Playdate, a handheld console with a crank controller

That would be very hard to pull off physics wise in this small of a form factor.

Siracusa on Playdate:

A lot of people here seem to be surprised that people would spend $200 on a niche gaming console when you could instead get an emulation machine or “real” handheld.

To a certain class of person, this makes no sense.

This product is a celebration. It’s all custom hardware, every single part, and they wrote their own operating system. Why would you do that? Why is this not running Linux or a Raspberry Pi or something sensible? Because the company is ridiculous, the people are insane, and this is an amazing thing that should not exist but does.

Call it hipster or whatever, but Panic just seems like a good company which has been low-key successful for decades by just creating good things without over-extending themselves. Then they lucked into mega success with Firewatch and Untitled Goose Game, and decided to use that success to fund something goofy they’re passionate about for fun.

They all seem hyper competent along the way - despite the Playdate’s inherent limitations, everything else they built around it: the SDK, side loading capabilities, Pulp (the web-based game dev tool), their partnerships with well known indie devs, and more just seem like they’ve taken a super thoughtful approach to make this weird passion project as successful as it could possibly be. And so far, they seem to be getting rewarded for that hard work.

Bit surprised it isn’t backlit. The only other hardware miss is no click resistance or anything on the crank, it just spins freely.

Hope some awesome weird games come out for it. Boutique is fine.

Wait… this is the group that made Firewatch the game?!

I got thrown for a loop too when folks were mentioning that. It looks like Panic has gotten involved in game publishing, not necessarily game development

Yeah, they published Untitled Goose Game and Firewatch, after creating Mac productivity software for over a decade previously.

Honestly, this continues to be the first handheld that makes sense to me as a desirable device. Just because it goes for a different experience you can’t have anywhere else.

My Playdate shipped!

Kind of envious. Like I said, I’ve never seen the appeal of a handheld, including now that I own a couple. But this one? I see the appeal. It’s a weird quirky thing. I wish I had one.

So how are you liking it?

It’s such an odd little thing. I like it, but it’s odd.

I think I like the gimmick of a “season” of games, but it makes first impressions a little weird when I’ve only just gotten access to the third and fourth games.

The first was a very simple arcade-y game, the second was a very simple photography adventure game. The third and fourth that just unlocked this week are a silly, puzzle-y side scroller, and a simple audio sequencer.

They’re all very lightweight games. They wouldn’t literally all work as Warioware mini games, but they have that kind of whimsical feel. Nothing I want to play for more than 10 minutes at a time, but also I do keep coming back to them for more little chunks of gaming.

The hardware looks and feels great, though ergonomically it’s only suited for these quick sessions.

Two biggest problems: everyone mentions it, but you really need good lighting to play it. And the second problem is the screen is awfully small for some of the text. This has only been an issue in one of the three games so far, but I still have better than 20/20 vision (in one eye) and it’s right up at the limits of what I can read comfortably.

I would describe it overall as “thoughtfully quirky”.

The playdate twitter account has a thread going where they highlight interesting games (mostly) available to side load.

I’ll probably check out Tapeworm Disco Puzzle and Eyeland at least.

I don’t have a Playdate but I noticed itch.io has a tag for it:

That’s a lot of stuff to check out! Almost makes me want one…

Edit: my girlfriend loved the original Game Boy and prefers mobile gaming with quirky oddities… hmm, this could be a cool present.

The “A Joke Worth $0.99” video did the best job possible convincing me i’m not the target audience for Playdate.

Got the email this morning that my Playdate is on the way!

Found out today that indie devs were being invited to make games for the Playdate in 2014. They spent a long time working on this thing before they announced it.

Mine arrived today! It is such a neat device. I expect most of the games to be trifles. Curious to see if there is any kind of “killer app” and, if there is, what it might be like.

I’m curious it hear how your hands deal with it. Do they cramp after very long or do you get hand fatigue?

That’s why you have a manservant wind the crank.

It’s not exactly ergonomic, but at the same time, it’s not heavy at all and it can easily be grasped in one hand (like for games that are all driven by the crank), so I feel like that makes a difference. Ultimately, though, I don’t think it’s going to be a platform I spend six hours straight on, so I doubt it matters.