Search Buscar

    História dos jogos de movil – 3rd Part – A Symbian Era

    Who I am
    Carlos Laforet Coll
    Author and references

    In parallel with J2ME technology, the first smartphones appeared. They ran the Palm OS system, but as the Palm would never have had this vocation for videogames, it was with the development of the other operating system for cellulaes, Symbian, that the “joke” began. This system emerged from the partnership of several companies such as Nokia, Siemens, Samsung, Ericsson, Sony Ericsson and Panasonic in 1998 (WTF?), however, it was only in 2002 with the launch of the Nokia 7650 that the system became commercially known.

    With a 104mhz processor and without the “technological prison” of J2ME, developers were tempted to create games with more realistic graphics and use more sound effects (one of the biggest flaws in J2ME games). Realizing this, Nokia created a cell phone concept that would change the portable market forever.

    The N-Gage failed to be one or the other, however,
    as an “all in one” it was a great device.

    The N-Gage was the first Symbian smartphone to be designed for gaming. It was during E3 2003 that Nokia presented its dream that cell phones would participate more actively in the portable market. There is a good article on the history of this device here.

    In summary the N-Gage had few qualities and many defects. The device simply did not fall into the public's taste. In addition, the device and the games were expensive, to have an idea, the device cost the price of an iPhone 4. The Sony PSP and Nintendo DS portables introduced at the same time also contributed to the downfall of the N-Gage.

    Despite the lack of success and some failures, the idea of ​​better games on smartphones was very good and it managed to acquire many customers who yearned for more games on their smartphones. With that Nokia planned a comeback in 2008, turning the idea of ​​the N-Gage into what it really should have been, a platform for all of its smartphones. At this time ARM processors evolved and with around 300mhz and 64mb of RAM, Nokia felt it was time for N-Gage to come back.

    Nokia N81, the “spiritual successor” to the N-Gage did not come alone.

    The new phase of the system called N-Gage 2.0 was not restricted to just one device. Thanks to the action of crackers and hackers at the time of the first N-Gage, Nokia realized that people were running their games on any smartphone of the company. With that, the proposal of the new N-Gage would be a more comprehensive platform, linked to all the “N” and “E” Series devices.

    Even so, the lack of market perception made Nokia make other mistakes. One of them was to give full attention to the customer and forget about the developer, who is increasingly lacking support for his creations. On the other hand, Nokia also restricted the range of the N-Gage too much, few devices were supported.

    the technical question

    From a technical point of view, Symbian is only slightly faster than J2ME in 3D rendering and as it doesn't use hardware acceleration in most of its games, these games look like Playstation 1 and Saturn games.

    The screen of the first smartphones were very small and the format of this screen (portrait) did not help. In the beginning, the exaggerated desire of the developers to create games in 3D (a trend at the time) meant that Symbian did not do very well in the development of these. Much of the blame here lies with Nokia itself, for not providing interesting and easy tools to help developers program games for Symbian. To give you an idea, the only important Engine (Airplay SDK) only became available for sale when the platform was practically dead in October 2009.

    Symbian has several versions (S60v1, v2, v3, v5, ^3), and the biggest blunder is that most applications are not backwards compatible. There is even the classic example of the game Pandemonium that took years to be ported from S60v2 to S60v3.

    The Games

    In terms of what really matters, the N-Gage games deeply marked the blessed who had the device at the time. As stated earlier, some games rival the games produced for Playstation 1 in graphics. However, it is a mistake to make this comparison, in fact, Symbian (and N-Gage) were closer in terms of hardware to the Gameboy Advance.

    King of Fighters Extreme, One, Ashen, Metal Gear Mobile, System Rush – are examples of exclusive games that are still in N-Gage limbo with no return forecast.





    Symbian and its compatriot N-Gage may not have been an absolute success in terms of games. However, they paved the way for the emergence of a platform that would even surpass current laptops in terms of range. The iPhone OS (iOS) changed the game and put smartphones on an equal footing with home consoles. But this is too recent to be considered history.


    Other articles in the series:

    1. The History of Mobile Games – Part 1 – Embargoed Games (Snake and derivatives)
    2. The History of Mobile Games – Part 2 – The Eternal Java (J2ME)
    3. A History of Cell Phone Games – 3rd Part – A Symbian Era

    [originally published July 27, 2011]

    add a comment of História dos jogos de movil – 3rd Part – A Symbian Era
    Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.