Top 5 N-Gage Games

The newly announced Project Shield by Nvidia is very intriguing to me. It’s potentially a handheld gaming PC with its own HD screen and a gamepad that can stream Steam games. As someone with a beefy Steam catalog but not much desire to game on my desktop, this could be awesome.

For some reason, a lot of the gaming media is crapping on it. Over at Kotaku, editor Kirk Hamilton is comparing it the N-Gage. I don’t see it at all, and definitely consider that comparing fingers to toes.

For the uninitiated, N-Gage was Nokia’s attempt at melding cell phones and handheld gaming. Even before launch, Nokia dropped the ball by announcing at E3 that this device would cost $299 (by awkwardly painting the price on a girl’s stomach).

It featured some major, head-scratching design flaws. If you wanted to use it as a phone, you’d need to hold the thin side against your head in a practice that was referred to as side-talkin’ (modeled famously by my friend Christian Nutt, below). And if you wanted to use it as a game-playing device, switching out game cards required popping open the back and removing the battery.

The redesigned QD (pictured at the top of the page) fixed both problems. But by then, people had written off the N-Gage. Meanwhile, I had recently quit Game Informer magazine and was doing freelance work – including acting as N-Gage editor for Thus, I own and have played just about every N-Gage game released (and some that never saw release, like Virtua Cop). I can say that there are some really good titles for the platform. So, because N-Gage was on my mind, may I present to you…

The Top 5 N-Gage Games

5. Pocket Kingdom
Put together and customize a squad of “leet”-speaking creatures, then invade neighboring kingdoms. The weird thing is you don’t actually control them in real time. The cool thing is you can play multiplayer against people far away. I won a media tournament for this game, likely because no one else bothered to play it.

4. Rifts: Promise of Power
A turn-based RPG set in a popular cyberpunk world, Rifts really spoke to me. Unfortunately, it came out well after few people were on speaking terms with the N-Gage. Still, the character classes and bold artwork are quite memorable.

3. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
I was blown away by the 3D graphics in this game. I mean, the previous Splinter Cell was a sidescrolling 2D game that nevertheless was a fun stealth romp. But this had almost everything the console versions did – even co-op – and looked/played fantastically.

2. Glimmerati
Instead of infiltrating a gang or becoming king of an underground racing circuit, your goal in this racing title is to join the cultural elite. Models, sports stars and other celebs toy around in their cars. To become one of them, you’ll have to race a wide variety of top-down missions in a super original and well designed Glimmerati.

1. Pathway to Glory
Advance Wars has nothing on this World War II turn-based tactical shooter. Thinking back, Pathway to Glory has so much in common with my pick for 2012 Game of the Year, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. And its developer, RedLynx, went on to make titles such as Trials Evolution and 1000 Heroz – a game I’ve played literally almost every day for 2 years. On any other platform, Pathway to Glory would have been an instant classic.

Longing For My 1 Multiplayer Weakness

I’m a single-player guy, almost exclusively. Sure, I’ll rock some co-op with Kate – we just fired up some Mario Kart Wii the other day, her on the Wavebird and me doing it nunchuk/remote style because screw that plastic wheel – but I rarely do competitive. The AI, now they’re my rivals. There is one exception: Halo.

I got into Halo 2 multiplayer with a clan from Cheap-Ass Gamer and would play at least one night a week. It was much better playing with people who I knew weren’t total dicks. At least, most of them weren’t total dicks. Most were also better than me, but I started to improve. I also loved that Bungie kept an inordinate amount of stats.

For Halo 3, I rocked several dozen hours, but probably not as much as its predecessor. But Halo: Reach probably beat ’em all. The different load-outs and accessory skills meant you had more play style choice. And the replay videos were pretty dope, even if I mostly used them to expose bullshit kills that shouldn’t have happened. Of course, I played through the single-player campaign for all 3 games as well.

As I’m sure you all know, Halo 4 is out. Both Penny Arcade and Kotaku talked it up today in a way that made me long for those late-night deathmatch sessions. It would get me so pissed, but at the same time I’d have moments of success, of leading my team or having some noteworthy kills. But alas, Halo 4 is something I cannot have. Not for at least 11 months, if I stay true to my vow. I guess I’ll need to bust out some Reach soon; I hope there are still people playing, and that they’re not so good that I’ll be laughed out of the lobby.