Bandai WonderSwan |OT| - Count on one hand the number of people that will post here

Bandai’s WonderSwan was the little handheld that couldn’t. Running on just a single AA battery, Gunpei Yokoi’s swansong brought 16-bit graphics to portable gaming exclusively in Japan in 1999.

With a mere 3.5 million units sold across three revisions, the WonderSwan hardly set the world on fire, getting discontinued 4 short years after launch. However, it is a very unique console that has a lot of charm. And having been released at a mere ¥4800 with a very straightforward design, this system developed a shockingly large supply of games, some of which are excellent!

Hardware revisions:

Original:

This slick piece of hardware rocked 8 shades of gray (double the Game Boy) with no backlight, had no headphone jack, and was only on the market for a year and a half before the Color followup released. Managed to come out just after the Game Boy Color with a grayscale screen; oops.

Color:

Released at the end of 2000 to compete with the Game Boy Color, this COLOR WonderSwan could play exclusive COLOR games. Except you kinda can’t cause you can barely see the games. This system used a basic LCD screen, and not the super reflective kind used on GBC and GBA. As such you can’t see well in most lighting conditions. Oh and did I mention no headphone jack?

Once again Nintendo was onto Bandai and managed to release the Game Boy Advance not long after this revision. Oops again!

SwanCrystal:

This is what the WonderSwan Color should have been. Released in 2002, here we have an upgrade to the same kind of TFT LCD used in the GBA and the results are pretty good! Definitely recommend using sunlight or a good lamp, but it’s as good as it gets. Kinda getting expensive these days. :frowning: Still no headphone jack.

How do I get a headphone jack?

You need to buy a stupid accessory that is stupid expensive (and rare) for what it is. For the record I refuse to buy it until someone makes a clone, which will probably never happen.

Why would anyone want to buy this thing?

There are some really cool games on this system, including but not limited to:

  • 魔界村 (Makaimura) for WonderSwan, a unique entry in the Ghosts 'n Goblins series
  • Klonoa: Moonlight Museum, a 2D take on the 2.5D PS1 game which works shockingly well
  • Gunpey, a puzzle game that was later remade on PSP
  • Remakes of Final Fantasy 1 & 2, which would later be used as the base for the PS1 & GBA remakes
  • A port of Final Fantasy 4, featuring really neat 8-bit style music

(I may or may not have just listed every WonderSwan game I own)

Does anyone else own a WonderSwan???

3 Likes

I have a WSC. With Guity Gear and Final Fantasy II and Gunpey.

I mean it’s not very good, but it was cheap lol.

May crab a crystal one day but it’s pricey now.

I found one sold as junk (in very good condition) with no battery door for way cheaper. Good news is the battery doors work across models.

I used to own the original WonderSwan, which at the time cost me £9 with postage from Japan.

I bought Tekken Card Challenge which was utterly impenetrable for someone that doesn’t speak Japanese and also Puzzle Fighter, which actually wasn’t half bad. Think I straight up paid £40 for Puzzle Fighter, silly really.

I’d love to explore the hardware more honestly, that unit that I bought long ago is long but I feel as if I would go for an original unit again if I was to go down that rabbit hole. Might have to look into flash carts before I make any firm decisions.

Yokoi-san’s involvement and it being a true Japanese exclusive just make it an ultra cool system for me. What other system asks you for your blood type?

I remember seeing these covered in magazine with the FF ports. That’s about all of my experience with the system.

Were there any good action games on it?

Look. I will never play or want to play this system. However, I respect the hustle in making this thread.

This is still a really interesting system that’s always been kinda mysterious.

1 Like

I always wanted one of these.

The grayscale original is so cheap, get one!

I have a Wonderswan Color. It’s neat but there isn’t a lot to play if you can’t read Japanese. Makaimura, Klonoa, Tane Wo Maku Tori, Golden Axe, and Judgement Silversword are cool.

Is there a list of the different colours available for each revision? Kinda keen to get into this one day, but want to make sure I get the one I like the look of the most first.

Actually picked up a WSC last month at a fleamarket in Japan for 100Y as junk. Looks as if a battery has exploded inside and maybe there’s something wrong with the screen, will eventually get around to replacing the contacts and see if it fixes up at all. It’s a totally gross purple colour as well :confused:

edit: RF Generation have a database which seems pretty complete.
The skeleton models of SwanCrystal, my god.

I remember seeing the color ones in a game magazine back in the day which really made me want one.

I’ve never actually played a real one of these things, but back in the early 2000s messing with a WS emulator is what somehow got me into Beatmania. I don’t really know why that’s the version I was introduced to, lol, but I remember it clearly. From there I went on to BM98 and then to importing a PS2+IIDX.

The WS STGs that come with Eschatos seem like they would have been pretty noteworthy portable games in the genre at the time.

Never played a Wonderswan, though I’d love to experience some of the ports it received. Wasn’t there a version of Clock Tower based on the SNES release on there?

Also, I didn’t know that Final Fantasy IV was released for it. Just spent some time listening to the Wonderswan version of the soundtrack, pretty cool stuff!

I’ve never owned one myself but a girlfriend from many years ago owned a WonderSwan Color, a Neo Geo and a NeoGeo Pocket Colour. It was my first time I’d ever played a NeoGeo machine.

I’ve no idea where she got them from but I used to import loads of American and Japanese PS1 games from a couple of tiny import shops close to where we both lived so I’d imagine it was from there.

EDIT:
Yep, that didn’t really add anything to this conversation, did it?

I love the wonderswan :smiley: I only discovered it when pulling on the Gunpei Yokoi thread (quite a few years ago now) and I’ve been obsessed with the thing ever since. It’s hard to collect for as a non-Japanese speaking New Zealander, but I do OK.

Here’s my collection so far:

  • Battle Gate Dark Eyes
  • Buffers Evolution
  • Card Captor Sakura
  • Chaos Gear
  • Chocobo no Fushigi Dungeon for WonderSwan
  • Clock Tower
  • Densha De Go! 2
  • Digimon Battle Adapter
  • Final Fantasy
  • Final Fantasy II
  • Ganso JaJaMaru-kun
  • Guilty Gear Petit
  • Gundam SD: G-Generation: Gather Beat
  • Gunpey
  • Kiss Yori… Seaside Serenade
  • Klonoa: Moonlight Museum
  • Lode Runner for WonderSwan
  • Makaimura For Wonderswan
  • Meitantei Conan
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: MSVS
  • Namco Wonder Classic
  • Nazo Oh Pocket
  • Nobunaga no Yabou
  • Pocket Fighter
  • Rockman & Forte
  • Sangokushi
  • Senkaiden 2: TV Animation Senkaiden Houshin Engi Yori
  • Senkaiden: TV Animation Senkaiden Houshin Engi Yori
  • Shin Nippon Pro Wrestling: Toukon Retsuden
  • Soroban Gu
  • Sotsugyo
  • Tekken Card Challenge
  • Uzumaki: Noroi Simulation
  • Wild Card
2 Likes

Wonderswan color thread has more posts than the n64 thread.

4 Likes

I’m after Judgement Silversword but it’s pretty pricey…

1 Like

Yes! Silversword is sick!

if you’re thinking about dropping the cash on a copy of silversword, definitely be aware of the different print runs; first (short box) second (taller box) and third (HFP logo).

first run is hideously rare, second less so, and as far as i can tell the HFP run was the largest. don’t know what exactly any of them are going for these days, but i remember people often tried to sell the HFP reprint for the same price as the second one when it’s not as rare (and also a different build of the game)

Gotta work on your bait.