In a startling revelation, PocketGamer is reporting that Nokia is set to unveil a next-gen version of their ill-fated N-Gage hybrid cellphone/handheld gaming system in the next coming months. A conference was recently held in Santa Monica that had attendees from Disney, Sega of America, Sony Online Entertainment, Universal, Square Enix, Capcom, THQ Wireless, Glu Mobile, Digital Chocolate, EA Mobile, Tecmo, Namco and Vivendi Game checking out the capabilities of the new system.
No, April Fools didn’t come early this year. Nokia has said in the past that the N-Gage platform was never going away, that it was always going to be integrated into a broad range of their handheld devices. They even had games at their E3 booth last year.
I’m guessing that the N-Gage as we know it is merely going to be a suite of services that many of their phones will provide, which may help it gain a larger install base compared to the original’s weak showing. This is, of course, pure conjecture at this point. Nokia has unveiled nothing to the public officially.
In retrospect, the N-Gage was not that terrible. I actually purchased the QD version, and thought it had some great features hiding behind its rather large rubber casing. It had an awesome online system with its quasi-Live service, the N-Gage Arena, that I thought was very original for a handheld. And there were a few (emphasis on the “few” there) games that I enjoyed.
The biggest problems with the original N-Gage was its meager game selection and the fact that they sold a really crappy version of the system first. Taco-shell, anyone? If Nokia wants back in, they better plan out their attack with more thought this time. With promises of game sharing abilities ala Snakes and a next-gen Arena service, they seem to be on the right track. And I’m glad they didn’t run back home with their tails between their legs. Finally, someone in this industry that’s got a pair.