Bandai's WonderSwan handheld console is confirmed for a North American release and will be released co-operatively by Bandai and Rambus along
with Bandai's mobile modem known as WonderGate. The North American Wondergate will be known as 'Cordless WonderGate' and will be slightly different
from it's Japanese counterpart.
The 'cordless' part of this title refers to the systems
ability to connect to a network in the same fashion that a cellular phone would; no cords attached.
Lucent Technologies have agreed to assist Bandai in producing a mobile network facility for the Cordless WonderGate.
The proposed deal between Bandai and Lucent also means that when the system is released it should be able to deliver internet browsing and e-mail facilities as well as the
obvious games that the machine can play. Lucent themselves seem confident about delivering a unique and highly functional network for the machine.
Sam Gronner, a representative from the company, has said that the internet connection via the WonderSwan will be customizable to suit personal
tastes and likes, and will provide an extensive number of features.
Currently Lucent are working on bringing a usable service to consumers in the way of speed, but like the internet in it's early years the
connection speeds currently are somewhat limited in cellular technology. Lucent however are confident that within a year they can have the speeds
up to 14.4kbps (the speed of a somewhat slow modem, but super fast for the mobile market).
The 'Cordless WonderGate' is also a standalone system and will be available to use for browsing the Internet, and giving/receiving e-mail. How much this
is likely to cost is not confirmed yet altough.
This is certainly a welcome announcement, and casts new light over the fears that the Gameboy Advance might not feature the cellular technology
in the US. Many people have fears that because the Japanese and American phone markets have vastly different mobile phone structures that the
GBA might only include the feature in Japan, but this goes to show that it is possible to market such a facility in North America. If Bandai
and Lucent can do it, then Nintendo and Konami should also be able to come up with the goods. This also bodes well for the handheld market, with
the GBC, the Neo Geo Pocket Color, and the upcoming arrivals of the GBA and the Wonderswan all competing for market share. RPGamer will be
following this oncoming battle very closely.