The WonderSwan had a relatively short lifespan, constantly struggling against the sheer popularity of Nintendo’s Game Boy series. Despite this, the WonderSwan put up a great fight, securing a selection of great, often exclusive games during its limited time on release. We take a look at the best examples currently available. How many did you play?
Judgement Silversword is a 2D vertical shoot-’em-up set in outer space with your ship equipped with two weapons and a defence shield. With a gradually increasing difficulty level, plenty of action and lots of high scoring opportunities, it’s a great game for any 2D shooter fan. The fact that the game is in English is a bonus. Its rarity means that unless you’re prepared to pay the steep price tag, you’ll be playing it on emulator in the meantime. It’s worth seeking out though, as if you’re a shmup fan you’ll find it to be worth every precious penny.
Many gamers will have already encountered Mr Driller, it having been ported to many consoles over the years, but for those who haven’t, you’re in for a real treat. Mr Driller has to prevent the world being overrun by colourful blocks and does so by, er, drilling his way down through them. Capsules of air have to be collected in order to keep him alive and while ploughing through blocks, you have to make sure falling debris doesn’t crush you. It’s not the most comprehensive version in the series (only 500m, 1000m and 2000m levels are included) but if you haven’t already experienced the joys of Mr Driller, it remains an absolutely essential purchase.
Although the sequel is in full colour and is technically superior, we’re plumping for the original game as it came first and comes with a Wild West theme that helps to give everything a little more personality. Gunpey is a puzzle title that sees you having to move a series of lines up or down the screen to create a full line, with combos of pieces achieving higher scores. Like many decent puzzlers, it’s extremely simple to get the hang of and has plenty of modes for replay value. Oh and it’s in English. As an original boxed copy can be acquired quite cheaply (£5-10) – it’s an essential game for your collection that has alsoy been released on both the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.
Klonoa: Moonlight Museum
Although this game has been remade for the Game Boy Advance, Moonlight Museum is still worth seeking out for platform fans. Each level involves Klonoa grabbing enemies and using them to vault while having to collect a number of gems to open the end of level doorway. As the game progresses, puzzle elements kick in, where you have to locate keys in order to progress. The game makes clever use of the WonderSwan’s hardware by having the perspective switch from vertical to horizontal for certain levels. Like many Klonoa titles it’s fairly easy but has superb replay value and is cute as a button.
Rainbow Islands Putty’s Party
A unique game in the long running franchise, Rainbow Islands instead features female character Putty as the main star (along with a pixie-like creature called Naughty) rather than Bub or Bob (although they crop up in the storyline as Bubby and Bobby) who has the added ability of jumping really high along with throwing rainbows as a weapon or staircase. Although black and white, the formula is as playable as ever and remains the same: make your way to the top of the screen using the power of the rainbow before moving onto the next level. Addictive stuff.
Rhyme Rider Kerorican
While boasting an odd name, Rhyme Rider is actually a great rhythm action title that deserves your full attention. It has a unique visual style full of vibrant colours, with the game world featuring a host of strange creatures that are jumped over by pressing the correct button(s) in time to the beat. With only four levels, it’s on the short side, but like many Bemani titles, the addictive gameplay keep you coming back for more. The in-game instructions are Japanese, but the boxed edition comes with a set of cards showing a picture of a creature along with the correct button combinations, making it easy to know what to do.
One Piece: Grand Battle Swan Colosseum
This franchise is only just starting to filter through to these shores, but in Japan it’s a popular Anime series that has seen many videogame tributes on a variety of different systems. Swan Colosseum is one of the better titles for the Wonderswan and is a 2D fighting game reminiscent of Guilty Gear. Asides from being easy to start with, the inventive range of moves for each character gives the game depth. One of the best fighting titles on the system, so adventurers and owners of the machine should rightly lap it up.
An arcade/puzzle title, which is enchanting once you progress through the first few, rather tricky levels. The main aim of the game is to guide the falling raindrops to the seed of a flower through a maze by moving the platforms. Once the flower has blossomed, the bird flies down to feed and it’s time to move onto the next level. As levels become more difficult, enemies such as snails will gobble up the water, thus making your life extremely difficult. Fail to complete a level within the time limit and the game is over. The boxed version comes with a small hardback book that features drawings and text from the game’s intro, making it collectible.
Ganso Jajamura Kun
An arcade classic from Jaleco, this is one game that is easy to play and hard to put down. As a ninja, the aim is to defeat the enemies on each platform within the time limit, moving up the screen by jumping under specific blocks to break them, while being careful not to come into contact with the on-screen foes. Upon defeat, the enemies’ essences can be collected for extra points. Featuring penguins, frogs and one-eyed umbrellas, the enemies are typically odd-ball yet all the better for it. It’s a game that’s becoming increasingly difficult to find but thankfully doesn’t prove too expensive to buy. Meaning that everyone can enjoy it.
SD Gundam Operation U.C.
One of the few Gundam titles that isn’t impossible to play due to the language barrier, Operation U.C is a scrolling shooter featuring lots of huge robots and gigantic space ships. Your main character has a gun for long distance combat and a sword for close-up encounters, and the non-stop action constantly keeps you on your toes. Successful battles enable you to level up, although losing a life means starting the whole thing from scratch. It features what looks like a story/adventure mode, a shooting mode of levels played one after another and a VS mode, with one to one combat against the computer or a human player.