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Playdate is the new gaming handheld you didn’t know you wanted

I don’t really know why there is a crank on it, but I’m here for it.

playdate console on white background
Image: Panic

Publishing studio Panic, responsible most notably for Firewatch and the upcoming Untitled Goose Game, has just announced the next piece of hardware that I’m strangely excited about: A minimalist, tiny, unique handheld that they’re calling Playdate. Just look at that cutie above, look at it.

I love it. It’s adorable. It looks like the baby love child of a classic Game Boy, a Game Boy Advance, and a Pikachu (it’s a complicated love triangle, okay?).

Oh, and that strange nubbin on the side? That’s a crank. Why a crank? WHY NOT A CRANK? Nobody told Panic that they couldn’t put a crank on their handheld gaming system, so they just fucking did it. And I love that. That’s the kind of “you know what? Fuck it, the world is ending soon, so let’s just throw out all the rules” thinking that I really admire.

What can you do with a crank on a handheld? I dunno, shit like this I guess.

So, the big question, what games does it have?

It comes with a “season” of 12 games, released “over time” (whatever that means?) by some of the smartest designers in the industry, including folks like Bennett Foddy (QWOP, Sportsfriends), Zach Gage (Spelltower, Ridiculous Fishing, Really Bad Chess), Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy, Wattam), Shaun Inman (Retro Game Crunch, The Last Rocket), and hopefully some people who aren’t just dudes.

It’s unclear if there will be more than just those 12 games, ever, which is concerning, and there’s no mention of third-party options and support, but the device has WiFi and indie devs love modifying things, so I’m sure there’ll be something. Also, all 12 games are included with the system, downloaded for free over time as they become available.

As for the display, it’s a black and white LCD that isn’t backlit, because fuck you, we had to play in the car in short bursts as we drove past street lights and it’s time for the next generation to know what that’s like.

Playdate will be available sometime in 2020 for $149. You can sign up for the mailing list here. I, for one, am 100% here for it, because fuck the rules.

What do you think? Interested in the Playdate? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Jake is a writer and game designer in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He loves action, exploration, building, filling bars, and turning numbers into bigger numbers. Someday he'll release a video game.

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