Earlier today, we reported that Oregon-based software developer turned video game publisher (Firewatch) Panic announced it would be launching a brand new handheld device called Playdate.
Undeniably beautiful and unassuming, Playdate is a new type of thing. It’s a machine that’s counter to both mobile devices used for swiping and endless Google searches, and video game consoles used as Netflix boxes or media hubs. It’s been described as “a distinctly different experience than the one you get from your phone or TV.” It’s not designed for any reason other than to exist as a component that you play in-between other pieces of tech that currently take over your life.
And frankly… I love that.
Playdate is a gaming handheld launching in 2020 at a time where there’s not an actual strictly handheld console (crossing my fingers for a handheld-only Nintendo Switch announcement in the near future, though) on the market today. It has a childlike appearance to it, but not in the Playskool way –– it’s nostalgic in a way the yellow colored Game Boy Pocket sits in my mind, but without any preconceived ideas of games that belong with it. The crank is so left-field that I can’t imagine I’d love using it, but at the same time, I simply can’t imagine it because I haven’t experienced it yet.
Plus, with developers like Keita Takahashi, Bennet Foddy, Zach Gage, and Shaun Inman on board to create new titles for the Playdate, there’s honestly nothing to expect from the device except pure play. Given Takahashi’s solid track record alone, from the incredibly simple pick-up-and-play Katamari Damacy, to over-the-top playground ideas birthed from his childlike mind, I can’t help but be kinda stoked.
Sure, the screen is tiny as hell, but it promises to be pretty, with no grid lines or blurring, and a very sharp and clear display with a high resolution. No back light? That’s fine. I won’t use it at night. It’s not meant to play in bed at night –– it’s a supplemental device, and I already use bed-time for my 3DS, reading, or aimless Instagram swiping.
And the price tag? $150 ain’t bad. With 12 micro-games that have the courage to be experimental using a fucking crank? Even better. I have a Wii U collecting dust in my living room right now. I’ve spent money on worse.
Even if this handheld fails, the concept alone makes me excited for future innovations within a market barely anyone is attempting to crack. And that’s something to admire.
But, what do ya’ll think? Do you think this device is a flop already? Will you remain a skeptic until it’s actually out and has a large library? Are you even interested in playing games that aren’t available to consoles you already own?
Kevin Cortez is a writer with bylines at Genius, Ambrosia for Heads, Mass Appeal, Leafly and EARMILK. He plays video games in his spare time.