It looks great but is almost entirely unplayable — I’m stuck somewhere around the fifth level and I’ve no idea why my snake keeps arbitrarily blowing up!
I had a similar experience with Nokia’s (lack of) game design when I covered E3 back in 2004. I was demoing some WWII sim on the original N-Gage handset at Nokia’s booth, and couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. It didn’t help that some Finnish dude was hovering behind me barking curt and very complicated instructions..
Fortunately N-Gage is no longer the subject of ridicule, but instead a built-in application on Nseries phones. The idea shows a lot of promise, but definitely requires a WiFi connection or unlimited data plan on your handset.
(The N-Gage user interface…)
Like anything else these days N-Gage has a social networking layer to it. Meh. What’s far more interesting to me is that every single game in their catalogue has a free trial that ranges in scope from extremely generous (anything by Nokia) to ridiculously short (cough cough — Gameloft — cough).
I played the Mile High Pinball demo (no relation to the mile-high club — sorry) for a good ten minutes with no signs of being locked out. And with a good pedigree of game developers aboard, N-Gage could be a big hit for casual gamers everywhere.
The only problem is the actual games themselves. Have a look at the grab below, from Nokia’s own title Space Impact Kappa Base. Do you have any idea what’s going on here? Because I sure as hell don’t!
And here’s where I put on my old codger’s hat… I maintain that my stuffy E61i is every bit as suitable for gaming as the N82, for two big reasons:
First, any decent emulator will open your handset up to virtually the entire history of console video gaming. Second, console games were programmed for landscape 4×3 ratio TV sets, and fit perfectly on the E61i’s landscape 4×3 screen.
These console classics may not have 3D rendering or surround sound, but if that’s so important for you then you’re probably hauling around a DS or PSP in your Gundam-branded backpack anyway — i.e., you’re not a casual gamer, so STFU!
This all may change with the release of Reset Generation, which some are touting as the killer game for Nokia’s nascent N-Gage platform. Too bad it isn’t out now for me to play…