Cellphone Game Archiving (J2ME, N-Gage and others)

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pureBURST
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Cellphone Game Archiving (J2ME, N-Gage and others)

Post by pureBURST » Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:29 pm

Now here's an irregular thread topic.

I've noticed there is a huge gap in game archives when it comes to pre-Android cellphone games and software. There are around 15 years worth of software released on these, but i've seen very few places storing copies of them. The phones from this era are often being trashed or simply die nowadays, so the window for their archival is slowly closing in.

There are multiple types of platforms when it comes to cellphones, the most popular of which being J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition) and N-Gage. These have their own emulators, none being too good. But there are more that have either defunct or no emulators at all, these including: ExEn (Execution Engine), MRE/MAUI (Mediatek Runtime Environment), Mophun, WGE (Wireless Graphics Engine), DoMoCo, and whatever other forgotten ones there are.

From my research, there is what is called the "Dark Age of Monochrome Mobile Phones", due to the fact that barely, if any, original game files exist online from them, with the only thing surviving from that era being only recreation of Snake and Space Impact from Nokia.

I'm wondering if there is any project for archiving these games and developing emulators and software for them. If not, i want to know if anyone has the know-how of how to rip games from phones. Its an interesting period of history and it would be a shame for it to be forgotten.

dolligan
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Re: Cellphone Game Archiving (J2ME, N-Gage and others)

Post by dolligan » Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:25 pm

It's an interesting topic. I get the impression these games weren't as popular over here in the UK as they were in other parts of the world. At least, I never saw them sold/ marketed over here.
I had some of the early Nokia smartphones around 10 -15 years ago before I switched to Android, pretty sure they were Java2ME.
I used to download games for them from torrent sites. I remember there were Nokia versions of some pretty big-name game series - Elder Scrolls and Splinter Cell being two I remember in particular.
Another was Metal Slug - I don't know if these were pirate versions (though I suspect so) or if this is just how they were distributed (like games from the app store/Play store were generally free, later). I don't think I ever saw them available anywhere else, though I guess if you lived in other countries they were marketed and available on the equivalent of the app store (Nokia had the Ovi store, I seem to remember- though that may have come later).

By coincidence my girlfriend was digging through a bunch of old stuff today and found a bag full of old phones. One was a Nokia 5800 Xpress Music - think this was my first touch screen phone, and the last phone I had before I switched to Android. The charger was there too, so I powered it up, but sadly there aren't any games on it.

The other is a Nokia - 6 something, I think ... which I know would definitely have a load of games on, but unfortunately I don't seem to have the charger!

I think I downloaded something like a 2BG archive of them, which had hundreds of games. It's on an old external hard drive which stopped working years ago, but I've always meant to get round to attempting a recovery on, one day.

psj3809
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Re: Cellphone Game Archiving (J2ME, N-Gage and others)

Post by psj3809 » Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:36 pm

Be interesting what happens in the future. Always thought that about my old Apple apps, i buy a ton of games for my phone and previously on iTunes you could backup the .ipa files. Now you cant ! Its all in the 'cloud' but the problem is when a dev doesnt renew his license then the games seem to disappear, theyre not held in your 'purchases' section, they seem to just disappear. Huge pity.

Always thought one day in the future there'll be some sort of iphone 'emulator' so you can load up the old ipa games. Crazy i know but then again if you told me 30 years ago arcade machines would be emulated on my PC i wouldnt believe it.

dolligan
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Re: Cellphone Game Archiving (J2ME, N-Gage and others)

Post by dolligan » Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:16 pm

Just found that there are actually some resources for the Elder Scrolls J2ME games, at least, on Mobygames and elsewhere:

https://www.mobygames.com/game/elder-sc ... v-oblivion_
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Elder_Scrolls_Travels

When I first found them (because I only saw them on wares sites and never saw them offered through any legit channels) I always assumed they were sort of freebies, designed to promote the main game releases in the series. I didn't play them a lot. But now reading up on them, it seems they were actually full games in their own right. I guess (as I said previously) they were marketed as commercial releases in other territories.

Here's some stuff on the Splinter Cell one too - which was actually pretty good fun, I played it a fair bit - it sort of turned Splinter Cell into a Flashback-style platformer.

https://www.mobygames.com/game/j2me/tom ... inter-cell_

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Re: Cellphone Game Archiving (J2ME, N-Gage and others)

Post by Antiriad2097 » Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:36 pm

Similar to the GBA Splinter Cell games, which were different from the console releases but good games in their own right.
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pureBURST
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Re: Cellphone Game Archiving (J2ME, N-Gage and others)

Post by pureBURST » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:32 pm

dolligan wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:25 pm
The other is a Nokia - 6 something, I think ... which I know would definitely have a load of games on, but unfortunately I don't seem to have the charger!

I think I downloaded something like a 2BG archive of them, which had hundreds of games. It's on an old external hard drive which stopped working years ago, but I've always meant to get round to attempting a recovery on, one day.
I'm interested to see what might hide in that phone or on that drive. Post results if you get any. I was thinking of buying a handful of these from flea markets or ebay and trying to see if i can rip any games from them. Moreover, i might try to find what makes them tick and potentially improve upon some of the emulators we have today.

If you find any monochromes in your pile'o'phones I'm curious to see if they have anything on them. I think they usually come with snake and stuff, but i have no clue how one would get them out of there, apart from ripping out it's memory and making some some gizmo to read the chips.

pureBURST
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Re: Cellphone Game Archiving (J2ME, N-Gage and others)

Post by pureBURST » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:36 pm

psj3809 wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:36 pm
Be interesting what happens in the future. Always thought that about my old Apple apps, i buy a ton of games for my phone and previously on iTunes you could backup the .ipa files. Now you cant ! Its all in the 'cloud' but the problem is when a dev doesnt renew his license then the games seem to disappear, theyre not held in your 'purchases' section, they seem to just disappear. Huge pity.
There were some guys working on an iOS emulator but they got hired by Apple from what they know. Whatever work they've done would now go directly to Apple, and they won't be allowed to release it to the public. Still, would be hard to get the .ipa files anyway, even if they made the emulator public.

pureBURST
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Re: Cellphone Game Archiving (J2ME, N-Gage and others)

Post by pureBURST » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:41 pm

Apart from the Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Splinter Cell, another few big titles got mobile games, such as Crash Bandicoot, Doom and Tomb Raider. There are more, but they're usually hidden by companies as something they're not very proud of.

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