NTT DoCoMo's specialized version of Micro Java is called iAppli. We'll learn all about it in Chapter 22, "iAppli: Micro Java with a Twist."
There are many versions in DoCoMo's 503-line of phones supporting iAppli, and it is a very popular service in Japan. In general, iAppli is much more suitable for games than the basic MIDP classes, with support for great sound, full color, and better graphics and animation.
Many of the top game companies in Japan have created iAppli product lines. And other big players such as the Disney Internet Group International (DIG) have become content providers for i-mode.
As a whole, iAppli provides a great glimpse of Micro Java's near-term future: As a powerful platform for professional-quality pocket games.
This game, created by Henry Minsky, is a quick-moving Tron clone. Check it out in Figure 3.39.
Figure 3.39 Squiral.
Dwango's Samurai Romanesque
Samurai Romanesque is of the most advanced role-playing games ever created, not to mention one of the most advanced mobile games ever. You play the role of a samurai in the Era of Warlords (1468 to 1600), trying to rise from foot soldier to general.
The game costs 300 yen per month (about $3), and allows players to join a massively multiplayer world. Up to 500,000 players can exist on the same server simultaneously, able to meet, fight, trade, gossip, and chat with each other.
You can use your mobile phone offline to train your samurai in the art of the sword, and then log in to the gameworld to do real-time battle. This allows you to have some fun with the game without paying packet fees, or if you are in an underground area with bad network coverage.
The game has some unusual, fascinating details. For example, you age one year per day of each session. The weather in the gameworld is determined using real-time Japanese weather information. If it is raining outside, it will also be raining in the gameworldmaking travel and swordplay difficult.
You can live to be about 40 years old. During your life you can opt to become a ruler, or you can serve a master. As time goes by, your hair might recede and you will earn battle scars. Meeting, courting, and flirting with women takes several days and careful acting. Eventually, you might marry and birth a child. The child will actually inherit some of your character's traits. After a game session ends, your character dies, but you can control your child as the next generation of samurai.
The game includes several hundred towns, each of which is full of teahouses, shops, and inns. As you walk through a town, as shown in Figure 3.40, the graphics scroll from side to side. Your goal is to reach castles, where you are given missions or the opportunity to join armies.
Figure 3.40 Walking through a town in Samurai Romanesque.
Traveling between towns occurs in real time, though you can hire horses or rickshaws to get there faster. If you like, you can log off during transit. However, other players can attack you at any time!
Every so often, huge epic battles between competing warlords occur, as shown in Figure 3.41. You can fight for a given lord and be rewarded for bravery if you emerge victorious.
Figure 3.41 Battling in Samurai Romanesque.
Dwango's Challenge! The Hard-Boiled Way
Dwango also provides a multiplayer game-matching service for iAppli called Challenge! The Hard-Boiled Way. Because the service uses a dedicated server, all game moves are transferred at high speeds and reflected on players' phones almost instantly.
In addition, the server uses pseudo push to cut down on packet fees. Data is only sent over the network, from server to phone, when necessary. If somebody's mobile connection is interrupted, their game state will be stored until they reconnect.
The service allows you meet, chat with, and face off against remote human opponents. Players' ratings are stored, and players can be automatically matched up based on ability.
The service offers six different games:
The BillionaireA popular card game. A pack of cards is distributed between up to four participants. Each player is marked with a rank, ranging from billionaire to pauper. The poor must give their best cards to the billionaire. The discarding then begins with the lowest numbered card. The player who gets rid of all cards first is the winner. Figure 3.42 shows this game in action.
ReverseA Reversi or Othello clone, where players take turns placing either black or white checkers on the board, trying to surround and then flip the opponent's pieces.
ChessThe strategic game of kings, shown in Figure 3.43.
GobangA simpler variation of the popular game Go, where players place pebbles on a grid in an attempt to line up five pieces in a row.
Pincer CheckersA variation of the popular Shogi game, where two players try to surround each other's pieces.
Military CheckersA unique checkers game using military artwork.
Figure 3.42 Billionaire.
Figure 3.43 Chess.
Sega has created a version of its popular Sonic the Hedgehog side-scroller game for i-mode. You must collect rings while avoiding enemies. Figure 3.44 depicts a sample screen. Sega also plans to create a cell phone version of its popular Out Run game.
Figure 3.44 Sonic the Hedgehog.
The creators of the popular fighting game Tekken have created a low-latency version for i-mode. In Tekken Command Battle, shown in Figure 3.45, players can face off and choose to attack, parry, or throw. A word then appears. Whoever types in the word faster and more accurately will cause more damage.
Figure 3.45 Tekken Command Battle.
In addition, Namco is releasing some of its classic titles for i-mode on its EZweb service. Expect to be able to play classics such as Pac-Man and Galaxian.
Capcom plans to extend its Biohazard game franchise with a micro i-mode game called Biohazard iSurvivor. In this role-playing game, you move around Raccoon City fighting zombies and improving your character's abilities. Players will also be able to team up with others to complete their quest.
The company that created the Tamagotchi virtual pet is focusing heavily on iAppli Java games. Descriptions of some planned releases include the following:
A gambling game where players can place odds on the outcome of different types of future events. Players will be able to check out odds, and even buy and sell properties, trying to become king of the town.
A game in which you correspond by e-mail with virtual girls. The more responsive you are, the more intimate your relationships will get.
Mystic GrappleA virtual trading card game where you command sorcerers and summon monsters, trying to collect the best deck of cards.
A golf simulation game.
Mah JongTravel around Japan and compete in different mah jong tournaments.
Cybird's Mini Game Tengoku
Cybrid has created a service called Mini Game Tengoku (Game Paradise), available to i-mode users for 315 yen (about 3 dollars) per month. The service will include 14 different games:
GliderActionLift your glider to the right or left and try to ride the currents to land softly on the landing pad. You must avoid hazards such as crows and UFOs, and earn extra points by grabbing jewels that dangle from balloons.
Seed no Bohken (The Adventures of Seed)Control Seed as he moves around a maze, avoiding monsters. Similar to Pac-Man.
Seed no Meikyu Tanken (The Labyrinth Adventures of Seed)A similar game, where Seed runs through a labyrinth using seeds as weaponshe can plant them, causing trees to quickly grow and block enemy monsters.
TypeCannonThis educational game, shown in Figure 3.46, tests your math skills. An equation will flash across the screen, and you must type in the correct number solution to hit the target with your cannonballs.
Takoyaki KingYou must quickly grill takoyaki (octopus dumplings) for your demanding customers, and sell them all. If you serve them too raw or too burnt, you will lose customers.
SnakeThis game, shown in Figure 3.47, is a much more graphically advanced version of the black and white Snake game found on many Nokia phones. Move around the screen eating eggs, growing longer with each egg you eat. You must avoid crashing into walls...or your own tail!
BusinessmanKeep customers happy by selling them good products while making high profits. A simple business simulation game.
Ohajiki Daisenso (The Great War of Ohajiki)A marbles-like game where you pick a direction, choose a force, and then fire balls around the board, trying to knock your opponent's balls off.
ReversiThe classic black and white checkers game.
Gomoku Narabe (Go)Another classic game.
PokerA quick draw poker game.
Hikkoshi Meijin (The King of Moving)Organize objects within a room, trying to clear away enough space for your little red sofa.
CannonBubbleChange the angle and force of your cannon, shooting bubbles in the sky. Try to arrange three bubbles of the same color to make them pop.
CubeBusterA concentration game where you must flip cards and try to find matches.
Figure 3.46 TypeCannon.
Figure 3.47 Snake.
Hudson Soft also provides an arcade site called "webbeeHudson" that allows i-mode users to play micro versions of classic Hudson Soft games. Here are some samples:
Miracle GPA car racing game.
Miracle QuestA role-playing game, shown in Figure 3.48, involving more than 200 different scenarios.
Miracle DetectiveA criminal-pursuit game.
Miracle GolfParticipate in weekly golf tournaments. You can practice offline or compete online against others. Figure 3.49 offers a glimpse.
Figure 3.48 Miracle Quest.
Figure 3.49 Miracle Golf.