Nokia N-Gage

The N-Gage device is a combination mobile phone and handheld game system. It was produced by Nokia and released on October 7, 2003. The N-Gage QD replaced the original in 2004. The buttons were designed for a phone which made the unit difficult for game play and the cost was twice that of the Game Boy Advance, both reasons contributing to the system’s unsuccessful run in the market.

Nokia shipped 400,000 units to retailers in the first two weeks of release, but independent market research firms claimed that only 5,000 units were sold in the US and only 800 in the UK.

Popularity of handheld gaming devices and mobile phones grew in the late 1990s, so Nokia decided to develop a system that would combine the two devices into one unit. It was announced in November 2002 that the N-Gage would be released that would have the capabilities of a mobile phone and a game console, without the use of cables. Instead it would use either a Bluetooth device or the Internet.

The N-Gage was shaped similar to a taco. To play a game, the plastic cover needed to be removed along with the battery compartment to access the game slot.

In 2005, an announcement from Nokia stated it would produce the N-Gage game capabilities with a series of smartphones. These devices have been available since 2007, and the availability of original N-Gage games that were remade for the smartphones, began on February 4, 2008.

This service lets the user download the games from the official N-Gage website. The N-Gage service was discontinued in 2010 and no future smartphones would have the N-Gage platform installed.

Although the system is no longer available in the US, it is still being sold in the Chinese and Indian markets.

The system used a 104 Mhz CPU, had 3.4 MB of storage, and was capable of MP3 and Real Audio/Video playback.

A total of 58 games were made for the N-Gage, but only 56 were released in North America. Flo Boarding was released in Germany and the UK only, and Sega Rally released in Australia and Brazil only. The last game in the US released in March 2006, titled Civilization.

Image Caption: Nokia N-Gage. Credit: J-P Karna/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)