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Oooh, the new year opens with much shininess

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johnhattan

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Happy new 2006 and such.

Looks like there's about to be a new entry in the continuing PDA-made-game-machine wars. This one's verrrry pretty and can be seen here.

Unfortunately, while putting a PDA OS on a game handheld sounds good in theory, it's been a cavalcade of failure in practice, witness the Tapwave Zodiac, Gizmondo, and N-Gage (although the N-Gage was really more of a cellphone OS than PDA OS, but I digress). They all tried to make game machines out of PDA's, and they all failed pretty miserably.

Ditto for the GP32, which is also very sexy and very developer-friendly but didn't even get a US release.

And this is odd, because developers should be praising these machines up to the sky. They're all cheap to develop for (Zodiac=Gnu C++, Gizmondo=free MS C++, N-Gage=free J2ME or Gnu C++, GP32=Gnu C++) and have no content restrictions or content-police at all. Zodiac and Gizmodo are also both double as quite capable PDA's (running Palm and Windows Mobile, respectively).

Of course, they all had their own problems (Zodiac=expensive for what you got, Gizmondo=huge ugly "do everything" form factor, N-Gage=mediocre phone, GP32=nobody knows it exists), so that's keeping 'em away.

Meanwhile the PSP is getting all of the press and all of the developers despite the fact that it's content-policed out the wazoo! Everybody gets excited when there's a new PSP firmware update that's got enough of a security hole to let you run something other than what Sony wants you to run, ignoring the fact that any of those other game handhelds will allow you to develop and/or run any goldurned thing you want!

Ditto for the new gameboy. Yeah, you can develop for it. Just don't plan to make any money on what you develop unless you can make Nintendo smile.

Who knows. Maybe this little gizmo is the one that'll get a following. One thing I liked about the Cybiko was the little game delivery service that they put together. The Cybiko was way too anemic hardware-wise to compete against the Gameboy Advance, but its game delivery service was a good idea --loads of small-format games that you could download and play. If iRiver could put together a reasonable content delivery system for grownup-themed games (i.e. Plug in your handheld, click "put Super Soduku on my machine", pay two bucks, give the developer one buck), they might get somebody's attention.

Basically make iTunes for games.

But it probably won't happen.

This probably will be targeted secondarily as a game machine. Since it runs WMP, it'll be pushed primarily as the latest new ultimate music/video player for your pocket. It's got 800x480 resolution and 4 or 8 gig of memory, so it'll be priced well out of the range of kids. The new Cybiko it ain't.
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My GP2X is sat waiting at home for me. An SDL & Linux based handheld game machine can't be half bad.

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