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So you may be asking yourself, ‘What’s a Zeemote?’ Firstly, you need to stop talking to yourself in public. It’s creepy, and it doesn’t work with your trenchcoat. Secondly, the Zeemote is a little whiz-bang doodad for doing analog gaming on your mobile device. Come with me into the land where some of us actually carry one around for a mobile gaming fix while our PSP/DSes are lodged firmly in a crocodile gullet.
Nokia has finally decided its mobile gaming service N-Gage is ready to meet the world. The website, unveiled this week, has the necessary software for you to download to connect with your cell phone. The company is planning to have about 30 games available by midyear with another 30 by the end of 2008. They also are offering free trials. Companies such as EA, Gameloft, and Glu Mobile will be designing games for them. Check with Nokia to see if you have the right model and if you must pay data charges to download the games.
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Apparently Nokia is nothing if not persistent. This week Nokia plans to introduce a third cell phone to bear the name N-Gage and try yet again to gain some traction with its cell phone/game device hybrid. This time they spent some time with the design firm Ideo to research what consumers wanted in such a device and think they have it right this time. “The graphics problem has been removed. And phones today are always connected and you always carry them with you. Phones are now the perfect device for gaming,” says product manager Tomi Huttula.
Most curious perhaps is the decision to stick with the name N-Gage, which at this point carries some pretty negative baggage. The idea of a cell phone that plays half decent games isn’t particularly bad on the face of it but the Finland-based company learned the hard way in 2003 that gamers, who are likely to be the early adopters and initial market for such a device, won’t jump on board just because an idea has potential but lacks proper execution. There’s no reason to stick with the brand name when it has already failed twice.
Still, Nokia seems undaunted by past disappointments and is focusing this time around on the multiplayer features and streamlining the experience to be more attractive to casual gamers. Also Nokia isn’t focusing on a single model this time around but will offer N-Gage games on a few of its Series 60 smartphones, presumably as a trial run, before gradually expanding to all Series 60 models. The prices have yet to be announced, but more details should be available later in the week.
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