Nokia N-Gage card (2003 – 2006)

The Nokia N-Gage was a combined phone and handheld game console, launched in 2003.

To compete with Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance, Nokia included a phone in the N-Gage. Unfortunately, this meant the buttons were not suited to gaming, and the phone’s speaker and microphone were built into the side of the device meaning users had to hold the device at right angles to their head, leading to the nickname of the ‘Taco phone’ (due to its shape). Some of its core features were impressive for its time, like Bluetooth connectivity and an on-board MP3 and video player.

Games for the N-Gage were distributed on MultiMediaCards, but to put the card into the device meant removing the back of the N-Gage along with the battery. A re-design in 2004 as the N-Gage QD moved the card slot to the outside of the device, but sales continued to be poor and only around 3 million were sold over its lifetime. Over 50 games were made available for the N-Gage range, but there were no ‘must-have’ titles (there were some big titles such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Call of Duty, and Pandemonium, but these were also available on other consoles).

Games continued to be released until 2006, but the device had already been withdrawn from Western markets in 2005 by which time the Sony PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS were on the market.

The N-Gage name lived on until 2010 as the name of a platform for online distribution of games to later Nokia smartphones.

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