Seemingly out of nowhere comes an announcement for an entirely new handheld video game console. It’s called the Playdate and it is produced by Panic Inc. If that name rings a bell then it is probably because they co-published Firewatch back in 2016. As if that wasn’t odd enough, the console offers a feature you do not typically see on video game systems. It sports a crank on one side.
As you can see, the Playdate is not too far off from an old Game Boy Pocket system though the new system is said to sport a “premium” black and white screen. It has “A” and “B” buttons, a USB-C port for charging and a headphone jack. Plus that crank. That is actually a valid control input. Not every game will use it of course but the crank is vital in games like Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure. You will use it to move the bot named Crankin’ forwards and backwards through time.
Don’t scoff just yet. The Playdate has some well known indie game developers creating unique titles for it. People like Keita Takahashi, creator of the Katamari games. There’s Zach Gage, creator of SpellTower and Bennet Foddy – the developer of QWOP.
At this point you may be wondering what games will come to the Playdate. Oddly enough, Panic Inc. is keeping that a secret. “We want to surprise you,” says Panic on their website. What you can expect is twelve games for the system in early 2020. They will be delivered to your Playdate; one every week.
“Some are short, some long, some are experimental, some traditional. All are fun.” – Panic Inc.
The cost of the system is $149 which is a bit steep but does include all twelve games from the Playdate’s “Season One”. There is no word as of yet if games will be available to purchase individually or how much future seasons of games may cost.
On the surface, the Playdate is admittedly a hard sell with that price tag and no details regarding games that will be available for the system. For the same price you can buy a Nintendo New 2DS XL loaded with Mario Kart 7 and potentially have access to over 3,000 games (counting the library of the DS as well). To be fair to Panic Inc., they realize that the Playdate is not going to be a mainstream system and the system’s production run will likely be small. They are targeting serious gaming enthusiasts with this thing, not the mainstream crowd.
With that hand crank it is almost certain there will be some sort of fishing game for the Playdate. Given the screen and controls it is safe to say that most of the games will be 2D and focus on unique experiences. I have to admit I am kind of curious about the Playdate and kind of want one.
The Playdate will be released in early 2020. If you want to sign up to be notified when the system is available, you can do so here.