Back when it was new, the WonderSwan had some really great games. In this case, the proof is here.
Even though the Nintendo 64 is a great system, it wasn’t the best on the market in the late 1990s. Nintendo lost a lot of important third-party backing when Sony’s PlayStation came out and Nintendo insisted on disks over CDs. It wasn’t all bad, though. Bandai and SNK tried to get into the mobile market with the Neo Geo Pocket and WonderSwan, but Nintendo made them look bad by releasing the Game Boy Color in 1998, when both were almost finished.
Nintendo made both machines feel old as soon as they came out in stores by adding just one new piece of hardware. It wasn’t enough that SNK and Bandai quickly made color models. Soon after, both businesses dropped out of the mobile race. However, both devices had a large selection of games, though the WonderSwan’s games were especially interesting and breathtaking.
To play the first Front Mission, which came out in 1995 for the SNES, players had to point and click their way through levels with mechs called “wanzers,” which comes from the word “wanderpanzer,” which means “walking tank.” They could be changed in many ways, and they could hit different parts of their enemies to stop one weapon or function after another. We couldn’t play it until the 2007 DS port, even though it looked interesting.
But in 2002, Squaresoft was able to fit the whole game on the WonderSwan Color. The images had to be shrunk to fit the smaller screen of the device, but the gameplay was still there after it was ported. Only the SNES version had a fan translation, which is a shame because the story is very long and there is no English version. That means that only people who speak Japanese well have seen how well the game worked on the device.
Rainbow Islands: Putty’s Party
There isn’t a deep, long-running story behind the Bubble Bobble games. But it was simpler to keep track of them before. First was Bubble Bobble, then Rainbow Islands, and finally Parasol Stars to come in third. Then things got tricky when those old games got their own versions and spin-offs. When does Bubble Bobble Part 2 take place? Between the first one and that one? Where does the WonderSwan form of the second one fit in?
Rainbow Islands: Putty’s Party has a new main character. Her name is Putty, and she is a girl. She has to jump up and down levels, hit enemies with colorful weapons, and gather gems and things to save Bob and Bub and have a tea party. It works just as well as the first one, and it even kept the potentially illegal “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”-style theme song from the first game. Since the game is called “Rainbow,” the only thing it lacks is color.
Rhyme Rider Kerorican
Rainbow Islands has been added to everything, though. The WonderSwan’s library also had some interesting books that could only be found on it. Masaya Matsūra and his company NanaOn-sha brought rhythm games to Bandai’s handheld with Rhyme Rider Kerorican. They first made them for the PS1 with Parappa the Rapper. It’s one of their silliest games; it’s a lot like Vib Ribbon, but it has more music and brighter images.
Kerorican was a girl in a frog-themed spacesuit that players controlled. The gamer has to jump, duck, kick, or dodge different enemies and objects that get in her way. Each one adds a beat to the background music. When they do well, their combo count goes up. This gets them a ring that lets them skip hurdles easily. You can pick it up quickly, but it’s hard to get good at.
Gunpei Yokoi made the WonderSwan. He also made Metamorphosis, Kid Icarus, the first Game Boy, and many other Nintendo games. Gunpei Yokoi quit them in 1996 to find more artistic options with his new business, Koto. He worked with them to help make the Tamagotchi and the WonderSwan. He was killed in a car accident in 1997, ending his work.
Koto made Gunpey, a puzzle game where players had to connect different pieces of a line to make a single horizontal line, as an honor to their founder. They could get extra combo points if they were able to make their line spread out in more than one way. Gunpey EX added color to it, but the fun if strange Story Mode in the original black-and-white game is only found in that version. It adds extra hurdles like bombs and shadow panels.
Most of the WonderSwan’s library is only available in Japan, so you need to know some Japanese to get around. Luckily, everyone knows that Golden Axe‘s move is to hit enemies until they fall. Ax Battler with his broadsword, Tyris with her longsword, or Gilius with his axe are the only ones who can stop the evil Death Adder from taking over the world. Aside from quick punches and kicks, the game has a few other things that make it more interesting.
Beasts can be mounted and ridden into battle like horses. The beasts can attack enemies with their tails or fire breath. They can even knock enemies off their horses and ride them instead. If Battler, Tyris, or Gilius’ magic bar is full enough, they can also cast different spells. Death Adder’s troops can get very strong, whether it’s on the WonderSwan, the Genesis, or somewhere else.
In Japan in the 1980s and early 1990s, shoot ’em ups were just as popular as beat ’em ups. But by 2001, they had become more of a niche game. That didn’t stop M-KAI from winning Qute’s WonderWitch development contest that year with Judgement Silversword, a vertical shooter game that was based on cult classics like Blazing Stars and Ranger Silvergun. On paper, it seemed pretty simple: shoot enemies, avoid bullets, and score points.
It wasn’t easy, though. The enemies can be hard to get rid of, and their fire can be as intense as in bullet hell games. The player’s ship has a shield, but it can only protect it for so long against the attack. To get better, they need to learn how to switch between the wide, weak open fire and the thin, strong tight blasts. Fans of shmups will love Geometry Dash Subzero, and you can now play it on Steam with the Resurrection version.
One Piece Grand Battle Swan Coliseum
Some twenty years ago, One Piece was just starting to get popular. Now it’s one of the most popular manga and cartoon series of all time. Even Japan didn’t have many choices at the time when it came to video games. Ganbarion made two fun 3D fighting games for the PS1. Dimps, on the other hand, beat them by bringing One Piece Grand Battle Swan Coliseum to the WonderSwan Color.
For the most part, it’s Super Smash Bros. with the Strawhats and some of their friends and foes. As they move through the stages, players can run, jump, and double-jump to beat other players using moves and things until they reach their Finisher, which is made up of three “Bombstock” levels. Event Battle lets players unlock new characters, stages, and moves. It also re-creates events from the series. In Grand Battle mode, players can just fight for fun. A lot of fun platform fighting is packed into a small device.