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ups: virtual console- style delivery service, independent developer encouragement system, does not require users to buy a new system, great graphics engine
downs: N-Gage's previous history

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The New N-Gage: The System that Could
game: N-Gage
posted by: RJ Brooks
publisher: Nokia
date posted: 01:19 PM Sun May 28th, 2006
last revision: 01:15 PM Sun May 28th, 2006

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Click to read.After two failed attempts to enter the portable gaming industry, Nokia has shifted their presentation of the N-Gage away from hardware and onto something that may actually work. What was once an exclusive portable gaming phone is now a virtual console designed to provide games to the entire Nokia network.

The new Nokia N-Gage is now a gaming network that will only be available to Nokia phone owners. They will simply subscribe to the N-Gage service and download games that are available exclusively through it. This fits well into Nokia\'s new strategy; when they announced the death of the original N-Gage, they stated that the company would focus instead on gaming for all of their cell phones, not just one or two.

After feeling the backlash of lack third-party support during the original N-Gage launch, Nokia is actively courting third-party developers. This time, though, Nokia is encouraging not just well known developers to support the N-Gage, but also independent developers with a program called 4 Room Nokia. 4 Room is designed to assist independent developers in bringing their games to the N-Gage network.

The technology for these games is impressive, so far. Gone are the Gameboy Color-style graphics. Enter the new age-PS1-style graphics for your cell phone.

Nokia already has various games for the N-Gage network in playable builds. One example is a fighting game tentatively called \"One\" that will be available on their N-Gage service. The color palette is reminiscent of Tekken 1-2, but the quality of the graphics definitely surpasses them. Fully textured, light shaded - no hard or jagged polygons visible.

They also have a new version of the classic snake-style games. The player\'s purpose is to collect objects randomly placed on the level, and the more they collect, the longer their snake grows. This version distinguishes itself by making it a first person game with a graphical design reminiscent of Tron. Like the fighting game, the animation is on par with its graphical quality, and there were no signs of slow down. How well the game actually plays, of course, will be somewhat dependent on which cell phone you own; it will be interesting to see how Nokia balances the gameplay to make their games play on a wide variety of phones.

Upon launch in the first half of 2007, the N-Gage will release with at least 15 first-party titles. Whether the new N-Gage will also include games that were previously made for the earlier versions of the N-Gage - the actual cell phone - is not confirmed.

With the recent push in virtual console-style gaming services thanks to Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, Nokia is releasing their latest version of N-Gage at the right time - not to mention that none of the current portable systems are offering a similar service as of yet. Nokia\'s also seems to be learning from their mistakes. Already having playable builds of games that will not have any chance of release for at least another 6 months gives their developers more than enough time to polish their products. Nokia now has two console generations under their belt to help keep them from repeating the mistakes they made in the past, and they are making a serious effort to reach out to independent developers.

Hopefully, Nokia is giving the N-Gage enough time to properly develop and present itself to the world before its re-launch. Making the N-Gage service available for anyone that owns a Nokia phone instead of forcing them to purchase a new device is also a plus.

Despite the positive outlook on this new iteration, however, the fact is the N-Gage has a history. A negative one. It will have to fight against that, even if the new N-Gage delivers an excellent gaming experience. If they can beat these odds, however, N-Gage might actually become the success Nokia wants it to be.

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