A new handheld video game system has been announced, and it’s anything but traditional. The system, called Playdate, features an actual hand crank that can be used to play games (or not).
The system is yellow and it is small enough to fit in your pocket. It features a black and white screen, and it plays all kinds of games. It’s being made by the software developer Panic, which has been in business for more than two decades. Recently, it started a publishing business and some of its marquee titles have included Firewatch and the soon-to-release Untitled Goose Game.
Panic wanted to do even more, and that led to an idea to make a handheld game system. “What if we could push ourselves even further? What if we could build something? A real something that you could hold?” Panic said. “It was harder than we thought, but it’s here.”
Panic worked with independent game designers Keita Takahashi, Zach Gage, Bennett Foddy, and Shaun Inman to create the Playdate console. “We showed them Playdate and asked, “Want to make a game for it?” Then we lost our minds when they said “Yeah!” Playdate said.
In terms of game releases, the Playdate will get 12 “brand-new games,” one released each week. Panic is keeping them a secret now so their release comes as a surprise. “Some are short, some long, some are experimental, some traditional. All are fun,” Panic said.
As for the Playdate’s most unique feature, the hand crank, the rotating analog controller flips out from the side of the system. Some titles will use the crank exclusively, but others won’t use it at all. The console also has traditional A and B buttons, along with a D-Pad. The system also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, as well as USB-C and a headphone jack.
The Playdate console launches in 2020, priced at $150 USD. All 12 of the games in Season One are included for that cost. Presumably further seasons of games will follow if the system succeeds.