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Panasonic returns to gaming hardware market with Jungle

Handheld machine focused on online gaming features full keyboard

Panasonic has announced that it has a handheld gaming device in development, named the Jungle, which is to target the online gaming market.

The last time Panasonic made any gaming-specific hardware was the 3DO in 1993, which suffered from its high price point and lack of third party support.

The machine's website reveals few details at the moment, other than listing some non-specific features and announcing support for BigPoint's forthcoming browser MMO Battlestar Galactica Online.

Tech site Gizmodo posted some photographs of the device, as well as some reports from gamers who claim to have seen the machine behind closed doors at PAX last month.

The Jungle sports a rugged, clamshell design with a full keyboard. Two circular touchpads appear to sit just below the screen and USB and HDMI ports seem to be located on the front panel of the handheld. Shoulder buttons are also present.

The machine is reported to carry a very crisp high resolution screen, already leading to some speculation over the power of the hardware driving it and the subsequent impact on cost. Third party deals with network carriers and publishers are expected to absorb some of that price for the end consumer, however.

The Jungle is also reported to be running a Liunx OS, a theory supported by a number of job postings made by the Panasonic off-shoot developing it, Panasonic Cloud Entertainment.

If this is the case, it would mean that current PC games would need to undergo some conversion processes before they could be played on the system. Browser-based games, such as BSG Online, would need to undergo no such process however.

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Latest comments (22)

Roberto Dillon Associate Professor, James Cook University10 years ago
Interesting. If Sony doesn't hurry in releasing the PSP2, there may actually be some space left in the handheld market for a new player to come in but.... why would people want to play MMO games on a handheld?

Edit: I mean, screen size and a reliable/stable internet connection matter in these games and on a small portable on the go, these could be potential issues, IMHO. Anyway, if this gets the best of the Pandora and Wiz/Caanoo consoles with the professionalism that Panasonic can guarantee, then I'm sold! ;)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Roberto Dillon on 5th October 2010 12:48pm

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Alan Pierce Programmer, Digital Delight10 years ago
I can't see why anyone wouldn't. What are your concerns?
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Lawrence Makin Audio 10 years ago
World of Warcraft on the go? Count me in!

Though it'd have to be pretty light and portable with a large enough screen...from the vague specs it sounds like a somewhat glorified laptop.


Oh wait, I just saw it on Kotaku. It looks interesting, but complaints have been that text is too small on games like World of Warcraft (and so probably just about anything else) - so the system would likely need platform-specific resolution settings.

I think something like this will struggle against the competition unless it has a good price point.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Lawrence Makin on 5th October 2010 10:38am

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Show all comments (22)
Thomas Luecking10 years ago
Nice project. My thoughts:

Won't have any significant impact on the traditional handheld market since it is a niche product by definition.

Businesswise it will be interesting whether Panasonic will be able to recoup their development costs throughout the life cycle of this device. Also hope that Battlestar Galactica will get more attention through this cross marketing deal and BigPoint get rewarded for their move to acquire this huge IP.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 10 years ago
Nice idea, not 100% sure on the point of HDMI because the point is portability, although I'm sure some are happy sitting 1-2m in front of their huge telly to play their handheld games.

But with a small qwerty keyboard I wonder how efficient gaming would be on it.
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Philipp Nassau Student - Business Administration (M. Sc.) 10 years ago
I don't think this is designed to run WoW and the sort. Even most 800$ Laptops don't run it completely smoothly, I have great doubts about it's performance there (even with graphics settings tuned down) and the playability with a gazillion buttons and chat lines on such a small screen, no matter the resolution. I can, however, imagine this being a high value Pandora with better support from the industry.

In addition to that, if it's really Linux based the conversion process would be very costly for most games. As a pure browser-mmo platform I don't see it doing well with so many smartphones as competition (I think the HTC phones even have HDMI).
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Pierre-Léo Bégay Community Representative, Electronic Arts10 years ago
It definitely looks like it has been made for the Coreen market (lots of hack'n slash incoming, great ...). I don't think the rest of the world will have much interest in this console.
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games10 years ago
I would love to play on the move, provided that the experience is not reduced.
At first i thought it sounded a bit "off", but this might actually create an entirely new market for MMOs.

Lets wait and see what they have in mind.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Yiannis Koumoutzelis on 5th October 2010 1:17pm

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Jonny Pickton Studying Diploma in Games Design, Futureworks10 years ago
I think perhaps, aiming a Handheld gaming device at online play is foolish.

Assuming its WiFi based like the PSP etc Users would need to be near a WiFi hub. I for instance, use my home hub to connect my PSP to the internet. Next to my home hub is my computer, something which can also go on the internet and play MMO's. (And I don't need to run freaking Linux)

Unless the "Jungle" can boast internet connectivity on the scale of Apples iPhones, it seems like a pointless device to me. Which would mean a very high price point.

I sense the 3DO of the 21st Century on the horizon....
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.10 years ago
Panasonic had acquired the rights to a new 3DO console known as M2 back in 1995. They came very close to actually launching it in 1997 with dev kits already out, promotional materials on the market and a few games on display (D2 for Dreamcast started there).

They've not had much luck in the hardware business and I'm dubious this new console will fair any better.
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Jack Loftus Contributing Editor, Gizmodo10 years ago

...and "portable WoW" or MMORPGs is one of those things that sounds cool on paper, but will never be done by a majority of the people who play these games.

This announcement is just all sorts of peculiar.
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Glen Elliott Partner/Head of Sales, European Game League10 years ago
Its a shame though Jimmy, as the M2 seemed ahead of its game and had lots of potential, with the backing back then of EA, Sanyo, Goldstar, was a shame it never took off, but then im bias as i was a huge 3DO fanboy!

Back on the system, looks very interesting, but how it will compete, time will tell.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.10 years ago
Glen, turns out it was not as powerful as advertised. It was barely above the N64 and with a looming Dreamcast and minimal 3rd party support and no real 1st party of their own, it was destined to fail at retail so they wisely canceled it and used the architecture for other consumer electronic devices.
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Josef Brett Animator 10 years ago
What will this do that cheap Laptop/Netbook won't? Am I missing the point...?
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Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd10 years ago
By the looks of things the hardware is trying to exploit a space between small handhelds (DS/3DS + Mobiles) and PCs both tower and gaming laptops.

My concern here is that with tablet PCs coming through that Panasonic may have been caught out.

By the looks of things the keyboard and controls mean that you'll have issues typing to friends for social gaming, and the browser typical WASD + Mouse combo may not translate to the control systems.

Graphically the small screen will not be able to compete with a good tablet, or a good laptop.

Content wise, because of control and screen size, browser content is easier on a PC and the DS and Mobiles have you beat on cost, volume of content and portabilty.

I suspect the Jungle was inspired by the big rush into netbooks, a rush that's already over.

I wish them luck, but I have a feeling that this may end up as a very niche item.

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Max Priddy10 years ago
Meh, if I want to play MMOs on the go I'll get a laptop thanks :>
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Looks like a laptop to me, with some additional controls?

Waiting for additional details, but I can't see this rocking the boat too much. Seems to be designed to play existing PC/web games, rather than have new software created for it.
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James Poole Managing Director, Sarcastic Hedgehog Ltd10 years ago
You can read more about it on Gizmondo, the article states. why does that name ring bell in relation to this?
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Josef Brett Animator 10 years ago
James - Ha ha. The Gizmondo crossed my mind too...

I had the 'pleasure' of working with the Gizmondo years ago...
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Frank Arnot Managing Director & Founder, Stormcloud Games Ltd10 years ago
I worked on a Lemmings title for the 3DO many years ago, and the thought of Panasonic gaming hardware just sends a shudder down my spine! :)
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Nick Burcombe CEO & Co Founder, Playrise Digital Ltd.10 years ago
@Alex - agreed.

So the primary USP's on this 3G (assumption) and a Keyboard? This surely is a device for things like Farmville/Mafia etc rather than World of Warcraft? Hmmm. Chances of success....pretty slim unless all the major 3rd Party devs suddenly jump onboard - which I think would be a mistake and potentially would be very destabilising for the industry.

Also, I hope that mockup image knocking the web around isn't close to being the form factor either - that's hideous.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 10 years ago
I can see the slogan now: "Welcome to the Jungle... we got fun 'n games..." Yeesh. Terrible name. Also, I'll agree with those that posted above - this is a bad idea if its focus is online only software. As a niche device, it might do OK, but I doubt it'll get much interest unless you see publishers start touting the device's strengths...

Of course, once the hackers get at it and the homebrews and emulators pop up, it'll get an audience. A small one, but an audience nonetheless. Hey! It's the GP32 all over again (but with a less crappy controller and case, whee!)

@Jimmy: have you seen the footage or screens on the in-progress M2 version of D2 before it died? It was definitely looking a LOT better than any N64 game (although you're right on the overall specs). Anyway, the Dreamcast game ended up So drastically different in terms of plot and direction that you could call it D2a (or D3) if you'd seen the direction the M2 build was going and what it ended up as on the DC...
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