More than two years after that was first introduced, Panic’s Playdate finally has a pre-order date: Thursday, July 29. This charming and bright yellow handheld video game console has unique crankshaft for its part, and the $ 179 price tag includes 24 games developed exclusively for the device.
However, you will not be able to play all 24 games immediately. Panic will deliver two games each week to the device via Wi-Fi for three months until all 24 are in the system. This features Season 1 games, and unfortunately, Panic doesn’t have much to share in Season 2.
“We are waiting to see how many people are interested in Playdate before we determine how the games will be distributed in the future,” a Panic spokesman wrote in an email. “We’ll adjust as needed. It’s all on the table right now, but nothing has been decided.” (Panic, which is primarily a software company, has released successful games for other platforms, including the popular Firewatch.)
I played with the pre-production version of Playdate for just over a week. It’s a fun little gadget for short moments in your day when you’re swinging your thumbs, like when you’re waiting for a train. It is about the size of a Post-Its deck and easily fits in most pockets.
Games I’ve tried so far—Crankin’s adventure through time,, You lost the marbles,, Whitewater Wipeout, i Saturday Edition—Don’t necessarily have the depth or longevity of games you may be used to on PDAs like GameBoy, but they can be surprisingly challenging.
But unlike modern mobile games, with their in-app purchases, ads, and awkward touchscreen controls, Playdate’s physicality is what makes it fun. Especially the handle. Pull it out and start spinning as a game control. Not all titles use a handle, but those that stand out. You can use a crankshaft to get the surfer to perform tricks on the wave, move the marble to a specific destination, or control the weather. (Unfortunately, although it seems ripe for that, there is no fishing game yet. Let me reel in some fish, Panic!)
Games like Crankin’s it really occurred to me because you have to be fast and precise with the handle. You will fail a lot. But there was a great sense of accomplishment after I finished the level.