Hungry Goriya Used Acquire: Nokia N-Gage

This is the seventh post in a series called “Hungry Goriya Used Acquire” that serves to highlight the contents of a large game collection I procured from an old high school friend of mine, Joe.  Read here for the backstory.

“Engage.  Wait, N-Gage? N-Gage? What’s an N-Gage?”

That was my initial reaction when I was talking to Joe about what mysterious things awaited me in his collection and he mentioned the Nokia N-Gage.  We got a box for the second release of the unit called the N-Gage QD, which apparently corrected some issues and complaints about the first version of the gaming console/phone.

That’s right, I said the box.  The box was devoid of the actual device, and it never did turn up after we finished looking through the many, many boxes that housed Joe’s video game collection.  Joe had been upfront in saying that he didn’t know where it was or if it’d turn up at all, but even in anticipating the worst, I was still pretty disappointed.  The likelihood of me buying one to complete this collection at the moment is slim since they’re fairly expensive online.  Maybe I’ll find one at a yard sale this summer, but my hopes are not too high.  Here’s a lovely photo of the box and all of its contents.

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Though we didn’t get the console, we did get a lot of games.  Because I had never heard of the N-Gage previously, I wasn’t sure what the games released for this system were.  Were they ports from other systems?  Were they released especially for this device?  The truth is that the games are a mix of the aforementioned: some remakes/ports, some exclusives.  Because the entire N-Gage library is only comprised of 58 games, we’ve put quite a dent in that number with what we ended up with in this purchase.  All but one game was complete, and a few were even still sealed.

We got quite a few sports games for the handheld.  There’s a nice variety in sports types here, though I don’t know why anyone would ever want to play another golf game after experiencing Neo Turf Masters.  Unless that game of course is World Class Leaderboard for DOS.  Then I’m all over that.

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Among the bunch were also many games from pretty popular franchises that could be classified as shooters or action games.  I was really surprised to see games like Call of Duty and Splinter Cell released for such an obscure little device like the N-Gage.  We’re talking tiny handheld phone screen for playing on here!  I’ve watched some game capture videos from this thing, and the quality is pretty grainy.

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As usual there were some RPGs in the mix, and these included some pretty exciting titles.  Many of you probably know of my deep, undying love for Faxanadu on the NES, and Xanadu was its predecessor on the MSX.  These games are part of the Dragon Slayer series, which has seen many games released.  Unfortunately not many of them ave been particularly popular in North America.  Xanadu Next was actually rereleased for PC in 2016, so if I can’t track down a console I might have to try it out that way.  Pocket Kingdom: Own the World also looks pretty neat.

The most expensive game according to the Unholy Interwebs is the N-Gage-only release of an Elder Scrolls game, The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey.  Unfortunately for me, this was the only cartridge missing, but you can see the game case below.  It did come with its manual.  Joe said that the game is probably with the N-Gage, wherever it ended up.  Schmoo.

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Lastly, here a bunch of colourful, fun-looking games that I’d absolutely love to try out sometime.  The Sonic the Hedgehog series is one of my favourites, and Sonic N is an N-Gage exclusive.  Need to find actual N-Gage… rising…

Obviously there’s some great puzzle games like Puyo Pop and Puzzle Bobble here, as well as classics like Bomberman, Rayman and a Crash Bandicoot game as well.  I haven’t done much research on those so I’m not sure if they’re ports of games for other systems or also exclusives, but I’m absolutely loving the diversity of games for this handheld console/phone thing.

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It’s nice to have an instant collection for the N-Gage, but it breaks my heart a little to know that it never did well on the market.  The manuals were all beautifully done with lots of colour and detail, and each individual game came with a carrying case for cartridges (the plastic thing on the right side of the case in the photo below folds into a little holder.)  The people that worked on putting things whole endeavour out there clearly put a lot of time and care into the products.  I feel like I owe it to them to try to track one of these things down and give these games a whirl.

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So there it is.  Another come-and-gone console that I never knew about, but now seemingly have a lot of stuff for.  I am planning to keep my eyes wide open yardsale-ing over the next few weekends for one of these, though if I’m unsuccessful, I’m hoping to run into one at a swap in the future.  Who knows?  There might be one of these babies waiting for me for a good price!

Thank you very much for reading!

-GG

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17 Responses to Hungry Goriya Used Acquire: Nokia N-Gage

  1. Tony says:

    I remember the N-Gage when it came out, and couldn’t see how it was going to succeed against the might of Nintendo handhelds. But I suppse it did pre-date the smart phone. Given what mobile gaming has become now, I guess there was a certain amount of foresight in their thinking. Good luck finding a complete unit – will be interesting to see how the games play.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hundstrasse says:

    I was pretty intregued by the Ngauge at the time. This was when Nokia phones ruled the world, and it wasn’t such a big leap to imagine them entering the games market… I guess it must have gone up against the DS…

    Liked by 1 person

    • hungrygoriya says:

      It’s interesting to think about it. I was so unplugged from new gaming tech for so many years that this flew under my radar entirely. I can’t imagine something like this going up against the DS!

      Like

  3. thedeviot says:

    The N-Gage deserves credit for showing gaming was indeed possible on a cell phone. But unfortunately, Nokia botched things up on nearly every front. Right out the gate, the original version had an unappealing design. It was laid out ok for handheld games, but when it came time to use it as an actual phone, it was completely impractical. I still remember the “Taco phone” jokes in EGM. But the nail in the coffin for many people was the fact you had to take the phone apart to change game cartridges. It required you take the back plate off, and if my memory serves me right, required a screwdriver to do.

    I think it even required online authentication for multiplayer in some titles, and the phone wasn’t compatible with every carrier. The revised model addressed some of these issues, but by then it was too late. Everyone was busy using their Nintendo DS or Sony PSP for games, and were on their cell phone for everything else.

    Plus, most of the games weren’t very good. Not Tiger Electronics GAME.COM bad. But nothing that made people go “I gotta have that!”

    I remember seeing the thing in Babbage’s way back when, and nobody ever seemed too excited about it. But fast forward to today, and all of the F2P stuff on smartphones. In some ways the thing was ahead of its time. At least the library didn’t hound you for real world money for pretend money to buy a key to unlock content every time you tried to do something in a game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Geddy says:

      I had no idea it actually required a screwdriver, truth be told I don’t remember much from those years. Feels like it was eons ago, but it was definitely a similar issue like the Dreamcast had: ahead of its time and without a target market. Nintendo had the handhelds locked down around that time and nothing was prying them out of kids’ hands. Even a monster at the time like Nokia who practically owned the whole mobile world.

      Liked by 1 person

      • hungrygoriya says:

        It does really feel like was eons ago. It was, as usual, a part of gaming history that went entirely unknown by me until recently. I guess I was a pretty distracted person in my youth and just kept playing my old games instead of looking into new ones.

        Like

    • hungrygoriya says:

      Ah I see. It’s interesting to hear some backstory on the thing. I just found out it existed when I got this lot of stuff and haven’t had much of a chance to go through any of the information on the thing. It’s so strange that you would’ve had to get into your device with a screwdriver to change a game. Surely someone around that table had to have said something against it at the time. It’s just ludicrous!

      Like

  4. I’ve heard of the N-Gage before but never knew much about it. Happy yard sailing! I think I’m going to try to do that more this summer. I’m always excited thinking about what gaming gems are out there 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • hungrygoriya says:

      I actually got a sun burn between mowing the lawn and yard sale-ing today. I only found one game: The Legendary Starfy. I was hoping to stumble upon Super Princess Peach among all the DS games I saw. No such luck!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The first sun burn of the season always reminds me that winter is finally over! I think it’s awesome that there is a game where Peach has to save Mario, for once. I hope you find a copy soon 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I always thought the N-Gage was kind of neat, but since I already had a cell phone I didn’t want to buy a new one just because it could play games, haha! There was no such thing as a smart phone when this came out! I hope you are able to track one down so you can actually play some of the games!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. benez256 says:

    I remember when he N-Gage came out. I wanted it so bad…back then Nokia was what Apple is today and I loved the shape of this phone that was actually primarily an handheld console,. then a phone. Eventually it was better nobody ever bought me an N-Gage since I’ve read bad things about it regarding its accessibility. But I’ve grown wondering how ii would have been to have one…

    Liked by 1 person

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