Can’t decide whether to buy a DS, PSP, N-Gage QD or Gizmondo? Well, European gamers can not at the Tapwave Zodiac to their list of handheld consoles to check out.
The multimedia handheld will be available on the high street from 22nd October – and it’s at the expensive site end of the market. A 32mb Zodiac 1 will set you back UK£269.99 (€391), the 128mb Zodiac 2 will cost you UK£329.99 (€477). Its nearest functional equivalent, Sony’s PSP is expected to cost nearer UK£200. (€290).
Games, stored on SD cards, are priced at UK£29.99 and will include Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, SpyHunter, DOOM II Duke Nukem Mobile. There will also be two compilation packs – Z Pak: Adventure, which will include Galactic Realms and Legacy; and Z Pak: Fun featuring Paintball, MegaBowling and Kickoo’s Breakout. More titles are promised for Christmas.
The Zodiac is built around an ARM9 processor and a ATI Imageon chipset, running PalmOS — and so is being pitched as considerably more than just a games machine: the hardware and OS used mean that users can play video, read ebooks and listen to music, and enjoy the huge library of Palm software that already exists. But will the public be willing to shell out for what appears to be a specialised Palm Pilot?
Nokia have already had their hands burned badly in the handheld games console market twice – and with two very compelling units from Sony and Nintendo, not to mention the Gizmondo GPS gaming, it’s going to be a very tough market for the Zodiac to survive in. Given that floor space is very expensive in the run up to Christmas, any new console will have to prove itself very quickly before retailers move it on in favour of something that will shift more units.