After a long waiting time, it has finally arrived even if it is only a pre-release version of what Nokia intends to be a new concept in mobile gaming. Though initially scheduled for launch in November 2007, it has suffered a delay that made it impossible to be available for the holidays so Nokia decided to postpone the final version again and released a public beta version this month (February 2008).
First of all, this is currently available only for N81 and N81 8GB but the final version will be supported by all the N-series and other compatible S60 3rd edition mobile devices from Nokia.
After testing the new N-Gage platform we came up with things that are great and not so great about it. Remember that this is just a beta test version and it's expected that most of the bugs reported by the users will be solved with the release of the final version.
The main advantage is simplicity. It is very easy to navigate the application and also purchasing games becomes a pleasure. Just select, click and the application installs automatically in a few seconds. You don't have to worry for paying because the cost (usually 10 to 15$) is added to your monthly bill, though you have the option to use your credit card. There is a large online community and a very motivating achievement system. Also the application can be used with multiple screen orientations making it very versatile for the users. Launching and restarting the application is very simple, just a click away on the main screen, making it perfect for short gaming sessions like the ones in the subway for example. Another great aspect is that every available game has a free demo version that allows users to better spend their money by purchasing the games they like.
On the other hand, trying to buy games while using the phone's default wi-fi connection, will lead to a crash so it is necessary to use the phone network for purchasing new games, hopefully just for the moment. Also many of the demo versions are very limited some of them allowing merely 30 seconds of gameplay, insufficient time for creating an opinion. Furthermore, most user reviews posted on the official site are about the demo versions, creating an incomplete view for the ones that are reading them.
Quite certain this issues will be solved with the release of the final version and probably more user suggested content will be added, making it a customer-oriented product so we are already looking forward to testing again at that moment a platform that could become a revolution in mobile gaming.