The WonderSwan Color has become one of the most sought after retro consoles by collectors around the world in recent years. Bandai’s 16-bit laptop is a sample of the balance and good work that its original developer -Mr. Gunpei Yokoi- knew how to implement in all its products, a perfect relationship between technical features and an affordable final price of the product.
Bandai’s portable console never left Japan, so today it is a 16-bit rarity coveted by thousands of retro console collectors and otakus. Let’s see what the console that was created to surpass Nintendo’s Game Boy Color in its own territory was like and how it is preserved: The WonderSwan Color, a magnificent console that had a short but intense commercial life.
|5TH GENERATION OF CONSOLES
|December 9, 2000 in Japan
|86 specific video games in color + 109 of the original WonderSwan
|1.1 million units approx.
|3.072 MHz NEC V30 MZ. 16-bit 3.072MHz operating clock
|BUY IT ON EBAY:
- History of the WonderSwan Color
- Price of a WonderSwan Color console, how much did it cost?
- Collect the WonderSwan Color
- Buy a WonderSwan Color
- TOP Retro: Best WonderSwan Color games
- FAQ WonderSwan Color
- Technical characteristics of the WonderSwan Color
WonderSwan Color, the Japanese 16-bit portable console
Before continuing, we recommend that you visit the Infoconsolas article dedicated to the main console of the WonderSwan family: Bandai’s WonderSwan, which was its first portable and in which you will find all the information and history of the system and its different versions in a very developed article (and very worked).
What is WoderSwan Color?
The WonderSwan Color is Bandai’s color version of their first 16-bit handheld console, the original WonderSwan, a fifth-generation console. The WonderSwan Color is fully compatible with its two sisters (WonderSwan and SwanCrystal) and differs from the first basically in its FSTN LCD color screen, its larger shared RAM memory with VRAM (x4), having a shorter battery life ( 1 AA battery) still offering us a surprising 20 hours of good vice and having 86 games in full color, most of them exclusive to the WSC version (17 were compatible with grayscales).
The previous paragraph is a brief summary of “what” the console is, but as retro collectors and video game lovers, we know perfectly well that this information has little value if it is not accompanied by the gaming experience, what it can offer us and offered at the time, its history, the soul of the console… So let’s see what the WonderSwan Color really is.
WonderSwan and WonderSwan Color, Gunpei Yokoi’s portable consoles
The WonderSwan Color arises from a fight between Bandai and Nintendo for the portable market, a territory over which Nintendo had reigned without any competition since the 80’s, regenerating the market with its own products and versions, which had been defined over the years in a very broad child target, due in part to Nintendo’s policies and the features of its laptops, which could hardly represent violent or bloody games (what teenagers wanted in the 90’s, eg Mortal Kombat ). The laptops had become a gateway for the little ones, before making the leap to the “Play”. Nintendo had orphaned several generations of adult gamers, either because of its software release policy or by keeping an 8-bit console on the market for more than 10 years.
Many companies had detected this business opportunity and possible market niche, verifying how the more adult public (and with more resources) gradually stopped playing on their laptops to focus on consoles or desktop PCs, systems that offered a gaming experience much deeper and with a great offer for the older public. One after another these companies launched their new portables throughout the 90’s, offering an experience more similar to that of home consoles or products cheaper than the GB, and one after one they fell under the almighty Nintendo. Companies like NEC, Watara or Tiger had not understood that it was not enough to launch a cheaper or more powerful console than the Game Boy, the success of the Big N console was based on the perfect balance between price and performance, a balance that It was the responsibility of one person, the teacher Gunpei Yokoi, inventor of the Game & Watch and the Nintendo Game Boy.
Gunpei Yokoi is one of the great characters of the video game industry, a legend that was carved out thanks to his exceptional work in the company of the blue plumber, in which he was until the commercial failure of the Virtual Boy. Gunpei had wanted to innovate with the new virtual reality technology but in the development of Nintendo’s 32-bit console, little by little they had to reject the original ideas until they launched a portable console, which had to be supported on a table, only visible to a player and with cheap screens in reddish tones that minimized consumption but also caused headaches. An absolute commercial failure that touched the line of honor and dignity of Gunpei Yokoi, who resigned from him and founded his own laboratory, the Koto Laboratory.
With the creator of the Game Boy released, Bandai soon formalized a contract with Koto Laboratory to launch a portable that would compete with Nintendo’s monopoly. The creator of the most famous laptop in history would face his own work with a new creation, a console that would follow the same “Kareta Gijutsu no Suihei Shikō” philosophy, consisting of applying ingenuity and lateral thinking with the technologies already present. mature, thus offering the public innovative products at an affordable price. How epic everything… How epic gentlemen!
With this ace up its sleeve, Bandai ventured to face the Game Boy, launching in 1999 for the ridiculous price of 4,800 yen, a monochrome 16-bit laptop with cards as software support (cheaper than cartridges), we are talking about the launch of the first WonderSwan. Bandai’s handheld console was a masterpiece of balance between price and performance, being an evolution of the Game Boy and seen by many as the successor to Nintendo’s handheld, a 16-bit Game Boy from the same father, but different mother ( Bandai). Bandai did not launch a console ahead of its time, Bandai launched the best console for its time, after the 8-bit Game Boy, the logical thing and the opportunity was to offer the public a better console at a lower price… Or That’s what Bandai thought.
And they weren’t wrong, but the market and competition is cruel and before Gunpei Yokoi’s new console hit the market, Nintendo had launched its Game Boy Color, a magnificent evolution of its original console that, despite being a console for 8-bit, its software and features were between what we would recognize as a console between 8 and 16 bits (it was a super 8-bit from 1999). Nintendo was betting on the color against the brute power, the combat was served.
It may seem that the WonderSwan had the odds to lose, but Bandai’s console had a series of advantages such as the long duration of its only battery (they were expensive at the time), a game catalog full of manga and anime exclusivities thanks to Bandai, the price of its games, the incredible peripherals of the WonderSwan and details such as the possibility of playing video games such as shooters vertically, made the battle much closer than what Nintendo executives would have imagined. After all, it was a console developed by Gunpei Yokoi himself and the giant Bandai, no joke.
Bandai’s console sold approximately 1.5 million units, a very high figure for an already crowded market like Japan, but insufficient to cope with the numbers of the GBC. Buyers of new handheld consoles opted for Nintendo’s offer, 2,000 yen more expensive but in full color and with a huge catalog of games behind them as it is backward compatible. Bandai took note, and set out to create a new version of its 100% compatible console, equally balanced, for the same starting price as its most direct competition and in full color.
On December 9, 2000, just before the Christmas campaign in Japan, Bandai launched its WonderSwan Color, the console that would face Nintendo’s “color to color” handheld. For 6,800 yen the WonderSwan Color was a perfectly balanced console for its time, Bandai offered a budget system clearly above Nintendo’s handheld in terms of features (in its basic hardware), offering a console that was focused on an audience adolescent and adult unlike the Nintendo console.
Bandai’s commercial strategy was really interesting, keeping its 4,800 yen monochrome console as the ideal initiation console for the youngest (a first console), for 2,000 yen more (same price as the GBC), you could enjoy a whole catalog of approximately 200 titles, 86 of them in full color (temporarily total figures), with a great offer for an older audience. Being aware that portable consoles were secondary systems, both Bandai and Nintendo offered cheap products, Bandai gaining in this sense due to the use of memory cards as a video game format, which made their games cheaper.
The WonderSwan Color sold approximately 1.1 million units, a figure that is not insignificant if we add it to that of its sisters, reaching a total of 3.5 million units sold in a single country, Japan. These are figures that allowed the WonderSwan family of consoles to have an intense commercial life with almost 200 video games and multiple peripherals which served to differentiate themselves a little more from Nintendo’s proposal: A GPS, connecting the console to a mobile phone, a sonar for fishing, a programmable robot, a real scale that took care of pregnant women, cameras, interaction with the PSX… Let no one think that the WonderSwans couldn’t make it difficult for Nintendo!
WonderSwan consoles held on to a worthy second place in the Japanese market, and that’s quite an achievement: Just to have held up a fruitful life against the steamroller in the field of Nintendo handhelds is quite a feat. Not only that, the WonderSwan consoles showed the possibility of facing Nintendo and forced it to offer better video games by having (now yes), a competition that played in the same league.
Is it worth having a WonderSwan Color?
Let’s say goodbye to impartiality for a while and welcome the collector in me: YES, ABSOLUTELY YES, let’s apply the context and 90s terminology to understand each other:
The WonderSwan in any of its versions is a console that is cool, very cool, gentlemen. Arriving with your Yamaha Jog, Derbi Variant or Vespino to the neighborhood arcade, leaning against the wall to wait for the gang, and taking a WonderSwan out of your Bomber while the girls passing by on the sidewalk marvel at that strange console, that was the most. Waiting for your chat, in the corridor of the school, at MacDonalds with colleagues… Any moment was a good time to take out a WonderSwan that laughed in the face of the “brick” Game Boy for children.
Well, all this… they stole it from us, they didn’t allow it to happen: I was never able to play Naruto at the door of my rec room and I had to start smoking while waiting, I could never hesitate in my school and they started calling me a loser Tired of waiting for my girlfriend with nothing to do, I left and stayed single and not having a distraction at Mac Donalds, I ate Mac Pollos and stayed with bushels for life… That’s how it was. By not exporting the WonderSwan to the rest of the world, the Japanese robbed us of the chance to enjoy one of the best handheld consoles ever made, a 16-bit handheld console that gave all of us teenagers the chance to return to enjoy like a child with a laptop.
Having never left Japan, the WonderSwan Color is one of the most localized consoles ever, everything about it is designed, engineered, and executed for a Japanese audience. Their culture, norms and customs are inserted into each card we insert and come out directly to our eyes through your screen. Its characters, its books, movies, manga and anime are faithfully represented throughout its entire catalogue, as well as its language, Japanese… Yes, the terrible language barrier, that barrier that for decades has made thousands of video games and dozens of systems have never left Japan.. And keep it clear, this console was not made with us in mind, not at all, at all… The WonderSwans are consoles created to please the Japanese public, and unfortunately the gap between language will mean that we can only enjoy approximately thirty video games, with more or less interpretation effort depending on the title.
Does this mean that we should not buy a WonderSwan Color? No, honestly not, and seriously speaking I think that more than 20 years after its launch, the WonderSwan Color is a console to always carry with us, at least when we know that we are going to have time to play (bus, train, theaters). waiting…), a little geeky? Maybe, but you’re reading Infoconsolas, not Vogue. Even so, we must be clear that we will not be able to buy any game and enjoy it as happens with other systems, we will have to choose the video games very well, I am telling you this from the experience of someone who has gone to Japan and has bought more than 10 games at the tun tun , which as a collector that I am do not pose any problem to me but are completely unplayable at the moment of truth (except one of baseball). As always in this hobby of collecting retro consoles and video games, before buying, it is better to inform yourself.
The decline of the Wonder Swan Color
The WonderSwan family of portable consoles remained in a more than worthy second place in the portable console race, since 1999 through its first two consoles and a third launched in 2002 (the SwanCrystal), Bandai managed to cope at all times to the Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light, Neo Geo Pocket, Neo Geo Pocket Color and the powerful Game Boy Color, its toughest rival, but it could do little or nothing against Nintendo’s new 32-bit portable console , the Game Boy Advance launched in 2001, a hit on the table by the Big N that took all its opponents off the board to once again monopolize the portable video game market.
After 5 intense years, Bandai discontinued its portable consoles in 2003 and they stopped making commercial games for them. Bandai and Koto Laboratory had shown the world, and especially the Japanese, that living with Nintendo in the field of laptops was possible by focusing on another public, Nintendo had shown with the GBA that it had the possibility of reconquering the laptop market at any time. moment and we, gamers and fans of videogames and retro, would have to wait until 2004 to witness one of the biggest battles that have ever taken place in the history of videogames, this one worldwide: the Nintendo DS VS Sony PSP. A madness of trench warfare and different concepts in which the top winners were us, the users.
One of the details that distinguishes the WS Color from other portable consoles is the large number of versions that were released, ranging from aesthetic modifications to the casing such as color changes, to limited editions that are highly sought after today. In practice, it is quite a challenge and an incentive for the most seasoned collectors. Here are the versions that were released:
- Original colour:
- Pearl blue.
- Pearl pink.
- Crystal Black.
- Crystal Blue.
- Crystal Orange.
- Final Fantasy I and II edition, White Pearl color.
- Toysrus Crystal Pure Edition.
- Limited Edition by Char Zaku Mail Order.
- Limited edition by mail Gundam series.
- Shigeo edition.
- Digimon Edition.
The price of the WonderSwan Color
Until now we have talked about the prices of the WonderSwan in yen like the one who comments on the price of bread at the bakery in his neighborhood, but obviously it is not easy to get used to the idea of what 6,800 yen meant in the year 2,000 in a country that is on the other side of the world. For this reason, at Infoconsolas we leave you the prices on the launch date of various systems so that you can compare and understand which console could be considered expensive, cheap or had a fair price.
|Game Boy Pocket
|Game Boy Light
|Game Boy Color
|Neo Geo Pocket
|Neo Geo Pocket Color
|New Neo Geo Pocket Color
|Game Boy Advance
|Game Boy Advance SP
As you have been able to verify, the first WonderSwan had the cheapest launch price of all commercially powerful handheld consoles, as far as the WonderSwan Color is concerned, its price was exactly the same as that of the Game Boy Color even though it was a game console. 16 bits, a factor to take into account.
Collecting the Bandai WonderSwan Color
As we have already mentioned, the WonderSwan Color is a great option when it comes to collecting a portable system. Unlike many 8-bit video games from the 80’s and 90’s, the WonderSwan catalog is much more current in both genres and mechanics, showing at all times that we are dealing with a 21st century video game console. Its size, its shape, its weight, its controls… If the Japanese called it “wonderful swan” it’s for a reason.
However, as always before facing a collecting challenge, we must be very clear about the peculiarities of the system:
- There are 3 WonderSwan models, so it’s relatively easy to get all the hardware (unlike the PC Engine).
- Double Full Set of games: It is possible to differentiate the color and black and white catalogs to facilitate the purchase of all the games for each system (something practically impossible today).
- Ascending prices: Yes, like everything retro, I know… But the case of the WonderSwan is special, for a few years there has been a fashion for the system that has made consoles that previously cost 20 euros in stores (Japan), now They are sold for 70 or 80 euros (without box). The fact of being an exclusive Japanese console specializing in manga and anime, added to the rise of retro, have made demand infinitely higher than supply. Hurry up!
- The language barrier: I do not want to be annoying, but really, inform yourself before buying any title.
We don’t have to give many more reasons to collect the system than we do in the West, it’s the real missing link between 8-bit and 32-bit laptops, a portable gaming machine that oozes all-around charisma and has held up beautifully. good for our times. The question here is “how” to collect it, and for that, nothing better than to start with field work informing us of the 3 systems, which one suits us best, prices for which they are normally sold (prices for which they are bought), choose a small number of games to start with, mark their maximum price for our pocket… That is, PLANNING the HUNT gentlemen, one of the moments that a collector of retro consoles enjoys the most.
Buy a WonderSwan Color console
The best place to buy a WonderSwan Color console is eBay. If a few years ago we could find real bargains with its auction system, that stage has already passed and today the “Buy It Now” offers where we will find more items at a fair price. Exactly what is described happens with the WonderSwan, making bids as tests or someone who buys a lottery coupon is very good to pass the time, but if we have to dedicate our time to a specific hunt, the search for consoles in “buy it now” will be much more fruitful, much more if we carry it out in different countries.
As we have already mentioned, the WonderSwan Color is a console that we can buy at a reasonable price (without a box), really the question when buying a WonderSwan is which WonderSwan to buy and here my advice is the following: If you want the console for have it on a shelf as a sample of the system and you do not plan to play, buy the first one in black and white with the same aesthetic but cheaper. If you plan to play from time to time, the WonderSwan Color is a middle ground that will be perfect for you, but if your idea is to use it as your reference portable system for a while, that is, get some good vices, spend a little more money and buy a SwanCrystal, it is more expensive but over time you will appreciate it, its higher screen quality will allow you to play in better conditions and in more places.
So that said, for console collectors and occasional retro gamers, here is a link to the WonderSwan and WonderSwan Color consoles currently available to buy on eBay with their real prices, there you can get an idea of what a WonderSwan costs original or Color right now.
For those of you who plan to play more often and give it a go, that said, the SwanCrystal is your ideal console, it is more expensive as you can see since there are fewer units, but it has a much brighter, better quality screen that will delight you. From your eyes, think that there is no nostalgia here that enhances the console with our memories since we never had it, so when it looks better, much better. I leave you the link to the SwanCrystal currently available on eBay.
With these announcements you can already get an idea of what the WonderSwan retro console scene is like right now. If you find a unit at a good price, take advantage of the moment! If this is not the case… patience, the hunt continues. Next, I leave you with an updated selection of games on eBay. Good luck! Games of the WonderSwan Color on eBay.
STOP COLLECTOR! If you’ve seen the console listing on eBay, I want to say THANK YOU. Since 2004, the objective of Infoconsolas is to contribute to preserving the history of consoles and video games through our own collection of systems and the hours of work invested in this very website.
Being an eBay partner listing, if you buy a game or console, you will be helping Infoconsolas in the preservation of video game culture, so thank you very much again!
TOP: Best WonderSwan Color handheld console games
The WonderSwan Color is fully compatible with the first WonderSwan and the SwanCrystal, sharing a catalog with the latter, since both can run black and white and color games. Having covered the original console games in its main article, in the Best WonderSwan Games section, at this point we will only show the specific video games for the console in color.
As you already know, the WSC games are very localized in the Japanese market, so in addition to being a sample of their culture and society, unfortunately for us they are mostly in perfect and exclusive Japanese. Consequently, and being realistic, no matter how much it weighs on us, there is little point in talking about the best games if we are not going to be able to enjoy them, so instead we show you ALL the WonderSwan Color games, so that you can get an idea. what Bandai’s 16-bit console is capable of offering us.
Do you still want to know the best console games? I will not be the one who dares to answer this question, but what we can show you is a selection of good games, all of them playable for someone who does not speak the language of Dr. Slump:
- Makaimura for WonderSwan
- Rainbow Islands: Putty’s Party
- Buffers Evolution
- Judgement Silversword
- One Piece Grand Battle Swan Colosseum
- One Piece Chopper no daibouken
- Front Mission
- Flash Koibito-kun
- Klonoa: Moonlight Museum
- Mr. Driller
- Tane wo Maku Tori
- Wonder Classic
- Rainbow Islands: Putty’s Party
- Rhyme Rider Kerorican
FAQ WonderSwan Color
Below you have the most frequently asked questions and answers about the Bandai WonderSwan Color console. Feel free to contribute (with source please) in our comments! We will incorporate them. You can access the comments with your Google account and together achieve a FAQ that helps all those people who love video games and retro consoles.
Yes, your catalog is shared. Fully compatible by the WonderSwan Color.
86 video games, the same as for the SwanCrystal.
The SwanCrystal features a higher quality, brighter full color TFT LCD screen, which reduces battery life to 15 hours. The WonderSwan Color has a lower quality FLC FSTN (20 hour battery) and the WonderSwan has a monochrome display (30 hour battery). The WonderSwan Color and SwanCrystal have more x4 RAM/VRAM memory. The rest are minor differences.
To the fifth generation of video game consoles.
December 9, 2000 in Japan.
Yes, when it was launched in the year 2000 it is considered a retro video game console, in fact, it is already vintage.
Popularly yes. Although there was a limited number of units that were exported to other areas of Asia such as South Korea and Hong Kong.
It is estimated that the WonderSwan Color sold approximately 1.1 million units.
Dicing Knight, released on May 31, 2004.
Wonderful swan, due to the beauty of the animal as well as the design of the console and the strength of its legs when flying out of the water. Very Japanese everything…
The architecture of the WonderSwan Color is clearly oriented towards 2D.
No, it is necessary to make modifications in the console to backlight the screen.
With a console cartridge inserted, hold down the START button while turning on the machine.
Personal data: Name, birthday, sex and blood type. Birthday may vary the difficulty of some games.
Technical characteristics of the WonderSwan Color portable console
Here you have the technical characteristics of the WonderSwan Color, these characteristics have been obtained from wikipedia:
- Main unit 74.3 x 128 x 24.3 (mm) with its AA battery
- 95 grams (without batteries)
- 1 AA battery (duration of approximately 20 hours)
- CPU: 3.072 MHz NEC V30 MZ. 16-bit 3.072MHz operating clock
- RAM memory: 64 KB shared with the VRAM (512 Kbit) (x4 compared to the first WonderSwan)
- Color FSTN LCD.
- Definition: 224 x 144 pixels
- Size 2.8 inches
- Colors: 241 from a palette of 4,096
- 4 channels / stereo
- External output: Stereo with headphones
- Built-in EEPROM:
- 1 Kbit (128 bytes) write and read memory built into the main unit
- It is used to store personal data (name, date of birth, gender, blood type) and game data.
- Cartridge capacity:
- ROM up to 512 Mbit (x4 compared to the first WonderSwan)
- RAM up to 512 Mbit (x4 compared to the first WonderSwan)