I'll be the first to admit that I hate cell phone games. They reek of "casual", they're choppy, the controls are poor, etc. etc. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't pick my next cell phone with gaming in mind. The way I saw it, I had two choices: I could go with an N-Gage, or a PocketPC Smart phone. So I really only had one choice.
Now, at heart, I'm a die-hard GP2X fan. I've bought three of them, the last being the white F-200 version with the correct D-pad. I've loaded my SD cards up with every emulator and ROM imaginable, and it actually got quite a bit of play at the Baltimore NARP (BlindsideDork enjoyed the very well done Genesis emu.) The problem is, it's kind of hard to slip the GP2X in and out of your pocket and play it at work and look casual. It's clearly not a cell phone, and you're clearly not text messaging anyone.
I had worked with a guy who had an XV6700. That's when my eyes were really opened up to the possibility of gaming with emus on a phone. Here is a device with a 240x320 display, running WinCE, which makes porting Win32 emus extremely easy. The problem has more to do with the controls. So in choosing a phone, I had to take input possibilities into consideration.
I waited quite a while for the 6800 to come out since I knew it was on the horizon. It came out in December (almost 2 years after the 6700), but I was only ready to buy in May. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that the 6900
had been developed and released already! So naturally, I had to check it out. What I found was a cheesy kind-of iPhone wanna be with no slide-out keyboard, and far fewer buttons on the front. Naturally, everything was supposed to be touch screen driven. As an aside, I got my wife an iPhone last year when it came out, and naturally, I was curious to see how the NES emulator ran on it. Let me tell you, playing the NES with touch screen controls is not a joy. It works, but just barely
, and forget it if you have to make any quick inputs.
Unfortunately, I'm the type of guy who is inclined to believe that newer is better, and in this case, I had a really hard time convincing myself that going with the "older" model (by a mere 5 months) was the better way to go. Holy crap, man am I glad that I did.
What you see here is not the bleeding edge in cell phone technology, but a rather capable emulator device. As a huge MAME fan, my first instinct was to install PocketCultMAME and see how that worked. To be honest, I was a little disappointed, and as my first emulator experience with the device, I was worried that perhaps I made the wrong decision. The configuration would not correctly identify my d-pad (which, as d-pads go, is pretty poor, but it will suffice). Undaunted, I moved on to try something else.
I went with PocketNester next, a well regarded NES emulator. Now this was what I was hoping for! Full 60FPS emulation, fitting nicely on the screen. Everything works great! Well, almost everything. There is a limitation with these devices where you can't really press two buttons at the same time. So as I made Mario run with all his might with the B button, my attempt to make him jump with the A button resulted in Mario running squarely into a Koopa Troopa :( So action games such as these will either require new strategies, or they are a no-go.
Next I tried out MorphGear which is a multi-system emulator that has a NES component (which you must pay for regrettably to play unlimited). That worked great as well, and I tried out the Game Boy / GBC module, and that works fantastic as well. MorphGear also has a GBA module, so naturally, I got curious. My favorite game of all time on that system is Mr. Driller 2. I even had Mr. Driller on my old crappy Samsung cell phone. As horrible as it was, I probably spent more time playing that game than using the phone for talking. So I loaded up Mr. Driller 2 on MorphGear, expecting it to be unplayable, and... holy crap, it worked. Not great, but playable. So I did some more research, and it turned out there was an even better (and free) GBA emu for PocketPCs as long as you were willing to sacrifice sound. I installed PocketAdvance, and what do you know... it did play Mr Driller 2 even better than MorphGear. Unfortunately, it has a lot of trouble recognizing my available buttons, but I have a working configuration.
So, like I said, it's not GP2X, but it's really playable, and just what I need during those long ass boring meetings, doctor waiting rooms, and unplanned road trips. I'm glad I went with such an input rich device, cuz I would not be this happy if I bought the 6900. Plus the fact that the 6800 has 802.11b and the 6900 doesn't.