Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Super Nintendo

I’ve personally never been a huge fan of portable systems. It was never that I hated the games or felt many of the systems were bad per say I just always preferred to do all my gaming in the comfort of home on a big screen. I always realized the utility and need for gaming on the go it just simply wasn’t for me and if I was on the go that generally meant I was doing something that required my attention. Even in car rides I usually was quite content to look out the window and watch the world zip by rather then bury my face in a mobile game. I remember even on family trips I would take my entire NES to hook up in the hotel room rather then bring a trusty Game Boy. That’s not to say I disliked the Game Boy and ironically I played it very often and have fond memories of many games, the thing is I was usually doing that gaming at home. Then one day came the Super Game Boy. I remember seeing it first at Walmart and I was smitten. All my Game Boy games on the big screen TV? and in color?!?! I had to have it.


What the Super Game Boy did basicly is use the Super Nintendo as a pass though A/V device. Inside the cart is basically a fully functioning Game Boy like you would find in the actual handheld stuffed into a SNES cart so as to interface with the console. Use is extremely simple. You put you Game Boy game in the top slot and then insert the SGB into the SNES, turn the power on your SNES just like it was any other game and voila you would get a splash screen and then your Game Boy game would start.


Since the SNES only acted (in most cases) as a pass through to feed the video and audio to a TV as well as take care of the additional coloring and as an input device for the controller, compatibility was as far as I can find is 100%. The Super Game Boy allowed you to play your game boy games in black and white or with most games, choose from predefined color palettes. This was accessed by hitting L and R at the same time on the SNES controller which gave you access to a menu. In this menu you could also change the borders to your screen from a selection of nine as well as a tenth border that acted sort of like MS Paint where you could doodle your own border.


The available borders were the Game Boy border, black, windows with clouds, one that looks like those bulletin boards you stick pins into, a meadow with tree, theater, sleeping cats, a table with pencils to the side and an M. C. Escher looking border. I played a lot of RPG’s on my SGB so I liked the Meadow cause it was sort of foresty and forests make me think of RPG adventures….

The Super Game Boy only works with original monochrome Game Boy games and black cart Game Boy Color games that have a monochrome compatibility mode for the Super Game Boy. Some games took advantage of the extra hardware in the Super Nintendo and had extra effects and sound. Wikipedia lists Contra: The Alien Wars, Donkey Kong, Kirby’s Dream Land 2, A Bug’s Life, Animaniacs and Toy Story as games that took advantage of the SNES. Some other games such as Killer Instinct also allowed the second  SNES controller to be used to allow for two player mode. Some Game Boy games also had special Super Game Boy features such as improved custom color palettes and custom borders such as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.


One major issue that’s seldom discussed with the Super Game Boy is the timing issue. Games played via the Super Game Boy play at 2.4% faster due to the clock in the Super Nintendo. This can be corrected with a mod. I never really noticed the timing issue growing up but it does result in higher pitched sound as shown in this video.

In 2003 the Game Boy Player came out for the Game Cube which played Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advanced games at 480P with the correct cable. Its an awesome little device but I’ll list a few reasons that you may want to hold onto your old Super Game Boy for original Game Boy games

  1. Super Game Boys are way cheaper/simpler if you already have a Super Nintendo. Even at retail game stores I see them for $13 – $15 while the Game boy Player goes easily for $50. The Super Game Boy also does not require a disc unlike the Game Boy Player which on most occasions is missing when found “in the wild”.
  2. Compatibility with SGB enhanced games. This includes games with custom borders and custom effects that relied on the Super Nintendo hardware. When played on the Game Boy Player these games fall back to regular Game Boy mode.
  3. Color Palettes, The Super Game Boy has a selection of 32 color palettes plus the option to make your own where as the Game Boy Player only offers 12 built in color palettes for original Game Boy games.
  4. Getting the best A/V signal is actually easier on the Super Game Boy when paired with a Super Nintendo. both the original Super Nintendo and Game Cube output S-video but if you want the best video quality the original Super Nintendo outputs RGB natively but only the PAL region Game Cubes output RGB. Early NTSC Game Cubes in the US do have a digital output port that allows for component at 480P but Game Cube component cables are crazy rare and expensive and easily go for over $150 where as an RGB capable PVM monitor can be had for $75 – $100 and you can use that with all your retro consoles.


Unknown to many outside of Japan a second version of the Super Game Boy was actually produced that corrected a few issues with the original. This was the Super Game Boy 2 and it was released only in Japan.


I picked my SGB2 off Ebay for about $25 but the price fluctuates. As you can see it’s more in the style of a Japanese Super Famicom cart and is in a translucent teal case which personally I don’t care for. It will function just fine in a US Super Nintendo and with US Game Boy carts but you’ll have to remove the tabs to allow the cart to insert just like you would to allow for any Super Famicom cart. The compatibility is just like the original Super Game Boy though there is a common misconception that the Super Game Boy 2 allows for the use of Game Boy Color games. Let me stress to save some of you money and effort. The Super Game Boy 2  DOES NOT work with Game Boy Color games!


So now I’ll point out some of the added features and fixes introduced with the SGB2.

  • Timing bug with slightly increased speed has been corrected in the SGB2. This alone makes it the superior player despite its rather unappealing shell.
  • LED power light added. Its not a big deal but I guess it is nice to know its receiving power.
  • Link cable port added to side of cart to allow two player and Pokemon trading


There are also games such as Tetris DX that have a special border only when played on the SGB2.

The Super Game Boy 2 has a different set of nine choose-able borders. Supposedly there is a code to unlock the original nine but I could not find it (Edit: thankfully someone in the comment section left a comment with the code to unlock the original boarders ” L L L L R while you have the black background set”).


The Super Game Boy 2 borders are a Game Boy border, black, circuit board, tropical island, Aztecish looking art, gears, a swamp, under water dolphins, a coliseum. I prefer the original border selection but that’s probably nostalgia talking.

So that’s the two Super Game Boys and although I prefer the look of the original I would definitely recommend the Super Game Boy 2 since it offers some extra features as well as the timing bug fix.


Before wrapping things up though I wanted to talk about a nice custom controller that is really highly recommended if you use either Super Game Boys a lot and that’s the Hori Super Game boy commander controller.



The Super Game Boy Commander was exclusive to Japan but of course works just fine on an American Super Nintendo. Its styling is very similar to the original Game Boy which is pretty neat. The SGB commander has some very interesting features. In the center is a switch that you use to go between SFC (Super Famicom / Super Nintendo) mode where the buttons operate as they would on a regular Super Nintendo controller as labeled. In SGB (Super Game Boy) mode though the L, R , X,and Y buttons take on new functions. On a regular Super Nintendo controller you would need to press the L and R shoulder buttons at the same time to access the menu but in SGB mode you only need to hit the R button also labeled Menu. The color button shifts through the different palettes while the Speed button acts as a de-turbo button slowing the game down. There are three speeds with the first button press slowing the game down and the second adding a little speed while a third press returns the game to normal speed. Some games may have issues with the speed button. Finally the last button is a mute button to well, mute and unmute the audio. Overall its a really nice controller that mimics the look and feel of an original Game Boy while adding some features.

If you have a Super Nintendo by all means pick up a Super Game Boy since they are so cheap and available. I think it may be the very best way to play and enjoy original Game Boy games. If your very serious about the Game Boy shoot for a Super Game Boy 2 and of course the very handy Hori Super Game Commander.

Usually when a gaming console comes out it goes through several revisions in its life. Sometimes these revisions are all internal but many times they are also external. Sometimes the early version of a console is most desirable because of extra features or abilities that were later cut to save costs and sometimes later revisions with more refined internals and bug corrections are the models to get. In this series I’m going to pick a console and examine the different versions released and try to decide on the best one overall. For the first console I’m going to look at in this series I’ve picked one of my all-time favorites, the Super Nintendo.


I’ll be covering the North American systems here since there’s really no significant difference except for form factor and the NA SNES seems to be the best “universal” system. So first we should go over the SNES consoles available before we compare. The most common is the model pictured above. This was the model sold in NA from 1991-1997 and the one most retro gamers are familiar with. It’s fairly easy to find and can be had for about $50 or under depending. Many of us may even still have one laying around from the ’90s. This model is pretty capable, it supports a wide variety of A/V outputs via the rear multi A/V  and RF port from RF to RGB. It has a nice little red LED power light and is pretty durable. The original model SNES is also fairly easy to modify. The inner tabs can easily be removed to allow the use of JP game carts as demonstrated here. Its also fairly easy to find someone online to perform a lockout switch disabling mod and a 50/60mhz switch mod to allow one to play European PAL games on a North American SNES. The one negative thing I can think of off the bat is its kind of ugly. I’m full of nostalgia for the thing so to me the site fills me with fond memories but to be realistic it’s not the sleekest looking machine especially when you compare it with the look of its Japanese and European counterpart.


Japanese Super Famicom taken from Wikipedia Commons under fair use

Another not very well documented issue with the SNES is the “middle light bar” or “vertical line issue”. Its a little hard to capture and explain but basically its a sort of distortion that sometimes can be seen running down the center of the screen. This is especially prevalent in dark scenes. I first noticed it when playing the game Robotrek. In the workshop sections of that game a large portion of the screen is black and you can notice a sort of “band” running down the center of the screen that I found a little distracting. I’ve read that early Japanese models do not have this issue and later production NA models have it to a lesser degree. If you want to see an example of this there’s an image at RetroRGB here.

The original model did go through several small internal changes through its life cycle and these changes did have a small effect on the machine. These changes were mostly just small refinements of the internal motherboard design. As these changes happened A/V quality, especially if your using RGB improved. The last version of the original SNES’s are known as 1chip motherboard SNES’s. The 1chip design consolidated several of the chips and is the same layout used in the SNES Mini. This redesign improved picture sharpness but introduced some other issues such as minor graphical glitches to some games. There’s no sure way to tell what motherboard revision your SNES has unless you open it up and look inside. 1chip SNES’s tend to have serial numbers starting with UN3. The serial number can be found on the underside of the unit.


Here is my machine opened up. As you can see my serial number starts with UN1 and inside my motherboard is labeled SHVC-CPU-1. this is NOT a 1chip motherboard. 1chip boards should actually have “1chip” printed on the board.

and here is another non 1-chip board from my other version 1 SNES


A second cost reduced version of the SNES came out in 1997 and was known as the SNES Mini, SNES Jr. or SNES 2.


Unfortunately the yellowing of the plastic shell is a problem all SNES consoles suffer from due to the nature of the plastic used. The SNES mini is not quite as well known and I still encounter many casual gamers around my age that have never heard of it. As far as I know works with most add-ons for the original model. This model may also  be harder to mod with a lockout disable switch and a 50/60htz switch for PAL games due to smaller chips but I have not confirmed this yet. It’s a much smaller and sleeker machine much more in the style of the Japanese and PAL models then the NA version. Removing the tabs as in the original model to allow JP games to be played is achieved largely the same way. Unfortunately despite its new look and less shelf space needed this is a cost reduced machine and many capabilities were omitted. First it lacks an eject button of the original model requiring slightly more force to remove games. The SNES mini has the best A/V quality output of any former SNES, even the 1chip motherboard models *unconfirmed*. Unfortunately this is almost completely negated by the fact this model has had support for S-video and RGB disabled. This model also lacks a power LED light when the machine is on. A minor thing next to the reduced A/V options but still a minus. The mini is also slightly more expensive due to its relative scarcity and usually goes for $60+. On the positive side S-video and RGB output can be restored via an internal modification and a power LED can be easily added. there are notches next to the power switch to indicate on/off position which makes excellent drill holes for a small discreet power LED.

compared to the model 1 SNES the SNES mini AKA Jr. has a sharper image, especially after an RGB mod. Also the RGB mod tends to reduce the vertical line issue present with the SNES. Unfortunately recent information indicates that this model has several incompatibilities and graphical issues.

1) the white levels are overly bright compared to the original

2) “ghosting” of images may occur with certain backgrounds on certain monitors that have poor filtering

3) a number of games appear to have minor graphical glitches on the SNES mini though none of these seem to make any game unplayable but usually consist of random white dots appearing, upper screen visual glitches, missing shadows or warped text boxes. These games include but are not limited to

  •  Air Strike Patrol
  • Treasure of the Rudras
  • Aladdin
  • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
  • Demon’s Crest
  • Soul Blazer
  • Magical Pop’N
  • Super Ghouls N’ Ghosts


Here’s an example I captured from Air Strike Patrol of the shadowing issue. Both SNES’s had the images captured via S-video.




SNES “standard”

Notice you can barely make out the shadow of the fighter on the SNES Mini but it is very noticeable when played on a standard SNES





SNES “standard”

Or if you would like to view the two versions in motion I captured some video.

4) games that use add-on chips like the Super FX chip (Star Fox) seem to run slightly slower (unconfirmed ATM). I’ve captured the intro and some game play from both Starfox and Stunt Racer FX and played them side by side.

The SNES mini has been S-video/RGB modded but has a diagonal line issue in S-video not present in RGB. I tried to sync the games best I could in the video but its still a little inconclusive. Star fox does appear to run slightly slower, Stunt Racer FX is inconclusive.

5) the first version of Game Genie will not run on SNES mini

more information on these issues can be found here

to compare models.



In the picture below you can see the SNES mini (on left) has had the RF port and channel select removed requiring an external RF selector if using RF.


so which is the better model, well that depends.

BEST MODEL STOCK (out of the box, no modifications)

original SNES with non-1chip motherboard


  • Eject button
  • Power LED
  • ability to output RF, composite, s-video and RGB easily
  • cheaper
  • full game catalog compatibility and compatibility with all peripherals
  • correct white levels


SNES mini (with A/V and LED modifications) I’ve changed my mind after learning about the issues with the mini and 1chip units.


  • small sleek look
  • LED easily installed
  • with s-video/RGB restoring mod has the absolute best A/V output quality of any SNES model

Almost all the major shortcomings of the mini can be overcome with modifications. Full A/V can be restored and an LED added. I think I paid under $50 to have someone perform the needed mods for me. Yes the mini lacks an eject button but is that really such a loss for getting the best awesome A/V output in return. The price is also a little higher but its sometimes only a matter of $10-$20 dollars. If you want the best SNES I defiantly advise tracking down a mini and at least getting the A/V restore mod done. Its worth it for the S-video alone and if you have an RGB monitor the difference in quality is very noticeable.

after the new information I think overall even compared to a modded SNES mini that the original non-1chip SNES is the overall best version. With the right monitor or TV the “ghosting” isn’t much of an issue with the mini and even though a lot of people seem to find the overly bright whites to be a major negative it never bothered me too much but the graphical glitches and possible speed issues with games that use add-on chips is just a deal breaker for me. Even with the sharper image and lessened vertical lines if it can’t play the games correctly that’s a huge downside. The best possible solution would be to have an original as well as a modded mini for games that have no graphical issues but if you could have only one go with the compatibility of the original and besides RGB on a non 1chip is still pretty good, especially on a quality TV or monitor.

I got a lot of information from this very awesome site. I recommend you check it out as he has quite a few comparison images of the RGB quality of the various models.

Much like in my Ultimate guide to buying, restoring and modding the NES article were going to take a look at The Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Unlike that article though the scope of this one is going to be much smaller. There are a few reasons for this. first is that the cleaning procedures are largely the same as they were with the NES so we need not go over that ground again, just refer to the previous link. Second is the Modifications that can be done to the SNES are slightly more complex then those for the NES. the pins on the chips are much much smaller then the chip pins in the NES thus I prefer to pay a modest fee to have someone more qualified perform these things. In this article we will go over two very simple modifications though those being the tab removal to allow Japanese Super Nintendo games to be played as well as a simple LED light change.


Like the NES I used in a previous article I picked this SNES up at a Goodwill for $14.99. I didn’t find a power adapter with it but it did come with a controller. The condition is typical for a used SNES with some marker marks, some yellowing of the plastic and what appeared to be a few paint drops.


After a go over with the magic erasure.


The small blobs of white paint I gently scratched away with an Xacto knife and as for the top section of the SNES I removed it and thoroughly washed it with soap and water followed by the Retrobright treatment that I went over in my NES article.

If you want to play European games on more accurately any games from PAL territories (Europe, Australia, New Zealand and others) your going to need to do a few modifications I’m not going to go over here but a very simple modification does allow the playing of Japanese Super Nintendo or Super Famicom games. Since both the USA and Japan use the same NTSC video standard the lockout in place to prevent you from playing JP territory games is a simple physical lockout in the form of a few tabs in the cartridge slot.

snesg4Here we have the four tabs that will need to be removed.


Simple cutters and pliers that can be found at any hardware store, Walmart or dads garage are all that’s needed. Just cut away and twist off the sections of the SNES that have the tabs. I recommend doing this with the top part removed.


Very simple. With these tabs removed you should have no issues playing any Japanese games you wish.

Next we need to do the LED change. The red LED looks fine but I prefer blue, unfortunately I did not have any blue LED’s on me so I’ve used a green one here. The SNES does not use standard screws like the NES so your going to need a 4.55mm gambit screwdriver for this. I got mine cheap off eBay. There are six screws you will need to remove from the bottom of the console.


Here’s what your going to initially see. The white power strip connecting the PCB on the controller and the motherboard should easily disconnect with a few gentle tugs. You should now be able to remove the PCB with the LED light on it but if you want to take a look at the motherboard and perhaps clean it of dust or dead (hopefully dead) bugs the eject assembly should also easily come out. The metal RF shield will need to be unscrewed and removed. It used regular Phillips head screws. You will also need to unscrew the power switch on the left.


Here’s the PCB that as the LED as well as controller ports attached. your going to need to remove the green PCB board from the controller ports so first thing you want to do is desolder all 14 of the controller solder points. Once that is done you can squeeze the plastic tabs and it should easily come apart into two parts.

I recommend one of these for this job.



Its a solder remover and it works great for unobstructed pins. While squeezing the bulb you just place the tip on the pins and it melts the solder on it. Then let go of the bulb and it sucks the melted solder away.



At this point take notice of the LED and how it is oriented. Desolder the two points on the rear of the PCB and remove the old LED and replace it with any LED of 5mm and 3.7 volt .


Here’s my green LED after being soldered onto the board. Now simply solder the PCB back to the controller ports. make sure you reattach the power strip correctly between the ports section with your LED and the SNES motherboard and power it up. Make sure to reconnect and test to see if the new LED comes on as well as if your controllers are working before completely reassembling. Sometimes if your not getting the LED to come on or the controller is unresponsive you may need to resolder and make sure you have a good connections on the solder points and that the solder is not touching adjacent points.

These simple mods should cost you nearly nothing and take an hour at most to preform. Again if you want to play some great games from PAL territories that never made it to the US I would recommend paying an experienced modder but if you have a pile of SNES systems around or feel your good with a soldering iron there are plenty of great guides available via a Google search with further advanced modding instructions. Enjoy.


Yhea, I did forget to clean that eject button…….

If you would like to read about what I think is the best revision of the SNES console continue reading here.


A place for the pc collector

I ❤ Old Games!

Probabilmente il miglior blog bilingue al mondo*

Waltorious Writes About Games

Game-related ramblings.

NekoJonez's Gaming Blog

My Gaming Timeline

Evelynn Star

Lynn talks about video games, records and books ...

Retro Megabit

Sharing My Retro Video Game Collection.

133MHz's Junk Box

Random electronics and gaming crap


Chronogaming project featuring reviews, screenshots, and videos of the entire Super Nintendo library in release order.

Retrocosm's Vintage Computing, Tech & Scale RC Blog

Random mutterings on retro computing, old technology, some new, plus radio controlled scale modelling.

The PewPew Diaries.

Work(s) in Progress!


1001 video games and beyond

retro computing and gaming plus a little more


retro computers and stuff


Stay Jispy!

%d bloggers like this: