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N-Gage makes it into software

For the N81 at least

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The first version of Nokia's gaming platform, the N-Gage, is available to download for the N81, and offers a glimpse of how Nokia envisions us playing games on our mobiles.

This is still a trial version of the networked-game platform - formerly only seen in its hardware incarnations the ill-fated N-Gage and N-Gage QD - but it demonstrates the most important features.

N-Gage is really about networked games, but no such games yet exist. So for the moment the platform is limited to automatically logging your high-scores, and providing a messaging client through which you will be able to challenge contacts to games. Your high scores are shared with your contacts, so everyone can see your failure to make any sense of System Rush, and you can build yourself a profile in proper social-networking-web-2.0 style.

While officially only available for the N81 to limit the number of users during the trial, there are hacked versions knocking around for the N95 and others.

Whether users really want to play networked games on their mobile is very open to question. Most network gaming on the Nintendo DS is done within a single Wi-Fi hotspot - friends gather at a café and play games against each other there, rather than against someone on the other side of the world. But Qualcomm has stated they've no reservations about taking on the Playstation as the in-home games console, so perhaps with a TV connection and a Bluetooth controller the N-Gage could have Sony running scared. Still, that seems very unlikely.

All About Symbian has a more comprehensive look at the trial version of the N-Gage platform, including screenshots demonstrating Nokia's flagrant disregard for the S60 Style Guide. ®

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