Nokia has opened the N-Gage beta testing process, allowing owners of its N81 handset to download a pre-release version of the new game platform software.

GamesIndustry says the software will currently work only with the N81 and N81 8GB handsets with GPRS service plans or access to a wireless network, and is currently incompatible with Chinese versions of the hardware. Once the beta period is complete, Nokia will roll out the service to a wider range of its high-end mobiles.

During the beta test, gamers will have access to Creatures of the Deep, Space Impact: Kappa Base, Block Breaker Deluxe and System Rush Evolution. 13 new titles will become available following the full launch, including Brothers in Arms, Sims 2: Pets, FIFA 08 and World Series of Poker Pro Challenge.

Nokia has not yet issued an official release date for the new N-Gage platform, but the system has been plagued by delays. Originally set for a worldwide release in November, the software was first delayed into December and then held back again to an unspecified date in 2008. At the time, Nokia attributed the delays to “unexpected difficulties,” but expressed confidence that the system would work smoothly when launched. More information, including a full list of games and currently compatible handsets, is available at Nokia’s N-Gage website.

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