Bandai Wonderswan – Gameboy, what Gameboy?

The Bandai Wonderswan is an interesting little handheld that experienced a fair amount of success, albeit for a short period of time. The Wonderswan series debuted in 1999, but was discontinued in 2003.

Did it shine bright for a short period, or did it simply have trouble keeping up with the Gameboy and NeoGeo Pocket? 😀


Developed in unison by Koto and Bandai, the Wonderswan did in fact have quite a bit of success over here in Japan, and although it didn’t knock the Gameboy out of the water it did take close to 10% of the market share away from the giant Nintendo.

An interesting fact when talking about the Nintendo/Bandai rivalry is that Koto (the comapny working together with Bandai on the Wonderswan) was actually Gunpei Yokoi’s company – Gunpei Yokoi being the creative mind behind the Gameboy. Gunpei Yokoi seemed to like a fight he could win – don’t we all! 😀



The first in the series was the Black and White version of the Bandai Wonderswan (pictured above) released in 1999. The controller setup allowed games to either be oriented horizontally or vertically. Quite an interesting concept, specially when it came to puzzle games and more action oriented titles.



The Bandai Wonderswan Color (pictured above) was released just one short year after the Wonderswan Black and White. The Wonderswan Color received a good amount of success, and had the support of large 3rd part developers at the time. It not only featured a colour screen, but also it was beefed up in every respect hardware wise.

bandai-wonderswan-game-2 bandai-wonderswan-bw Wonderswan Color – Left. Wonderswan Black and White – Right.

There was actually another Wonderswan released in 2003 called the SwanCrystal. Unfortunately I do not have this one to show you, but it features an upgraded screen, more ram, and a reduced battery life. It was so damn ugly compared with the previous versions as well. 😀

The Bandai Wonderswan series came in a wide range of colours. My small hoard shows you just a few of the colours available.


An interesting design idea was the way in which the single AA sized battery fits into the unit. It uses a housing that simply slots into the back of the Wonderswan giving the Black and White 40 hours of gameplay, the Color 20 hours, and the SwanCrystal 15 hours.

bandai-wonderswan-color bandai-wonderswan-black-and-white

Unfortunately there is an area in which the Bandai Wonderswan falls flat for most people buying, and that would be the selection of games available. It’s not that the games completely stink by any means, it’s just that a player would need a very good command of Japanese to be able to play most of the titles available for the system. There are some action and puzzle games that don’t require too much Japanese to be able to progress, but the majority of games available for the unit are JRPGs or text intensive titles like RTSs.


bandai-wonderswan-color-2 bandai-wonderswan-3

Admittedly the Bandai Wonderswan is the last machine I tend to turn to when I’m heading to the toilet for a quick game (well, quick game and number two release). It’s not that it’s bad at all, it’s just that the games available don’t really appeal to me personally – specially with my crap Japanese ability.

These can be picked up cheap these days, so they are definitely worth having in a collection, but they are more ornamental than functional. 😀

NeoGeo Pocket – Metal Slug on the toilet!

I know that many of my fellow gamers out there like to pamper themselves by taking long luxurious breaks on the toilet. Don’t be ashamed of it guys, I know I’m not. But having to sit a long time on the toilet does become somewhat tedious (can see you nodding in agreement).

Well your toilet breaks need not be tedious anymore! As now you can run’n’gun while you dump’n’splash. 😀


The NeoGeo pocket comes in two main types – the Pocket, and the Pocket Color. The ‘Color’ of course means that it sports a color screen. The NeoGeo pockets seem to come in a wide range of colour schemes as well. The consoles I have pictured bellow don’t even touch the tip of the iceberg in terms of colours available.

The one bottom left is actually a Black&White version by the way.


To make the purchase slightly more confusing for those of you after Pocket Colors, there are actually two versions to choose from. The picture you see bellow shows you both types. The console with the slightly recessed screen (the bottom one) is the newer version of the two. This newer version is slightly smaller and has the recessed screen I mentioned, but in use it doesn’t seem to make much difference.


Another way to tell the difference between the two is the word ‘color’ written in the top right hand corner of each unit. The ‘color’ that is written in cursive is the newer version.

neogeo-pocket-color-6 neogeo-pocket-color-5

NeoGeo Pocket thumbsticks kick serious arse! In my opinion there isn’t anything that touches them, and when I have used emulation to play NGPC games this is the thing that I always miss. It uses a very clever micro switch system similar to the NeoGeo-CD control pads that has a very reassuring click when moved in any direction. They wanted to have that arcade kind of feedback on a handheld and they pulled it off beautifully.


When first turning the NeoGeo Pocket Color on (without a game inserted) you are greeted with the following screen. When I first got one, the horoscope section read “you will thoroughly enjoy toilet time from now on”, and holy crap (pun intended) it was right! 😀


Like most handhelds of the era the NeoGeo was no exception in that it can support linked play. Unfortunately, due to being an antisocial introvert, I do not have any friends to test it out with, but I did buy a few of the link cables just in case. The only trouble is that the cable may not be long enough to link two players in a public toilet.


I only have a few games at the moment unfortunately…

neogeo-pocket-color-9 neogeo-pocket-color-11

NeoGeo Pockets are small machines that I can whole-heartedly recommend picking up if you have the chance. I am always on the look out for more as they make great presents. Just make sure you give them a quick smell before purchasing – I know where mine gets the most use after all. 😀

P.S. Sorry for the unnecessary toilet references in this post. At least if in the future you buy one from me, you know where it was tested.

Nintendo Color TV Game 15 – CTG15s and CTG15v

The Nintendo Color TV Game 15 was one of the earliest consoles in Nintendo’s line-up. It was released at a time when almost every system on the market was a variation of Pong, but Nintendo pushed things far further by including Tennis, Hockey, Table Tennis, and Volleyball – who I am Kidding, it’s Pong just in different colours for the most part. 😀

Some details:

  • Released in 1978
  • Came in two models – CTG15S (left) and CTG15V (right)
  • Game modes – 8
  • 2 Player
  • Price then – 15000yen
  • Price now – $75 – $200


A common misconception (at least based on the two I own) is that the two models (CTG15s and CTG15v) are exactly the same except for the colour, but let me assure you, this is a misconception.

There is one major difference with the two models that doesn’t seem to get mentioned on the web. As you can see in the picture bellow the CTG15V (right) has larger knobs than the CTG15S (left), but size isn’t the only difference. The CTG15S (the one with the smaller knobs) is inferior – not due to knob size for all you guys feeling bad right now – but because it uses an endless rotary knob (no end or start points) versus the CTG15v which uses knobs that have clear start and clear end points. You may be saying “it shouldn’t make any difference, I can still rotate them in the same way”, but the main issue is that the knobs on the CTG15s do not actually respond to the speed of rotation, whereas the CTG15v (the darker coloured one) do – this is a make or break for this type of game.

Although there is a difference with the knobs on the two I own, this may not reflect that all CTG15S have that same difference. If you own a 15S and it has the same larger knobs as the 15V that I have please let me know.


The CTG15S is actually more sort after than the CTG15V purely due to rarity, but based on my two, if I were buying one to play then I would definitely try and get the CTG15V.

Another interesting point is that Nintendo wasn’t keen on plastering their name all over the machine either. The only places that have the Nintendo brand are on the RF and power adapter.



There are many game modes as indicated on the right hand side of the picture bellow. Basically in Japanese it reads that the game modes are Tennis A/B, Hockey A/B, Volleyball A/B, and PingPong A/B. The other switches do things like change bat size, and also change to singles and doubles mode. The two buttons there are a serve button and a reset button.


In use the Nintendo Color TV Game 15 is a really fun little pong clone. I have had great fun playing this with friends over a beer or two, and I can thoroughly recommend picking one up. 🙂