Sunday, April 6 2008, 09:34 pm

Nokia and Gaming do not Mix

If you're a big Nokia fan, I'm sure you're a little disappointed by the final release of the N-Gage platform. The app is too slow, the titles available (and upcoming titles) are weak, and they are all overpriced. $15 for a game that would only be $8 or less on the Playstation 3 makes the N-Gage software the same as the phone version - a failure.

200px-Nokia_N-GageShould I explain my reasons a little more? Sure. Let us start at the beginning. Nokia announced the N-Gage phone in 2003. This phone was plagued with numerous software issues, aside from the huge, ugly bulk part of it. Yes, the picture to the left is a phone that people held up to their faces to talk. After killing off the phone, Nokia pledged a new platform for N-Gage in 2005, which would work across a range of phones already available from Nokia. The big debut of the new platform was set for 2007, however it was delayed due to bug fixing. A pre-release of the software was made available on February, which was not very impressive as it was bug-ridden. Nokia finally released the platform to a few phone models this past and appears to be fairly bug free.

n-gage-n95-appThe application takes about ten seconds to start on my Nokia N95 with the latest firmware; ten seconds too long. Inside, I find the program is too slow as when you want to change a simple screen it delays it a few seconds. Playing a game is pretty straight forward, but you'll be delayed a few seconds on startup, plus you'll have about 10 seconds of waiting through an "n-gage" logo and other annoying company logos. Forget about playing a game instantly. The games can be bought in full for unlimited play or on a time basis of one day or a month. The few games I've seen so far also offer multiplayer gameplay, which is refreshing, but the cost of these games prohibit me from enjoying it. I'll stick to my Linux desktop or Playstation 3 for serious gaming. If Nokia drops the prices on their titles to $10 or less I would take them a little more seriously, but since the Euro is worth more than the dollar (yes, make all the jokes you want) it is a far fetched idea that USA residents will use N-Gage.

If Nokia can improve the application's performance, and reduce the cost of the titles, they may yet find a place for gaming on cell phones, but they have a long way to go as it seems their software development is not in all means speedy.