Panasonic has just announced a new handheld games console – the ‘Jungle’. But it’s inspired just one question – could it compete with the 3DS, iPhone and expected PSP2? The answer is almost certainly no.
Panasonic has either been working very hard on creating its next video game handheld, or well and truly resting on its laurels. The 3DO (remember that?) was its last attempt at a games console – a short lived affair over 15 years ago.
From what we’ve seen of the Jungle, a chunky clamshell device, it’ll sport a high-resolution display (with included mini-HDMI port), a full QWERTY keyboard and even touch sensitive buttons. So it certainly looks like it might pack a punch.
A handheld for MMOs
The Jungle is said to be primarily for online games, especially massively multiplayer online ones (MMOs). There’s even a Battlestar Galactica game that appears to have been developed exclusively for the system and actually looks quite cool.
It’s not too hard to see why Panasonic has chosen to go down this route – MMOs are a genre not generally catered for by Nintendo and Sony, whether on their home consoles or handhelds.
However, do people really want to play MMOs on the move? Surely the appeal of portable gaming is that you can play just a quick game of Mario on the bus, train or toilet (if you’re that way inclined).
It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to hunch over a small screen for hours on end, using a mouse-free control scheme to play an intricate multiplayer game.
Handheld gaming market already bursting
Plus, the handheld market is already pretty packed. Nintendo, established handheld king, has the 3DS coming out next year, which is sure to build on the huge success of its popular DS.
Sony is reportedly sending out PSP2 development kits to software programmers, so it’s only a matter of time before we see the long overdue follow up to the PSP. Then of course there’s Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, all of which share a huge gaming library and have the added benefit of being multi-functional devices.
The only place where the Jungle could conceivably succeed is in the Asian market, where MMOs are more widely played. Community portable gaming is also more prevalent in Asia, with the Monster Hunter series being incredibly popular on the PSP.
The Jungle’s been showcased at the CEATEC show in Tokyo and maybe Panasonic has no intention of launching it in Europe. The company hasn’t revealed a great deal of information so far, and obviously any product’s success is massively dictated by it’s pricing and marketing.
But based on what we know so far, it’s hard to see how the Jungle could compete with the established players in the market. Unless it runs World of Warcraft that is…