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Namco plans pan-European mobile Pac-Man tournament

i-Mode users in France, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands compete head to head

Publisher Namco has announced the launch of the world's first international, cross-operator mobile gaming tournament - which is being held across i-Mode enabled territories in Europe from this month.

The tournament, which encompasses territories including France, Germany, the Netherlands and Greece, is open to any European i-Mode phone owner in a region where Namco's Pac-Man Arcade site is being offered.

It is based around the recently released new version of Pac-Man, which allows users to upload their high scores from the game and compare it with others, both in their local region and internationally.

The tournament itself will be run along simple lines - the player in each territory with the highest score after four to six weeks will be brought to London in November, where they will play head to head with the other winners on a Pac-Man arcade machine located at the Namco Station arcade under County Hall.

However, although the finals are to be held here in the UK, it won't be possible for gamers in the British Isles to actually enter the contest, as the UK continues to lag behind other European territories in the introduction of i-Mode services.

i-Mode will arrive in Britain and Ireland for the first time next month, with operator O2 set to launch the service in both countries in a few weeks time, marketing it as a premium data service.

"Since i-Mode was first introduced to the European market in 2002, it has proven very successful, offering access to a wide range of innovative services," commented Takeshi Natsuno, senior vice president and multimedia services boss at NTT DoCoMo, the Japanese operator which created the i-Mode system.

"Namco has been an excellent partner during this time and has offered i-Mode customers fun and entertaining content from the very beginning," he continued. "By taking part in the Pac-Man tournament with Namco, we hope to show mobile game fans all over Europe just how exciting i-Mode can be."

According to Namco, the Pac-Man tournament is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what's possible for gaming endeavours of this sort on the i-Mode service.

"Here in Japan, we launched our i-Mode service back in 1999," explained Namco's VP for web and mobile content, Tadashi Fukumoto, "and through working very closely with DoCoMo, we have learned a great deal about how to successfully run our own sites. This is the first of many exciting and innovative projects we have planned for the future."

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