Have a Playdate with Panic’s New Handheld, The Playdate!

by in General | Jun, 10th 2021

New hardware comes out all the time, from the Xbox Series X to the PS5. However, it’s been a while since a handheld device has hit the markets. The Switch could count as a handheld, although Nintendo has opted to call it a hybrid console instead of a handheld. It seems like a new challenger has entered the thing, although, with the game developer Panic revealing that they have opened pre-orders for their handheld, the Playdate.

What is the Playdate?

Panic has a foothold in the gaming industry, being the publishers behind two classic indie titles, Firewatch and Untitled Goose Game. While both games have certainly put Panic on the map, it’s taken three indie games and three developer apps for Panic to attempt to go into the gaming industry once more, with hardware. After teaming up with the company Teenage Engineering, they’ve developed a tiny handheld that players can use in the modern age. What looks to be a spin on the original Gameboy, the Playdate, is a small yellow handheld that fits in the palm of the player’s hands. The Playdate sports a D-pad, A and B buttons, and an extremely reflective screen. Combining this with the non-backlit screen, Panic promises that the display is very, very crisp. The Playdate also comes with a crank, and while the crank serves no actual function for the console itself, it does play a part in almost all of the games on the Playdate, most notably in Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure, a game which has Crankin attempt to make it to his date on time solely by players turning the crank.

Games For the Handheld

Playdate also doesn’t come with a store, as games will not be purchased after players pay the $179 entry fee. In reality, the Playdate will contain 24 free games for players to own over 12 weeks, with the system downloading the games overnight for players to try out. Any player who happens to open the Playdate at the change of the week will be able to check out the newest games that players have to offer. Panic hasn’t spoken about what will happen after what they’re calling the “First Season” of games, though they have plans to bring more titles to the little handheld console down the line. Players who want to get into making games for the Playdate also don’t have to worry about having to code. Panic is releasing an SDK for the Playdate that’s extremely easy to use, which comes with an easy-to-understand coding language that allows developers to put graphics and music in. This can automatically be put into the Playdate system with the push of a digital button.

Playdate is also putting out games from other esteemed creators, such as Bennet Foddy and the creator of Return of the Obra Dinn, Lucas Pope. Panic is also working with Sweet Baby Inc. to bring games to the Playdate from marginalized developers, making the handheld an inclusive system for developers of all walks of life.

How to Get A Playdate

Panic has promised that the pre-orders for the Playdate will be up in July, so any gamer wanting to take a chance on the “little handheld that might” can put their pre-order in when the website opens. Panic has also mentioned that the handheld will be coming out in waves, with players who put their pre-order in first getting to try out what the handheld has to offer earlier. While they don’t expect their console to sell out immediately, Panic is encouraging players to be patient. The Playdate will also have two optional accessories, one of which is a stereo dock for the system. This dock will also function as a Bluetooth speaker, wireless charger for the handheld, and a pen holder, which Panic has made an official ballpoint pen for so players can get their money’s worth out of the function. The Playdate can also be given a cover for the device, keeping it safe while sitting in the player’s pockets.

The Playdate seems like a promising start for a little console, but the reality of its success is in the future. Whether or not players are going to want to try a console so minimalistic may or may not be true. However, it seems like the Playdate is still going to open pre-orders in July.


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