Hyperkins’ Supaboy Review

Post by Patrick

Photo-Jun-03,-12-11-57-PM

I was born in the 1980′s so I grew up when gaming started to become popular with the rise of the NES, Gameboy, Sega Genesis and the SNES. Because of this I have a certain affection for this era. I love these consoles, the games and the experiences I had with them. When I read about Hyperkin’s Supaboy a few years ago I knew that it was something I would want to own at some point. The Supaboy is a portable SNES that you can play on the go or on your TV. This past month I was able to get my hands on one thanks to a friend of mine who was visiting from Japan. If you’re interested in the Supaboy you can find one on Amazon for $70. Super Nintendo and Super Famicom games sell for as little as $10.

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Let’s get some things out of the way first. The Supaboy isn’t a small. The screen wont blow you away. The device isn’t perfect.

Luckily the Supaboy isn’t heavy. You can play on it for long periods of time and it will still feel comfortable. The screen is kind of small. It’s something that you get used to while you play on the Supaboy. It’s also something you forget about once you connect the Supaboy to your TV. The Super Nintendo’s aspect ratio was 4:3 while the Supaboy can do 16:9 which means it’ll fit the entire screen of your HDTV. The Sprites aren’t stretched out and the games look pretty good.

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When I first booted up the Supaboy for the first time, the D-pad and buttons felt stiff. But after playing on it for a bit longer they started to feel better. The Supaboy comes with a rechargeable battery and the battery-life is about 4 to 5 hours. The problem with the Supaboy is that it doesn’t warn you when the battery is low. You will notice some warning signs though. The biggest warning sign is that the visuals on the screen start to flicker. When it comes to the screen itself, it isn’t of the highest quality but the games still look crisp and colorful.

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Now since my friend was coming from Japan I asked for some Super Famicom games. I always thought the boxart of Super Famicom games were superior to those on the Super Nintendo. I asked for my favorites: Super Metroid, StarFox, Super Castlevania and Panel de Pon (known as Tetris Attack outside of Japan).

The older model of the Supaboy had problems playing StarFox because of the Super FX chip that comes built into the cartridge. This newer model had no problems playing the game. The games all look pretty good on the Supaboy and especially great on my TV. They’ve aged well except for a few exceptions. For instance in the first level in StarFox some enemies kind of blend into the sky. While in Super Castlevania I ended up falling to my death in one stage because I thought I was jumping onto a platform, but it turned out to be part of the background.

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Now a problem came up while I was playing Super Metroid. This is a risk you take when you buy old cartridge games. Cartridge games come with a (replaceable) battery that help and keep your save files safe and the battery’s life-span last about ten years and then need replacing. It’s not a big deal for me since I’ve played Super Metroid more times than I can count.

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Is owning a Supaboy worth it? For $70 I think so. It plays North American, European and Japanese cartridges, it’s a portable SNES and it also looks great when you connect it to a TV. It comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts a decent amount. Keep in mind that you need to buy SNES controllers separately and you’ll need them when you connect the Supaboy to a television. This might be the nostalgia talking, but inserting a cartridge into a console always felt much more satisfying than putting a CD into one.

If you want something not portable, Hyperkins recently released the RetroN5 which has a slot for nearly every cartridge based console, from the Gameboy to the Sega Genesis.


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2 comments, add your own...


  1. Fahad says:

    Although I loved the article and thinking now of buying a supaboy for some fun. I have to point out that the rise of gaming began in the early 80’s but got bigger during the 90’s. I started gaming from 1985 during Atari, msx….etc and that era rocked ( rocked even more than now with all the animation and technology simply because games had heart and not just some spectacle made by the $$$$ for $$$$$$$$$ ). The 1990’s rocked too but by the start of the 2000’s up until now it’s just one game like the other made by the $$$$$ for $$$$$$$ and without passion or soul being put into them ( although I have to be fair and point out that some current games rock like the last of us or tomb raider for example )

    • Patrick says:

      You’re right that the rise of gaming began in the early 80’s, but it crashed in 1983 when the market was over-saturated with hardware. It wasn’t until Nintendo released the NES in 1985 that console gaming began to become really popular in North America and then it really took off when the console wars began between the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo.

      I’m not sure how familiar you are with the scene, but you should check out some of the games being created by Indie developers, they really do a great job at creating games that have a lot of heart in them. I’d highly recommend Cave Story, Bastion, or Shovel Knight (which comes out in 2 days).


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