Project i-mode / EZweb, to preserve the dying unpreservable

Discussion in 'Rare and Obscure Gaming' started by Gemini, Jun 12, 2015.

  1. Gemini

    Gemini Retro developer

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    What are i-mode and EZweb?
    i-mode and EZweb are mobile internet services popular in Japan. They are usually better known around the net for their keitai/cellphone retro games with a SNES flavor.

    What does this project aim at?

    The idea is to preserve and dump i-mode / EZweb games, being them commercial or freeware. Commercial games should, however, not be dumped as public links to prevent any legal issues. Freeware / demos are fine to post, as long as you know of a way to make clean dumps with no encryption and personal information.

    Why is this project of any relevance?
    Because both i-mode and EZweb apps are quickly becoming superseded by other applications and services. Servers for these games are still up and running, but they may become unavailable in a not-so-distant future. There are a few gems that should be spared from oblivion, more or less like we have dumps of pretty much every retro system.

    So, if you live in Japan and do own any of these games, please consider submitting them to the project or make backups in order to preserve them for good in a safe vault. More importantly, if you do know how to make clean backups, sharing that knowledge with particular phone models might come in handy for others to dump their games.
     
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  2. Yakumo

    Yakumo Pillar of the Community *****

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    What about Yahoo Keitai? That had even better games because at the time the more powerful phones used that service.

    I have two older phones from 2007 backwards with some excellent games on them such as Cotton, Valis, Street Fighter Zero and more BUT once old Japanese phones are switched off by the contractor it's impossible to access any of the features on the phone. I can't even access the TV on them. So yeah, the phones are nothing but paper weights but I have kept them just in case.
     
  3. Gemini

    Gemini Retro developer

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    Dammit, I knew I had forgotten one of them. :p

    So is it really possible to dump those games in any way? I tried assisting a friend with Final Fantasy Legends and the prologue package, but still couldn't get them into any kind of external storage (chat coordination isn't my forte).
     
  4. Yakumo

    Yakumo Pillar of the Community *****

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    When the phones were in operation is was possible to send all the data to an SD card but now it's not. I'll take a look at them tomorrow if I have time just to make sure. I really hope there's a way because the Valis games was pretty cool. I also had Super Parodius on mine. On par with the SNES version from what I remember. Sound was excellent.
     
  5. Siskan

    Siskan Newly Registered

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    This really deserves some attention!
    It would be a shame to see these games become inaccessible forever. I have only seen one developer porting these games to current platforms so far (G-mode to Android), although I think Squareenix has made a couple of remakes.

    I would say any game would be worth saving, but especially those which were platform exclusive.

    There have been a few emulators for PC and Android out there it seems, but none remain at the original locations. Would it be possible to do anything with those? I'm not sure whether they let you play the games in the first place, as i-mode and the others are much more than mere gaming platforms.

    Does anyone know of a database where these games can be found by the way? I haven't been able to find any. Not even incomplete Japanese ones.
     
  6. Gemini

    Gemini Retro developer

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    I'm not aware of any database of them. Still, an important aspect is determine first if these games can even be dumped. From what I could understand, those phones don't really like you making easy backups.
     
  7. Desert Bandit

    Desert Bandit Active Member

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    It's a shame Hamster's Appli Archives series died with PSMobile (how ironic).
     
  8. dclover56

    dclover56 Rising Member

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    Maybe you could try dumping the flash chip of these phones?
     
  9. dr.slump

    dr.slump Rapidly Rising Member

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    I have a Japanese phone with Seiken Densetsu Mobile, which is the GB game in colour with some sprite changes, but again the phone is locked off by the provider unfortunately.
     
  10. cez

    cez Site Supporter

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    I recently bought a used Fujitsu F-03B (Docomo) from late 2009 which has the following games preinstalled: Puchi Puchi Zoo Keeper Ver. F, Ridge Racers VS Trial Ver. and Mojipittan aruki-tabi

    Unfortunately none of the apps can be moved to another location as the menu option is greyed out.

    At least I can confirm that the games (and the other apps that don't require an internet connection) can be used without any restrictions. I also had an au phone back in 2002 on which I could use the apps (Tetris!) even after I cancelled my contract.

    Anyway, it's a good time to buy phones from 2006-2010 right now as many models can be had for less than 2500 Yen. Even if archiving the software itself is no easy task, one project could just be to create a database of i-mode/EZweb/Softbank, Yahoo games.
     
  11. sheepytina

    sheepytina Member

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    I found my way here via Google of all things. I'm hoping that someone out there has Athena: Full Throttle stored somewhere, maybe the Rockman games too. I don't really have any way I can help though as I don't live in Japan, so I don't have anything to contribute to this thread, but I do know that game preservation is super important, so I hope this takes off!
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
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  12. TeridaxXD001

    TeridaxXD001 Newly Registered

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    I certainly hope this has a chance. I'm interested in a few of these, like the previously mentioned Athena: Full Throttle.

    How would you get one of these phones? And is there any way to find out if it has any games on it before buying? Like, some sort of classified ad specifically asking for phones with games on them?
     
  13. Yakumo

    Yakumo Pillar of the Community *****

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    I have two phones for sale. Both full of games including Street Fighter Zero 2. Can't access the games though :(
     
  14. ItsMeMario

    ItsMeMario Gutsy Member

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    Oh my, I had a NEC n21i back then (sold it). Now I read it is/was an i-mode phone.
    But I never heard of street fighter and stuff for it...

    The games had to be started via the web ? Someone could explain it to me in 2 sentences what this was all about ?
    Was my n21i "compatible" ? o_O
     
  15. Yakumo

    Yakumo Pillar of the Community *****

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    Some games needed a Web connection but most were stored on the phone or SD card and could work just fine without any network. The problem with Japanese phones of that time is while they were years ahead of the West they became nothing more than a paper weight once the phone contract had ended. They just lock up. You can't even use the camera, TV or radio on them. The only thing that works is the clock and alarm.

    As you can imagine this is really shitty for those of us who paid for games and now we can't even access them.
     
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  16. dclover56

    dclover56 Rising Member

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    Couldn't you dump the memory chip inside the phone?
     
  17. Yakumo

    Yakumo Pillar of the Community *****

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    maybe but I have no idea how to do things like that.
     
  18. Gemini

    Gemini Retro developer

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    I suspect the only way to do that would be to have a hardware dumper -- or some application that overrides permissions on phone to make the copy go through, no matter what the OS allows. Now, given how Japanese people aren't really into that kind of stuff, I seriously doubt such an application exists.
     
  19. dclover56

    dclover56 Rising Member

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    It involves disassembling the phone, and finding and removing the flash chip, and creating a dump of the flash chip using specialized hardware.
     
  20. Yakumo

    Yakumo Pillar of the Community *****

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    I know how it's done but I don't know how to do it :(
     

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