Let’s go ahead and skip the obligatory Guns n’ Roses jokes and just get right to the nuts and bolts of Panasonic’s newest foray into the video game world, The Jungle. Panasonic’s new subsidiary, Panasonic Cloud Entertainment, is heading up the new portable device with the intention of bringing gamers the MMO-on-the-go experience.
Given a rather unorthodox unveiling on the MTV show Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory, The Jungle is meant to be a device centered around online gaming, and from what we can tell so far, MMO gaming specifically.
Adding to the bizarreness of The Jungle’s debut is the complete lack of specifications or firm details of any kind. It does feature a full keyboard, a touch pad, d-pads and, according to Panasonic, a “kick-a**” display. While it’s unclear exactly how high the resolution has to be for it to fall into the “kick-a**” range, there have been a few different reports of the display looking very sharp.
Again, while there are no actual technical specs available, the official promo video (shown below) does seem to show what looks like a micro-USB port, HDMI, a headphone jack and perhaps another auxiliary jack. Panasonic has also decided to keep The Jungle’s price and release date a mystery as well.
One detail we do know is that developer Bigpoint has signed on to get involved with Panasonic’s portable project. Their upcoming MMORPG, Battlestar Galactica Online, is the only confirmed launch title for the device.
Many gamers will likely remember the last time Panasonic threw its weight into a piece of gaming hardware, we were given the 3DO. While the 3DO wasn’t a bad piece of tech for its time, its $700 price tag was certainly a bit hard to swallow for most consumers, and the 3DO didn’t last too long in a market already filled with competition.
The new portable raises a lot of questions regarding its potential success and already has many industry insiders calling it dead-on-arrival. While I’m not ready to call time-of-death yet, I have to agree that the soft nature of the unveiling and the device itself are a little puzzling.
Many hardcore MMO players already have a portable player, it’s called a laptop. But I assume that Panasonic is looking at the rising trend of successful, specialized devices, such as the iPad and Kindle, and recognizes the growing movement away from the laptop as the go-to portable device. Perhaps The Jungle is for the commuter that knows they want to do nothing but grind out a few levels on the way to work.
A big battle Panasonic does have to fight is competition. The Nintendo DS already dominates the handheld market, the iDevice family is a growing gaming platform and the PSP certainly tries its best. I would say, though, that The Jungle has the best hardware design to meet the needs of MMO gaming over the would-be competition. MMO games pretty much require a wealth of inputs that only a keyboard can provide. With many portable devices moving towards button-free touch interfaces, the MMO is not something they are well suited for. So that’s another hole The Jungle seems to be prepared to fill.
What do you think, Ranters? The Jungle certainly has an uphill climb, and until we see some more software offerings and a price point it’s hard to make any sort of call. But would you be interested in another portable at all, regardless of what it does? Who do you think this new toy is aimed at? If it manages to get a good version of World of Warcraft running does it even matter how much it costs?