N-Gage to game again

Nokia to launch new free-to-try games service on a range of its mobile phones in November, no "sidetalkin'" required.

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The Nokia N81.
The Nokia N81.

Mobile-phone maker Nokia has revealed plans to reengage N-Gage, a gaming platform that it originally launched in 2003. The first N-Gage was a specially designed combination of a mobile phone and a handheld game system, although the latest incarnation of the brand finds itself on a variety of newer Nokia phones, rather than dedicated hardware.

The new N-Gage service will be launched globally in November, and on release will be compatible with the Nokia N73, N81, N81 8GB, N93, N93i, N95, and N95 8GB. Users will be able to download N-Gage via their PC or mobile, and beginning in November the service will come preloaded on those phone models.

Once the N-Gage software has been installed, gamers can browse and try for free any game compatible with their handset. Full games can then be downloaded for between 6 and 10 euros (£4-7, $8-14), and can be bought using a credit card or added to the phone bill. Games to be available include mobile versions of The Sims 2: Pets, Tetris, FIFA 08, and Crash Bandicoot.

There were rumours back in February that the new N-Gage would be revealed at GDC, although those rumours proved to be incorrect.

The first N-Gage handset received an onslaught of criticism. The ill-fated system was mocked for having a design that meant users had to hold the phone sideways in order to make and receive phone calls.

The N-Gage QD, a redesigned model that allowed for more traditional front-talking, followed in 2004, although the launch of the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable shortly after seemed to deliver the final nail to its plastic coffin.

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