Bandai Wonderswan

Bandai Wonderswan

5th Generation Competitors
3DO Jaguar Nintendo 64 Playstation CD32 FM Towns Marty PC-FX Pippin Playdia Loopy Virtual Boy
Region Release Date Discontinued Lifetime Sales
Japan 4th March 1999  2003  2.3m
North America  –
Europe  –


After the failure of the Virtual Boy Gunpei Yokoi, it’s creator and also the creator of the GameBoy, the Game and Watch series and also credited with the cross pad style we know and love today, was forced out of Nintendo.  He was approached by the toy giant, Bandai, and tasked with creating a new handheld.

He decided to take a simpler design than the two devices that would have been it’s competitor, the Gameboy Color and the SNK Neo Geo Pocket.

Unfortunately Gunpei died a couple of years before the device was released.

The first Wonderswan was released as a monochrome device that ran on a single AA battery.  Bandai secured a few popular franchises, such as Resident Evil, and created a few games on their own popular IPs like Gundam.

It had modest success, enough that Bandai released a Color version.  The Color version was capable of playing all the previous titles and a new set of titles.  Some of the Color titles could also run in monochrome mode to run on the older hardware.

The last hardware release was the Crystal line.  The main difference was a much improved screen but at the expense of 15 hours battery life compared to an average of 20 on the previous model (and 40 on the original).

At it’s height the Wonderswan had 8% of the Japanese handheld market, but the advent of the GameBoy Advance saw it’s rapid decline and Bandai decided not to make a new version.


Processor NEC V30 MZ 16bit RISC Chip @ 3Mhz
RAM 512k (shared with Video and Main)
Custom Chips
Video 224 x 144

8 shades of grey (monochrome)

241 colours from a palette of 4096 (color)

Audio 4 32bit PCM channels
Removable storage