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

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

  1. layzee

    layzee Active Member

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    Regarding this topic, I made a thread about it 7 years ago as well as a list of games I was personally interested in here: https://assemblergames.com/threads/japanese-region-mobile-cell-phone-games-e-g-square-enix.30677/

    I'm sure there are more interesting games from other game franchises if I were to dig deeper (like the Ni no Kuni game raised in previous posts).

    Anyway, it seems like there are still a lot of challenges that exist e.g. acquiring the phones, acquiring the games, hacking the phones, etc.

     
  2. yksoft

    yksoft Member

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    Acquiring the phones is not that difficult actually as you could use some proxy bidding service to buy bunches of them from Yahoo! Auctions. However, most Keitai users would reset their phones before selling them, or if you got some phones (mostly they'll be in the "junk" category) not reset or with an unknown phone password, most of them don't have non-preinstalled games installed at all as many of them require monthly subscription fees (This is also the reason why so many Japanese Keitai games require online verification even if they aren't online games at all).

    If you did succeeded in acquiring a phone with valuable games installed and no online verification present at all, you should know that no detailed specifications of Keitai's OS (most Docomo phones use a Symbian or Linux kernel, all KDDI phones use Qualcomm REX) are released in public and the Flash memory in the phones might have been encrypted and the encryption method is probably unknown.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
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  3. layzee

    layzee Active Member

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    Seems like an endless amount of barriers to achieving our goal and as time passes, that little bit of hope vanishes as well. Realistically, what actions can we take?

    Buying a bunch of relevant phones from Yahoo! Auctions is the easiest part but it's basically a crapshoot. We'll probably get Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII before anything else but I guess that's a start. Granted, that one's the most likely to get a port, if any.

    Honestly, if we haven't already done so, we'd have to contact the Japanese retro gaming and/or emulation community (digital preservation of games being a side-effect of "pirating games for free" AKA emulation) if any progress is to be made. One issue is that the gaming or whatever online community in Japan seems to be disparate and they basically mainly hang around the anonymous text board 5ch (which incidentally, used to be called 2ch until last month) which has a game section (e.g. retro games, smartphone games, etc). I haven't tried but it probably blocks all non-Japanese IP addresses from posting so there's that issue too. I know of no other ASSEMbler or whatever centralised-style Japanese gaming board. The only other places I could find Japanese gamers are comment sections of game news and game blogs and the like.

    The other issue is that from what I understand, emulation and ROMs wasn't or aren't really that big a thing in Japan in the first place so hence the "game preservation" mentality isn't as ingrained as other cultures/nations. Oh and of course, they don't care about PC computers. In short, our slim chance of finding something is even slimmer.

    Now let's turn our attention to the Chinese gaming community. They differ in two ways from Japan: 1) they have massive game-related Western-style boards/forums (I can't name any but I know they're out there); and 2) they love piracy as much as the West does. On the second point, they especially like to pirate Japanese stuff ranging from JAV porn to JLPT tests. So there's potential to find something here whether it's information or files.

    Finally, sort of related, I was reminded of someone a while ago who was looking for Namco's Soul Calibur: Unbreakable Soul (an iOS game that was shut down). Moral of the story: back up your favourite mobile games - they won't be there forever and you can't always count on someone else doing it.
     
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  4. subbie

    subbie Guardian of the Forum

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    It's a shame so many mobile games will be lost to time. There was a sony? phone that came out in japan I wanted (where the screen rotates to be horizontal) that had an exclusive Ridge Racer & Gundam Vs game on it. It's probably horribly difficult now to get that phone with these games on it working. =(

    side note, as much as people mocked it. At least it's possible to still obtain an n-gage and play it's library with out issue. Shame more phones couldn't be like this. =(
     
  5. Yakumo

    Yakumo Pillar of the Community *****

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    That was a Sharp phone :) I own that still.
     
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  6. sheepytina

    sheepytina Member

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    Been meaning to give this one a look for a while; finally got around to it tonight.

    From a quick inspection, what you linked is the PC version of their games site, and that QR code seems to link to the mobile version of it, but whether I access it in Chrome or in an i-mode browser simulator, I get a 403 Forbidden error, so maybe (I'm guessing) I need to be on a Japanese mobile network to access it. Not entirely sure how that works.

    I was getting a similar result when trying to access SNK's games portal, too.

    In any case, the PC site shows their catalogue, game descriptions/screenshots, and instructions on how to access it on your phone, as typical with appli game sites. I also noticed there's a link to email the publisher, though I'm not sure what we could do with that.

    On a more positive note, the Moco App site that you linked later in the post is very promising indeed. Much of their software is still up as both App Store and Google Play links. (There's also direct .apk links for Kindle Fire users, but they appear to be dead). They even have a legacy PC website with Java applets converted for playing in PC browsers, although I don't have Java enabled so idk if this works. I'll definitely have to take a peek through this one later.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
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  7. subbie

    subbie Guardian of the Forum

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    Do the games still work on it or is it a paper weight?
     
  8. Yakumo

    Yakumo Pillar of the Community *****

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    It's a paper weight. I can't even use the digital TV on it.
     
  9. subbie

    subbie Guardian of the Forum

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    =( That blows because there is so little media out there on some of the exclusive namco bandai games it got.
     
  10. dr.slump

    dr.slump Rapidly Rising Member

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    This thread goes around in circles :confused:
     
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  11. Shademp

    Shademp Active Member

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    I acquired a P903i phone. As expected, despite being an initialized phone, it still contained the demo/incomplete version of Dirge of Cerberus: Lost Episode.

    What I didn't expect was that there is no multimedia lock. All the pre-installed material plays just fine, including Lost Episode. Maybe I misunderstood something about the concept of phones turning into "paper weights" once the phone contract ends? The auction item description said nothing about this P903i being unlocked in any special way.

    The Lost Episode demo contains 5 of the game's 19 stages. There are no voice clips apart from the grunts made by Vincent and enemies when they are injured.

    - Story Intro
    - Stage 1 Gameplay
    - Credits via start menu

    Currently looking into potential ways to transfer the game files to my PC. If you want to read more about my experience with Lost Episode, read my thread over at The Lifestream.
     
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  12. Borman

    Borman Digital Games Curator

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    Is there any kind of SD or removable media on the P903i? Im curious what phones make for the best potential for recovery.
     
  13. Shademp

    Shademp Active Member

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    There is no removable memory card in this copy that I bought. I do not own a micro SD card nor a UIM.

    Reading the P903i user manual, I see that you can establish a connection with a PC if you have a FOMA USB cable and the P903i CD-ROM to install the proper drivers with. I have neither the cable nor the installation disc but I highly doubt that this connection would allow me to transfer the pre-installed game files. Unless I find a passage in the user manual convincing me of the impossibility though, I'd rather try the direct mobile-to-PC link before entering uncharted territory and picking apart (possibly having to break apart) the phone to dump the chip.

    Though now since it's been made clear that P903i is a great purchase for acquiring pre-installed games, even when the phone has been initialized, perhaps somebody will get ahead of me and find the best way of extracting the game(s). Apart from Dirge of Cerberus: Lost Episode, the phone also has the game "PuyoPuyon & COLUMNS".
     
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  14. sheepytina

    sheepytina Member

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    You can say that again. :(

    You're a legend! Hope you can find a way to rip the game.

    You had me at Puyo Puyo! :p
     
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  15. dr.slump

    dr.slump Rapidly Rising Member

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    You can back up downloaded apps to an sd card, but maybe not the preinstalled ones.
    With my phone, apps I back up are then encrypted as .SB1 files, which are locked to my device.
    I don't know if there are any phones that don't encrypt the files. Hopefully someone can crack the encryption, anyway!
     
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  16. Shademp

    Shademp Active Member

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    I just want to throw it out there that I am willing to pay any person in Japan who is willing to acquire old phone tech and sign the proper contracts to download the old Square Enix mobile games from the i-mode store. Send me a private message in case you're interested in helping out with this task.

    EDIT: Twitter user sshin has confirmed that Before Crisis is still available for play on i-mode. They also have the FFVII Snowboarding app downloaded on their phone.

    In a mail I just received from sshin, they write the following:
    Google translate: However, the service called Final Fantasy Mobile will end on March 31, 2018.

    EDIT #2: The end date of Final Fantasy Mobile has been confirmed. The official Square Enix support site published announcements recently for all three providers.
    - i-mode
    - Yahoo! Keitai
    - EZweb
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  17. dr.slump

    dr.slump Rapidly Rising Member

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    Being the money-grabbing lowlifes that they are, Square Enix actually runs three services, each with different games available: Final Fantasy Mobile, Dragon Quest Mobile, and Squeni Mobile. (They're all shutting down.)

    You have to pay a monthly subscription fee for each one, in addition to one-off payments for each game. Some of the games you purchase are then yours to keep; some of them require you to keep paying the monthly fee forever to continue using the game, as it connects to the network to verify you've "bought" it each time it's run.

    These notifications about the service ending say that apps will stop working, which is presumably referring to the latter type of game. I still have i-mode and a subscription to SE Mobile, and I could sign up to the others and download everything before the service shuts down, but:
    a) half the games will only run on my device until someone cracks the file encryption
    b) the other half won't run on any device, until someone cracks the file encryption AND authentication

    Looking at it objectively, these are common games, and I would think that plenty of Japanese users have them backed up and there's a good chance someone will eventually share them, like when the Square Satellaview games eventually surfaced online. There's probably some more obscure games still available that it would be good to back up, although a lot has gone since the centralized i-mode app thing shut down.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
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  18. yksoft

    yksoft Member

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    By a Gundam VS game do you mean "Gundam U.C.0079" and "Gundam Online" for Panasonic Docomo phones with UniPhier 4M chipset? Demo versions of those games are preinstalled on P905i and P-07A, and one of my friend recorded video of the demo version with a Vodafone/Softbank video out cable while he was in Japan collecting junk phones.
    http://www.bilibili.com/video/av5242707


    You would find footage of Gundam U.C.0079 (full version) on niconico as well.
    http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm3735865
    http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm3736842
    http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm3774775
     
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  19. subbie

    subbie Guardian of the Forum

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    There is a good chance it's the first one, U.C.0079. It's been so long since I seen screenshots but all I remember is it looked like Gundam Vs and the first one looks more like the normal vs series. I should note I know i'm calling it Gundam Vs even though at that time the series didn't officially go by that title (not till GvG Next) but were still generally always something vs something.

    What do you do or your friend think are the chances of finding a phone that these trials still work on?
     
  20. yksoft

    yksoft Member

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    P905i and P-07A are still relatively common on Yahoo! Auctions I think. However I wonder that if the former owner deleted those game demos, whether would they be back after an all-reset...
     

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