The Playdate, a new handheld gaming console from indie game developer Panic and legendary design house Teenage Engineering, finally has some games to show off. The device’s 2.7” black-and-white display and signature hand crank give it a retro charm that seems to have activated the creative juice of its 250 developers in exactly the way the company had planned.
Devs — Games for the device are planned to be released in “Seasons,” one a week for free. One such game the company displayed was by Rebecca König, who's hard at work creating a dungeon crawler by the name of Down the Oubliette. The game features a gorgeous art style that makes the most of the modest real estate the device can offer.
Ryosuke Mihara is developing a calligraphy experience that seems more artistic than gamelike and its great to see such a diversity of experiences on offer.
Matt Sephton is developing Daily Driver, a game about car drifting that looks incredibly addictive.
Anton Klinger has put a new spin on Tetris. Literally (it uses the hand crank).
Rob Tsuk will give the handheld a version of Klondike solitaire, which I have poured thousands of hours into on the subway and which every console obviously needs.
RNG Party are giving Kirby Tilt ’n’ Tumble fans something to look forward to with the device’s built-in accelerometer.
Donald Hays is making a fun puzzle game that will intrigue Baba is You obsessives.
And finally, there's a port of Doom (because everything needs a port of Doom) that allows players to use the crank to fire the chaingun — which is utterly delightful. This port is courtesy of Nic Magnier of Keen Games.
Past and future — We’d previously been critical of some of the Playdate team’s decisions regarding diversity so it’s highly encouraging to see a slightly more mixed crowd getting the spotlight here. It's also important to note that anyone who wishes to develop for the console will only need to get a unit in their hands to do so. We remain very excited about this whole idea.
Surprise — While the device’s only obvious rival, the Analogue Pocket, has had a variety of recent business foibles, the team at Panic is still being cagey about the device’s release date. They are however teasing a “big update” in the coming months that should reveal their timeline, pre-order plan, and even a “surprise.” Sounds fun.