A Word or Two About N-Gage

So, I read a book about N-Gage. It was a phone slash hanheld gaming console that was developed by famous and legendary Finnish phone company Nokia. The way that Nokia tried its hand in also gaming business just shows how huge the company was. It had the money and power to make it.

Finally N-Gage proved to be a flop. As it wasn’t a successful product it did open up many doors to Finnish gaming developer companies. N-Gage sold 3 million copies worldwide. If you consider that Sega Dreamcast sold 9 million copies and was a failuire for Sega you can get a picture of how the market was back then.

If we think about Nokia a bit we can figure that it was at its time a huge leader in personal phones markets. After all iPhone that was first released in 2007 took the crown from Nokia and a new generation of smart phones started to conquer the markets. Things changed quickly as Nokia depended on phones that had buttons while IPhone had a touch screen.

Smart phones took a step to this new direction. In 2014 Microsoft bought Nokias mobile phone business. For a while we had a smart phone that was called Nokia Lumia. Soon it was clear that Nokia couldn’t compete even when it had a partner like Microsoft. Rest seems to be a history and it tells us of the success of Android and iOS mobile devices.

The roots of Nokias phone games are actually very deep. I have some personal experience about this also. Back in 1990s I had a Nokia 5110 that had “matopeli” that can be translated to “worm game”. It was a casual game that you could start playing while waiting for the bus for example. With N-Gage Nokia was actually targeting some more serious gamers.

N-Gage was an ambitious attempt from Nokia to get seriously into gaming business. You can think how interesting it would have been. The markets were growing all the time. We saw at the same time how Microsoft entered the competition with its Xbox gaming console.

N-Gage had its critical flaws. When you wanted to change the game you had to turn off the device and remove the battery. Only after that you could change the game cartridge. The way you actually talked to N-Gage was a bit akward. You had to place the phone sideways on your ear. Also, the screen was placed just like in every phone model and it had more height than width which was a different approach compared to other gaming devices of time.

Nokia was trying its hand in a new field. This wasn’t cool with other big gaming companies. There were lots of memes moving around where people were mocking N-Gage. It was difficult to enter the field of video gaming. There were some negotiations with Nintendo about some co-operation but this never lead to anything. Sega seemed also interested in supporting Nokia. There were huge game titles like Tony Hawks Pro Skater that were introduced for N-Gage, also.

While N-Gage seems to be a flop it did affect the gaming industry at least locally in Finland. They had resources and money that they brought to the industry. I must mention here also the best selling N-Gage game: Pathway to Glory. It received good scores from reviews of different internationally known video game magazines.

N-Gage wasn’t a huge success. It does have a small group of supporters. I am not sure if this book that I read, “Fantastinen floppi”, is available in English. So, its a bit akward that I am writing about this book here in this blog that I write to in English. However I thought that it would be cool just to tell you all about the book.

Some Notes About Game Boy Color

In this blog post I write to you about Game Boy Color. Playing video games with a handheld device seems to be interesting. At least that’s what it is to me. Nowadays you can load an emulator to your smart phone and play games like this. You can even get a game controller that uses Bluetooth. Why would you bother to buy a real hand held console? Should you buy one or not? In this blog post I am trying to answer these questions.

I have right here, in that featured image, Game Boy Color. It was first released back in 1998. I think I bought it last years summer. So, the console has been with me for a while now. I bought it for 80 euros. You might be thinking of getting yourself a Game Boy Color. So, let me tell you some facts about this model of a handheld gaming system.

Let’s start with the bad facts. The screen is very poorly lit. You really have to focus your eye for it. The lighting has to be almost perfect for you to enjoy playing with this device. That must be the biggest bad fact about it. Actually I think we can move on to describe what is good in this device.

You can adjust the sound volume very nicely. It has this sort of a wheel that you can roll. You can also plug your headphones in. This makes playing in a bus or a train much more private and you don’t also annoy other passengers. The sound quality is adequate. I mean it’s way nicer than for example PC speaker. The device is powered with two AA batteries. There is also an option for an external power supply unit. The connection type is 3V and the plug is of size 2.5mm x 0.7mm. You can probably get this kind of a power supply unit for maybe 20 euros. I recommend buying one that you can adjust the output and the size of the connector. Let me make this clear – the power unit doesn’t have to be precisely designed for Game Boy Color so you can use this kind of an adjustable unit.

You can play Game Boy games on Game Boy Color. Of course there are some newer games that are only supported for Game boy Color. Game Boy Color reminds a lot of Game Boy that was released about ten years earlier. If you are thinking of playing Game Boy games I also recommend an adapter that enables you to play Game Boy games on a SNES. This adapter can cost something like 35 euros. This way you don’t have to suffer from the bad screen. Let’s tell you also that there are several other ways to play Game Boy games and this includes emulators also.

What are some good games? From Game Boy I definitely recommend Super Mario Land, Link’s Awakening and Pokemon games. As is with these old retro type games usually there are a lot of poor quality games available also. Some of these are trying to act as some sort of ports of these really famous and popular games. I can just mention games like Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto. So as you can probably imagine the power of this system is not so great. But there definitely are some good games made for you to play on a Game Boy Color.

My Game Boy Color is a bit broken. What I mean is that the power switch doesn’t seem to function at all. So I power up the device by inserting two batteries and that’s when the device turns on. Another way would be to use a power supply unit. The thing that the power switch was broken probably made the device’s price lower. I don’t know if some talented electrician could fix it. And when it comes to fixing I can tell you that there are many professionals that do repair and even mod old electronic video game consoles including Game Boy Color. It is a popular mod to replace the display. I don’t have information about how much would it cost. I know that there isn’t a service like this available in my home country (Finland).

Let’s summarize. Should you get yourself a Game Boy Color? I think you should consider this decision wisely and deeply. The price is a bit high. Playing with this bad type of screen makes it a bit awkward. Although the device provides a good entertainment for for example a long road trip. The design is very strong and I can figure that it can take some hits and not being broken easily. In today’s era of sensitive electronic devices these features are a welcome exception. Or, if you don’t have any money left in your pocket, you can just buy a Super Game Boy or use an emulator. Think wisely.

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