N-GAGE 1.5: Back for a Beating

Nokia has announced the next iteration of their mobile gaming platform in the form of the N-GAGE QD. It’s backwardly compatible with the existing N-GAGE games, but there have been a few refinements and changes, all based on what Nokia have been learned since the first model was released.

Nokia’s Senior Vice President of Games (now there’s a crrrrrrazy job title), Ilkka Raiskinen said “After six months on the market with the N-Gage platform, we wanted to expand our device portfolio based on the feedback we’ve received. With improved gaming ergonomics, gamers can now start to play games at the push of a button and enjoy the increased responsiveness of the game keys. We also added support for hot-swap MMC and extended the battery life.”

N-GAGE Arena is pushed to the fore this time, and it’s a smart move too, as it was the multiplayer functions that made the console stand out from other hand-held gaming platforms out there. The QD now has a Arena Launcher allowing gamers to communicate, view score rankings and download content via a GPRS connection.

The N-GAGE QD has also incorporated some of the features that the (admittedly few) purchasers of the first system requested – particularly the improvements to gaming controls. As Nokia insisted that the first N-GAGE was a gaming platform first, phone second many saw the awkward placement and size of the controls as a bit of a howler.

Another welcome change is the positioning of the microphone and speaker – Raiskinen added: “For phone calls, we reoriented the speaker and microphone to support ‘classic talking’.” Previously, if you wanted to make a phone call, you had to hold the handset at a right angle sticking out from your head. At the very least, this would make you look somewhat foolish. However, we can’t imagine anyone getting mugged for an N-GAGE.

With greater emphasis on multiplayer gaming and improved ergonomics, it could be that they’ve got it right this time, especially since Nintendo and Sony’s next hand-held gaming platforms will almost certainly not support GPRS gaming.

Nokia on the new N-GAGE QD

Yahoo on the story

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?