The big problem with cell phone games is that they tend to be designed for non-gamers. Sure, we know there are probably a zillion more copies of Snake out there slithering around on cell phones than there are Gears of War spinning in 360s, but that doesn't mean Snake doesn't suck. However, that may all be about to change with the release of God of War Betrayal, the first mobile game we've seen that actually had us pricing a new phone.
Slated to hit this June for Verizon customers and in July for everyone else, God of War Betrayal looks for all the world like some great, gory, long-lost SNES or Genesis side-scroller. Kratos thunders his way from left to right across 10 huge levels, solving the series' trademark puzzles and hacking away with sword and trademark blades-on-chains. His movements are controlled by the d-pad and are largely contextual: if you need to push or pull a crate, open a chest, jump, climb hand-over-hand on a rope, scale a ladder or whatever, the d-pad gives you that ability when you need it.
The combat doesn't shy away from gouts of blood, but has been slightly tweaked thanks to the fact that most cell phones have only a single action button. Betrayal gets around this by giving you a basic combo when you hammer the button, but at times, a directional arrow will appear over an enemy's head - when it does, hit that direction along with the button and Kratos will break off one of his trademark brutal kills, such as ripping an enemy in half, twisting off an opponent's head or simply heaving him/her/it over a cliff.
Story-wise, God of War Betrayal falls somewhere between the original God of War for PS2 and the PSP prequel - and we're told the plot has indeed been written by the same author, so it should integrate nicely.
So: the only question left is whether or not your phone is up to the gory task of housing Kratos' blade-spinning shenanigans. What kind of phone is best for Betrayal? Sony's Spencer Hunt helped us narrow it down. His first pick? Sprint's Sanyo Katana, with its 320x240 screen (this surprised even Spencer, who explained that thin phones usually lack horsepower). But really, anything BREW-capable on Verizon or LG and anything that can handle Sony Ericsson CDC Platform 1 or up should give you a good bloodletting experience.
If you're like us and those sentences seem like Martian to you, it's a pretty safe gamble that any rig made in the past couple years can handle God of War Betrayal: we're told it'll run on some 1220 different handsets. And if it doesn't? There's never been a better excuse to upgrade.
May 10, 2007