Pied Piper Search Thread

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jessiray

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Xenosaga: Pied Piper is a bit of a white whale piece of "lost" media for us outside of Japan. I'm a huge fan of Xenosaga and a huge fan of lost media searches, so I figured I'd begin a thread to compile information regarding the search for Pied Piper.

What we know:
  • Pied Piper was released for Vodafone devices in July 2004 in Japan and i-Mode devices in July 2006 in Japan
  • Available on Vodafone Models: SH53 / V601SH / V602SH / V601T
    • From what I can tell the Softbank Vodafone store uses a subscription based model, this might be a dead end on this version
    • Here's a link to its Softbank store entry
    • There are also fewer working emulation frameworks for Vodafone from what I can tell
    • However, it still looks like it is available for purchase for now I will need to verify but I read that this service will be going offline in November 2021
  • Available on all 900 model DoCoMo i-mode compatible phones
    • Games of this era on i-mode devices were coded in DoJa, an old Java variant. There are some emulators available for this with shaky accuracy but an active community working on them.
    • i-mode games can also be ripped and when they are they are packaged in very neat .jar files and .jam files that aren't too tricky to pull apart.
      • If we find the .jar for Pied Piper, we find its assets, etc. which could possibly be used for English language conversions and restoration projects
    • There are some other active projects that mirror this one. See This one regarding FF7 Before Crisis. We can follow a lot of their leads and they seem to be looking for a Japanese DoCoMo Phone from around the time of release. They were able to get a demo working with some cached data they found on a phone! Don't lose hope.
    • I found a source that says that this service goes offline in Japan in March 2026. If someone can verify that and whether a Japanese person with one of these phones could still feasibly buy it, that would be gucci.
    • To that end I have found this store front from DoCoMo says it has i-mode games. I tried to browse it on my phone with the QR code and was able to access the store front but couldn't search past that. May need a VPN or a way to spoof a DoCoMo account to check.
  • The J2ME rip on archive.org with 'PiedPiper' contains a generic Russian rat catching game, not Xenosaga... This may pop up in our search so just be aware of red herrings
    • Some folks have been uploading the goods there so I do plan on keeping an eye out on Archive.org just in case...
What we don't know:
  • The key piece of information I'm interested in is: can Japanese players still play this and if so, for how long?
    • I see Japanese people on Twitter mention it as soon as 2019. The Youtube playthrough is from 2017. The poster of that playthrough appears to be using a Vodafone but I commented hoping to get some information (they replied to someone 1 week ago).
  • Has any version of this been ripped online anywhere? I think the answer is no. But there is a lively scene in Japan for their own emulation/restoration projects. It may be worth it to check their scene, on services like Perfect Dark (especially since Perfect Dark as a service is contemporary with Pied Piper as a game) and others
Anyway, this is a kick-off thread to aggregate any and all information related to the search. If you find anything post it here. I'm going to be posting and aggregating information related to both the search and cracking Japanese cellphones as I find it (I've been researching this for a while and I work with ancient java as my day-job so *cracks knuckles* this is gonna be fun).
 

PineappleLimonov

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Did a bit of cursory diving and I got about as far as this link

There doesn't seem to be anything leading anywhere else from here though (did an Inspect Element and there appears to be no links), so this may be a dead end

Edit: Going down the Vodafone route got me this far on wayback machine:

Unfortunately it doesn't seem like any further subpages are archived. The first link of the second column is where the mobile games are but as I can't see the contents of the page anymore, I can't find a download link that may have been missed 😔

Edit 2: Noticed that a lot of the URLs were encoded to those weird % things so I found a decoder aaaaaand once again no links D:

lots of stuff listed though
 
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Valkyrie

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Good initiative ! :D

Here are some links I have BTW :

1)
Official website (archived) :
https://web.archive.org/web/2006082...soft.co.jp/left/special/pied-piper/index.html

2)
The whole script of the game (in Japanese) :
https://forum.gamer.com.tw/G1.php?bsn=01372&parent=128

- - -

The poster of that playthrough appears to be using a Vodafone but I commented hoping to get some information (they replied to someone 1 week ago).
You can also contact the poster via their (new) Twitter account :
https://twitter.com/Keju_frangelico

I said "new", because originally their Twitter account was this one :
https://twitter.com/Frangelico_Keju
 

LEGOdawg2001

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The guy who made the playthough (at least I believe its them) also made this japanese walkthrough with most of the script, items, stats, map, etc. This is done not through actual code, but from experimentation in game, I understand. This is extremely useful for me personally due to the projects I'm working on

(that project being a remake but I'm not ready to talk about it until I have a working build)
 

PineappleLimonov

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The guy who made the playthough (at least I believe its them) also made this japanese walkthrough with most of the script, items, stats, map, etc. This is done not through actual code, but from experimentation in game, I understand. This is extremely useful for me personally due to the projects I'm working on

(that project being a remake but I'm not ready to talk about it until I have a working build)
A remake >.>
What platform are you using to develop it?
 

LEGOdawg2001

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A remake >.>
What platform are you using to develop it?
Modified RPG maker MV. I'm basically breaking the engine via javascript plugins to recreate the battle system, there's just a 1 or 2 more hurdles I need to overcome before I compile all the modifications and troubleshoot it, but once I have a working build, I'll post updates on it here. But I don't wanna talk about it now since its not apt for the thread and because its simply too early.
 

jessiray

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Modified RPG maker MV. I'm basically breaking the engine via javascript plugins to recreate the battle system, there's just a 1 or 2 more hurdles I need to overcome before I compile all the modifications and troubleshoot it, but once I have a working build, I'll post updates on it here. But I don't wanna talk about it now since its not apt for the thread and because its simply too early.
I'm so stoked to see your port! Definitely do post your progress here when you're ready to show it off. :)

As for this thread, I'm hoping it'll serve as a nice compilation for the search and aggregate of leads/tools.
You can also contact the poster via their (new) Twitter account :
https://twitter.com/Keju_frangelico

I said "new", because originally their Twitter account was this one :
https://twitter.com/Frangelico_Keju
...So this guy definitely seems to know what's up. I'm hoping he sees my YouTube comment, it would be useful to know the current overseas availability of the game and how 'lost' we're looking at. A lot of things get lost in translation with these kinds of searches so if he's willing to talk to us he could have a lot of helpful information. :)
 

jessiray

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Did a bit of cursory diving and I got about as far as this link

There doesn't seem to be anything leading anywhere else from here though (did an Inspect Element and there appears to be no links), so this may be a dead end

Edit: Going down the Vodafone route got me this far on wayback machine:

Unfortunately it doesn't seem like any further subpages are archived. The first link of the second column is where the mobile games are but as I can't see the contents of the page anymore, I can't find a download link that may have been missed 😔

Edit 2: Noticed that a lot of the URLs were encoded to those weird % things so I found a decoder aaaaaand once again no links D:

lots of stuff listed though
Ohh this is interesting! I couldn't access that dmkt link on my desktop earlier (only my phone through the qr code) but now I can. I'll need to do some plinking there, thank you!
 

ammbot_

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Good initiative ! :D

Here are some links I have BTW :

1)
Official website (archived) :
https://web.archive.org/web/2006082...soft.co.jp/left/special/pied-piper/index.html

2)
The whole script of the game (in Japanese) :
https://forum.gamer.com.tw/G1.php?bsn=01372&parent=128

- - -


You can also contact the poster via their (new) Twitter account :
https://twitter.com/Keju_frangelico

I said "new", because originally their Twitter account was this one :
https://twitter.com/Frangelico_Keju
i've (somewhat poorly) come up with a possible method to retrieve it, which (possibly involves jailbreaking) a particular model of Vodaphone, and downloading the game via a dataplan on i-mode, in one of these reigons:
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Israel
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Russia
  • Romania
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Taiwan
  • UK

Well, this is my first post on this forum, so hopefully you all don't mind if I introduce myself before I go into a bit more detail. My name is Amelie, although any other nickname is fine; i'm 16 and i've been a Xeno fan since 2019.

The past year or so i've been especially obsessed with Xenosaga, and after playing all the mainline games a online friend brought the spinoff Xenosaga: Pied Piper to my attention. After learning the game was for Vodafone japanese devices, I digged further and here's what I found.

The game was supposedly released for the Vodaphone V601SH, released in 2003 in japan.

The main selling point of the V601SH was connection to the i-mode service, which according to Wikipedia, was used to download Pied Piper. V601SH's are rather easy to come by, and I found a cheap listing that ships to my region here.

As it turns out, the i-mode service is still available in the following regions, but sadly not where I live, Canada. At first I considered using a method to change the region such as a VPN, however the i-mode service relies on cellular connection, not wi-fi or bluetooth.

Is there anyone who'd be willing to work with me to possibly help retrieve the game? Let me know or send me a DM on instagram here.

Thank you very much for your time!
 

jessiray

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i've (somewhat poorly) come up with a possible method to retrieve it, which (possibly involves jailbreaking) a particular model of Vodaphone, and downloading the game via a dataplan on i-mode, in one of these reigons:
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Israel
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Russia
  • Romania
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Taiwan
  • UK

Well, this is my first post on this forum, so hopefully you all don't mind if I introduce myself before I go into a bit more detail. My name is Amelie, although any other nickname is fine; i'm 16 and i've been a Xeno fan since 2019.

The past year or so i've been especially obsessed with Xenosaga, and after playing all the mainline games a online friend brought the spinoff Xenosaga: Pied Piper to my attention. After learning the game was for Vodafone japanese devices, I digged further and here's what I found.

The game was supposedly released for the Vodaphone V601SH, released in 2003 in japan.

The main selling point of the V601SH was connection to the i-mode service, which according to Wikipedia, was used to download Pied Piper. V601SH's are rather easy to come by, and I found a cheap listing that ships to my region here.

As it turns out, the i-mode service is still available in the following regions, but sadly not where I live, Canada. At first I considered using a method to change the region such as a VPN, however the i-mode service relies on cellular connection, not wi-fi or bluetooth.

Is there anyone who'd be willing to work with me to possibly help retrieve the game? Let me know or send me a DM on instagram here.

Thank you very much for your time!
Some good information here! I think we have some users from some of the listed European regions here too, so if they could look at the storefronts it would be worth checking for. I didn't think of non-Japanese storefronts as an option to check so thank you for bringing that up.

I wanted to clarify a few things, however. Most sources I read speak of Vodafone and i-mode as two different ports released two years a part. I am a bit hazy on the exact details as sometimes they are spoken of as both being owned by Softbank and I do see references to Vodafone being able to play i-mode but not vice versa (I think 'i-mode' may just be a general store front for iappli/DoJa games that is owned by DoCoMo). In general it seemed to be available on Vodafone 600 models and DoCoMo 900 models. I am not sure how different the two versions are. It could possibly be a difference in storefront only.

With regards to whether it's still purchasable and playable in Japan, Keju Frangelico did get back to me:
1621282502883.png

I still think it's absolutely worth checking storefronts if we know of someone who can check but if this is any indication, we have bad news and good news:
- Bad: we probably can't purchase it. (although I do still think it's a good idea to check if we can)
- Good: it was not a rental or directly tied to the vodafone network as a service! They have had their copy on their flip phone for 15 years! Which means there very well may be other copies out there installed to phones just sitting in Japanese junk shops or in kitchen drawers. It's 'lost' but not completely evaporated, so if we find it we should be able to scoop it out with some old phone fenagling.

At first I considered using a method to change the region such as a VPN, however the i-mode service relies on cellular connection, not wi-fi or bluetooth.
Yeah I looked into spoofing this and even got so far as to find an app that is supposed to mimic the i-mode service on android but I only got as far as the website and playing a few pre-loaded .jars built into the app. The website doesn't let you get very far without an account.
 

ammbot_

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Some good information here! I think we have some users from some of the listed European regions here too, so if they could look at the storefronts it would be worth checking for. I didn't think of non-Japanese storefronts as an option to check so thank you for bringing that up.

I wanted to clarify a few things, however. Most sources I read speak of Vodafone and i-mode as two different ports released two years a part. I am a bit hazy on the exact details as sometimes they are spoken of as both being owned by Softbank and I do see references to Vodafone being able to play i-mode but not vice versa (I think 'i-mode' may just be a general store front for iappli/DoJa games that is owned by DoCoMo). In general it seemed to be available on Vodafone 600 models and DoCoMo 900 models. I am not sure how different the two versions are. It could possibly be a difference in storefront only.

With regards to whether it's still purchasable and playable in Japan, Keju Frangelico did get back to me:
View attachment 277

I still think it's absolutely worth checking storefronts if we know of someone who can check but if this is any indication, we have bad news and good news:
- Bad: we probably can't purchase it. (although I do still think it's a good idea to check if we can)
- Good: it was not a rental or directly tied to the vodafone network as a service! They have had their copy on their flip phone for 15 years! Which means there very well may be other copies out there installed to phones just sitting in Japanese junk shops or in kitchen drawers. It's 'lost' but not completely evaporated, so if we find it we should be able to scoop it out with some old phone fenagling.


Yeah I looked into spoofing this and even got so far as to find an app that is supposed to mimic the i-mode service on android but I only got as far as the website and playing a few pre-loaded .jars built into the app. The website doesn't let you get very far without an account.
Good to know. If the game can no longer be purchased, perhaps the best bet would be to contact Keju, and work with them to jailbreak the phone and extract the .jar file. However, there is the issue of actually running the game, most likely done through an emulator. As far as I am aware, an emulator for i-mode does not exist beyond the app you mentioned, although there seems to be a team of people on reddit under r/emulation developing one. Info on jailbreaking vodafones is limited, but i'll look further into it. I don't know all that much about how .jars work, so if anyone can link some info it would be greatly appreciated.
 

jessiray

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Good to know. If the game can no longer be purchased, perhaps the best bet would be to contact Keju, and work with them to jailbreak the phone and extract the .jar file. However, there is the issue of actually running the game, most likely done through an emulator. As far as I am aware, an emulator for i-mode does not exist beyond the app you mentioned, although there seems to be a team of people on reddit under r/emulation developing one. Info on jailbreaking vodafones is limited, but i'll look further into it. I don't know all that much about how .jars work, so if anyone can link some info it would be greatly appreciated.
With regards to working with Keju to jailbreak their phone, while this would be a very generous offer were they to want to work with us, I'd be extremely worried about jeopardizing their known copy as they're doing other excellent preservation work on the game.

I've been keeping an eye on the Reddit emulation project too! It's some really cool stuff. Beyond that another option I've seen floated around is some Windows XP software that was used to develop for these models of phone. We could possibly load one of those into a virtual machine running windows XP.

Barring any emulators, finding the .jar file has a lot of value because we could inflate the jar and scrape the assets (sprites, sound, code, etc) and those could be used in one of the several remake projects folks in the community are working on. :)

I don't know all that much about how .jars work, so if anyone can link some info it would be greatly appreciated.
This site has a lot of basics on how to work with jar files. I'm pretty handy with old jdks so please let me know if you have any specific questions. I'm happy to help people learn how to fanangle old oracle products and use linux if I have to. There's also a lot of good info on phone cracking in the FF7 BC thread I linked on the top post.

Regarding things like emulating and jailbreaking, I've been looking into buying a junk phone of a similar model with any games loaded onto it so I can do some practice runs with breaking in to a phone itself. If that's something you wanna also do I'm happy to work together with you since we could use as many people who are interested in early 2000s Japanese cellphone tech as we can get to get this thing found! And the last thing we'd want to do is find a copy and break a phone or lose the file.

I think if I were able to break into a phone or two and get some instructions down that we know do not damage the phone, I'd feel a lot more comfortable possibly reaching out to Keju or someone else in the Japanese fandom with a known copy and seeing if they'd feel comfortable extracting the files.

Barring either of those, I considered putting out a 'bounty' saying I'm willing to pay a good amount of yen if some student or something happens to have an old flip phone with a copy they don't mind parting with. It being as rare as it is though and us being English speakers in 2021 working with Japanese tech from 2004-6, if we do find a copy we need to be careful with it.
 

PineappleLimonov

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Dang, y'all are on the ball with this.

Unfortunately the only thing I'd be able to help with is extracting the files when the .jar file gets ripped. I have some cursory experience ripping into old video game files and would definitely be interested in working with everyone to grab all those assets and maybe even recompile the game into something playable, whether that's in an emulator or otherwise.

Either way, I'm definitely gonna keep an eye on this thread and drop any links to/information on old phones of interest that I find.