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One of the easiest contests ever: every week for the next twelve weeks a Nokia N81 8GB and limited edition N-Gage bathrobe will be given away on Gamasutra.com in association with Sauna Talk. All you have to do is answer one multiple choice question, which has a hint link next to it where you can find the answer. You can enter once a week, so you effectively have up to twelve chances to win the prizes. (In case you're unaware, Sauna Talk is a series of videos designed to advertise the N-Gage platform to developers. Apparently the contest is only open to those "related" to the games industry, but don't ask us what that means.) (via the Official N-Gage Blog)
Our sister site All About Symbian has published the first part of an in-depth hands-on preview of the upcoming Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, using a prototype pre-production model. The 5800 (codenamed "tube") is the first S60 phone to have a touchscreen, and will apparently receive N-Gage compatibility some time after its launch in 2009. Gameswise the prototype 5800 comes with a touch-controlled version of Bounce, and also has an accelerometer-controlled version of 3D driving game Global Race. (Also, you may want to check out the second part of AAS's N96 review, the N96 being an N-Gage compatible device.)
It's N-Gage compatible, it's out now in a number of countries, it's got dedicated gaming buttons, a 2.8" display, comes with several game demos pre-installed, and includes a free full game (Tetris in some countries, other games elsewhere): our sister site All About Symbian has put the Nokia N96 through its paces in the first part of an in-depth review. The European/Asian version came out a few weeks ago, but an Americas variant is now on its way across the Atlantic, so this should be a global device soon.
According to a report on Reuters, "Jaakko Kaidesoja (of Nokia) said the firm will decide within a month whether to expand N-Gage support to a relatively old model, the N73". As many predicted, the dilemma facing Nokia is that the N73 has a slow processor and small amount of RAM but it also has a massive userbase, 20 million, which is the biggest of any single smartphone model. (The N93 wasn't mentioned, but it has a similarly limited amount of RAM and it may be that a version of N-Gage which works on the N73 would also work on the N93.)
The latest N-Gage compatible device, the Nokia N79, has now gone on sale in Italy and is also available in the UK. Going by past experience, it's likely to be available across the whole of Europe very soon. You can find out more about the N79 by reading our sister-site All About Symbian's in-depth preview article.
The Nokia N85 is now available SIM-free in Finland, in France, in the United Kingdom, in Italy, and probably various other parts of Europe as well, and some network operators also seem to be getting it in stock. It apparently comes with ten N-Gage demos preinstalled, and a voucher that lets you purchase one of them. Hopefully the N85 should receive a continent-wide rollout by the end of the month. You can find out more by reading our sister-site All About Symbian's hands-on preview, and there are some official publicity photos below.
Nokia today announced the 5800 XpressMusic, the first touchscreen phone based on the S60 platform (which is the platform used by N-Gage-compatible phones). Although it's obviously being compared to Apple's phones, the 5800 costs about half the iPhone's price, and is consequently aimed at a more mainstream mass audience. The 5800 is also the first phone to use the latest S60 5th Edition platform. But what does all this mean for the N-Gage platform?
Does Nokia want N-Gage to fail? Probably not, so why did they choose such terrible demos for the N96?
Nokia has made a right old mess of choosing which game demos to bundle with the N96, and here at AAN we're rather worried about who is in charge of choosing them. In a special editorial we look at how they have picked out the very worst games on the platform while simultaneously ignoring the very best games, which is hardly going to help N-Gage win new supporters. If people's first impression of the new N-Gage platform is World Series Of Poker and Snakes Subsonic, they're going to stay as far away as possible.
The Nokia N96 smartphone has now gone on sale in Finland and in the United Kingdom as well as several other European countries, so presumably it should be available across the continent very soon. The N96 is N-Gage compatible, includes gaming keys using an N95-style double slider, and will apparently come with the N-Gage application built into its firmware so you can use it with the platform straight out of the box. A number of N-Gage demos will apparently also come pre-loaded, and there will be a voucher for one free game included in the sales package.
The N-Gage platform's games all feature an achievement system called point pickups, but what if that system was applied to the N-Gage platform itself? What actions related to N-Gage would earn Nokia lots of points? Click on the link to find out, and if you have your own suggestions feel free to comment in the thread below.