So yeah, you're probably not reading this anymore, but for the ones that made it past the title, here it is. An N-gage review. And a review of a great game, nonetheless. For the two of you remaining after that last sentence, enjoy.
To think how far we've come in terms of mobile phone gaming in the last six or seven years is truly mind blowing. Like me, you were probably playing snake back then. While somewhat fun, there was no way a mobile phone could ever replace a gameboy. Games were novelty on phones, and while entertaining in very short bursts, they lacked any sort of lasting appeal. Graphics were comparable to early 80's game consoles, and even by those standards they were really weak. Sprites were tiny, movement was jerky and sound was almost non existent.
The first N-gage is everyone's favorite joke in the industry, but for its time, it was truly revolutionary in terms of what it could show on screen. Nokia saw potential in the mobile gaming market and tried to snatch a piece for itself. For several reasons the endeavour failed, but it wasn't over for Nokia. It was a new beginning for the N-Gage name. Instead of having a machine dedicated to games, you have a service in the form of an app that can be installed on several compatible phones. I've tried some of it's games and the general impression was one of indifference. Nothing really stood out.
Then "ONE" comes along and totally blows anything you've ever seen running on a mobile phone out of the water. Really, the graphics on this thing truly shine and everything was clearly modeled with great care to turn it into the showcase title it admittedly deserves to be. Perhaps the only fault that could be pointed out is the lack of some anti-aliasing, but everything else is there. You've got superb lighting effects on characters, fully 3D rendered backgrounds, and amazingly choreographed motion captured movements. And with all of that, it still runs smoothly. This could be on the PSP. It looks that good.
But of course, games aren't all about graphics. And fortunately, the gameplay also stands out. Not for being overly complex, mind. But for being absolutely in tune with the medium. Mobile games are played in short bursts while on the bus. "ONE" is a fighting game with a very simple combat system. It relies solely on 2 attack buttons, one for punching, one for kicking and the D-pad for movement. It works. Very, very well. Of course, you can string combos, and there's dodging and counter moves. Everything you need for a simple, yet tight experience is present. Also, instead of relying on a preset cast of characters, One lets you create your own. While the amount of items to customize your characters with is not huge, it's certainly enough to let you play with the editor a bit and make a lot of different item and clothing combinations.
There's a story mode that will keep you busy for an hour or so, but don't expect anything fancy story wise. It also features a great multiplayer mode, allowing vs play between phones through bluetooth functionality and there's even an online ranking system. There's also survival mode and vs cpu mode. I think those are pretty much self explanatory.
The sound is merely adequate. Voices aren't all that elaborate, except for the announcer and the usual "round one, FIGHT" kind of phrases. Music is kind of nice but it loops after a while. Probably to make the game download smaller. Still, even though I haven't tried it, you can probably use the music you have on your mobile while playing.
In the end, I must say this game is amazing and for the retail price of 10 euros, you should be ashamed of yourself if you have a compatible phone and don't buy it. The effort put into making it the best game it could be clearly shows and it's the definitive showcase title on the platform. I hope Nokia can give the new N-gage platform the push it deserves, because this game proves it can be so much more than it is today. A must have.