Fishlabs’s recent announcement that it would be supporting the N-Gage platform has us genuinely excited. The German developer’s level of quality control and their technical mastery over mobile hardware should yield some truly excellent results.
It’s also set us to thinking about other talented developers we’d like to see on N-Gage. To provide some structure to our musings, we decided that all would need to have portable (not necessarily mobile) pedigree of some kind, as well as qualities that we think would marry well with the N-Gage hardware.
As always, we’d love to know what you think. Who would you like to see making games for N-Gage? Answers on a postcard or, if you want us to read them, in the comments section below.
Five developers we’d like to see working on N-Gage
This talented Danish team brought us the mobile marvel that is SolaRola, which earned rave reviews when it was released back in 2007 (including a prestigious 10 out of 10 Platinum Award from this very site). They’re no one-hit wonders, though, having subsequently produced the spiffing Sheep Mania: Puzzle Islands last year. The strength of both games suggests that the chaps at Progressive Media are masters at taking an established game mechanic, realising it flawlessly on a mobile platform and polishing it to a fine sheen. This kind off approach would work beautifully on N-Gage, with the added benefit of extra technical headroom in which to really show off what they can do.
It’s all about the IP with Japanese giants Namco-Bandai. Ridge Racer, Pac-Man, Katamari - franchises that are capable of making gamers of all ages feel that special tingle. In particular, it’s possible to imagine an excellent version of the original Ridge Racer - fluid, accessible arcade racing in full-on landscape glory. If you think that’s far-fetched, consider that a decent (for the time) mobile version was released less than two years ago (pictured). Also picture a Bluetooth multiplayer-enabled version of the Pac-Man Remastered. It’s the kind of classic experience that has been proven to sell and sell on a mobile platform, so we think that Nokia would do well to bring Namco-Bandai onboard.
Also hailing from the land of the rising sun, but from the other end of the gaming spectrum in virtually every other way, we have Treasure - our distinctly outside bet (as in beyond Pluto). These purveyors of uniquely odd action games are the very definition of niche, but they have a hardcore following that verges on the fanatical. Getting them onboard the N-Gage train would certainly attract the core gamers that Nokia would love to have as its foundation. Treasure’s expertise in making furiously addictive, quirky 2D action titles has produced some portable gems in the past, such as Bangai-O Spirits on DS and Astro Boy: Omega Factor and Gunstar Super Heroes on GBA.
Altogether now: whooooooo? True, Firebrand Games may not be the kind of high profile outfit that would pull in the average gamer through their name alone, a la Namco-Bandai, but look a little closer and you’ll find an absolutely killer C.V. centred on one particular genre. These are the guys who brought us excellent conversions of TrackMania, Race Driver: Grid and Ferrari Challenge on the humble DS - not a platform renowned for its racing pedigree. In other words, Firebrand Games has the unique ability to squeeze memorably robust and fully featured racing games onto what might be considered unsuitable, underpowered hardware. For all Asphalt’s qualities, N-Gage still lacks a slick racer that stands up to the kind of thing we see regularly on PSP and even iPhone. Firebrand Games could well bring us just such an experience.
Taito really needs no introduction, their catalogue of arcade classics remaining eminently playable to this day. The secret to the ongoing appeal of such titles as Bubble Bobble and Space Invaders is that they are ostensibly simple games, but contain iceberg depths - the kind of characteristics that sets Reset Generation out as the definitive N-Gage title. Bubble Bobble on a landscape-capable Nseries would be the most beautiful marriage imaginable, with the controls mapping perfectly to the D-pad and two media keys (as they did for the GBA version). Meanwhile Bluetooth multiplayer would make any journey shrink to “not long enough” proportions. And consider again a version of the PSP and DS Space Invaders Extreme on N-Gage. We can dream.