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Inside E3

With the E3 gaming expo starting today in Los Angeles, we’re excited to see what the world’s finest developers have in store for Windows Phone devices like the Nokia Lumia 900. 

It’s a sign of how far mobile gaming has come, that the industry’s showpiece event now offers almost as much to look forward to for smartphone owners as it does for console fans.

It hasn’t always been this way, but for 15-years Nokia handsets have done their bit to pioneer gaming on cellphones and pave the way for today’s graphically supreme touchscreen powerhouses.

Here’s a potted history from Snake to Xbox Live, but we’d love to hear about your favorite Nokia games from yesteryear in the comments section below…

Give us some Snake

We have to start with Snake really, don’t we? It’s as synonymous with Nokia’s history as the Gran Vals ringtone itself. It sounded simple, but avoiding that ever-lengthening tail as you gobbled down pixelated ‘food’ was so addictive, it was considered a gateway drug to Heroin. It arrived in 1997 on the 6110 handset, which also boasted infrared for two-player action!

2001 brought the first color screens with devices like the Nokia 7650 (also the first to have a camera and run Symbian), which became an emulator of sorts for seriously retro games like Repton, which originated on the BBC Micro. Faster GPRS connectivity on these devices also opened the door to downloadable Java-based games on smartphones. 

Gaming on the go

However, the next major development didn’t arrive until 2003. If there was ever a case of a gadget arriving before its time it was the taco-shaped Nokia N-Gage console/mobile phone. The forward thinking S60-based handheld arrived with versions of Tomb Raider, Sonic, Tony Hawk and, yes, an exclusive The Elder Scrolls game. All of which arrived on MMC memory cards and offered multiplayer through Bluetooth and online play over GPRS.

In 2008 Nokia began featuring N-Gage as an app on phones, starting with the N81, before broadening out on to classic Symbian handsets like the N95, N96 and the 6710 Navigator. This era brought the most detailed mobile games ever seen at that point, with marquee titles like Resident Evil and FIFA ‘08 among the 49 games that were launched for the platform.

Xbox in your pocket

A year later, the N-Gage brand was retired as Nokia moved its gaming platform under the Ovi Store banner as touchscreen gaming took over. The move quickly increased the number of titles available for owners of handsets like the N97 and the N900 and then onto Symbian devices like the N8. Versions of console classics like FIFA 12, Call of Duty: Black Ops and Need For Speed now sit alongside mobile specific hits like Doodle Jump, Fruit Ninja and, of course, those Angry Birds.

Which brings us right up to today and the Xbox LIVE portal on devices like the Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia Lumia 900. Games like Kinectimals allow you to unlock new content on your Xbox 360 console, while like Splinter Cell, Sonic 4: Episode 1, Assassins Creed and PES 12 have made Lumia devices handheld games consoles in their own right.

But don’t worry, you can still relive your glory days with Snake ‘97 for Windows Phone, which recreates the old 6110 keypad on your touchscreen, complete with the incessant button pushing sounds that drove your parents mental. The circle is complete.

For the next generation, stay tuned to Nokia Conversations for all of the big news from E3.

Image Credit: Pop Culture Geek