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Thread Author: merlin
Thread ID: 2640
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Bandai WonderSwan
The handheld section of the forum is often pretty quiet so I thought it'd be nice to start a
discussion about the only handheld system I own: the Bandai WonderSwan. Anyone else here own the system or perhaps played some of the games on an emulator? I'd be interested to hear what people think of the WonderSwan.

Here's a little background info for anyone not familiar with the system. The WonderSwan was designed by Gunpei Yokoi who had also designed systems for Nintendo such as the Game and Watch, Game Boy and Virtual Boy. The first WonderSwan was released in 1999 but unfortunately was only black and white. Considering the Game Gear and Game Boy Colour were already on the market this was a pretty bad move so the following year Bandai released the WonderSwan Colour which was slightly larger and also had increased RAM. The final version was the SwanCrystal released in 2002. The SwanCrystal featured the best screen of the three models.

Nintendo had a very tight grip on the handheld market and it was very hard for any other company to break through with a new product. One thing that did help Bandai was signing a deal with Squaresoft to bring the Final Fantasy games (1,2 and 4) to WonderSwan. This coupled with a low retail price of ¥6800 helped them to gain a market share of around 8% which was pretty impressive considering Nintendo's dominance. Ultimately though Square made a deal with Nintendo and this combined with the release of the Game Boy Advance in 2001 meant that the WonderSwan couldn't compete and it was only a few years later in 2003 that the system was discontinued.

The WonderSwan has actually very good graphical capabilities, a long battery life and also one pretty unique feature are the different controls which let you rotate the screen and play vertically. This would have been perfect for shoot 'em ups but unfortunately only very few were released. There are a few other games that you play vertically for example Namco's Wonder Classic golf game. The WS controls are not as good as the NGP for fighting games though with special moves sometimes tricky to pull off. There was a device known as the WonderCoin though which fitted over the controls to improve things.

So is it worth buying? I definitely think so. The system and quite a few games are fairly cheap too. I love the look of the system and even the name WonderSwan. Some people would argue against buying one because there are few examples of certain genres such as shoot 'em ups, beat 'em ups, platform games, fighters etc. and quite a few games which require a good knowledge of Japanese to play properly. I do think it's a shame that some genres are so underrepresented on the Swan but there are still plenty of quality games to choose from that don't require mastery of Japanese. Here are a few recommended titles.

A great entry in the Ghouls/Ghosts/Goblins series and the best platformer on the system. Does get very challenging at times.

Guilty Gear Petit 1 & 2
Both excellent handheld fighters and in my opinion as good as the NGP fighters. Highly
recommended to Guilty Gear fans.

Golden Axe
Excellent port of the classic arcade game that can be played in multiplayer if you link two
Wonderswans together.

One Piece Grand Battle: Swan Colosseum
Very good fighting game featuring platforms almost a bit like a 2D version of Smash Brothers. One of the best looking games on the system.

Judgement Silversword
Vertically scrolling shoot 'em up inspired by Radiant Silvergun. Was an entry in a homebrew
contest but then got an actual retail release. Very very good shooter but incredibly tough. Very expensive too.

Dicing Knight
Plays a lot like the dungeon sections in Zelda on the Snes. Very fun game with some detailed graphics. The dungeons randomly generate every time you play.

Final Fantasy 1,2 & 4
Classic RPGs with beautiful graphics and music but tricky to play without knowledge of Japanese.

Wonder Classic
Golf Game by Namco which is played vertically. As good as NGP Turf Masters.

Mr. Driller
Classic Namco puzzle game converted to the Wonderswan. Works well on the handheld.

Kinnikuman Nisei: Dream Tag Match
Fun wrestling game with some very nice graphics.

I'd be interested to hear what people here think of the WonderSwan and whether you already have one or would consider getting one.
Edited by merlin on 25. May 2010 13:24
I played this Mega Man game on this thing once, it featured the Battle Network characters but played like the classic series. I've wanted to play the GG Peitit games, if only for curiosity's sake.
Edited by GeeseTheDuck on 25. May 2010 11:46
The Mega Man games on WonderSwan tend to get fairly bad reviews. Personally I quite enjoy them and it's not as if there are loads of platform games to choose from on the system.

I think you would enjoy the Guilty Gear Petit games Geese. They actually feature an exclusive character: Fanny, a nurse who wields a giant syringe! I do find the moves a bit tricky to pull off at times using the regular WS controls so I need to get a WonderCoin one of these days.
My wife has a WonderSwan Crystal...even though I've never palyed with it, I can say it's a nice lightweight system that's capable of some impressive graphics and that there are a lot of nice games released on it.
My arcade stuff

"ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn! Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!"
Basashi King
hey merlin, looks like a nice piece of kit. i really like the design of the machine.

i wonder if you guys could help me out - next month im off on a nice continental jaunt, and i will spend a few days in one of my favourite cities, hong kong.

i remember a while ago someone posting about a decent handheld which plays mame games - do you have any idea what this is called? ill be travelling with a mate, but if we get the chance id like to pick one up. big time.

cheers gentlemen.
I will echo the sentiment that the design is aesthetically pleasing; it is perhaps the most sleek handheld ever. The Wonderswan was released around the time Bandai and Namco merged, so it was actually a joint effort. However, many of the big companies to make games for it, no doubt, were won over by Namco's influence and deal-makings. Those are some pretty good suggestions Merlin! Guilty Gear games rival those on the NGPC, IMO. I have said before this Mr. Driller is better than the arcade version. Smile The "flip" feature reminds me of the Linx's ambidextrous feature. A pity, though, this feature was never used to its full potential, but then again, how often do those sort of gimmicks ever get used to their full potential? I don't own one, but have emulated it a lot in the past. I've done a full playthrough of FF2. I'd say I have 85% of the games and have played 66% of them (there were lots more games released for the WS/WSC than NGP/NGPC).
Edited by shion on 25. May 2010 19:54
I really like the look of the SwanCrystal Cthulhu. I've only got a regular WSC right now but plan on buying a SwanCrystal too at some point. I heard the screen was a bit better.

Basashi sounds like that handheld you're talking about is the Dingoo A320. I'm kind of tempted to get one myself too one of these days. They don't seem too expensive, have quite a few emulators and can even be hooked up to a TV if you want. There are loads of Dingoo related videos on Youtube if you want to find out more. Hope you have a good trip to Hong Kong.

Tobalman sounds like you know quite a lot about the system and perhaps have played a few more games than me too. I'd be interested to hear if you have any recommendations too. I agree with you it's a very good looking handheld. Yes it would have been nice if more games had taken advantage of the vertical controls especially if there had been more vertically scrolling shooters.

One cool thing about the WonderSwan is that you can use it to program a robot: the WonderBorg.

Another game I wanted to mention is Wild Card by Squaresoft. An RPG that is completely card based. Everything in the game from characters, locations, monsters, spells etc are represented by cards and the cards are random every time you play. Graphics and music are excellent. Unfortunately I find it extremely hard to play due to the large amount of Japanese text. Hopefully someone will translate it one day.

YouTube Video
Before Namco X Capcom, there was Namco Super Wars, released exclusively for the WonderSwan:

Trailer 1

Trailer 2
I recently picked up the Final Fantasy II edition of the WonderSwan Color and it's looking beautiful in my collection. I love Final Fantasy II, but I don't foresee myself actually playing this version. The Playstation remake (FF Origins) was based on this WS version so if I wanted to play this version it's readily available in English.

I can't read any kanji at all, so that unfortunately ruins a lot of the systems best games for me. Now that I've looked into it there are a ton of great looking RPGs for the WonderSwan, thanks largely in part to Square. I'm sure some of these have fan translations, but going the emulation route kinda defeats the purpose of owning the real thing.

Still, I'm on the look out for a few games for it. I'm sure I'll pick up Rhyme Rider Kerorican and GunPey EX soon as they both look interesting and are rather cheap. But as usual when I buy a new classic console the games I want most are the really expensive ones. Golden Axe, Pocket Fighter, Judgement Silversword, Makaimura, Dicing Knight Period... none of these are cheap. At least the Guilty Gear Petit games are in the $30 to $40 range.
Nice idea reviving this thread Reelmojo and interesting to hear your thoughts about the system. I hope my reply in the other thread was of interest.

Yes it's a shame some of the games are prohibitively expensive. I would love to own Dicing Knight but can't justify spending that kind of money. Golden Axe and Makaimura only cost me around 20 GBP each but perhaps they are more expensive these days.

Don't know if you like golf games or not Reelmojo but Namco's Wonder Classic is excellent and hopefully shouldn't cost that much.

I have never played Rhyme Rider Kerorican before but I'll check it out.

As I said in the other thread it is a bit of a problem for me seeing the picture on the screen. You need plenty of light and have to hold the WonderSwan at the right angle. I noticed on wikipedia it mentions there is a screen light accessory but I've never seen it for sale.

One game that looks interesting and has very nice graphics is Star Hearts. I guess the language barrier would be a problem though.

YouTube Video
Never really paid a great deal of attention to the WonderSwan if I'm honest, not because it's obscure etc, but because I was always troubled by the design of the console, with it's segmented pads and what not. I have, of course, since learned of the... "WonderCoin", but God only knows how obscure those are likely to be...?!

Anyway, I've watched a few of the videos Merlin provided in the initial post and it looks like a fun little system, as long as you stick to the western/english friendly titles.

I was most impressed with One Piece Swan Colosseum, mainly because of the gfx and presentation. It's very impressive looking, if not short, game.

I presume, someone, somewhere, offers a backlighting installation service for these bad boys...?
The segmented 'd-pad' has a good feel to it and is fine for most games Ninja. In Guilty Gear Petit though I do find it a bit awkward consistently pulling off moves. I read that the WonderCoin came bundled with the Guilty Gear games. Never seen a loose one for sale anywhere.

Yes Swan Colosseum really shows off what the system is capable of. A very good looking game.

I'm not aware of anyone who offers a backlight modding service. It might sound strange but even though it would make sense to do it I prefer to keep things 100% original. Perhaps the 'worm light' accessory will help a little if I can find it.


It would be interesting to find out more about WonderSwan homebrew games. It seems that quite a few were developed using the WonderWitch. I guess you could play them on a WonderSwan if you had that elusive WonderMagic flash cart. I read at that 'flavor' (a member here) is interested in creating a new flash cart for WS.


Homebrew puzzle game Rave Hunter:

YouTube Video
I used to own a Wonderswan, but sold it many years ago as I didn't play it much. I had the special edition Final Fantasy version. It was a white system with the FF1 logo on it. Of course the only game I owned was FF1.
merlin wrote:
Homebrew puzzle game Rave Hunter:

YouTube Video

Wait a minute.

Is that game supposed to make any f*cking sense, whatsoever...? Shrug
DarakuTenshi wrote:

I used to own a Wonderswan, but sold it many years ago as I didn't play it much. I had the special edition Final Fantasy version. It was a white system with the FF1 logo on it. Of course the only game I owned was FF1.

...which is most probably WHY you didn't play it much!
NeoGeoNinja wrote:

merlin wrote:
Homebrew puzzle game Rave Hunter:

YouTube Video

Wait a minute.

Is that game supposed to make any f*cking sense, whatsoever...? Shrug

It looks like the first and last made speed dating game ever created.
Fun for your ears; play all the Wonderswan movies at the same time. Mayhem!
I've got this small collection, but actually thinking of selling it.
Mr Driller is a great version and Jajamaru-kun is pretty good, but otherwise the library of games for WS doesn't interest me that much. All strategy and RPGs is off my list since I can't understand them. Most of the puzzle games got better versions for NGPC or some other console. I'd love to try Tetris on WS thou, looks like a great version. Oh, the box-art is nice on many WS titles!

Haven't heard of a backlit mod, only frontlight.
Nice collection Henke. I think you should keep it! Mr Driller is excellent. I still need to buy that one.

Here's a picture of my collection so far.

It's a pity the shoot 'em up Run=Dim is so expensive because there are so few examples of this genre for WonderSwan and it actually looks quite good. A toy is included with the game.


Some interesting info about cancelled WonderSwan games:

I bought Rhyme Rider Kerorican on Ebay the other day. I don't have it yet though so there's not really a point to posting a picture of my collection just yet.
merlin wrote:

Nice collection Henke. I think you should keep it! Mr Driller is excellent. I still need to buy that one.

Here's a picture of my collection so far.

It's a pity the shoot 'em up Run=Dim is so expensive because there are so few examples of this genre for WonderSwan and it actually looks quite good. A toy is included with the game.


Some interesting info about cancelled WonderSwan games:


Nice collection Merlin Smile

I did some "recon" concerning some of the titles you own via YouTube. On the whole, I think you have a solid collection. Of the titles you own, here is what I would most definitely play:

Buffers Evolution
Ghouls N Ghosts
Crazy Climber
MegaMan & Forte
Wonder Classic
GG Petit
One Piece SC
Ultimate Muscle… game

Yeah. Most of it really. I understand why you have those Squaresoft titles amongst what you own, but, I would never bother with those personally.

Never fancied any of the Densha De Go's and, on the whole, I'm just not a fan of Golden Axe... plus, that looks to be an annoyingly broken port, regardless of the faithful visuals etc.

Yes... the system becomes more tempting by the moment Pfft


EDIT: Forgot to mention, that GPS add-on was SICK! I feel that concept was, potentially, waaay ahead of it's time. Way, way ahead.

I, personally, have given thought myself to the incorporation of GPS into modern gaming. As both GPS technology, gaming tech and networking capabilities enhance with each generation, I still fantasise about a Test Drive Unlimited style racing game that actually uses GPS technology to generate surroundings based on real world environments on the fly as "you" drive through them, thus using "virtual" GPS locators for players based on where they are in game. Obviously, the game takes the GPS info and renders it, on the fly, in it's own game engine, based on the information it receives. It would still be a fantasy environment, just based on actual road/street layouts.

Similar technology could be used for all manner of gaming genres tbh...
Edited by NeoGeoNinja on 22. April 2014 23:49
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