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33 Consoles of Christmas
Bandai WonderSwan Color (1999)
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 13, 2006   |   Episode 21 (Show Archive)  

   
It's time once again for Defunct Games' 33 Consoles of Christmas, your 33 part guide to the best and worst system designs of all time. Join Cyril Lachel and Chad Reinhardt as they judge 33 different game consoles based on what they think of the look. Forget about actual hardware and software, the only thing these guys care about is talking about their exterior design. Join us every day between November 23 and December 25 for a new console review!


Synopsis: The WonderSwan was the brainchild of Gunpei Yokoi, the guiding force behind Nintendo's Game & Watch, Game Boy and Virtual Boy. Unfortunately Bandai's portable was never as popular as the Nintendo handhelds, even with the help of three different Final Fantasy games (and a bunch of other Square titles). The handheld could be used in two different ways, both vertical and horizontally. Although Bandai had originally intended to release the system globally, the WonderSwan (and its various incarnations, such as the WonderSwan Color and Swan Crystal) never made it to the United States.

Best Games: Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy II, and, um, Final Fantasy IV!




I can't say I get much use out of my WonderSwan color, but I'm certainly proud to own one. Outside of a certain Sony handheld, this may be the sexiest portable game system I have ever seen. What you can't see in the pictures is that the system is very thin, so holding it is no problem. It has a beautiful screen and a great button layout. I can see Chad's point about the D-pads, but I see this as an advantage for developers looking to do something different with the console. The best part of the WonderSwan's look is the border around the screen, I love how the trim is shaped and how it complements the overall look of the console. And getting back to how thin the system is, the WonderSwan is one of the few portables that easily fits in your pocket. I wish there were more games that I could play on the system (most of the games are obscure Japanese games), but as far as I'm concerned this is the second best looking portable game system of all time.

When I see the WonderSwan, the first word that comes to mind is, "Kooky". Then I start humming the damned Addams Family theme song, and I forget to play my WonderSwan. It's a vicious "family friendly" cycle that I wrestle with to this day. I'm not sure what Bandai was thinking when they decided to put two D-pads on the same side, but it's far from comfortable to me. In fact, the entire button layout just doesn't do it for me, no matter how you hold it. The system comes in several delicious colors, which is nice, provided you don't live in The Middle of Nowhere, MT and don't really have a choice to begin with. Now that the Final Fantasy games have been ported over to the GBA, the WonderSwan is little more than a collectable curiosity, though a fun one, nonetheless.
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