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Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
When your phone becomes a laser gun
Titan AE
Fight the alien menace with your mobile phone
By BBC News Online internet reporter
Mark Ward

Your mobile phone is about to become a device for waging intergalactic war.

One of the tie-ins for animated science-fiction film Titan AE is an interactive game played via mobile phones. The film went on release in the US last week.

The game is a variant of the playground classic rock-paper-scissors but uses laser cannons, spaceships and orbital defences instead of the more traditional elements.

The merchandising move is one among many attempts to use mobile devices to try out new types of games.

Mobile phone users in Hong Kong are the first to try the science fiction-themed game which was launched with the film last week.

Short Message Shooter

The game is played using the Short Message Service or WAP functions on a mobile phone.

Titan AE, the AE stands for After Earth, is set in 3028 and is about a teenager called Cale who is searching for a lost spaceship that will help save the human race.

While searching for the spaceship, Cale must avoid the deadly Drej who are bent on conquering the Universe.

Matt Damon
Matt Damon is the voice of Cale from Titan AE
Players of the game take the part of the rapacious Drej or the struggling humans.

The animated film features the voices of Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore and Nathan Lane. It went on release in the US on 16 June and will be released in the UK in July.

Jan Wellmann, chief executive of web company Riot-E that developed the Titan game, says it will be the first of many.

He said that many film and music makers were considering using mobile phones and interactive games to promote their creations.

It also gives them a way to reach the growing numbers who rely on their phone to help them live their lives.

"By 2002, there will be more portable internet terminals than fixed PCs," said Mr Wellmann. "We'll see a complete transformation of lifestyle."

Many of the Riot-E games are tested first in Finland where mobile phone use is very high. And Riot-E is now working on a mobile phone dating service that uses psychological profiling to help people find a partner.

Strategic choice

The Titan AE game is not the first game played via mobile phones.

Scottish company Digital Bridges is working on interactive games for mobile phones including card games, hangman and reversi.

It has developed 18 simple games that can be played against a computer or another person.

Chris Wright, content manager at Digital Bridges, said the limitations of phones and other handheld devices will limit the kinds of games available on them.

"You're not going to be playing Quake on your phone," he said.

Kevin Keegan
Soon you can try to outdo Keegan via your mobile phone
More likely to appear on phones are strategy games involving the deployment of troops or games that turn the player into the manager of a football team.

SMS messages or updated WAP sites will tell players whether their flanking manoeuvres or 4-4-2 formation succeeded.

Mr Wright said phones and handheld computers were not going to supersede other devices such as the Game Boy, but might give people the chance to play new types of games.

However, Sega is known to be working with Motorola on ways to bring characters such as Sonic the Hedgehog to phones and handhelds.

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