The Wonderswan Color was released in 2000 by Bandai and is only available in Japan. It is an upgrade to the original Wonderswan which also was never released on these shores. The system is quite compact as the Game Boy Advance is twice as thick, slightly longer and about equal in depth. It also weighs just 95 grams, much lighter than the Game Boy Advance. Like the original Game Boy Advance the screen is not back-lit so you have to have good room lighting or something like the Worm Light to see it properly.
One of the best aspects of the Wonderswan Color is it’s 13 buttons which really immerses you in the games. You have the standard A and B buttons and instead of a direction pad you have 4 buttons labeled X1, X2, X3 and X4. They function just like a directional pad so you won’t be missing it. Here is where it really gets interesting. Right above the X buttons you will see the Y1, Y2, Y3 and Y4 buttons which serve to revolutionize the console. Instead of games only being played in the wide screen Game Boy Advance style you can rotate the unit 45 degrees and play certain games this way. It’s great for overhead shooters and bowling games amongst many others. This is a feature more systems should have. The remaining buttons are the power, start and sound buttons. That’s right, there isn’t a volume knob on the unit. The system has 4 pre-set sound levels and you toggle through them with the sound button.
You don’t have to be stuck with just the option of one color of unit as there are many different ones to choose from. Some of the standard colors are Crystal Orange, Crystal Blue and Crystal Black that have a see through casing. In addition, there is Pearl Blue and Pearl Pink which are non-transparent and of course several limited edition casings such as Gundam and Final Fantasy.
This is a great system and one that should have been released in the U.S. There is talk about possibly bringing it back to life with releases in other countries but it is just rumors now. Best thing to do is check out eBay or your favorite import sites.