Launched in October 2003, the N-Gage was Nokia’s attempt to merge the handheld gaming and cell phone markets into one machine. At the time it reminded me of the “multimedia” systems of the '90s trying to merge game consoles with other media but failing to attract either segment of the market. And its choppy 3d games did give me 3DO flashbacks.
Its interface was cumbersome and not exactly intuitive but it received a more comfortable, and more compact follow up model in 2004, the N-Gage QD. This is the version I own. I was lucky to get a ton of $2 games on clearance on Boxing Day in 2005.
Despite some hardware and marketing flaws, it still managed to get some quality games and it sort of lived on as a digital download service for multiple Nokia phone models in the late 2000s. It’s not in the same league as the Game Boy Advance, DS, or PSP for games, though.
Here are some games I like that had retail releases during the system’s main life in 2003-2005:
Developer: Bugbear Entertainment
From the developer of the FlatOut series comes a racing game with plenty of charm. The aerial view works well with the system’s screen configuration, the story mode is a cheesy romp about high society, and it controls smoothly despite the digital controls.
Mile High Pinball
Despite some slight frame rate issues, this is a neat little pocket pinball game. The goal is to keep advancing upwards through more than 80 screens.
Developer: Toys for Bob
A port of the 1996 Playstation “2.5d” platformer.
Pathway to Glory
It might look generic but tactical turn-based strategy fans shouldn’t miss it.
Pocket Kingdom: Own the World
Developer: Sega Mobile
Sega was big on spreading their content among various systems in the aftermath of leaving the console hardware business. This is a strategy/RPG in the vein of the Dragon Force on Saturn except the plot is big on fourth wall breaking and it has an online mode.
Developer: Lavastorm Engineering/Compile
This didn’t break new ground for the puzzle series but it’s a solid entry that takes graphics from the 16-bit versions and adds some new atmospheric music.
While based on the Game Boy Advance game of the same name, the N-Gage version swapped several levels for new ones.
Requiem of Hell
Developer: Digital Red
If you want a vaguely Diablo-ish ARPG, this is worth checking out. It’s only a few hours long so it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Splinter Cell: Team Stealth Action
The 3d Splinter Cell on N-Gage isn’t one I would recommend but this 2d release is quite playable from what I remember. I was looking for my copy hidden away in a closet to give it another try but I haven’t found it yet.
Sort of like Wipeout meets TRON. The stylized graphics make the polygon environments in this much easier to distinguish compared to the pixel smear of many other 3d games on the system.
Developer: Ideaworks/Core Design
The outfit from Angel of Darkness may have mislead people into thinking this was a new game but it’s a port of first Tomb Raider. If you want TR1 on the go, this is a competent port, just don’t go in expecting a sliky smooth frame rate. There was also an online mode called “Shadow Racing” where players could race each others’ ghost times but I imagine that would be useless now.
Your thoughts on the N-Gage?