Panasonic is readying a new handheld gaming platform aimed specifically at the online gaming market. Sure, it got stung last time with its 3DO which can only be described as a failure of epic proportions, but if the time feels right to dip its toe back into the waters of the console war then fair enough. We'll just stand well back.
Above: This grab from the trailer may be low-res, but that's some screenshot it's displaying
The new machine is called the Jungle and while details are scant at this time, there is a trailer, a website and even a picture of the machine, so we've got more to go on than we'd usually have at this stage. Here is said trailer, which has immediately lost marks in our book by not featuring music by Guns 'n' Roses. Burnout Paradise didn't care about avoiding cliches, right?
The machine looks good - the design is distinctive enough to set it apart from netbooks and the shoulder-buttons look good. There appears to be a USB port on the front, although that looks likely to be for charging/data transfer. Gizmodo posted a picture of the unit itself which looks positively tiny next to that keyboard, so that rules out optical discs.
Above:Gizmodoran this picture of the device. It's smaller than we expected
The device already one-ups the PSP by having what looks like two D-pads. Digital or otherwise, that's going to help an awful lot in 3D games.
Now, if Dragon's Den has taught us anything, it's that you should concentrate on the product and not try to do too many things at once. But The Jungle has teamed up with Machinima.com to create its own animated show. Here's the first episode:
Who reckons the little blue fella's going to get killed in every episode, Kenny-style? It's an interesting marketing strategy, but maybe some imagery of the machine being used would have been better.
But enough about animations, what can the machine actually do? For starters, there's a brand new Battlestar Galactica MMO coming to the device, which is a good start. It's unclear whether the machine runs an existing OS or its own custom system (Linux is strongly rumoured), but surely compatibility with World of Warcraft is a must if the machine is to have any hope of capturing its target audience.
The screen is said to have a crazy-high resolution too and an HDMI port, so it looks like you'll be able to plug it back into a bigger screen when you get home. There's also likely to be 3G connectivity for true portable online gaming, which in turn would suggest a dataplan subscription that could keep the cost of the unit down. Speculation, of course, but that would make sense in the current market.
The machine's website suggests that you "Stay very closely tuned unless you’re tone deaf. And then you should keep your eyes open." So yeah, if you can't sing (?) just make sure you watch the unfolding events very carefully. We will be.
05 Oct, 2010