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Portables (Games)

Next-Gen N-Gage Getting Ready to Go 53

Posted by Zonk
from the another-time-through-the-machine dept.
We've previously discussed the lackluster performance of Nokia's N-Gage handheld system. Just the same, despite a market seemingly sewn up by the DS and PSP the company is getting ready for another go. Pocketgamer reports that Nokia had a group of game development houses down to Santa Monica, to check things out and decide for themselves whether they wanted to make a game for the new platform. Another two-day event is slated for Madrid next week, and you'd expect there to be some discussion of the platform during GDC in March as well. No word on a release date from the article, but these certainly point to signs of Nokia's product having at least some chance coming out of the gate.
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Next-Gen N-Gage Getting Ready to Go

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  • On a significantly powerful phone.
    Hell, do a flip up design like this (http://www.nokiausa.com/phones/9300/0,7747,,00.ht ml) but put buttons instead of a qwerty keyboard.
    Slap an ARM in there and your done.
    • by vertinox (846076) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @06:10PM (#17821246)
      I think the flip phone design would be best. I was thinking like the DS only smaller.

      The only way the nGage would ever succeed is if they:

      1. Alow and foster homebrew (aka Mame games).
      2. Have a touch screen. (Dual screen in your suggested flip design would be nice)
      3. Have the ability to read SD flash cards for memory (same ones you can put in your cameras)
      4. Have a USB port (well this one isn't 100% needed if they comply with #3)
      5. Make game development really easy (see 1)
      6. No tie in with any Cell phone provider.

      But seeing no company has the balls for #1 the device is doomed to failure...
      • by Goaway (82658) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @08:09PM (#17822460) Homepage
        1. Alow and foster homebrew (aka Mame games).

        Nokia phones, and most likely most others, have done exactly that for like a decade now. Maybe your provider removes the functionality, but that's another problem entirely.

        Here's your MAME for N-Gage: http://www.harmonicode.com/EEMame/ [harmonicode.com]
        • 1. Alow and foster homebrew (aka Mame games).

          Apart from Gridlee and Robby Roto, the vast majority of MAME games aren't pure "homebrew", that is, free software or other lawful freeware. LOCKJAW Advance [pineight.com], on the other hand...

          Nokia phones, and most likely most others, have done exactly that for like a decade now. Maybe your provider removes the functionality

          What provider in my country (USA) doesn't?

          • by Goaway (82658)
            What provider in my country (USA) doesn't?

            I don't know, I don't live the mobile backwaters. Maybe you could move.
            • by tepples (727027)

              Maybe you could move.

              If I move, I'd still be in the United States. Or what other country would want me?

              • by KDR_11k (778916)
                Any country with less crappy cellphone providers? Try a random European one.
              • by Goaway (82658)
                From friends who went there, I hear China loves Americans. They probably have better cell phone providers, too.
      • by vga_init (589198)

        The only way the nGage would ever succeed is if they:

        1. Alow and foster homebrew (aka Mame games).
        2. Have a touch screen. (Dual screen in your suggested flip design would be nice)
        3. Have the ability to read SD flash cards for memory (same ones you can put in your cameras)
        4. Have a USB port (well this one isn't 100% needed if they comply with #3)
        5. Make game development really easy (see 1)
        6. No tie in with any Cell phone provider.

        I think there must be more to it than that. Gamepark Holdings did 5

        • I think there must be more to it than that. Gamepark Holdings did 5 out of those 6 things with the GP2X, which is modestly popular but not a big hit in the general market.

          The "more to it" involves at least the following:

          7. Bricks
          8. Mortar
          9. Promotion

          GPH just failed to market the GP2X in the United States. It was difficult to learn of their existence, and anyone who wanted one had to have it individually shipped from overseas.

        • by Kris_J (10111) *
          The original N-Gage covered 1, 3(well, MMC), 4 and 6. I can't speak for 5, but basically being a Series 60 meant there was plenty of stuff out there for it.
    • just get a good, solid nokia phone and duct-tape it to a DS. Everyone wins.
    • When you said 'flip-up' I thought you were talking about the E70 [engadget.com]. A hybrid of that and the N800 [nokiausa.com] should be a decent shape for a gaming phone.
  • Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mr. Hankey (95668) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @05:31PM (#17820684) Homepage
    Not to sound too negative, but why? There are already handhelds on the market (one from Sony and two from Nintendo, even the GBA still sells) that are more than capable of fending off an uninspired phone/console combo. People who play games probably want to do so on a dedicated gaming device, to avoid killing their phone's battery life. A built-in game or two couldn't hurt, and there are already a number of games you can download based on Java. It almost seems like they want to lose money with these devices.

    I guess on the plus side it couldn't suck as badly as the original N-Gage, they must have learned something from the horrible control layout and weak graphics capability. Good luck to them, and let's hope for a solid implementation.
    • by Ant P. (974313)
      And if an uninspired MP3 player/console combo is failing in the games market even with the main focus on games and millions in advertising, this has no chance.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "There are already handhelds on the market (one from Sony and two from Nintendo, even the GBA still sells) that are more than capable of fending off an uninspired phone/console combo. People who play games probably want to do so on a dedicated gaming device, to avoid killing their phone's battery life."

      This point of view comes up whenever there's a topic about a new gadget on a phone. The answer is very simple. I have a DS, PSP, GBA, and a digital camera. Most of the time, I ONLY have my phone on me. Wh
  • New comers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lanceleader (1050398)
    New comers often have a difficult time. Especially in the gaming world. One of the reasons that the N-Gage was a flop is that Nintendo has an iron grip on the hand-held gaming market.
    • by WiiVault (1039946)
      While that can be true. I think in the case of the N-Gage the failure falls clearly on Nokia. The nonremovable carts (without doing backflips), the massive size, poor controls, and oddly oriented screen doomed the device from its inception. Even if the never models are better its hard to escape such a massive WHOOPS!
      • That was very dumb. The Nokia fanboy suck-up explaination I've heard for having to remove the battery to get to the game was to keep the machine from being on while running the game. That was an incredibly dumb idea. Anyone that's seen an original game boy would know that its power switch has a tab lock that prevents the game from being removed. If Nokia can't learn lessons from existing systems then they just stepped into the wrong market.
        • by tepples (727027)

          The Nokia fanboy suck-up explaination I've heard for having to remove the battery to get to the game was to keep the machine from being on while running the game. That was an incredibly dumb idea. Anyone that's seen an original game boy would know that its power switch has a tab lock that prevents the game from being removed. If Nokia can't learn lessons from existing systems then they just stepped into the wrong market.

          You're right, but I'll clarify: SD cards and DS cards are a block device [pineight.com]. This makes it more like a disk than like a traditional Game Boy Game Pak. Therefore, N-Gage could have handled surprise removal of the SD card the same way that the Nintendo DS and PlayStation 2 slimline handle surprise removal of the medium.

      • the best thing about the first N-Gage is that Nokia PR said something along the lines that you wouldn't want to be caught dead pulling out a GBA in public because it's so uncool [sidetalking.com].

        I can't make that shit up.
    • The reason the N-Gage was a flop was because it was woefully underpowered. Nokia was pushing developers to make 3D games on a machine with no 3D hardware and not even a hardware divider.
      • There were many reasons, one being, that the original ngage had a lousy form factor, the cartridge slot was basically behind the battery, it was not even the 3d games. It was a lousy phone due to being too bulky, it was a lousy handheld game system due to the difficulty of being able to get new games into the machine. The second ngage fixed all of that, but at that time the reputation already was ruined.
    • ...and I think the main (and possibly only relevant) reason for its failure is that it sucks really, really hard. It's overly complicated, the buttons feel like phone buttons instead of like gamepad triggers, the screen size is only suitable for a very specific subset of all game genres, and it's too slow for 3D graphics, yet most games are in 3D.

      There are about five playable games for the N-Gage (High Seize, Pathway to Glory 1 and 2, and... uh... okay, there are three).

  • "Actually, [slashdot.org] the stuff in the iPhone was well-documented in radio waves, software, and sound encoding long before Apple. While credit should be delivered for implementing this scheme in a world of already-entrenched smartphones, it falls into the category of age-old telephony. This same scheme is used in the N-Gage -- a product at least 3 or 4 years old.

    In a nutshell: cramming a bunch of functions onto one device."

    Make sure to read the context of it. :-P
  • But will it side talk [sidetalkin.com]?
  • Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sunburnt (890890) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @05:53PM (#17821040)
    I wonder which ethnicity's cuisine they'll tap for design inspiration this time?
  • by curmi (205804)
    Do a deal with Nintendo to include the GBA chips in your phone, and integrate with that. Why try and compete with Sony and Nintendo, you will always be an after-thought.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mgblst (80109)
      Would you have given the same advice to Sony a few years ago? Or Apple when they were thinking about the ipod? Probably.

      Nokia is the biggest makers of Mobile phones in the world, with a huge market share. It is pretty obvious for them to expand in this direction. Some products succeed, and some products fail, for a number of complicated reasons. But nothing new would ever happen if you were in charge. Lets hope that never happens!
  • by Xolom (989077)
    WHY is nokia trying for another one? did they not learn after last time?
  • It totally flopped the first time. Honestly, I think that the main reason that the DS is the top is because it is a system that PLAYS GAMES. That's it. You know, I barely EVER see people playing a game on PSP. It's not popular as a portable game system, but a portable computer. Trying to jam a phone, mp3 player, and game machine into one will fail miserably. Its the same reason I'd rather have a phone and an iPod versus a phone that plays music, I'd rather have one machine that does excellent at a sin
  • by Control Group (105494) * on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @08:28PM (#17822570) Homepage
    We can't get a follow up to Advent Rising or another episode of SiN, but we can get an N-Gage 2?

    That's pretty fucked up, right there.
  • by Cadallin (863437) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @08:28PM (#17822578)
    Yet so far. The N-gage is a dead end, drop it. It's never going to succeed, because you're never going to get development on it. Unless you're willing to start up a top tier development studio and market some AAA titles, which would be hugely expensive and would still probably fail. You're not Microsoft, you can't bull your way into a market running billion dollar losses.

    Now, what should you do? The Internet Tablets. These things are hot. However, they need some major tweaks. Stop trying to use your current smartphone batteries for them, their restricting your battery life and your power budget WAY too much. You need something beefier, around a 2200-2500mAH battery. What to do with the extra power? More CPU for Crissakes. The 300MHz arm is not doing what you need. You need either a much faster chip, or one of the hot new dual core ARM SOC. Also a media accelerator. Let's see some 2D acceleration on that bad boy. THIS is your game machine. It'll do everything. Wi-fi internet, SKYPE, media playback. Its potentially an iPhone AND PSP killer. Put some money into bluetooth gamepads and its suddenly a far cooler game machine than the PSP and GP2X combined.

    • by Cadallin (863437)
      Anybody have any actual thoughts, comments or critiques? That's what I'd like to hear. What I've just described is essentially my dream for what an Internet Tablet ought to be. Those specs are in addition to whats already in the new Nokia 800 BTW. Dual SD card slots is awesome, and it is expected that those can be made SDHC capable via a software upgrade. 8-16+GB of flash storage with a large, 800x480 display? Heck yeah! Nokia just needs to release a device with sufficient CPU/graphics power to make
    • by jarik2 (204706)
      The N800 internet tablet you are talking about has a TI OMAP 2420 chip according to the Maemo FAQ [maemo.org]. Wikipedia OMAP page [wikipedia.org] reveals that the OMAP2 architecture already has a PowerVR 2D/3D graphics accelerator and an IVA video accelerator besides that 330 MHz ARM11. If Nokia is actually going to make another N-gage, I bet it will be based on the same chip.
  • I've had an N-Gage QD for a bit over a year (got it on clearance).

    Likes:

    * Bluetooth very open (you can up/download a lot more than on most phones).
    * J2ME implementation reasonably useful (I've popped a couple of my J2ME apps on there and they run well).
    * MMC expandability (nice with the ogg player you can get for it).
    * Works really well as a phone (better than my wife's Sidekick II and our roommate's cheapo Moto).

    Dislike
  • I won't be the first here to wonder why they're going at it yet again...you'd think they'd notice that nobody cares (unless it's been financially viable and I am unaware...anybody?)

    But here's the point that hasn't been mentioned yet: are they actually going to call this thing an N-Gage? Because seriously, I don't think that brand name is going to get anybody too excited. The people who know what an N-Gage is would quite likely know that nobody likes them/they r teh suk.

    To the person who suggested the GB

  • They should give it a big screen and movie player capabilities, partner with Microsoft, let people "squirt" demo versions of games to each other, and call it the N-Zune. I'm sure it'd destroy the iPhone.
  • Straight into the bargain bin!

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