God of War's impressive Java phone spin-off | minimme

Posted By on July 31, 2019



a few months after God of War 2 came out in early 2007 and before Chains of Olympus came to the PSP in 2008 the series saw its first spin-off and third release with God of War betrayal on none other than the Java phone of all things all of the presses Java game reviews which apparently was a thing back then lauded it as one of the best mobile games ever made and as far as hype goes for mobile games it was certainly one of the biggest if not the biggest release on the platform at the time so the question becomes why is it so special and is it worth playing before jumping right into it I want to thank a guy named Nathan Leland for responding to my emails about this game he's listed in the credits here as the art director and he gracefully provided a lot of fascinating insight into the development and background of betrayal I'll be referencing our emails quite a bit throughout so again a big thank you to Nathan betrayal takes place between the first two god of war games a ghost of Spada on the PSP also takes place between the first two god of war games and it's unsure if that happens before or after this what's also unsure is if this is canon or not it's never been officially dismissed but it basically hasn't been officially acknowledged either since release and fans generally agree that it's probably non-canon at this point which I guess isn't surprising considering how obscure it is anyway betrayal sees Kratos side scrolling his way through Greece before running into a mysterious character named the assassin who he chases through Greece before a final boss named Serac's is sent by Zeus to stop him it's a simple story that's mostly told through text between levels but interestingly it was developed in close collaboration with members of the original team of the Santa Monica studio with the series director and creator David Jaffe and producer Shannon stud still having the most involvement the game was primarily developed at Sony Online Entertainment LA which was created sort of under the radar as what Leland described in our emails as a scrappy little studio of just four people that was conceptualized to create downloadable and browser-based games based on Sony Pictures IPs think like really simple basic sort of late 90s early 2000s online stuff for IPS like wheel of fortune and jeopardy and spider-man eventually the SOE LA studio grew to almost 80 people as they worked on a bunch of different projects and thanks to the connection with Sony they were granted the opportunity to work on God of War development started late in God of War two's production cycle and was slated to be developed in as six-month timeframe now as you've likely noticed already this is essentially a side-scrolling 16-bit version of God of War though the story may be stripped back for obvious reasons that's not to say that this doesn't feel like a God of War game because in a lot of ways it absolutely does weapon wires the blades of Athena return alongside the blade of artemis from the first game and when it comes to magic the Medusa's gaze and army of Hades abilities also return from the original game the obstacle act effectively worked the same way you level up the damage for your weapons and abilities and you can even find the Gorgon eyes and Phoenix feathers to up your health and magic levels according to my emails the producer and director Philip Cowan was a big God of War guy and series created David Jaffe along with being the ideas man was really big on translating God of War down to mobile and making sure it maintained the same energy and vibe that the series was known for and something the series was really known for at the time was its gore so that all had to be here all the pixely blood splats and on attaching of limbs that you need can be found in God of War betrayal and as I'm sure you've noticed the visuals and animation are exceptional for the platform if you're not familiar with what a typical jato me game looks like they're typically way more basic than this especially animation wise even when looking at some of the j2me games that I've looked at on this channel which are usually on the better side visually they still don't really come close to this in a lot of ways the animation is just so smooth and there's a decent amount of enemy sprites that are all fully animated too which I guess isn't surprising because alongside Sol a developer way Ford helped support the project who you might know as the Shantae developer they're famous for both great visuals and animation and pushing game hardware to its limits which betrayal does I assume their involvement was thanks to Philip Cowan who came from way forward before this but there was actually another developer involved here in a much more impactful way about 70 kilometers south of Central LA in Irvine the studio called Java grounds who as you may have guessed from their name where a Java mobile based dev who were known in the industry for their powerful development tools and porting abilities while they did develop a lot of games themselves developers would often contract their games out to Java grounds to port the games across heaps of different mobile devices with different screen sizes but along with the porting for betrayal which Java grounds did a lot of I mean just like look at this version certainly got Java grounds to actually work on the game where SOE focused on the creative side like the writing visuals and level design Java grounds focused on putting together the gameplay and combat systems and extended their framework to support such a big j2me game and the scope of the game blew out the development period from six months to nine months which was just an absurdly long time for a mobile game back then so with all that out of the way how does God avoid betrayal actually play well you have just one attack button you can cycle between the two weapons and the two magic abilities with another button and you can move left right and jump the single attack button goes a decent way they like remember simultaneous button presses don't really fly on the platform so they couldn't combine it with directions so what they did was have the two weapons act as opposites with the blades being a long-range low damage weapon and the sword being short-range high damage you just mash the attack button to repeat the same basic combo and if you're jumping it modifies the attack what's most amazing and most impressive about this combat system is that it feels really punchy like each hit just lands really well and again it's because of the fantastic animation I know I sound like a broken record with this but the way enemies react to your hits is just fantastic and it goes a really long way here the combat is also broken up by another God of War trope with the QuickTime events when enemies are about to die you can start a QTE finisher if you want and they look great and with the humanoid goons you can pick them up and throw them into other enemies which is just really fantastic so you go through each level of beating up enemies with some light platforming and light puzzling mixed in as you'd expect from God of War the platforming is serviceable with a handy double jump though due to the nature of J Tomi lacking multiple inputs you can't press a direction button and jump at the same time so a single press of the jump button launches you up at a 45-degree angle which frankly is a bit weird and the infrequent puzzles mostly involve dragging things around and pulling levers to open doors as you'd expect from God of War you'll also come across gates that won't open until you kill a certain number of respawning enemies as you'd expect from God of War like it's it's all pretty standard God of War II stuff and it doesn't really surprise you from start to finish unfortunately though the more you play the more it starts to fall apart the combat is just too and there's no point really upgrading both weapons as you go let alone the magic abilities like both weapons are viable though the blades are more fun due to their range but for any playthrough you'll only want to invest in upgrading one weapon because that's the most efficient way of doing things it's also one of those games where most of the time enemies will stay dead when you respawn so dying doesn't hold enough of a consequence for it to be intense this is typical for j2me games though like actually resetting a room like that especially when they have checkpoints is often too computationally expensive to do though enemies react really nicely to being hit kratos doesn't react at all to being hit like there's not even a blood effect so often you can not even realize that you're taking any damage there's also problems with the hit Reggie oh and activating the QuickTime events is a little finicky because you have to get really close to enemies to start them and there's no visual confirmation to tell you that you're in range or not so they can be risky to even try and then there's the magic abilities which are total pain to use because you need to cycle your way to them and then after every single cast it reverts back to your weapon and you have to cycle your way to them again because of this magic is just too slow and it just leaves you too vulnerable and on top of that it's super unsatisfying to use because the enemies barely react to it though it is pretty cool that you can freeze them mid animation with Medusa's gaze what ends up happening is you stick to spamming attack with whatever weapon you chose to upgrade you probably chose the blades for the range because really doing anything else is just too unreliable and this gets really tiring as the game goes on the enemy types do evolve as you go through but you defeat them all essentially in the same way by just spamming attacks so while the combat system feels quite good for what it is it suffers from being boring which it really shouldn't do for a game that's only about an hour long there is a bonus arena mode that you can fight your way through but there's just not a lot of incentive to do so with this combat system one pillar from God a void that doesn't really translate is the boss battles there's effectively only two bosses in total there's our ghost which is a repeating mini boss of sorts that looks cool a bit is just defeated like any other enemy just sort of takes longer it's also interesting that they fully modeled our ghosts for God of War 3 but he was cut from that game so this is his only appearance in the franchise kind of interesting then there's the final boss Eric's which tries to mix things up by spawning enemies and having these my bilities but ultimately it just isn't enough so unbalanced is it worth checking out gotta for betrayal especially if you're a god of warfare well you're not really missing any law especially as it's doubtful that this is even canon the assassin character has some speculation about who they are with a lot of people thinking that it's Hermes and interestingly this was the only enemy character in the series that lived after encountering Kratos but otherwise there's just not a lot really going on here the combat is a little too simple to be worth seeing for yourself so really I wouldn't say this is worth playing unless you want to see how impressive it is and it is very impressive like despite everything this is massive by j2me standards and it's easily the best j2me game that we've looked at on the channel reading old interviews and comments from the developers and emailing Nathan Leland was really insightful for me like Nathan goes into the scope of the game and how it was just crazy for what it was he mentions that at one point they were working 12 to 15 hour days for months on end which is just some like whacked-out CD Projekt RED rock star tear stuff and the amount of effort and love that went into this is huge and the amount of tricks and workarounds to get it going and all these devices is just nuts think like using palette shifting to change the color scheme while reusing assets and creating each frame of each animation pixel by pixel multiple times to optimize the assets for each device the absolute cramming that went into this has given me a newfound appreciation for these games and these devs I found every fly from director Philip Cowan to a negative blog post about the game from 2011 and he has a wonderful rant about this and he sums up the game quite nicely on a note that I'd like to end on we are spoiled by our more recent mobile tech it's a tricky balancing act have background music or just sound effects can't have both the combat was intentionally dumbed down due to the nature of the platform for directional buttons and an attack button is all we really had to work with and the design philosophy at that time for the mobile industry is not too overwhelmingly challenged the player who is just looking to kill a minute or two while waiting on something more important to do outside of the game and God forbid someone tries to emulate the s40 phone version of the game we were forced to make try cramming the entire God of War experience into 60 K of memory on a device that he's basically an apple to computer in the end I think the game ended up being an entertaining time waster but for sure it doesn't live up to modern expectations grab a time machine and go back to when it was released and you'd probably have a different opinion and with that we conclude our look at gada for betrayal if you'd like to support the channel if there's a lot of ways to do so you can just simply like and subscribe and hit the bell if you really want to you can find me on Twitter and you can find me on patreon and this is the point where I think all my patreon so I'd like to thank all my patrons I'd like to thank all the patrons on the screen and I'd especially like to thank Adam Beals analog man Caden the dingo dad Devin Grondahl Dominick jucoky dump truck parked in my driveway evil chicken Homer eight to one lab cat Lucas ray Civic Magnus ICOMOS static Matias bias Maximilian Kunzman may erase Misaki minimis disproportionately sized areolas misses mini-me peaceful kumquat renegade review Disney planes steel Christenberry Tommy kava Chaplin Trixie Emerson riding on games and is indicative I appreciate all your support I appreciate everyone who's still watching and I'll see you all next time

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 42 comments

  1. I always listen to the entire patreon list so i can hear "disproportionate areolas" and "review disney planes"

    Reply
  2. I remember playing this in 2008 and I LOVED it. I had just gotten in to GoW and I thought Betrayal held an important part of Kratos' journey: his first God kill, so I think it's important. I truly believe it should be remastered by WayForward and released for portables and Mobile nowadays, made canon and enjoyed for what it is. Btw it's still playable – there are java readers on modern phones and it can play. I still have it on my daily driver, though I don't often play it, tbh. But I've beaten it over 5 times back in the day, I really enjoyed it for what it was back then.

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  3. I got this game from Waptrick back then lol Also I think Cory has always included this game as part of the franchise.

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  4. I'm actually sad that I didn't have the suitable phones to play any of these games. Some from this era are genuinely fun.
    But if it was made today, you'd need to spend twice the amount of the game's price on microtransactions just to upgrade a weapon. Or wait for a month to accumulate daily gifts.

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  5. wow another nice video, i always glad to a new video from the channel.
    ive played this game alot in alot of devices it was pretty fun, back in the day i really like looking for java games

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  6. Minimme, have you ever played Sigma Star Saga for the Game Boy Advance? Is developed by WayForward and came out late in the lifecycle, it pushed the GBA to its absolute limits with gorgeous and colorful visuals, smooth animations, big sprites and nice graphical effects

    Reply
  7. hey my dud, i know you mostly cover licensed games, but i suggest Ancient Empires 1 and 2, they are great advance wars clones for java phones

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  8. Ugh so much nostalgia, I remember all my friends and I were hyped to play this game when we were in elementary school.

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  9. The best java game I played back in the day were Ancient Empires II, Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow (God tier 2D animation), Real Tournaments and the Prince of Persia Sands of Time trilogy (especially Warrior Within)

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  10. Games on java phones are the best..
    You purchase them once..
    and you don't need internet or any shitty micro transaction to enjoy their games..

    RIP.. NOKIA XPRESS MUSIC😢
    ..

    Reply
  11. Would love to see a video on Rolling With Katamari. I never got to play the full game, but the 5-minute demo I played all the time on my phone was surprisingly fun.

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  12. I played that game all the time, it was really good. Good gameplay,athmosphere,enemies. Only complaint it was a bit too short. Good memories.

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  13. I love how he refers to the platform as "the Java phone". Lol that's kinda wrong, because there are multiple phones that could run J2ME games, not just one. Good video anyway, though!

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  14. Dude i bought these back in the day and i remember my elementary classmates cant stop playing it, i love this game

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  15. I loved this game. I found out about it a couple years ago and played it on an emulator (obviously). It was definitely one of the best (and one of my personal favorites) Java phone games.

    Also nice thumbnail. 🙂

    Reply
  16. It was awesome for me back in the day, the same as The Prince of Persia, and Assassin's Creed.
    That Nokia took a lot of abuse

    Reply

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