The PG Hall of Fame: Jumbo Rumble
Groundbreaking one-button multiplayer game. With elephants
The second entry in our series on the mobile games we loved back in the day is Sumea's Jumbo Rumble.
You might believe that the idea of one-button mobile games is new. Certainly several publishers have had a go at claiming that in recent times. Yet in 2004, two Finnish firms were already combining a one-button control system with innovative multiplayer features.
The companies were Universomo and Sumea (since acquired by THQ Wireless and Digital Chocolate, respectively) and the game was Jumbo Rumble, which was developed by Universomo and published by Sumea.
It was genius. The game used a top-down viewpoint of a ring, in which there were up to three cartoon elephants. They'd spin around, with a marker showing the direction they were facing in. Holding '5', saw them run in that direction. The aim of the game was to butt your elephant rivals out of the ring, while avoiding getting knocked out yourself. It was like pachyderm sumo wrestling (and indeed, Sumea later released a version with sumo wrestlers called Sumo Smash).
Anyway, that was pretty fun, but the genius came in the fact that since you only needed one button to control your elephant, you could have multiplayer battles using a single phone. The game supported up to three players at once, each choosing a key to move their elephant.
So you might have '7', another friend would go for '9', and another would choose '2', and you'd have to cluster round the phone shouting while trying to butt each other into submission (in the game, I mean, although it could get pretty heated in real life, too).
It was one of the first attempts to create a game truly made for mobile phones, rather than trying to squeeze console game mechanics onto a phone keypad.
Jumbo Rumble might not have been the first one-button mobile game (Gamevil's NOM was released in 2003 in South Korea) and I'm not sure how well it sold. But it was nevertheless a groundbreaking title, and a forerunner to some of Digital Chocolate's best recent one-button games (think Tower Bloxx and Kamikaze Robots to name but two).
More importantly, it was super-fun and featured elephants. Two things that, even now, we could do with more of in the mobile game industry.