Over the past few weeks, you’ve seen me take an incredibly in-depth look at the Super Game Boy and the Japanese-exclusive Super Game Boy 2. But there is just one more piece of Super Game Boy paraphernalia for me to cover. Introducing, the Super Game Boy Commander.
When it comes to videogame console peripherals, few have been doing it as long as Hori. The Japanese company make pretty much anything for any console, from arcade sticks to screen protectors, and they’ve made some fantastic accessories over the years, especially controllers.
If you’ve been paying attention to my previous Super Game Boy videos, then you’ll know that Hori had a hand in making the hardware for the Super Game Boy, which is easily confirmed by watching the peripherals secret credits.
Anyway, once the original Super Game Boy had been released, Hori were not done with the peripheral, releasing a controller made especially for use with the Super Game Boy. The Super Game Boy Commander is a very unusual controller, designed to look identical to the lower part of the original fat Game Boy, even down to the identical D-pad, claret A & B buttons, rubber Start and Select buttons, and in an unusual move, an area made to look like the Game Boy’s speaker grille. Because this pad is for the Super Nintendo, there are extra buttons, and they’re all labelled for various Super Game Boy functions.
Holding this pad in your hand, it feels exactly like playing on a real Game Boy, only this controller is a bit lighter. The d-pad feels tight and responsive and works very well. A selectable switch is labelled SGB for Super Game Boy, and SFC for Super Famicom. When set to SFC, the Super Game Boy Commander acts as a standard Super Nintendo controller, and with all of the buttons being on the face of the pad, it’s not a bad alternative controller for games like Street Fighter II Turbo. It might look a little larger than the stock Super Nintendo, but the Commander is a deceptively comfortable pad to use, and it’s good enough to use for almost any SNES game.
But what about switching the pad to SGB mode and using it for the purpose it was designed for? Well, as you’d expect it’s rather good at that as well. Both the Super Game Boy and Super Game Boy 2 have some hidden functions that are activated using button press codes that are intentionally impossible to pull off by hand. The reason for this is because the labelled buttons on the Super Game Boy Commander actually initiate macros to input these button combinations at the proper timing.
The controller’s L button is labelled as Mute, and it’s pretty self-explanatory. If you could input the code at the correct speed, the code for the Mute function is R, L, L, R, R, L. Unsurprisingly, use of this button mutes all sound coming from the game being played at present. I’m not really sure what the point of this function is, as I’m sure most people would just use their television remote to mute sound if they need to, so it’s a bit of a weird option.
The Y button is labelled as Speed, and is a macro for the button combination L, R, R, L, L, R, toggling between three different speed settings that slow down the clock speed of the Super Game Boy. The first button push will activate the slowest clock speed available, the second press will increase the speed slightly, but will still be slower than normal, while a final button press will revert the Super Game Boy to its standard speed.
X is the Color button, and doesn’t have a special macro assigned to it – It works exactly as the X button does on a standard Super Nintendo pad during Super Game Boy use. When pressed, it’ll swamp from a custom or predefined colour palette, to the Super Game Boy’s standard default colour scheme, and vice versa
Finally, there’s the R button, labelled as the Window button here. This opens the Super Game Boy menu, which is usually activated by pressing L & R together – So here, you’re saving yourself a button press of effort. Neat, huh?
It’s at this point when I would normally say, that’s all, please subscribe, thanks for watching, etc. However, there is one more super hidden thing about the Super Game Boy and the Super GameBoy Commander. A few minutes ago I talked about the Speed function having three different states – Normal speed, slower and even slower than that? Well, there is a fourth mode that is not usually accessible, and you’ll see why in just a second.
If you hold up on the Super Game Boy Commander’s d-pad when turning the Super Nintendo on, it doesn’t seem like it should do anything. You are sadly mistaken. When you load up your Game Boy game as normal, if you press the Speed button, you’ll initiate a secret faster speedup mode, and at the point, you’ll instantly see why it was probably removed. During this hyper speed mode, you’ll notice a tonne of corruption to the visuals of whatever game you’re playing, and while it doesn’t make anything unplayable, it’s not exactly ideal. But it’s there if you want it, and it’s only accessible with a Super Game Boy Commander.
There was a time when these controllers were easily obtained and new in boxed units were plentiful and surprisingly cheap. These days, it’s still relatively easy to buy new Super Game Boy Commanders, but the price has doubled, even tripled over the last decade – While it does have a few neat feature, and the pad itself is fun to use when playing on the Super Game Boy – For the current price, I wouldn’t say that this controller is an essential peripheral for getting the most enjoyment out of the Super GameBoy. But with that said, if you’re looking for the most authentic way to play Game Boy games on your television, a Super Game Boy combined with this pad is not a bad way to enjoy your handheld games in luxury.