The FFVII Mobile Game Initiative (2004-2008 Era)

Tashasaurous

Tash for Short
AKA
Sailor Moon, Mini Moon, Hotaru, Cardcaptor Sakura, Meilin, Xion, Kairi, Aqua, Tifa, Aerith, Yuffie, Elena, Misty, May, Dawn, Casey, Fiona, Ellie
#76
You know, I honestly had a dream last night that Dirge of Cerberus-Lost Episode had been remade for PS4 and I was watching the trailer and I remember thinking to myself how I wished they remade Before Crisis too.

Pity it was a dream. It looked so cool in HD!
 
#77
http://support.jp.square-enix.com/faqarticle.php?kid=43637&id=339

Can FFVII SB be saved in external memory such as microSD?

The downloaded application can be used only on the mobile phone that downloaded. It can not be saved in external memory such as microSD.
http://support.jp.square-enix.com/faqarticle.php?kid=35718&id=336 [i-mode]
http://support.jp.square-enix.com/faqarticle.php?kid=35501&id=327 [EZweb]

Can BC -FFVII- be saved in external memory such as miniSD or microSD?

The downloaded application can be used only on the mobile phone that downloaded. It can not be saved in external memory such as miniSD or microSD.
At first, because the answer begins with specifying that the applications are only usable on the mobile phone's internal memory, I was considering the interpretation that the answer referred to any exported application files not being playable, rather than the files being impossible to transfer in the first place. I figured that the support section would want to avoid the game files being pirated.

This tin-foil-hat interpretation was crushed by the following question-answer for the Yahoo! Keitai version of Before Crisis.
http://support.jp.square-enix.com/faqarticle.php?kid=35320&id=348 [Yahoo! Keitai]

Can BC -FFVII- be saved in external memory such as miniSD or microSD?

It is possible to save to external memory such as microSD, but you can only use the downloaded application on the downloaded mobile phone.
:awesomonster: Clearly Softbank, provider of Yahoo! Keitai, were not as concerned as DoCoMo & au about the potential of game data being pirated and hacked. Otherwise I don't think they would have allowed the ability to transfer the application to an external memory card.

http://support.jp.square-enix.com/faqarticle.php?kid=35558&id=336 [i-mode]

How much free space is required for downloading BC -FFVII-?

The free space required for downloading BC -FFVII- is as follows.

· BC-FFVII- App about 100 KB
· "BC Gold Saucer" App about 100 KB
· "BC Extra" application Approximately 100 KB
This question-answer appears to say that the BC Extra application is for playing Battle Square in the Gold Saucer and for playing Weapon Mode. Incidentally, you could only do fights in the Battle Square against other players, never against enemy AI.


http://support.jp.square-enix.com/faqarticle.php?kid=35172&id=348 [Yahoo! Keitai]

How much free space is required for downloading BC -FFVII-?

Approximately 900 KB of free space is required for downloading BC -FFVII-.
http://support.jp.square-enix.com/faqarticle.php?kid=35351&id=327 [EZweb]

How much free space is required for downloading BC -FFVII-?

Approximately 1.5 MB of free space is required for downloading BC -FFVII-.
There are multiple possible explanations for why the required free space is so much greater for the Yahoo! Keitai and EZweb versions of Before Crisis.

First of all, the "Gold Saucer" and "Extra" features are never referred to as separate application downloads like they were in i-mode. Gold Saucer & Battle Square are still mentioned in the Yahoo! Keitai and EZweb FAQ sections and it is possible some base data for these features were included in the initial download of Before Crisis.

Curiously enough there are no question-answers about Weapon Mode for the Yahoo & EZweb versions. It would appear that the option to battle Jade Weapon never existed here.

Secondly, the Yahoo+EZweb versions were released in 2007 when phones had greatly increased in power since BC's original 2004 release. File size compression might not have been optimized in the modern phones because it was no longer a necessity.

The third possibility is that far more game data might be included from the onset in these 2007-version applications, like environments, music, game manuscript, etc.


'Tis a pity that we won't get a chance to study the online download model used for the three versions of Before Crisis. Yes we have video recordings where the screen reads "Now downloading..." and specifies what is being downloaded, but this is barely scratching the surface of how the server data is treated once it reaches the phone.
 
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#79
The manual saving of old JP FFVII-spin-off mobile support questions is now complete.

- Before Crisis [i-mode]: 256 questions!
- Before Crisis [Yahoo-Keitai]: 210 questions!
- Before Crisis [EZweb]: 226 questions!

- Dirge of Cerberus: Lost Episode [i-mode]: 101 questions!
- FFVII Snowboarding [i-mode]: 79 questions!

All these Q&As are now saved both in my personal files and on the Internet Archive. Still experimenting with trying to save the entirety of the support section using "HTTrack Website Copier", since wget turned out far too obsolete for the job. Though my research concerns mainly FFVII, and motivates my manual labor because that's the only way I'll absorb ALL THE KNOWLEDGE, it would be a pity if information regarding all these other mobile games is lost (which will probably happen shortly after March 31, 2018).

The mobile Itadaki Street title is at least tangentially related to FFVII, with Cloud appearing in said game.


Some Before Crisis trivia I've accrued after running hundreds of Q&As through google translate:


- In order to play the Before Crisis application, after all the shindigs with acquiring the proper phone and subscribing to Final Fantasy Mobile, you have to register your e-mail address via the official Before Crisis website.


- Players have a friend/member list which caps at three members. These players are prioritized when you send out requests for materia assistance or rescue.


- Though your e-mail was used in the registration process of Before Crisis, the address "BC-FFVII-@sqexm.net" is always the final e-mail address that reaches a player who received a request about materia- or rescue assistance. This way the players can remain anonymous to each other.


- In the same anonymity-style, you have no way to check the Employee ID of other players.


- When the player's HP reaches 0, they will be given the option of either giving up (leading to a Game Over) or being taken capture. If you choose the latter, you can request other players to save you. If you don't get rescued, you can choose to give up and thus get a Game Over. The penalty of choosing "give up" is to have your ranking points decreased.


- Ranking Points are the main currency, used to acquire equipment and/or get Gold Points at the Gold Saucer. There is no mention of money/gil in the support sections.


- The player can keep a maximum of two playable Turks. When creating a second playable Turk character, your new character will have the same level as your old one. You are not forced to start from scratch, though stats naturally differ somewhat between Turk characters.


- The higher your Turk's level, the less EXP you'll get from defeating a given enemy.​


That's just a sample of all the things I've now learned about Before Crisis.
 
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#80
I have now acquired a W51H, the phone model that came pre-installed with Chapter 1 of Before Crisis.

Unfortunately, the phone's so-called EZ applications require that you have a USIM card. Ergo, I am not even allowed to enter the appropriate menu to confirm if the Before Crisis demo is still on there.

Menu I wish to reach (image from the phone manual)



One dead-end menu among many. Selection #2 is the one I want to gain access through to possibly find the Before Crisis demo.

EZアプリ = EZ Apps

Because the manual only exists in Japanese, there are still some unknowns. I do not know if an initialized/reset W51H also deletes the pre-installed applications or if they are allowed to stay like DC: Lost Episode does on the P903i. I also do not know if I can acquire just any USIM card for the W51H and gain access to the phone's features that way, or if perhaps it requires an active subscription to a carrier on top of a USIM card etc.


It is rare to find the W51H on JP Yahoo Auctions, but the package I found was astounding. The phone came in its original box, complete with manuals, ad flyers, installation disc (presumably for the drivers to establish a phone-to-PC connection) and charger. The phone itself is only worn on its shell with much of its original white paint scratched away, along with some letterings that are damaged.

The W51H will be allowed to rest for a long time. I hope to find additional copies of this phone model, preferably one that is beat-up but still functional so that I can feel alright about picking it apart for data extraction. However it will most likely take years before I have the knowledge and equipment to perform a data dump, be it RAM or ROM. My goal is always to learn more about hacking though, so sooner or later I'll get where I want to be.



What else? I now own FOUR copies of the P903i and they ALL contain the demo for Dirge of Cerberus: Lost Episode! The only reason I'd ever buy another P903i is if it comes with the installation disc for the phone-to-PC USB connection. I'd wager the disc won't be of use, but the more data and documentation we have the better.

One P903i is acting differently from the rest: It alerts me far more frequently about the fact that I don't have a FOMA UIM card inserted. The "UIM" card is the equivalent of the W51H's USIM card. On top of that...it doesn't let me play the i-αppli games, including the Lost Episode demo! The entire phone is customized with sound, font and background images, as though it has not been properly reset/initialized.

This is quite an interesting case. Presumably the other three P903i phones I have are properly reset, which is what allows me to play Lost Episode. But on this fourth copy, the reset is not complete and the phone still needs a FOMA UIM card.
 
#81
I now have two P900iV phones with one functional battery that I can swap between the two to check the contents of each phone. Neither had the Before Crisis application on it.

Because the P900iV lacks a simple reset/initialize function, the phones may still have data like photos, messages etc. It all depends on how thorough the previous owner was in deleting each category of media. One phone has zero messages, while the other has its inbox maxed out at 1000 messages. o__O None of the messages appear related to FFVII.

Just like with the P903i, in the P900iV you can change the menu language between Japanese and English. Love this feature. The W51H does not have this option to change the language.


Here is the FFVII content that the phones share:

- Cloud, Tifa & Aerith chara-den
The animated face-time avatars are here!

クラウド = Cloud
ティファ = Tifa
エアリス = Aerith

- FFVII melody ringtones:
-- Aerith's Theme
-- Melody from FFVII AC: This is in fact the theme "Cloud Smiles".



The P900iV was released on June 19, 2004 but the movie Advent Children wasn't released in Japan until well over a year later, on September 14, 2005. Although the two melodies on the phone are very low-quality compared to the music in the actual movie, what this essentially means is that owners of the phone got to hear one of the movie's ending themes long before the actual movie came out.


- FFVII alarm ringtones:
-- Fanfare: Yup, the one that plays on Loz's phone in the movie. :monster: Though the sound is amped up to higher quality in the movie scene.
-- Fenrir: Just the sound of Cloud's bike, supposedly, revving up. Even if this is from a sound clip used in the movie, the sound is too muffled and distorted to tell for certain.


- "CLOUD IMAGE CG" Desktop/Wallpaper Image

 



Page 198 of the "basics" phone manual show the pre-installed image "CLOUDY WOLF", but none of those pre-installed images are on either phone. These were either deleted or I just haven't found the right menu yet.


The FF wiki claims that the P900iV came pre-installed with clips from Advent Children, but there is zero mention of such clips in the phone manuals. The P900iV I received two days ago has a clip from one of the earliest FFVII AC trailers, but at the moment I'd conclude this clip was downloaded by the user rather than being a pre-installed clip.

- FFVII AC Trailer 6-Second Snippet

FFVII ACバトルシーン = FFVII AC Battle Scene

As you would expect, the resolution is low and the sound quality poor. I wonder how awful this trailer snippet would look when you connect the phone to a TV. I have not one, but two AV-Out cables specifically for this phone series. Need to read the manual before I can confirm if the phone-to-TV feature is off-limits to me or not.



I sincerely hope that no more P900iV auctions pop up on eBay in the near future. I simply can't afford it. On eBay, the phone is typically sold for over 125 USD, while on JP Yahoo Auctions it is usually in the range of 15-61 USD.

I think it quite likely that if you buy enough of these phones in the early P900i series, you will eventually come across one that has the Before Crisis application left in it. The lack of a proper reset/initialize feature for the phone is reason enough to have this hope.

Ergo, keep your eyes out for the P900iV in particular. It just may have the "empty shell data" for Before Crisis.
 
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#84
Final Fantasy Mobile now accepts no new subscribers. The only ones who can play these Japanese mobile games are those who already have a subscription, up until March 31 when the service finally ends.

I have not found a way to auto-save all the Q&As and news updates for the services- and games of Final Fantasy Mobile, Dragon Quest Mobile & Sueni Mobile. So unless somebody else finds a method, a mountain of information will be lost as these parts of the official support website are deleted.

This is also a reminder for people to enjoy the official websites for these old mobile games before these, too, go offline. We'll be left to viewing these sites via archive.org.
- Before Crisis
- Dirge of Cerberus: Lost Episode
 
#85
Today we mourn the end of an era. The services providing the old Japanese mobile games, most notably the FFVII spin-offs Before Crisis, Lost Episode and Snowboarding, will be shut down in a little over an hour after I submit this post.

I failed in my mission to acquire these games by getting contacts in Japan to download the titles for me. I tried really, REALLY hard though. My quest has spanned FAR MORE than what I have reported in this thread. I used many platforms and contacted many individuals in my aim to save these games. My failure does not take away the pride I feel in how intense my effort was. As far as these old Japanese mobile games go, our best hope right now is to extract game demos that came pre-installed with specific phone models.



Although this thread is subtitled "2004-2008 Era", it would also be accurate to define this era of mobile gaming as existing from 2003-2018.

Square Enix showed off their first cell phone port of Final Fantasy on the mova SH505i back in 2003. The same phone also demonstrated the developing 3D technology on cell phones by showing off a moving 3D model of Cloud Strife. This was cutting-edge technology that helped define Japan as being way ahead the rest of the world.



Players could start enjoying Square Enix games on their modern DoCoMo phones in 2004, starting with the Final Fantasy port (March 1) and half a year later the official distribution of Before Crisis started (September 24). Beta testers of Before Crisis naturally got to enjoy the game slightly earlier, during the late summer of 2004.

The era of flip phone gaming continued for a few more years. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked when smartphones came along. Japanese player chats about Before Crisis gradually became more and more silent, with the latest comments being posted around 2011. The world had moved on. Indeed, it had moved on to such a degree away from the old technology that not even Japanese fans of the games knew if Before Crisis, Lost Episode and FFVII Snowboarding were still being distributed.

Advancements in technology is not entirely to blame. Square could have ported the FFVII spin-offs over to smartphones, but they didn't. When Kosei Ito, producer of Before Crisis and Lost Episode, left Square Enix and joined Capcom, the company lost a person who had been central to the mobile phone aspect of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. Indeed, Kosei Ito leaving Square is attributed as a possible reason that we never saw an English release of Before Crisis. Of course, the blame can't be placed on one person alone, but it is interesting to speculate about one piece of the puzzle that contributed to the FFVII mobile spin-offs becoming forgotten.
*(I observed just now that currently Kosei Ito is working for Square Enix again and is the producer of FFXV: Pocket Edition, so who knows if he might one day revisit the mobile titles from over a decade ago!)



And so the games remained active but forgotten until 2018, March 31. With no clear sign of the games having been pirated, I fear that the majority of games and apps from the flip-phone era will now be permanently lost. It would not at all surprise me if Square's archival procedures are so poor that if they ever want to re-release or remake these old mobile games they will have to work off of gameplay recordings and documentation generated by fans. I hope that I will be proven wrong in this assessment.



Mobile gaming, online gaming and the heavily increased digital distribution of console- and PC games act as a constant reminder of how much is at risk of being lost to time. More and more player experiences depend on ever more transient models and we can't always be sure of how much the game companies themselves decide to archive.

I hope then that the following lesson will be taken away from people who frequent this thread: Don't take for granted that the media you consume will always exist. Companies don't always archive their products and pirates aren't always present to heroically and illegally save content for the future. Whenever possible, keep backups of your favorite media. There is a decent enough chance that your data hoarding may determine the difference between a piece of media existing for a blink of an eye versus existing for centuries.
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
#86
that kinda bums me out :sadpanda:

makes you appreciate efforts to archive video games, the way old cinema and television broadcasts have been. hopefully people are more active in archiving games now (i don’t know if it’s easier to collect files now compared to back in 04~08).
 

cold_spirit

Pro Adventurer
AKA
AlexT
#87
I feel a bit emotional after reading that.

A million thanks for all your work Shademp. I really admire your commitment and look forward to your updates.
 
#88
The emotions of the situation hit me harder now since I noticed that the official Before Crisis and Lost Episode websites have been taken down. Presumably this happened on April 1st, but I only checked today on April 5th.

「ファイナルファンタジーモバイル」サービス終了のお知らせ(3/31)

平素より「ファイナルファンタジーモバイル」をご利用いただき、誠にありがとうございます。

「ファイナルファンタジーモバイル」は、2018年3月31日(土)をもってすべてのサービスを終了させていただきました。

2018年4月1日(日)以降、「ファイナルファンタジーモバイル」の会員情報(所得ポイントや購入履歴など)およびインストールされているアプリはご利用いただけません。

ダウンロード済みの一部コンテンツ(デコメール、待受、着うた等)は、サービス終了後も引き続きご利用いただけますが、全てのコンテンツにおいて動作保障はいたしかねますので、あらかじめご了承ください。

サービス開始より、多くのお客様にご愛顧いただき、誠にありがとうございました。
今後ともスクウェア・エニックスをよろしくお願いいたします。
Google Translate said:
Notice of "Final Fantasy Mobile" service termination (3/31)

Thank you very much for using "Final Fantasy Mobile" better than usual.

"Final Fantasy Mobile" ended all services on March 31, 2018 (Saturday).

Member information (income points, purchase history, etc.) of "Final Fantasy Mobile" and installed apps can not be used since April 1, 2018.

Some downloaded contents (deco mail, standby, ringtone, etc.) can be used continuously even after the service is terminated, but please be aware that we can not guarantee the operation on all contents.

Thank you very much for your patronage by many customers since the start of service.
We look forward to your continued support at SQUARE ENIX.
The FAQ pages on the official support site are still up but probably not for long.
 

Cthulhu

Administrator
AKA
Yop
#89
Might be worth a smol article on the front page, with another reference to your efforts to save them, and/or a link to the archived pages.
 
#90
NEWSPOST PUBLISHED


I contacted Jason Scott, veteran of the Internet Archive, about the problem that I can't auto-save everything from the official Square Enix support site even with the use of wget or HTTrack Website Copier. What this means is that any second now we could lose mountains of information about all these old mobile services, games- & apps, removing any and all chances for somebody to do deep research on the games like I did with the FFVII spin-offs.

Received a reply and I will be keeping an eye to check that his solution worked!
I just kicked off an automatic save of that site, entirely, using the Archive Team's Archivebot program, which will go in as deeply as can be and put all the relevant data into the Wayback. Hopefully that'll help a bit!
Thanks Great Scott!
 

Tenshin26100

A fan of Betas/Demos
#92
I found you Shademp on another thread on another website that directed me to this thread ... what a coinsidence, you're everywhere ! :D
I did took the time to read this thread about your efforts made about the matter. It's really impressive, I'm really happy to see all the stuff you've documented so far <3

I am aiming to get myself for other purposes the P903iTV or the P905iTV, P905i or P906i to backup datas from a Micro SD that can only be read on some specific japanese phones ... so I understand your struggled at archiving and saving stuff that might not be recoverable one day :(

Your quest is not over yet, for sure ! <3
 
#93
A few seconds of cutscene footage from what is presumably the English version of Lost Episode in this video showcasing the game library of Ideaworks3D.

From 0:32 - 0:43.



The Japanese trailer for Lost Episode actually also uses footage from the English version. You can tell because the font and size of Vincent's HP display is from the English version rather than what became the Japanese one.
 
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Tenshin26100

A fan of Betas/Demos
#94
I just recently got this book, fully translated in french (official translations by Mana Books edition), that is actually the japanese ultimania of the FF VII compilation :



I was wondering if anyone could be interested in translated infos from the book, like you @Shademp ? It has a timeline of events related to the compilation, like :

10th May 2004 : Announcement of Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- at the E3 Square Enix press conference in Los Angeles
31th August 2004 :
Begining of the Beta tests for Before Crisis (I-mode version)


That's just an example, but the whole book is being translated, including the story mode of Before Crisis, with translated screenshots as well :



If I can contribute about anything from this book, just lemme know everyone <3 :desucait:
 
#95
Only tangentially relevant to the topic, but I just learned about the mobile phone game Final Fantasy Grandmasters and the fact that its service is ending on April 25, 2019. For those not in the know this mobile game is a JP-exclusive FFXI spin-off. Here's hoping somebody out there is trying to archive at least SOMETHING from this title.
 

Radigar

Pro Adventurer
AKA
Radigar
#97
I found two new images related with Lost Episode showed in the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC 2006)



Source: http://tech.sina.com.cn/n/2006-10-07/1048117872.shtml

And surprisingly I just found a video of the Tokyo Game Show 2006 inside DoCoMo booth that I had never seen before but that was published 13 years ago :wacky:. From 1:08 to 1:10 you can see a Lost Episode ad in the background screen:



Here full video:

 
#99

Even with all this awesome preservation work of old mobile games...not a sign of the Square Enix titles I'm interested in. :monster:

- Brave Shot
- Brave Shot 2
- Destiny's Child Groove
- Dirge of Cerberus: Lost Episode
- Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding
- HEXCITE Fusion
- Megatouch Mobile Arcade
- Megatouch Mobile Arcade II
- Musashi: Mobile Samurai

At least "Kingdom Hearts" (part unspecified) is in this collection, though that one was only released by Disney and not by Square Enix.


Thanks to @Radigar I was able to acquire two more copies of the W51H phone. Reminder: The W51H contains a Before Crisis demo that is locked behind heavy encryption. Having these extra copies sets me up so that I can actually, with good conscience, pick apart one or two of these phones at some point in the future when I have the know-how and confidence to try and extract data from them.

Mercari is a site that sells these old phones at way higher frequency than a site like Yahoo JP Auctions. You can find over a dozen P900iV phones at really low prices on there, as well as the P903i model. My immense gratitude towards Radigar who alerted me to this site. Through this channel, in addition to the two additional W51H phones, I now own a third P900iV and, for the first time, a P903iX HIGH-SPEED phone.

One sold-out article I found now is this Dirge of Cerberus mobile-case for the P903i. I can't discern the meaning of the item description via google translate with full certainty, but it seems to indicate that only one hundred of these cases were created? I wonder if it's official.
 

Radigar

Pro Adventurer
AKA
Radigar
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