The Bandai Wonderswan line of handheld consoles was only ever released into the Japanese market in 1999. The first model was a monochrome-only console, this was later replaced by the Wonderswan color and then the SwanCrystal.
The Wonderswan Color sported a reflective LCD screen. A bit like the original Gameboy Advance, this means you need an external light source and to hold it at the right angle to actually have a chance of seeing anything on the screen. The SwanCrystal apparently had a better screen but the console itself didn’t look as good as its predecessors.
There is a good selection of games available for the Wonderswan although a lot of them are in the Japanese language so are quite difficult to play. A few fan-made translations have been made available though and can be patched into the original games.
These consoles had a relatively short lifespan and were discontinued by Bandai in 2003. With its 16-bit processor, the handheld was actually a very capable device. These specifications led to it selling an estimated 3.5 million units over its lifetime.
Exploring the library of games on this device very quickly became quite frustrating for me. As much as I wanted to explore them, the screen was pretty terrible to use. I normally like to leave devices like this as original as possible, but in this case, it was obvious I was never going to play it without some sort of modification.
So I had a look around and found a replacement backlit LCD screen solution for the unit. I’ll let the results speak for themselves!
Now the screen was sorted out, I went for a Flashmasta cartridge to allow me to upload the ROMs to the console. I still have a whole load of games to go through but there are some nice platformers and shoot-em-ups in the collection.
Would I recommend picking one up? If your only language is English then it does restrict the library down a fair bit. But they can be picked up for a reasonable price, and with the above modifications, it will definitely give you a good amount of playtime. As a piece of hardware though it’s a nice little unit and very capable of running some great games.
|Number in collection||1|
|Modifications and Accessories||Flash Cartridge and Backlit LCD Screen|