For many years I was convinced we'd seen the last of the N-Gage, then this happened...
Today Nokia has announced the brand is back - but thankfully as part of a software platform rather than a dedicated device.
Incorporated inside Nokia's new Internet services brand ‘Ovi' ('Door' in Finnish - I know because the press release told me), it will give budding mobile gamers the chance to download games onto their handsets for between six and eight euros a pop. Free demos of all games will also be available to provide a try-before-you-buy experience. Nokia hasn't detailed any specific titles for N-Gage as of yet, but expect some golden oldies as well as a raft of newbies.
Further fleshing out Ovi is access to the Nokia Music Store which is scheduled to go live later this year. 192kbps bitrate tracks will be sold in WMA format and can be downloaded either from a compatible handset or direct for a PC. A catalogue of 'millions' is claimed to be available from day one with prices for individual songs set at one euro and albums going for 10 euros.
Finally in an effort to unite its online offerings under a single brand, Nokia has also said its Nokia Maps service will also be pulled under the Ovi brand.
So all sounds very tempting but what about compatible handsets? According to the Finns, the N73, N81, N81 8GB, N93, N93i, N95 and N95 8GB will all work with Ovi when it launches in November. But wait, aren't some of these models new?
Yup, that's right my chums. Nokia has today rolled out the N81, N81 8GB (top) and N95 8GB (above). The former are a pair of sliders with HSDPA, integrated 802.11b/g wireless, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP and (get ready to cheer) a 3.5mm headphone jack. The standard N81 has a microSD expansion slot while the latter has 8GB of built in storage but, surprisingly, no expansion slot.
As for the N95 8GB, it - as the name suggests - throws 8GB of storage inside the N95. Not only that however, it also increases the screen size slightly from 2.6 inches to 2.8 inches though the QVGA resolution remains the same as do all other specs.
All three models, like the Ovi service itself, will become available in Q4. Finntastic.