Panasonic unveils new MMORPG-focused handheld

Jungle will feature full keyboard, be able to run browser-based massively multiplayer games; rumored to run Linux OS.

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Since 2003, several devices unsuccessfully tried to break into the Nintendo- and Sony-dominated handheld market, including the Tapwave Zodiac, the Gizmondo, and the N-Gage. Now, another device will attempt to crack the space dominated by the various iterations of the DS, DSi, and, to a lesser extent, the PSP.

Panasonic's Jungle aims to put MMORPGs into the palm of a gamer's hand.
Panasonic's Jungle aims to put MMORPGs into the palm of a gamer's hand.

Last night, Panasonic unveiled the Jungle, a new, clam-shaped "mobile device concept designed specifically for online gamers," according to the company. Tech blog Gizmodo reports the device resembles a small laptop, with a full QWERTY keyboard and touch pad in addition to more standard gaming controls such as a D pad and shoulder buttons. Given the Jungle's focus on online gaming, Wi-Fi is a given and some sort of 3G mobile support likely.

Though the only official image is a fuzzy flash video on the device's official Web site (also see below), the Jungle also appears to have a headphone jack and a micro-USB port. In an attitude-driven statement on the device's official Web site, Panasonic hinted at a high-definition screen and future features. "All we can say for now is that this mean little machine features a kick-a** display, touch pad, keyboard, and other gaming controls that we'll be saying more about soon," the company said.

Gizmodo also heard an unconfirmed report that the device will run a Linux-based operating system, meaning ports of massively multiplayer games will be necessary. However, the device will be able to run browser-based games and is being cross-promoted with the browser-based Battlestar Galactica massively multiplayer online role-playing game that was first unveiled in March.

As for other games for the device, Panasonic only said that its mission with the Jungle was to "create an ecosystem around online gaming," and that it is "working with leading online game developers to create some exciting new content." The device will also receive some cross-promotion in the form of a new Machinma show, Online Underground, which will also be viewable on the device.

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