But they managed to strike gold with a series of Japan-only handheld devices, which started with the venerable WonderSwan. Launched in March 1999, it was a powerful, good-looking, and well-supported handheld that, while only supporting monochrome graphics, took the markets by storm, providing actual competition for Nintendo and finally setting Bandai on the road to success.
The notable thing about the 'Swan is that it has two D-pads. Why is this? For some games, it may be better to view them with a portrait orientation, instead of the more traditional landscape. The Wonderswan's rectangular screen emphasises the difference, being wider than taller. But the Swan can be orientated so that it is portrait, a nifty feature not seen since the Atari Lynx supported fully rotating the unit. While not supporting upside-down play, this is quite a useful feature nonetheless.
Looks pretty groovy, doesn't it? For it's time, there wasn't a smaller handheld, and it easily looked better than the competing Game Boy systems from Nintendo.
Perhaps the most notable accessory - and most unique - is the Wonder Gate. This plugs into the cartridge slot, and itself plugs into a mobile telephone. Bingo - a mobile network adaptor! A very groovy device, which allows users to browse the Internet with supported software, and more than likely play games against other users.