POSTED:  Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022 

(3-3-2022)

A Look Back at Capcom's Early Mobile Phone Games, Rare Kinu Nishimura Promotional Artwork

  

In the early 2000's, before the widespread existence of smartphones that most people have become addicted to these days, Capcom released a variety of charming Japan-exclusive mobile games for "Java-enabled" cellular phones known as J-Phone / Vodaphone. These affordable "next-gen" phones featured a camera, could send emails, and cost $150-$200 when they launched in 2002-2003. (Users could also upgrade their phones for FREE when new models were released later on.) The officially-licensed mobile games available exclusively on these phones featured iconic characters from Street Fighter, Mega Man, Resident Evil, Final Fight, Ghosts 'N Goblins, and even Darkstalkers. Before we get to the games, take a gander at a beautiful and rare Kinu Nishimura promotional illustration featuring Street Fighter Zero 3 characters being social on their snazzy early 2000's flip-phones.
 

This rare Kinu Nishimura illustration was used exclusively for promoting Capcom's mobile phone games in 2002-2003. Does a complete "clean" version exist? We'll keep our eyes out. (In case you didn't notice, Ryu is actually holding "Ken's phone" and clearly has no idea what to do with it.)


 

This Street Fighter boxing game has the player battling first-person against Ryu and other world warriors(?). As you can tell from the screens, the graphics differed between the J-Phone and Vodaphone versions and were improved in updates to the game.

  

Next up, Final Fight and Ghosts 'N Goblins. *It should be noted that these weren't full ports of the original games, but rather spin-offs featuring a few different enemies and stages.

 

The Toobin-inspired Wild River stars Rikuo from Darkstalkers. Who would'a thought Rikuo got his own spin-off game!? I heard this one was actually fun.

 

A classic card game required for any phone or mobile device... Solitaire Fighter. Damn, Capcom... where's the remake?! The logo and Ryu character artwork look as if it was ripped straight from Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and / or Pocket Fighter.

 

A Resident Evil 2-inspired zombie shooter game featuring playable characters Claire Redfield and Leon F. Kennedy. Not as crispy as the original PS1 graphics... but, y'know.

 

GO FOR IT! A side-scrolling game starring Tron Bonne's loveable little minions, Kobun / Servbots.

 

Another mobile game has the player building Servbots.



Mega Man Minesweeper seems like a fun way to kill some time! On the far right, another Mega Man mobile title. (There were quite a few Mega Man games on the platform, unsurprisingly.) We see you Roll.

 

This one brings new meaning to the nickname Blue Bomber. Yes, a Bomberman-inspired Mega Man phone game existed in the early 2000's. The more you know!


A space-piloting Mega Man game released in 2003.


Two other card games, one featuring Ryu from Capcom's Breath of Fire series.


Inspired by Capcom's classic 1984 arcade shooter, a compact mobile version of 1942.


Other developers aside from Capcom also created mobile titles for the J-phone / Vodaphone. Konami even brought their own mobile version of Castlevania. Some of mobile games also let users download unique ringtones and standby screens onto their phones.


PROMO ART BY AKIKO NISHIZAWA
 

 
Capcom's partnership venture with J-phone / Vodaphone and mobile game development was considered a "vital" project at the time, lead by Capcom President-at-the-time, Haruhiro Tsujimoto. However, the project turned out to be a financial failure in the long run and a big loss for Capcom. Capcom designer and director, Yoshiki Okamoto (Final Fight / SF2 / Onimusha), stated in a video interview that he was opposed to the project.

Even so, it's worth mentioning that these 2002-2003 phones were actually a few notches above the technology seen in comparable phones in the West! In terms of features, speed, graphics, and official licensing... the J-Phone / Vodaphone platforms were charmingly ahead of their time, but just couldn't deliver lasting relevance in the market.

 
*This article will be updated with more information and content in the future. Thanks for reading! Keep it here on Fighters Generation for more.
~TFG Webmaster, Frank Joseph | @Fighters_Gen

 

 Sources:  Capcom, Famitsu              Related Tweets:  @Fighters_Gen, #2  

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