The numeral 'one' can be used in many ways. It can signify that something is the very first iteration in it’s field, that it’s the best among a list of things, or even to simply suggest that it stands alone, unique or separate from others. Ambitiously, Nokia seems intent to draw upon all of these distinct meanings with their singularly-titled fighting game, and in most respects they’ve succeeded.

For starters, as a 3D fighting game One already stands alone in an N-Gage catalogue lacking any of the big battling brands available on other pocket formats (such as Street Fighter, Tekken or Virtua Fighter). What’s more, the title is undoubtedly one of the most visually impressive titles to bless the N-Gage to date, with some gorgeous backgrounds (we like the Barcelona roof tops and the Dominican Republic beaches best!) graced by slick and believable 3D models.

Yet its uniqueness goes far beyond this. As you’ll discover when you first select your character, One features quite simply the most customisable fighters ever seen, allowing you to select and refine the body shape, clothes and colours of your urban warrior to ensure their distinctiveness. As you progress through the story mode, these personalisations increase even further as new add-ons become unlocked. Consequently, should you decide to take your pugilist into combat over Bluetooth or via the N-Gage Arena, you can be sure that your fighter is unlikely to face off against a doppelganger. This identity will become even more relevant on the Arena as high-ranking players will be publicly lauded and be awarded honorary titles such as Master, Grand Master and the One (the best player at any one time on the ranking ladder!)

Crucially, this ‘personalisation’ concept can also be extended to the actual fighting style too. Although One can stake a fair claim to being the most realistic fighting sim available, certainly in the pocket gaming arena, (there are no unbelievable specials or magic firebolts involved here as every punch, kick and throw has come straight from the motion capture studios), there are nevertheless a huge range of moves and, as a result, fighting tactics available. Right from the start there are some 60 kicks, punches and throws on offer, with more being unlocked as you progress, defeat opponents and increasing your ELO (sort of a hardness ranking).

Impressively this arsenal of moves is all controlled by just 4 action keys (one for punch, one for kick, one for throw and one for block) with special combo moves being achieved by pressing a combination of these buttons and directions. Greater depth is on offer via the opportunity to select distinct fighting styles (defence, neutral or offensive), each of which boasts different potential moves. The defensive mode is better for holds and throws, while the offensive style has more showy, impactful moves, but can leaves you open to counter-attacks.

Fortunately this is considerably easier to carry out than it is to describe, however it’s virtually inevitable that you’ll spend the first few fights and maybe first few hours of play in frantically hammering buttons and randomly pulling off attacks. While this approach may well clear the first few fighters and even give you some enjoyment in Bluetooth battles, it’s not going to work for long and greatly undersells the fighting mechanic. Take the time to actually learn moves and develop your own strategy, and you’ll discover a brilliantly crafted, well-balanced fighting game. The initial prevalence of frantic kicks will give way to a more tempered approach using blocks, dodges (this is 3D so you can sidestep), counter-attacks and throws, in amongst a range of special moves to catch increasingly sophisticated opponents off-guard.

As your ELO ranking and move list increases you’ll probably even find yourself becoming increasingly proud of your little onscreen battler and want to take him (or her) out onto the streets for some Bluetooth brawling or into the bigger spotlight of the N-Gage Arena. The former works brilliantly and we’ll update this review on the latter just as soon as we’ve had a chance to test it properly!

One is by no means perfect. The story mode is a little cheesy, there’s no automatic jump, it’s harder than it should be to knock opponents off their feet (moves like leg sweeps should do this every time, but they don’t!) and, arguably, there should be a few more body shapes to choose from in fighter customisation. However, all these are elements that can be broached in a follow up (Two?), which should most definitely be en route if One receives the success it deserves.


The best fighting game on the N-Gage (and not just because it’s the only one!)
Chris James
Chris James
A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, bossman Chris is up for anything – including running Steel Media (the madman).