Yannik Bloscheck Designer & Developer

Panic Playdate

Box with Playdate in it

Panic, which is mainly known for great Apple software but also sometimes dabbles in game development with supporting projects like Firewatch or Untitled Goose Game, announced plans to build their own small portable game console a few years ago in Edge magazine. They called it Playdate.It took a bit more time than expected to get everything ready, but after starting taking pre-orders for it last summer the first units of it just started shipping.

The device itself is small and bright yellow. It just has a black and white screen. It has a speaker, a headphone jack, a USB-C connector, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It has the usual game controls like buttons and a D-pad. But the most special thing about it is its little crank on the side. The crank can be flipped out from the side and used for all sort of things in the games.

It comes with a season of 24 games. Two of those games are unlocked from the start and two more are getting unlocked for you each week. There probably will be a second season of games in the future and everybody is able to make games for the Playdate and distribute them themselves.

Screenshot

Here in the screenshot you can see the game Whitewater Wipeout by Chuhai Labs, which is one of the first two games.
In the game you control a surfer riding a wave with the crank. You need to do tricks in the air and land correctly to collect points. You need to be careful not to go too low or you will get caught by sharks. You shouldn't go too slow either, because then the big wave will get you.
This is of course just an example. There are many more kind of games. From short simple games like this one to long complex games. From being a bird watcher to time traveling. So there should be something for everyone.

The Playdate is a great device. It of course can't compete with the big game consoles, but it isn't trying to to do that. It just wants you to have fun. You can order your own Playdate here, but the device is currently backordered and it will take a few months until it actually gets to you.