Playdate is a new handheld console currently in development from Panic, the publisher of Firewatch and Untitled Goose Game.
A lot of people remember growing up with a Gameboy or another handheld console, and the aesthetic brings back nostalgic memories. We’ve seen a lot of games inspired by this aesthetic, but not really anything that is actually handheld. The handheld market has almost died out, with only the Switch keeping it alive.
Enter Playdate, which looks to try and recreate the classic handheld experience. This small device looks pretty interesting and could potentially be something special.
Panic has been a software development company since 1999, which produced apps for macOS. However, wanting to try something new in 2016, they published their first game with Firewatch. Since then they published the famous Untitled Goose Game and Nour: Play with Your Food. They’re clearly a studio that wants to challenge themselves and making a handheld console seems like a unique direction.
It’s one thing to make a cool looking console, but what really matters is the games, and this is where the Playdate gets really interesting. The first ‘season’ of content will be for the first 12 weeks after the launch of the Playdate and will contain 2 games each week to download for free. These games include a time travel game, a visual novel and a surfing game. But the fun part is that you don’t know what you’re getting each week. It’s a little surprise to expect each week.
Panic has also announced a partnership with Sweet Baby Inc. and Papers, Please developer Lucas Pope to make more games for the system after the first season. The console also comes with an easy to use developer program called Pulp so anyone can make games.
Another advantage of the Playdate is the actual hardware. While every game may look like a Gameboy game, the Playdate is much more powerful and can do things that wouldn’t have been possible on the Gameboy. Especially Lucas Pope’s new game, Mars After Midnight, has a really cool perspective shifting mechanic that you could never see on an old console.
The Playdate definitely seems like an interesting project, and I hope it finds its audience.
Pre-orders will be available in July for $179, which includes the console and the first season of games.
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