Nokia’s N-Gage games console is set to make an unexpected comeback. The much hyped – but rarely played – mobile gaming platform is set to be reborn as an added value feature on the high-end N-series smartphones.
Undaunted by the success of the PSP and DS – and the failure of its own games-centric handsets – Nokia used its presence at the E3 games show in Las Vegas to announce that N-Gage will reappear as an application on Symbian Series 60 smartphones in the first half of 2007.
And although Nokia is tight lipped about which handsets will support the new games, it seems likely that every new N-series phone will offer the chance for gadgeteers to enjoy better-than-Java gaming.
Of the latest N-series handsets, the N93 is the most likely gaming candidate, as it features 3D graphics acceleration. It looked particularly impressive when running the forthcoming Wipeout-style racer System Rush: Evolution and fight sim ONE – Who’s Next?. Other games on show included Pro Series Golf and fishing game Creatures of the Deep.
As well as a gaming engine, the N-Gage application will provide an iTunes-style interface to allow easy download and management of games, plus access to the online N-Gage arena that will allow over-the-air multiplayer gaming, messaging and other community elements.
Games pricing is unconfirmed, but will be dependent on the quality and complexity of the game. Large games will be available for PC download before being transferred to the phone, to avoid excessive mobile phone bills – but Nokia will ditch the current model of selling N-Gage software on the high street in the form of memory cards. Hopefully, that means the end of N-Gage games selling at a wallet-hostile £25.
Further details remain sketchy at present, although mobile specialist Gameloft has signed up to produce content, and Nokia is also committed to in-house development. It’s likely more developers will join before the N-Gage relaunch in early 2007.
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