A J2ME tale – touch before the iPhone

tl;dr We wrote a Java Mobile Sudoku game with touchscreen capabilities in 2006 which shipped preloaded on a touch-only phone distributed by MTV in France (yes, that MTV) – just before the rise of the iPhone.  It showed a glimpse into the future. And we are proud of it 🙂

Once upon a time – to be more precise in Dec 2005 Ivonne an myself decided to write a J2ME game. I did write some midlets before, but this time we wanted to use our Nokias to play sudoku games (you guessed it…). So we did and the code was optimized to run on CLDC1.0 and MIDP 1.0 profiles and the jar was below 64k.

It could make use of CLDC 1.1 and MIDP 2.0 profile features if available and already had some (imho) great features:

It generates and solves puzzles. You could also input and store your own puzzles. It would already allow you to enter pencil marks on such tiny screen (see screenshots below) which are indicated by colored dots.

There are some hint-features within the game, as well as options to adjust colors and behavior. On devices equipped with a pointer, you could use it to enter numbers (Read: Touchscreen). Finally fellow devs added internationalization providing norwegian, russian, slovak, hungarian, polish,  french, greek language sets next to english and german.

This is how it looks on a Nokia 7210 and with pointer input capability:

5ud0ku - 72105ud0ku - pointer

It is still downloaded hundreds of times/month from my website and google returns a bunch of download sites.

Ivonne and I are very proud of that tiny game.

After 5ud0ku went out to the world, we have been asked to sell it (we didn’t) and we have been asked to allow it being preloaded on an Modelabs MTV 3.0 phone. Yep, MTV – Music Television – did create their own phone / branding. So while this thing never changed the world, it already was a screen only device with only four hardware buttons and our game was one of few games out which could be easily operated by the touch of your fingers. The MTV 3.0 came with a stylus for its resistive touchscreen, but you could work it with your fingers. Looking back from today, it was a glimpse into the future.

Find some pics below of that MTV 3.0 mobile from a time just before the rise of the iPhone and a screenshot of the feature website.

5ud0ku on MTV3.0
Dialpad MTV3.0
mtv.fr/mobile in 2006
mtv.fr/mobile in 2006 courtesy of The Wayback Machine

video – 5ud0ku running on the MTV 3.0