Nintendo’s stranglehold on the hand-held gaming arena has remained in place since the ’90s when it released the world-beating Game Boy console. Since then, the corporate has been at the forefront of the portable market, but it has not gone challenging at the time. At the same time, Sega, NEC, Bandai, and SNK all tried to unseat the Kyoto-based company during the ’90s and ’00s, Sony would come closest to dethroning Nintendo with its incredibly popular PSP – but even with sales of over 80 million units worldwide, it couldn’t catch the DS, which sold almost twice that number with over 150 million consoles sold. Nevertheless, the PSP’s success – and therefore the arrival of the era – emboldened tech giant Panasonic to throw its hat into the ring.
In 2010, it announced the Jungle, a clamshell-style handheld system that appeared like a little laptop but was intended to be a transportable platform for MMO titles. Rather than allow developers to create titles and have gamers buy them in-store, the Jungle was supposed to play only online games and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). Battlestar Galactica Online was among the first names confirmed for the device (Stellar Dawn and RuneScape are the only other known confirmed titles). The firm even established a brand-new U.S. subsidiary, Panasonic Cloud Entertainment, to support the Jungle, which will retail for $249.99 for the Wi-Fi model and $349.99 for the 3G edition. While reliable technical details are hard to come by, the Linux-based Jungle offered a full gaming interface and a QWERTY keyboard and a 720p display. It even had a secondary monochrome display, which looks like the one on the Dreamcast VMU memory cards.
Given the projected release window of 2011, it might have been racing against the Nintendo 3DS and Sony PS Vita – but Panasonic dropped the console in March of that year, stating that it had Despite the swift death of the console, it’s become clear that development units were within the field. The keyboard and button layout aren’t all that pleasant though with more modern handheld game systems just like the GPD Win and therefore the NVIDIA Shield Handheld reportedly offering a far better experience. Digital Eclipse and Other Ocean boss Mike Mika have recently stated that he almost ported World of Warcraft to the machine: Had it been released, the Jungle would have marked Panasonic’s second venture within the game market, having been among the key players within the development of the 3DO and its unreleased successor, the M2. The 3DO was an advertisement bomb, and altogether honesty, it is hard to imagine the Jungle would be any different. (We still desire a Panasonic Q GameCube though, naturally.)
Nonetheless, interest during this obscure handheld has resulted in development units and prototypes changing hands for thousands of dollars; an eBay listing from last year was up for $9,499.99, although it does not look like that price was met. Do you remember the Jungle? Were you looking forward to playing it? Let us know with a comment.