New games come to video-capable iPods

Apple on Tuesday took a step towards making the iPod an all-purpose handheld system with the release of nine games that are playable on all fifth generation iPods. They each cost $4.99, and are available for download now.

The nine games include well known classics including Pac-Man and Tetris, and popular casual games like Bejeweled and Zuma from PopCap games, as well as a mahjong and minigolf game from Electronic Arts, a Texas Hold’em poker game, a circular brickbashing game called Vortex, and Cubis 2, the sequel of a popular cube-based puzzle game made by Fresh Games. The Texas Hold’em and Vortex games were developed by Apple.

While the nine games are immediately available for purchase and download, playing them is dependent on a version 1.2 firmware update that fifth generation iPods built prior to today’s announcement don’t yet have — those versions are still equipped with version 1.1.2.

Unlike movies and TV shows, which remain limited to United States distribution only, Apple notes that the games are available for download in all 21 countries in which the iTunes Store operates.

The revamped iTunes Music Store provides users with detailed information about each game, including notes, features and system requirements. Clicking on the Preview button will show a short QuickTime video of each game in action. And just like videos, movies, TV shows and songs, users can write reviews.

Games downloaded for the iPod appear in a new “iPod Games” category in the iTunes library list. While the games aren’t playable in iTunes, users are provided with more information, instructions and screenshots of the game in use.

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