Why Nokia's N-Gage Will be an Awesome System

This is the topic post of a thread I started in a Gameboy Advance message board in early 2003. At the time, Nokia's new N-Gage "game deck" was consisdered a possible serious threat to Nintendo's handheld gaming empire, and many Nintendo fans were worried about what would happen if it became successful.

I offered an alternate posibility, what if the success of the N-Gage lead directly to Nintendo releasing a better online-connected device to compete?

The posting is offered unedited and unaltered from how I first published it nearly a decade ago. Enjoy.

I just got a black SP an im about the biggest GBA freak you could meet, but i think the N-Gage has potential and hope it does well. Gameboy Advance (or rather the SP, since Nintendo is launching it into the forefront of the GB world) is starting to appeal to a more general audiance. More than ever before I see grown peoples on the subways (lives in NYC) playing with GBA's, purple and pink ones (my standard GBA is purple). I can only see this number rising with the more mature looking SP released in non kiddie colors, not even the 'nintendo purple' that they seem so obsessed with these days.

The N-Gage brings back memories of while back I got involved with a company called Cybiko. They had a black and white device called for about 100.00 back in about 2000 that had downloadable games, local wireless chat, e-mail capabilities and promised MP3 and Memory card releases.

It seemed very promising, but as it turned out the games sucked, severely. It made some of the Game&Watch games look like masterpieces in gameplay and graphics. I bet the Cybiko wasent even as powerful as a classic Game Boy. They never fully released the advertised MP3 or Memory card attatchments, and the range for wireless communication came out to about 50 feet, this was obviously not in their very misleading ad. The cybiko was a cult hit and made them some money, along with an alledged investment from AOL.

In 2001 they came out with a new thinner version the called "CybikoXtreme". They promised 3-d games and MXD music video downloads. Somthing possessed me to choose this underpowered B&W system over the GBA, and it was 150.00 (days after buying it the price was lowered to 40.00). They were no new games, just the same old ones, there was one game they made called Ki-Ti. It didnt even match the graphical level of Donkey Kong and was impossible to play because it required the unreleased memory card to play it on. Now their site hasent been updated in months, and their testimonials section is nothing but old (likely faked) testimonials from 2000 with the dates changed and reposted to their site. Now there marketing this crappy toy in the UK, you can check their site at cybiko.com if you care at all.

but the reason i brought Cybiko up is because the n-gage promises many of the same things. But the N-Gage seems much more legit, its run by a major company, and has the backing up of key developers like Sega.

the games seem to be more promising than the the games US gamers are dialing up on their (mostly) small screened, black and white phones like Snake, and bootleged versions of Pac-Man and Tetris.

hereIm going to go through each publicised aspect of the N-Gage.


It looks cooler than the Standard GBA, more like you'd be able to use it in the mall and still look cool. The screen is smaller than the GBA's, and maby even a bit smaller than the GBC's, it seems like a waste of space. A good thing though, is that it's more compact than a Classic GBA, and therefore more casually totable, but scratches on the screen is a problem the SP will never have to endure because of it's clamshell design. One huge problem with the N-gage is that you have to remove the battery just to insert a game, whats up with that??


The keypad looks a bit unfriendly to GBA gamers, and reminds me of the Colecovision(sp?) and Atari Jaguar controllers. For modern consoles, this is unacceptable, but for this gamesystem/phone combo it seems like it could work. the buttons look well suited for gameplay and more buttons is somthing people complained about with the sp. more buttons means less cramming buttons with combonation button pushes, so in this case its a good thing; though sticking a keypad on a GBA or a SP would be unnacceptable.


this is supposed to be more way powerful than the GBA, but talk is cheep, the screenshots of Tomb Raider and Pandimonium look promising, and almost to the quality of Playstation games, but the GBA is already approaching the level of PSX quality 3-D, and Tomb Raider was reported to have a horrible framerate. Framerate for a system as alledgedly powerful as N-Gage should at least be able to match that of Super Monkey ball Jr. for GBA, which i will now consider the visual standard for 3-d handheld gaming, thouh Tomb Raider has been reported to have improved in quality greatly. Pandimonium however, looked perfect, and almost unimprovised form the PSX game. The GBA was once proudly sold by Nintendo as a "Super NES you can take anywhere", but already its gone far byond that. If N-Gage truely does have the power to reach PSX quality 3-d, then we can expect great things from it gameplay wise in the future.


The N-Gage is being marketed by Nokia as a "Mobile Game Deck". I see it as more 70% game console, 40% cell phone. Obviously this would only appeal to someone who at least already has a cell phone or was in the market for one, and possibly owns a Game Boy of some sort. Nokia would be kidding themselves to think this would make people with no need for cell phones go out and get a n-gage. The cell-phone game system combo has great potential in not only advanceing the handheld market as far as handheld gaming, but online gaming as a whole. Sony and Microsot can blab all they want about how networked gaming can change the games industry, but mobile phone manufactuars and developers in Japan and Europe are shutting up and doing it.

Picture this scenario: an average gamer wakes up and picks up his Magical Fictional Online Gameboy Advance SP before running out the door, and downloads and checks his e-mail. On the bus, he plays a MMORPG version of Final Fantasy Tactics, (or Mario RPG if you desire) with other users on GBA's, game enabled phones, or N-Gages. He gets bored and downloads the newest issue of a in-depth electronic magazine, dedicated wireless gaming. he can also play sipmple applet games and can access wireless websites on a network ive invisioned called iGear, which goes byond cheesy WAP text and offers fully fledged web content. If he felt like it, he could instantly download new levels in Monkey Ball junior or new Tracks in a racing game, or have instant access to high scores achieved by other games minuites ago. Does this not appeal to you?

Networked handheld gaming can make all of this possible, and dont laugh at the prospect of such a system being made by Nintendo just yet; Nintendo has already released an experimental (now disonctinued) service in Japan that let you connect your Game Boy Color to a cell phone and have online play. Remember the Battle Tower in pokemon Crystal? In japan the tower was filled with real-life players using the service. If the inital concept of a mobile game deck takes off, nintendo would likely not hesitate in creating such a interactive gaming environment, that will be interchangeable with home online games. If a MMORPG on N-Gage became big, Nintendo would likely follow suit, and Handheld consoles would be launched into the core of the gaming world and be represented right along with PS2, X-box, and Gamecube, any pocket gamer would drool at the prospect.

its easy to get excited by Nokia hype, but we have to be totally realistic. Game Gear, Wonderswan, Nomad, Lynx, GameMate, game.com, and Wonderswan Color have gone up against the Game Boy with most with far superior technical specs and still failed. Nokia may be a giant in the phone market, but there entering uncharted waters, and there is a very real chance they'll end up all wet.

GBA freaks can find a million things wrong with the N-Gage, and many of them are valid (i.e. tiny screen), but this will open up lots of possibities for the gaming world in general, prviding that these are legitimate games and not time wasters, as more than a few cell games have been. Nintendo needs compitition in the handheld market, thats why besides games like Metroid Fusion, nintendo has been showing half-butted software support besides played out SNES Mario ports. The success of N-Gage can only mean good things for the GBA, as the N-Gage isint going after the GBA market, but trying to carve a new market all together. even die-hard Gameboy Advance fanboys should watch the N-Gage closely, and if your a true fan of handheld gaming you will be rooting for N-Gage even as you sit back on your couch playing Golden Sun 2.

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