It turns out that I’m a lot less fond of Java for resource-constrained work. I remember all the little gripes I had with the Java language, like no unsigned bytes, and the consequences of strong typing, like no memset, and the inability to read resources into anything but a char array, but the frustrating issues are details down close to the hardware.
The biggest problem is that Java is really slow. On a pure cpu / memory / display / communications level, most modern cell phones should be considerably better gaming platforms than a Game Boy Advanced. With Java, on most phones you are left with about the CPU power of an original 4.77 mhz IBM PC, and lousy control over everything.
I spent a fair amount of time looking at java byte code disassembly while optimizing my little rendering engine. This is interesting fun like any other optimization problem, but it alternates with a bleak knowledge that even the most inspired java code is going to be a fraction the performance of pedestrian native C code.
Even compiled to completely native code, Java semantic requirements like range checking on every array access hobble it. One of the phones (Motorola i730) has an option that does some load time compiling to improve performance, which does help a lot, but you have no idea what it is doing, and innocuous code changes can cause the compilable heuristic to fail.
Write-once-run-anywhere. Ha. Hahahahaha. We are only testing on four platforms right now, and not a single pair has the exact same quirks. All the commercial games are tweaked and compiled individually for each (often 100+) platform. Portability is not a justification for the awful performance.