Phone handsets get Nintendo-style games capabilities

A bulletin from our Next Big Thing department

In the past couple of weeks wireless technology developer TTPCom has been touring companies demonstrating one of the most intensely desirable mobile phone handsets - a silver and blue demo unit that you'll never be able to buy (not exactly, anyway), but that the company hopes will fire the imagination of handset manufacturers and help trigger the mobile phone games revolution.

The basic premise is simple enough, and not exactly rocket science. Nintendo's Game Boy is ARM-powered, large numbers of mobile phones are powered by ARM chips, so how come mobile phones don't run games of Game Boy class? As The Register observed to TTPCom, if its techies didn't know the answer to that question before they even asked it, then the company was in big trouble. But more properly, the development was about evolving handsets so they could function as games consoles.

The demo unit is of pretty standard mobile phone heft, as you can see if you look here. Note that you can play it in both portrait and landscape mode, and that it has two extra buttons on the top to make landscape mode play easier. Mobile phone phone manufacturers needn't implement these but their addition makes a deal of sense.

Also part of the demo is an implementation of the Nintendo game Hugo and the Evil Mirror, plus several others. TTPCom is also trying to kickstart games development with its games site, 9dots.net. This offers a catalogue of games, some with demos that run on a PC available, and hosts downloads for the SDK for the company's G-WGE application.

G-WGE? Although the handset looks nicest and the games are most fun, the WGE is the answer to how you make Nintendo-class games run on mobile phone handsets. The Wireless Graphics Engine is an open platform, has a footprint of 45k, and adds oomph to handsets' gaming capabilities. It supports heavy graphical manipulations, multi-layered graphics with chromakey transparency and optimised blit, zoom, rotate and scale functions. Or at least that's what Gael Rosset, head of technology at TTPCom Denmark says in the release. We ourselves barely understand a word of it, but the effect is pretty impressive.

Earlier this year Toshiba licensed TTPCom's InTouch handset design for its GPRS i-mode phone, the TS2li, which is due out shortly. TTPCom also has another as yet undisclosed Far Eastern licensee, and just yesterday Danger president and CEO Andy Rubin told The Register there was TTPCom technology in his demo units too. More of Danger anon - this one's interesting too... ®

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