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.