Apr 012011
 

SupaBoy Hyperkin's SNES Prototype Super Nintendo Handheld System

Want proof of a company dedicated to retro gaming?  Hyperkin is announcing a new SNES handheld!  Yes, that’s about 20 years after the release of the original Super Nintendo!

Mark (GamesOgre) and Sergio (The Applemonkey)As soon as I heard about this project, I lined up an interview with Sergio (aka “The Applemonkey“) from Hyperkin.  As I spoke with him for a phone interview, Sergio had a fully-functional prototype in hand, but he wanted to make it clear that changes could be made by the time Hyperkin releases its final product.

Mark: What’s the story on the name?

We’ll it’s called “SupaBoy.”  It has a little bit of a big feel to it.  We were thinking it’s big, so maybe we’ll call it “big boy.”  But then everything would think restaurant.  Someone was like, it’s a Super Nintendo, so let’s get the Super name in there.  Let’s call it “Super Boy,” and that became “SupaBoy.”  Everyone liked it, so it stuck.

Mark: What motivated Hyperkin to create a SNES handheld/home console?

Hyperkin has the FC Mobile II (NES) and Gen Mobile (Sega Genesis).  It was time for us to do a Super Nintendo mobile.

Mark: What can you tell me about the “SupaBoy Portable Video Game System?”

Sergio:  Our previous systems have wireless controllers with them.  Those are great, but if you lose a controller, it’s not like you have an extra one lying around.  Most retro gamers have extra Super Nintendo controllers already.  Offering actual controller ports allows people to use whatever controller they want.

Mark:  That means you could use your favorite turbo controller with it.

Sergio:  Exactly.  Let’s say you’re playing by yourself and then you want to go to two- player mode.  Just plug in the controllers, and hook it up to a TV, and you have a 2-player system.

Mark:  Does it have to be hooked up to a TV for an external controller to work?

SupaBoy Hyperkin's SNES Prototype Super Nintendo Handheld System RenderingSergio:  Actually, you could prop it up and play it just as it is with them attached.   Think car ride or bus or subway with a buddy.

Mark: What sort of AV outputs will the SupaBoy have?

Sergio:  The system will have stereo speakers.   The photo only shows one speaker.  Plus, it’ll have an AV out jack right next to the power jack.

Mark:  Will the AV output be stereo too?

Sergio:  Yeah, it’ll end in your normal video and stereo RCA outputs.

Mark:  You mentioned a power jack.  Is this rechargeable?

Sergio:  It’s rechargeable.  So you don’t need to run around the house stealing batteries out of remotes and other controllers.

Mark:  What’s battery life looking like?

Sergio:  We’ve tested it for 5 to 5 1/2 hours of game play.  And it looks good.  It has a great LCD screen.  It’s bright and crisp.  The screen is 3.5 inches.  Action and racing games stay pretty clear.

Mark:  What games have you tested it with?

Sergio:  Ha, first game I tested it with was Super 3D Noah’s Ark.  I brought it in and the guys in the office were like, “Is that some sort of homebrew?”

Mark:  That’s awesome!

Sergio:  Yeah, what a goofy game.  You get to shoot fruit into animals’ mouths.  Anyway, I also tested it with Kirby’s Avalanche, F-Zero, Super Mario RPG, Star Fox, the Super Game Boy adapter, and a bunch of other games.  So far we haven’t found any that haven’t worked.

Mark:  How about PAL or Super Famicom games?

Sergio:  We tested it on a couple Super Famicom games, and it worked.  I’m really not sure about PAL stuff.  I don’t have any PAL games.  If you have any you want to send to me, I’ll test it out.

Mark:  Sorry, I don’t have any either.  Just a PAL Little Samson for the original NES.  I’m guessing that the PAL/NTSC technology would be a no go, but I was just curious.

Mark:  How about accessory compatibility?

Sergio:  It’ll work with the Super Scope.  You can set it up to play 5-man Bomberman or even use the Mario Paint mouse.  It’ll obviously work with traditional Super Nintendo controllers.

Mark:  You mentioned its feeling “big.”  How’s it feel during testing?

Sergio:  I have big hands, and I’d say it’s comfortable in hands of people with big hands.  Plus, we had some girls try it out, and it seemed comfortable in female hands.

SupaBoy Hyperkin's SNES Prototype Super Nintendo Handheld System (2)Sergio:  Oh yeah, and it’ll have a cartridge lock feature.  That way if you’re moving around while playing, it’ll help prevent tripping out the game.

Mark:  That’s great!  Let’s be honest.  Lots of us move our hands when making Mario jump.

Sergio: Exactly.  I love watching people do that!  So the game cartridge lock will help prevent your game play from getting messed up if you do that.

Mark:  How heavy is the SupaBoy?

Sergio:  It’s currently about 11.5 ounces and feels lighter than a Game Gear.

Mark:  What’s it come with?

Sergio:  It comes with the system and a charger.  I’ve had my FC Mobile II forever, and it’s pretty beat up now.  I’m hoping we can release with some sort of a bag/case to slip it into.

Mark:  So how long has it been in development?

Sergio:  We’ve been working on it for over a year to a year and a half.  We’ve gone through a lot of prototype drawings.  Some looked more square, and we finally decided that we wanted it to look like a big controller.

Mark:  Do you have a release date yet?

Sergio:  Hopefully Summer 2011.

Mark: How about a retail price?

Sergio:  No final price at this time.  I’m guessing that’ll depend on what the final product looks like.

Mark: Given the option between buying an original SNES and a SupaBoy, why should a person buy a SupaBoy?

Sergio:  Original is great…nostalgia is great.  Lots of people are going to want to have an original SNES no matter what.  As for the SupaBoy you have both portability and a home console in one.  That makes it great for traveling, playing at home, or in field game cart testing.

Mark:  It’s not a bad idea to have one with you if you’re thinking of buying an expensive game while out thrifting.

Sergio:  Exactly.  You’ll know on the spot if the game works or if it’s even the right game.

Mark:  I’m curious, what’s with the Hyperkin dedication to retro gaming?

Back in the day before I worked for Hyperkin, I originally got to know about Hyperkin because of their dance pads.  Then I started to notice their AC adapters, controllers, and systems.  Hyperkin is growing both retro and current gen gaming items.  Most mainline stores only carry current generation stuff.  I shop at those, but I also love mom & pop (independent) game shops.  Those sort of shops are committed to retro games, and since the demand is there they figure they’ll sell retro to have an edge over the big stores.  Retro gaming is huge, so Hyperkin is able to sell both our retro and current gen stuff both here in the US and worldwide.

Mark: I’m sort of curious, what sells more at Hyperkin:  retro or current gen accessories?

Sergio:  It all depends on the stores that we’re dealing with.  Both move in large amounts at different times.  Even during hard economic times people are still playing games.  Game’s have a lot of replay value.

Mark:  Where will it be sold?

Sergio:  Check out your favorite gaming store.  If they don’t have it, ask them to order it or look online.

Mark:  Sounds like a great console!  I have to hand it to Hyperkin for their clear dedication to retro gaming.  Working to create the SupaBoy is pretty awesome.