Playdate Preview: You won’t believe how much fun this dorky $ 179 gaming system is

On Thursday, July 29th, you’ll be able to preorder the $ 179 Playdate game system. It’s very, very yellow - and actually a lot of fun!
Enlarge it / On Thursday, July 29th, you’ll be able to preorder the $ 179 Playdate game system. It’s very, very yellow – and actually a lot of fun!

Sam Machkovech

Lately, I’m reminded of an era when digital games looked like toys. You may be right to question my nostalgia for Tamagotchis, a handheld LCD game, and a purple -colored GameCube and handle, but my field of work revolves around testing products with mature aspirations. Sometimes, I want the company to lighten up and put “fun” into the function. “

That bias accounts for part of my interest in Playdate, a $ 179 mobile gaming system that is wrong on the side of childish and low-powered fun. I had spent three weeks testing the “near-end” hardware of the system before the preorder opened at 1:00 ET on Thursday, July 29, and I could confirm that it was indeed a pleasure to watch. Luckily, it’s also fun, easy, and accessible to play, play with, and share with every friend I can.

Later this year, Playdate will reclaim the land once dominated by Nintendo’s “Play It Loud” 90s Game Boys. This grip looks like something you’re going to pull out Yo Gabba Gabba giant bag: squat, thin, banana yellow, and ready to be tickled with a touch of the built -in swivel crank. But make no mistake – the creators of Playdate at game publishing firm Panic have taken the fun of this device very seriously, and the result surprised me (especially in one important aspect).

I haven’t given a Playdate to a friend without them commenting on how much they like it. And usually, the compliment is accompanied by the statement “this thing is so much better than it looks online.”

Previews, not reviews

Playdate is a mobile -specific gaming device intended to run exclusive software encoded into Lua or C. There is no TV dock, no way to add a second controller, and no slot to add a cartridge or SD card. The price of the sticker includes the game’s “passing season,” which can be downloaded over Wi-Fi, though you can also use a USB Type-C connection to download compatible files from your PC.

While I want to give you the entire Playdate ecosystem, this is not a review. The creators of the console at Panic were kind enough to ship the initial hardware to us, which seems similar to what we’ll see when the retail unit ships starting this year. This means poor processing power, black-and-white displays, plastic shells, button arrangements, and endless cranks.

Where the final system will be most different is in its OS and software packages, and Panic has asked critics not to explain menu -related content until further notice. Good by us, though I have no complaints there. Everything I tested has worked fine except for one small bug that was acknowledged by the hardware maker.

We’ve previously written about Playdate’s sales level, which started as far as a general splash at various shows in 2019. Its creators say they chose the most bizarre, fully -fledged (and retractable) hand crank feature to roll up their tactile psychosis. “The game’s release strategy revolves around a stream of new and medium game downloads with an emphasis on“ surprises. ”Panic won’t tell system owners what they’ll get from the rhythm of weekly game launches other than expecting two new games a week for 12 weeks, all made by a combination established and weird new indie creators (more on them here).

These 24 games count as part of the system’s $ 179 package cost, and that’s the system’s first significant difference.

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