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 Post subject: WonderSwan Inbound!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 3, '14, 5:51 am 
Everyone remembers Sega exiting the game system market and formally ending hardware production effective 2002, but in their great shadow Bandai also formerly ended system production and too exited the systems market in 2002.

It's been absolute ages since the great Mattel fiasco transpired that caused a ripple which brought about both Mattel and Bandai formally leaving the gaming system prooduction. And all that time has passed without me having yet to ever play that which Mattel backed out of giving us, Bandai's final game system and the very last game system ever designed by Game Boy's creator Gunpei Yokoi. Bandai's WonderSwan was the final hand held game system to successfully compete with Nintendo's five-hundred pound canary of a franchise "Game Boy".

For better than a decade a mysterious shroud has existed regarding what made WonderSwan good enough to challenge the competition. Soon I'll at last get to find out as I have both an original model WS and it's successor WonderSwan Color paid for as of tonight. Should arrive in a week or so, depending on when they get mailed.

Anyone here own, ever owned, or otherwise gotten to play a WonderSwan before?


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 Post subject: Re: WonderSwan Inbound!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 3, '14, 3:36 pm 
No, I've never played a WonderSwan, but I have heard of them before. From what I know, there are a few Final Fantasy games on it, but that's all I really know.


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 Post subject: Re: WonderSwan Inbound!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 3, '14, 7:38 pm 
Awesome job on getting the WonderSwan, Tweeg, I've always been curious about it. Never got a chance to play it, but it always looked really interesting. The port of the original Final Fantasy in particular has always intrigued me.


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 Post subject: Re: WonderSwan Inbound!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 4, '14, 1:55 am 
Your passion for collecting gaming items is quite impressive! Looking forward to read about your experience!


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 Post subject: Re: WonderSwan Inbound!
PostPosted: Wed Aug 6, '14, 10:29 pm 
Yeah, Wonderswan was one of those systems I always heard a bit about but never got a chance to see what it could really do. I too look forward to hearing how it does for you.


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 Post subject: Re: WonderSwan Inbound!
PostPosted: Tue Sep 2, '14, 4:49 am 
My time has been rather lacking the last month now, so hardly gotten to spend anytime with the WonderSwan to speak of yet. The box arrived in mere days and yielded me a rather sizeable start to this systems collection.

WonderSwan (WS) - Skeleton Green - complete in original box
WonderSwan Colors (WSC) - both system only
- Skeleton Black (this one has an LCD issue)
- Skeleton Orange

58 unique game titles:
- 23 complete in box
- 2 with manual (no box)
- 33 with slipcover only


About the WonderSwan Hardware

The History
The WonderSwan was designed under contract for Bandai by by the legendary ex-Nintendo hardware engineer Gunpei Yokoi. Mr. Yokoi was the man who created the Gameboy, Game Boy Pocket, and Virtual Boy while employed at Nintendo. After loosing his job over the lack-luster sales performance of the Virtual Boy Mr. Yokoi founded his own independant hardware engineering firm and was soon contracted by Bandai to design for them a handheld system to compete against Game Boy. Mr. Yokoi was allegedly elated to have the oppurtunity to create this new handheld and viewed the challenge as a means by which to to best his old creation, the Game Boy, in every conceivable way. He then went absolutely bonkers on this ideaology and created the WonderSwan

Tragically, Mr. Yokoi died in a car "accident" (debated) shortly after the WS went into production. His death had ramifications and the settlement of his estate forced a nearly one year delay on the release of the WonderSwan which pushed the release to just after Nintendo's announcement of Game Boy Color and after SNK released the Neo Geo Pocket. On the plus side, the only plus side, the release delay for WS allowed developers the time needed to finish and polish their games having them available at system launch. A decent game selection for a new system did not go unnoticed by the Japanese gamers, the system quickly captured a full 12% of the Japanese handheld gaming market.

Good first year sales inspite of competition from both Nintendo and SNK, lead to Bandai's development of the first revision of the WonderSwan, the WonderSwan Color.

The Power
A single battery marvel! One "AA" battery is all any of the three hardware variations of the WonderSwan takes. And from just one fresh battery you can allegedly get around twenty hours of game play! And Gunpei Yokoi really put some great thought into the battery compartment. He very cleverly designed a removeable battery compartment for the WonderSwan. That's right, the battery compartment detaches from the system! No more concerns over irrepairable hardware damage caused by a leaking battery with these systems!

The Weight
These are amazingly lightweight! The WSC with an alkaline battery and game cart in it only weighs in at 4.8 ounces! Compare that to Nintendo 3DS with SD Memory Card and a game cart inserted weighing in at 8.4 ounces and a Game Boy Pocket with alkaline batteries and a game cartridge weighing in at 5.8 ounces. So yes, lighter than Game Boy Pocket, amazing!

The Sound
This is definitely the disappointing aspect for WonderSwan. Volume output has four digital presets available; mute, low, medium, and high. One can view this as being a feature ahead of its' time, and that would be a fair statement considering Sony's handhelds all use digital volume control. The volume presets aren't my issue here though, the lack of a headphone (1/8") port is. Rather shocking when considering this system was designed by the same man who created the GameBoy and GameBoy Pocket systems. Audio signal is being fed to the expansion port on the WonderSwans, but requires a now rather pricey and hard to find adapter to add that desired headphone port. Nintendo copied this same stupidity with the GBA SP, God only knows what possessed them to ever do that. AUdio output is no where nearly as loud as from a GameBoy, but this is simply because the hardware has less power to devote to the audio amplification.

The Screen
Gunpei's WonderSwan features a 224x144 (16:10 aspect ratio) resolution screen capable of displaying eight shades of grey at once, compared to Game Boy's 160x144 resolution screen and four shades of grey. The doubling of the grey scale and higher reolution, smaller dot pitch (pixel size), screen truly gives WS sharper visuals.

WonderSwan Color features the same resolution but, as the name implies, has a full color screen. A downer for the first model color WS 9WSC) is that the ultra-low power Liquid Crystal used in the screen is in a natively "frozen" state. This makes the screen natively dark so best when used in good lighting conditions.

The third, and final, revision of the WonderSwan was the WonderSwan Crystal (Crystal). And as the name implies, it's TFT screen is quite clear and easy to view in most all lighting conditions. The trade-off of adding the TFT screen was sacrificing battery life. The TFT screen reduced the life expectancy of a new battery down to a mere 15 hours instead of the 20+ hours life of the prior two system models.

The Interface
All models of WonderSwan feature the following buttons:
- A & B buttons (lower right)
- X1 - X4 buttons (lower left) (buttons not marked on WS)
- Y1 - Y4 button (upper left) (buttons not marked on WS)
- Sound button (lower left corner of screen)
- Start button (to the right of the Sound button)
- Contrast Adjustment Wheel
- - WS: to the right of middle on lower edge
- - WSC: middle of the left edge

Varied on the Hardware:
- Power Switch (WS: middle of the left edge)
- Power Button (WSC/Crystal: to the right of the Start button recessed)
- Battery Compartment Release Lock Switch (WSC/Crystal: lower left edge)


So far, I've devoted a few minutes to each of the following titles. Will only type about one tonight as I'm rather exhausted.

Space Battleship Yamoto (WSC)
Super difficult turn-based strategy game. Your one lone battleship against the many enemy ships on a rather massive hexagonal map. I suspect this game would be rather challenging, in a fun way, if I could figure out all the various menu options.


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