the back of the SupaBoy that keeps the game cartridge in. This is important to use while playing games, but it’s not perfect. While playing Super Punch Out, I was knocked down by my opponent. In the process of button-mashing like a madman to get back up, I shook the SupaBoy a little too hard and the game froze. This was an obvious annoyance, and while it did not happen often, it still set me back a good deal in my game. Mind you, I had the cartridge lock engaged when this happened, so even though it helps, it’s not foolproof.
Other than that slight mishap during Super Punch Out, playing games on the SupaBoy is a joy. Classic game collectors, like myself, spend far too much of our disposable income on video games, and having the ability to bring at least a part of it on the road with me makes it feel like I am spending money on something more useful than just games that sit on my shelf. Of course, I’ve always been able to play my SNES games on my TV in my game room, but it’s just not the same as having the freedom to play them anywhere, even if it is within the confines of my house.
Should You Buy It?
The Hyperkin SupaBoy is not a perfect piece of hardware. Button mashing can cause a game to freeze if done too hard, and the placement of the Left and Right buttons takes a little while to get used to. Overall though, it’s a fantastic way to enjoy your Super Nintendo games. Whether you are playing on the TV or taking your games on the road, the fantastic battery life and sheer enjoyment of taking games from the best system in video game history makes it well worth purchasing.
How do I win the Hyperkin SupaBoy?
Step 1: Fill in the giveaway form
Please fill in the form with your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. MakeUseOf giveaways are open to readers worldwide.
Step 2: Share!
You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post!
Share on Google+
(Note: no points will be awarded.)
Alternative entry method: Use your points!
Exchange your MakeUseOf points for an entry into the competition. First, create a MakeUseOf account, earn points and exchange your points for an entry! Learn more about our Game system and Rewards program.
By participating in this giveaway, you agree to the giveaway rules.
This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, May 10th. The winner will be selected at random and informed via email.
Spread the word to your friends and have fun!