New entrant to the games industry, and long time established name in the mobile phone industry Nokia, held their N-gage press conference in Los Angeles last night, announcing further details about availability, pricing, and the core functions which N-gage will offer gamers.


N-gage handset with Red Faction


The main announcement of the conference was that Nokia will launch the N-gage around the globe on October 7th 2003, priced at £299 - that works out at £150 on a direct dollar to pound conversion, but we think £235 is more likely once VAT and other costs are added on by UK retailers.

Games - of which there will be 10 at launch, and 20 by Christmas - will retail for between $30 and $40 (about £30), and should be available in all your standard games shops, instead of just being limited to mobile phone retailers. Itís not however clear what deals the mobile phone operators will offer, and if the N-gage will be limited initially to either contract tariffs or also available to buy as a handset only, with the option to move your simcard from the old mobile.


N-gage Lara Croft Tomb Raider game screenshot

N-gage SonicN game screenshot


Nokia's press conference was somewhat blighted by nervous pauses and technical glitches, despite the fact that it looked as though it'd been heavily scripted and choreographed - luckily the live demonstrations of the N-gage didn't suffer from the same sort of problems, and appeared to work perfectly, with both a bluetooth wireless link-up and standard mobile GPRS network game features demonstrated.

The ability to download other players performances, and then try to beat their time was shown off in Tomb Raider, where you need to complete the course in a faster time. Once you've finished you then upload your player data to Nokia's server, where other users can then see your scoreboard position, and watch a live video of your gaming session.


N-gage Super Monkey Ball game screenshot

N-gage Tony Hawk's Pro Skater game screenshot


Multiplayer Tony Hawks Pro Skater was also demonstrated, by showing how the Tag mode can let two players chase each other, with the aim of tagging the other skater so they become "it".

The games certainly seem impressive, with good 3D visuals which will give Nintendo something to worry about when you compare them to those of the Game Boy Advance - where Nintendo do win at the moment is on price and the amount of games available for the Gameboy.


N-gage game Red Faction screenshot

N-gage game MotoGP screenshot


Gameloft developed Ubi Soft titles were also confirmed for the N-gage, with Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, Rayman 3, and Marcel Desailly Pro Soccer all heading for the mobile device during the next 12 months.

An online multiplayer title called Pathway to Glory was revealed and will be published directly by Nokia, with the hope of the handset manufacturer developing a large number of further games for the N-gage, utilising the skills of up-and-coming developers from around the world.

Nokia's N-gage will launch globally on October 7th, priced at around £235, and we'll have further details about the system and the games which will be available, later in E3.

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