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Getting N-Gaged
Nokia's handheld gaming device debuts
Nokia is looking to enter the gaming market by getting a handhold in handhelds-and its N-Gage looks poised to do just that. Called a mobile game deck, the wireless multiplayer mobile platform can handle both local and remote 3D gaming. Gamers can play solo, or can go head-to-head locally via Bluetooth wireless technology or remotely via cellular networks.
N-Gage's ergonomic design includes a large high-resolution color screen (176x208 pixels) complete with a backlight, and an eight-way rocking directional pad. In addition to playing games, N-Gage also plays digital music (both MP3 and AAC files) and serves as a stereo FM radio. Oh yeah-and it also works as a tri-band GSM 900/1800/1900 mobile phone.
Nokia is touting the fact that N-Gage's online component not only means access to online multiplayer games and communities, but also deeply enhances the game experience overall, since new games, game levels, and features can be downloaded directly.
Nokia will show off a variety of third-party Multimedia Card (MMC) games for N-Gage, such as Tomb Raider and Pandemonium from Eidos, Red Faction and Major League Baseball from THQ, and several titles from Sega, including SonicN and Super Monkey Ball.
Nokia will also display its own games that demonstrate the device's multiplayer potential. Bounce, a rubber ball-based game that supports up to four players via Bluetooth, features 30 levels of gameplay and multiplayer minigames. Kart Racing, for up to four players, offers 16 diverse tracks you can race on alone or against friends.
N-Gage is built on the Series 60 Platform, which is supported by Nokia, Samsung, Panasonic, Siemens, and Sendo-that's nearly two-thirds of the global mobile phone market share. The device also features advanced copy-protection schemes to help prevent unauthorized sharing of games. Its rechargeable battery includes life enough for three to six hours of gaming (depending on the game) or two to four hours of talk time. It connects to a PC via Bluetooth for calendar synching and USB for downloading larger files, such as audio files and games.
N-Gage will be available from major retail outlets across five continents by this holiday season, at a price announced here at E3.
-By Joel Strauch
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