General Questions and Information Thread

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by Andlabs, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Nope!

    [​IMG]

    This is the F501i, the Fujitsu-made 501i series i-mode phone. The first i-mode phone, and apparently the device that brought us the concept of emojis. This came out in February 1999, but I don't think Sega supported it in any capacity until December.

    What does "support" look like?

    https://web.archive.org/web/20001203075900/http://www.sega.co.jp/sega/kara/melody.html

    Well they sold ringtones... using Sega Kara branding, because when you think of karaoke, you think of a device that can only do simple beeps. The 502i series could do chords! And some models were in colour!


    The 503i is maybe more important because it can run "i-appli" programs. These are J2ME-based - I'm not sure if there's more to it than just a rebrand, but J2ME makes game development a bit more pleasant. Sega actually bothered to document 503i software online, which is why I got confused - life under the 501i and 502i regimes is not very well understood, particularly outside of Japan.

    But I did find something:
    https://retrocdn.net/index.php?title=File:ImodeGameKanzenKouryakuGuide_Book_JP.pdf&page=58
    i-mode Game Kanzen Kouryaku Guide (iモードゲーム完全攻略ガイド)

    from August 2000, this book lists pretty much everything game-related on the i-mode platform. And... it's very basic - most of it is black and white, text-based stuff with some low resolution graphics. I think the most game-like things up there are Sakura Taisen-branded versions of Columns and Black Jack, though it's more impressive than most of the other game companies trying to capitalise on this service.

    I would be incredibly surprised if any of this has survived, given you have to go hunting to just to find Sega acknowledging the service. I think they were all just testing the waters at this point.



    Hey remember Sonic Cafe? All those Sonic mobile phone games that nobody over here knew about until a decade after they were launched? Turns out our coverage has been very "selective". We only have pages about Sonic-related games, but Sonic Cafe was more of a "Sonic Team" thing than a "Sonic the Hedgehog" one.

    Because here's the thing, Sonic Cafe launched alongside the first 503i series handsets in January 2001. And the original four bits of software... weren't even Sonic games.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    In fact most 503i-compatible software you could download from Sonic Cafe... weren't Sonic games. Later ones were, but loads of franchises were represented.



    What about the West?

    https://forums.sonicretro.org/index.php?threads/four-undocumented-sonic-games.36442/

    Well my digging back in 2017 is still mostly correct - US-based Motorola (who apparently had a hand in the development of J2ME) got all excited about the platform and announced a deal with Sega in June 2000. But they didn't get their phone out until the summer of 2001 and I'm not overly sure how much of their initial announcement it to market. Maybe none of it (although the game Borkov was built-in to the i85s (and i88s?)). Sega Mobile was later a thing, but not until April 2002, years after Japan.
     
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  2. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    [​IMG]
    It's everyone's favourite connector, the Geitaidenwa Setsuzoku Cable (携帯電話接続ケーブル).

    There was a brief stint with the original PlayStation, in which you could buy this cable and connect to i-mode phones. You can probably name all the compatible games on one hand - a lot of it was about sending fake emails, because even though there is no practical purpose for inventing this peripheral, in 2001 the internet was all the rage! Apparently!

    Using that disc, and a compatible phone (and we're talking about a small selection of handsets from 2001*), you could use the PlayStation as a big screen. It doesn't support any of the J2ME-based "i-appli" stuff, but it does mean that technically it was possible to play Sega games on a PlayStation. Being launched on March 29th, 2001, it pre-dates any Sega-related software for a Sony console.

    ...unless you count a couple of Puyo Puyo games which were technically developed and published by Compile, but Sega owned the license so get credit.


    I don't quite understand why you'd ever want this feature. The i-mode browser is horrendously basic and only lets you access compatible pages, as opposed to say, the Dreamcast, which would have a go at everything. It's a service that only makes sense in a "mobile" setting, but from what I'm reading, this all stopped working at some point in 2002 anyway.


    *some of Sony's own phones from this period don't work. Or don't work fully.
     
  3. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    On this note, because while checking the dates I realised we didn't have screenshots - Puyo Puyo~n: Car-kun to Issho was undocumented, probably because Sega isn't mentioned on the box anywhere. They only get credit in the game itself.

    [​IMG]

    And while we're here:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    PlayStation, N64 and Dreamcast, together at last.
     
  4. Black Squirrel

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    I guess this was all talked about 20 years ago but let's be honest, nobody cared. I still don't really care, but when Sega is literally throwing numbers around ("this game is for 505!"), it warrants investigation.

    NTT DoCoMo was (and still is?) a pioneer in telecoms, which makes things a little awkward. On one hand, they've got this "i-mode" brand of phones that dominate the market (supposedly 1-in-4 Japanese citizens had one of these phones in 2002), but they're also inventing things, and it makes the timeline messy.


    The first i-mode phone "series" is the 501i, and just like today, a new "generation" came out every year. So we start in 1999 with the 501i, then go 502i, 503i, 504i and 505i. There are also slightly better "iS" models for some years but I don't think we need to care too much. For every generation, the specs improve, and Sega launches software to take advantage, although since J2ME was only launched with the 503i, serious development didn't start occurring until 2001.

    NTT DoCoMo calls these phones "mova", which I think is meant to be one of those Japanese shortening things (e.g. Family Computer -> Famicom) for "mobile phone", but I'm not totally sure. It doesn't really matter too much until around 2001/2002, when one of their experiments begins to bear fruit.


    This "experiment" is 3G, which NTT DoCoMo effectively invented. It's more nuanced than this, but the 3G/4G/5G thing in telecoms is basically about using higher radio frequences to transmit data faster, and the company was building 3G infrastructure all over Japan in the early 2000s. Also they didn't want to call it "3G", they wanted to call it "FOMA", which stands for "Freedom of Mobile Multimedia Access".

    And so we have this ridiculously stupid concept of this company selling "mova" and "FOMA" i-mode phones at the same time. The difference is that the initial FOMA handsets... were kinda crap, because 3G coverage was not as widespread and extra processing meant the battery life wasn't as good. There were tests and delays and eventually you could buy this thing:

    [​IMG]
    The N2001 from NEC. Or a P2101V from Matsushita. October 2001, etc.

    These are side notes in history. From a gaming perspective, these are the same as a 503i, except those phones had been out for nine months, so the FOMA phones are really just experimental, niche stuff at this point. They had a couple more goes but it's only in February 2004 when the FOMA thing get serious.


    [​IMG]
    This is the F900i from Fujitsu, and it's when NTT DoCoMo decided to start replacing mova with FOMA as the flagship i-mode communication system. We've scrapped all this 50xi nonsense (although they still released a 506i - it's uneventful), now it's all about the "90x series", starting with the 900i, which in turn is being the cutting edge standard for J2ME applets. Next year it'll be 901i, then 902i, 903i, 904i, 905i, 906i until 4G and Android and none of this matters anymore

    They'll also release the cost-reduced 70x series starting with the 700i. Because why keep things simple.


    https://web.archive.org/web/20060615140903/http://www.sonicteam.com/cafe/top.html

    And now you know what the numbers mean. There are hundreds of i-mode phones but only a few standards:

    - 501i/502i - which is undocumented and probably hasn't been preserved and is not well understood (mova; 1999/2000)
    - 503i - J2ME-enabled devices that can run "i-appli" software up to 10KB in size (mova; 2001)
    - 504i - Runs i-appli software up to 30KB (mova; 2002)
    - 505i - Runs "i-appli DX" software up to 100KB (mova; 2003)
    - 90x - Runs i-appli DX software up to 500KB (FOMA; 2004)
    - 70x - Runs i-appli DX software up to 230KB (FOMA; 2005)


    That's i-mode, the popular service. But as mentioned, there were less popular services that Sega supported. These aren't documented well - I think it's more of a case like the PC, where you judge compatability on raw specs rather than brands. Dunno - avoiding it at the moment for my own sanity.
     
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  5. Overlord

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    Just in case you think you're shouting into the void on this - I'm reading every post you make and it's all fascinating stuff, I just don't have the time for deep-diving any more.
     
  6. Black Squirrel

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  7. Overlord

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    Yeah, there's a few of the Sonic Cafe games we already have on the wiki that are like that - I remember having to dig a bit to find screenshots of the older ones when I made the original page, they'd been hidden but not removed from Sega's servers.
     
  8. Black Squirrel

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    Bet you couldn't find this one:

    [​IMG]

    This cropped image and a sentence saying "this exists" is (probably) all that remains of "Puyo Puyo DX Christmas Ver." (ぷよぷよDX くりすます Ver.). It was available for about a month in December 2002/January 2003.
     
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  9. Black Squirrel

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    https://web.archive.org/web/20090305015426/http://sonicteam.com/cafe/info.html

    Some noise I'm not dealing with - i-mode content that isn't games. I mentioned how Sega were distributing ringtones since 1999, but as the years rolled on, they started giving away freebie images and flash stuff too. Most of these things are product tie-ins with console games (e.g. like Sonic Heroes? Here's 12 downloadable images), and so aren't important enough to get dedicated pages.

    Also Sega secretly released upgraded versions of games which I'm getting caught out by. There's also older 503i versions that don't have screenshots - the only evidence that they exist(ed) is that Sega says so. They got into the habit of only showing off the best versions, but the technical differences can be pretty vast.
     
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  10. JaxTH

    JaxTH

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    Jack shit.
    Any chance any of this stuff is covered in that like...80 gig mobile game dump from years ago?
     
  11. Black Squirrel

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    Well I've lost a few brain cells but I've gone through the i-mode version of Sonic Cafe. I make it

    - 52 503i games
    - 13 504i games
    - 51 505i games
    - 15 70x games
    - 7 90x games
    = 138

    (there's backwards compatibility between models and I think later 70x phones could run earlier 90x games but whatever)

    Some "highlights":

    [​IMG]
    Puyo Puyo Fever Habanero. Don't know how it differs from the standard game, but it has a chilli in it.

    [​IMG]
    Sonic Kart 3DX, that "lost" Sonic kart racing game.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    I think these are still technically the best looking versions of Pengo and Doki Doki Penguin Land

    [​IMG]
    Dragon Crystal II, a sequel(?) to the Game Gear/Master System RPG from 1991.


    But this is just one portal on one service. The fun never ends.
     
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  12. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Something different - apparently the 4th February is "Puyo no Hi" (ぷよの日), or "Puyo Day".

    It's meant to be a pun with the 2s and 4s in the original date, 2004-02-04. Two (English), Yon (Japanese), so "two-yon-two-yon"... which sounds a bit like "Puyo Puyo"... and... uh. Well it was officialy certified as a thing so what do I know.

    Anyway Sega celebrate this event every year but have only managed to release one game of note on that date, the Japanese PS2 release of Puyo Puyo Fever. They've had more success with releasing things on the 24th of any given month though. In fact, home ports of Puyo Puyo were the only notable Puyo-related things that happned in 2004, and Sega marked that one as "Puyo Year".
     
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  13. Black Squirrel

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    J-Sky/Vodafone Live!/Yahoo! Keitai - the second Japanese mobile system Sega signed up to.

    This was a lot less straightforward than the i-mode line, not just because it kept changing owners, but because they didn't really stick to a naming scheme for handsets. As such, Sega groups games by size... kinda; 50K, 100K, 256K, 256-2 and 3G.

    Here's vaguely how it works:

    In the beginning, J-Sky phones did not support J2ME, and so I don't think Sega supported the handsets.

    [​IMG]
    In June 2001, the J-SH07 (the Ulala one) is released which does support J2ME applets (or "Java appli" (Javaアプリ) as they insisted on calling things). The applets could only be a maximum of 50KB in size.

    [​IMG]
    The following year, the J-SH51. This can run 100KB Java applets.

    [​IMG]
    May 2003, Vodafone have taken over and we don't know what we're doing. The J-SH53 can run 256KB Java applets, although we're now calling them "v-appli" (Vアプリ) because it's great to be confusing.

    [​IMG]
    Summer 2004 and Vodafone decide that actually, 256KB is probably enough for now. So we'll spec out some better processors and call the standard "256K appli ver.2" (256Kアプリver.2), thus messing up any naming scheme we have left. And this is Sharp's "V602SH" because if you can't beat them, join them.


    Then they get into bed with 3G and quite honestly I don't understand what's going on so I'll take Sega's word for it - new platform, whatever. When SoftBank took over it appears they tried to make the naming scheme more sensible (but not before calling everything "S! appli" (S!アプリ) but by that point half the standards were obsolete and the damage had already been done.

    But in a sense it's not like any of this really matters. Downloadable content wasn't selling phones, it was cameras, video chat, internal storage - all the guff feature phones competed over until iPhone-style apps became a thing. And none of that matters from a Sega perspective.
     
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  14. Black Squirrel

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    I've scraped the i-mode and J-Sky Sonic Cafes and the J-Sky Sega Ages. That means about a third of the games are represented in some form on Sega Retro now (though not all versions of all games).

    The situation is not good. Nobody wants to play old mobile games, nevermind document them, and this is why there's been a black hole on our wikis for so long. And Sega didn't care much either, so if games are barely mentioned online (which they are) and if the Internet Wayback machine is missing months of Sega's website (which it is), there's no official record of release dates.


    Sega put its content behind portals, so Sonic Cafe had its own page which listed all the games the service had to offer. But Sega also released stand-alone games. Products that are generally harder to find and are a lot more confusing:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20071113042055/http://sega.jp/kt/docomo/beijingolympic/

    Like this 2008 Olympics tie-in. Imagine I came to this last week - there's three different games here, the images are dead, and the platforms are literally just a bunch of numbers.

    Meanwhile there's all this noise and all that noise, and for the full picture you have to trace it back to 1999. It's impenetrable.



    Anyway one thing I have learnt (or at least, has been reaffirmed) is that Japan really likes its Puyo Puyo. I'm not totally sure if it was the most popular Sega game of the period, but it was certainly up there (or at least, popular within Sega itself). So presenting the (maybe incomplete?) list of mobile Puyo Puyo games that weren't documented on Sega Retro!

    Futari de Puyo Puyo (2001)
    Futari de Puyo Puyo (2002)
    Hitori de Puyo Puyo
    Nazo Puyo (mobile)
    Nazo Puyo 2 (mobile)
    Puyo Puyo (mobile)
    Puyo Puyo DX
    Puyo Puyo DX Christmas Ver.
    Puyo Puyo Fever (mobile)
    Puyo Puyo Fever DX
    Puyo Puyo Fever Xmas Ver.
    Puyo Puyo Fever Habanero
    Puyo Puyo Sun (mobile)
    Puyo Puyo Task Mode (2001)
    Puyo Puyo Task Mode (2002)
    Puyo Puyo Tsuu (mobile)
    Puyo Puyo Zurashi
    Puyo Puyo~n & Columns
    Taisen Puyo Puyo
    Tokoton Puyo Puyo

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Pirate Dragon

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    Going by the sales charts Puyo Puyo probably ended up as the best selling game on Mega Drive and Game Gear in Japan, which is pretty crazy.
     
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  16. JaxTH

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    Sega has also done various Puyo Puyo tournaments.
     
  17. Black Squirrel

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    Here's this in action - I've put in some foundations for EZweb, and look what happens:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20021211152030/http://sega.jp:80/kt/kddi/segaages/
    2002-12-11, most recent game to be released is Columns

    NEXT

    https://web.archive.org/web/20030625231414/http://www.sega.jp:80/kt/kddi/segaages/
    2003-06-25

    There's a six month jump, during which time eight games were released. No release date records on this page, so I'd have to go hunting for clues. How annoying.
     
  18. Pirate Dragon

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    Well those ones should be done now anyway, although it took my until the last one which I got stuck on to discover the "what's new?" archive that I guess you've already found.
     
  19. Black Squirrel

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    Yeah that's one of the hunting grounds. Plenty of other Sega-related things in those lists we're not covering yet too.



    Anyway EZweb, since I've gone through its Sega Ages. Hopefully. It's a bit hard to tell.

    This is because EZweb wasn't like the other platforms. Owners KDDI had a crisis of confidence around 2003 and by 2005 had abandoned the J2ME platform altogether in favour of BREW. Except apparently they later built a thing where you could run J2ME applets through BREW and honestly the whole thing hurts. Not all handsets supported all applets, and some models just don't support the very concept of playing games, and it's a mess.


    Because of this, there are five target platforms but not necessarily five "generations" of hardware. There's a bit of overlap in the capabilities of Java and BREW applets, and for a while models were being sold concurrently, but here's how Sega group things:


    Java Phase 2/2.5. EZweb called their iterations of J2ME "phases", but I don't think we need to care about phase 1. Sega started supporting devices in 2002, after i-mode and J-Sky, and EZweb was usually playing catch-up.

    BREW 2.0. The first native BREW applets start appearing in 2003, and so begins the period of awkward duplication. Sega spent the initial year porting Java Phase 2 games over to BREW 2.0, but also still made Java Phase 2 games and...

    Java Phase 3. ...they made "enhanced" Java Phase 3 games as well. And I guess if you wanted to support the full userbase, you had to maintain two separate libraries.

    BREW 2.1. This turns up in 2004 and seems to be on a par with Java Phase 3, to the point where a couple of games had both versions released simultaneously. Java production fades away and everything becomes BREW.

    BREW 3.1. And this is a better version. There was a BREW 4.0 but I don't think Sega bothered with it.


    Now the problem here is, because there are holes in the records, there could be versions of games I've missed. Like the others, software was usually added monthly, but they don't always dwell on ports of ports. Also backwards compatibility means it's easy to be misled.



    Also while nobody was looking I went through the comparatively smaller Club Air-Edge and emobile libraries that came later. And you know what that means! Seven distinct versions of Doki Doki Penguin Land. That's more than the rest of the series combined.

    What's missing? Lots (and that's just up to 2005). Sega Retro does have coverage of later Android and iPhone apps though, so the hole only spans between 1998 and 2014/2015-ish. I've done enough for now - good luck!
     
  20. Black Squirrel

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    Because I'm sure nobody was wondering - every Puyo Puyo game (we currently know of) released on the 24th of the month:

    2002: Puyo Puyo DX (i-mode 504i, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (Dreamcast, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (GameCube, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (Xbox, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (i-mode 504i, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (i-mode 505i, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Tsuu (EZweb (Java Phase 2/2.5), JP)
    2004: Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 12: Puyo Puyo Tsuu Perfect Set (PlayStation 2, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Tsuu Gouka Ban (EZweb (Java Phase 3), JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (J-Sky (100KB), JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (Vodafone Live! (256KB), JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (OS X, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (Game Boy Advance, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (Windows PC, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (Pocket PC, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (Mac OS X, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (Palm OS, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (Nintendo DS, JP)
    2004: Puyo Puyo Fever (PlayStation Portable, JP)
    2005: Puyo Pop Fever (Game Boy Advance, EU)
    2005: Puyo Puyo Fever 2 (PlayStation 2, JP)
    2005: Puyo Puyo Fever 2 (PlayStation Portable, JP)
    2005: Puyo Puyo Fever 2 (Nintendo DS, JP)
    2006: Puyo Puyo Zurashi (i-mode 505i, JP)
    2007: Puyo Puyo Fever Habanero (i-mode 70x, JP)
    2007: Puyo Puyo Tsuu (Virtual Console, JP)
    2013: Puyo Puyo Fever: Minna de Nazo Puyo (Android, JP)
    2013: Puyo Puyo!! Quest (iOS, JP)
    2014: Puyo Puyo Lock App (Android, JP)
    2016: Puyo Puyo 25-shuunen Anniversary Book (Book, JP)

    aka it was funny for a while then they forgot.