Speedrunning has come to this.
Twitch streamer ZEN_Ivan says he has just registered the first speedrun world record on the N-Gage, the electronic choco-taco that attempted to revolutionize mobile gaming 14 years ago and has been a punchline ever since. Officially, that record is for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, which they completed in 26 minutes, 20.8 seconds.
A speedrun leaderboard has another record listed for the device, however. Still, as far as we can tell, there are only two speedruns for the N-Gage.
Well, you gotta start somewhere.
“The true N-Gage speedrun,” says one of the streamers at 1:28. “This is the true N-Gage route.”
“Only been done by one man,” another says pithily. “ZEN_Ivan.”
Speed Demos Archive, the folks behind Awesome Games Done Quick (which gets going this Saturday, by the way), doesn’t even have N-Gage as a platform in its database. Speedrun.com’s only listed record for an N-Gage game is a 1:54 second run of Super Monkey Ball, set one year ago by Jezs of England.
For those who don’t recall the N-Gage, made by Nokia from 2003 to 2005, it is a charter member of the Museum of Failures (literally). It is most charitably described as something well ahead of its time. People were happy to keep gaming and mobile phone calls to separate devices when the N-Gage was introduced in 2003. Nokia gambled that bootstrapping cellular phone functionality to a Game Boy Advance-type advice would be a big hit. It was not.
That’s because the unit didn’t do either task well.
“Look at this framrrate, dude,” one of the streamers says at 10:04. “It’s fuckin’ shit.”
The N-Gage’s huge keyboard was good for making mobile calls, but terrible for gaming. Then, the way you talked on it — holding the N-Gage on its side up to your ear — made both it and the user look ridiculous, thwarting that goal, too.
“I can’t wait until my new phone gets to me in the mail,” says ZEN_Ivan. “I’m going to actually be able to do things.”
The real achievement here isn’t necessarily the time of the run in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. It’s that these guys have discovered a new platform for speedrunning and planted their flag in it.
Ninety-five years ago, George Mallory told The New York Times why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest: “Because it’s there.”
Well, the N-Gage is there, and someone’s gonna climb it, so get your records in now.