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    History of Mobile Games - Part 1


    A mobile game history begins in 1994, with the launch of Hagenuk MT-2000 by Cetelco. The Danish cell phone would make history by putting in its low-level programming a very addictive game at the time, Tetris. However, even with the release of the addictive Tetris, the cell phone was not so popular and the manufacturer was bought by another company in 1995.


    Snake, the first big hit for mobile

    In 1997, the mobile phone business was taking great strides. Talking from anywhere on a cell phone was routine, but a little awkward. Cell phone pouches and fanny packs reigned supreme, as we always had to carry an extra battery. However, a company from Finland, called Nokia, was adding more value to its thin and small cell phones that performed other functions (besides talking) and had as great attraction, the enormous battery life over its competitors.

    Two launches in 1998 were responsible for many changes in the cell phone market, they are the Nokia 6110 and 5110. They were the first cell phones where it was possible to do something other than talking and sending SMS. These devices brought well-presented icons, better viewing of messages and the ability to see drawings. Although both devices are GSM, they would only arrive in Spain in 1999, still operating under TDMA networks.

    These two releases focused on a young adult audience. Especially the 5110, which had the possibility of exchanging the carcasses for other colored ones, sold separately.

    For children of all ages, what drew attention on the device was the unprecedented presence of 3 games: Memory, Snake and Logic. Unpretentiously placed on these phones, one game was a huge success, Snake! Relatively simple, pretty much the basics of graphics, Snake was casual entertainment, yet routine in many people's lives.

    The ease with which the device was available, was the same ease of starting the game. Those who had a 5110 or 6110 played casually and those who didn't would borrow. Competition was the big deal and it was common for people to compete to see who could score the most points. I believe that part of the Snake game fever is also due to the “brickgames” that were very successful in Spain at the end of the century. One of the games present in the “brickgames” was Snake, people were already familiar with the game.

    The success paid off and in the following phones Nokia would add more games like: Snake EX, Snake II, Bumper, Dance 2 Music, Link5, Magic Draw, and Space Impact. See images of some of these games below:

    Although other companies like Siemens and Sony Ericsson followed Nokia's example, it was already a little late, the fever had passed and only Snake and Space Impact survived the monochrome and embargoed years of mobile games, all other games disappear. A new platform was emerging.

    A was Java

    In 2002 the first mobile phones with Java support (J2ME) hit the market, they were Nokia 3410 and Siemens M50. Despite still having monochrome displays, both had the ability to download an application (only one) to run on the mobile. This has opened up the opportunity for not just manufacturers but other companies or even anyone to develop a game and put it on their cell phone.



    Snake is very similar to old PC games (70's) like: MILES, Blockblade and Nibbles.
    Snake made its first appearance on the Nokia 5110/6110 and was just a line and four dots together that simulated food.

    Then came Snake II for the Nokia 3310 (also monochrome). With a little more details, walls and mazes, it was also possible to move from one side of the screen to the other as in pac-man. The game came out on an extensive list of phones like the Nokia 1100, famous usher.

    Then came:

    • Snake Xenzia, for Nokia 1600 and 1112.
    • Snake EX for Nokia 6260. (first colored snake, very similar to II)
    • Snake EX2 came to Nokia's S40 series.
    • 3D Snakes appeared in N-Gage 1 (Classic)
    • Snakes III for Nokia 3250, 5310 and 5610 (current Java version of the game).
    • Subsonic Snakes came out May 22, 2008 for Symbian9.x devices

    1st Joystick Accessory for mobile:

    Other articles in the series:

    1. The History of Mobile Games – Part 1 – Embargoed Games (Snake and derivatives)
    2. The History of Mobile Games – Part 2 – The Eternal Java (J2ME)
    3. A History of Cell Phone Games – 3rd Part – A Symbian Era

    [originally published February 18, 2011]

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