Panic, the venerable Mac and iOS software program agency, made a significant splash the opposite week with the announcement of its first {hardware} machine. The Playdate is a brilliant yellow handheld gaming console with a monochrome display screen; it was co-designed by Swedish {hardware} wizards Teenage Engineering and options unique releases from renowed builders like Zach Gage, Bennett Foddy, and Keita Takahashi.

I simply met with Takahashi at BitSummit, the ever-growing annual indie recreation pageant in Kyoto, and bought the possibility to play his recreation Crankin’s Time Journey Journey on his personal Playdate unit. The {hardware} isn’t completed from a technical perspective — Takahashi’s mannequin is marked “analysis solely” on the again and wanted a number of onerous resets throughout our assembly. However from a design perspective, it’s as pleasant as I’d hoped.


The Playdate’s display screen sounds old-school, nevertheless it seems to be nice in individual. It’s a really 1-bit black-and-white show with no backlighting in anyway, which supplies it a deliberate, minimalist really feel. The closest comparability I could make is to the unique Pebble smartwatch, which additionally used the same Reminiscence LCD panel from Sharp, nevertheless it’s a lot larger at 2.7 inches diagonal and is all the higher for the shortage of cheap-feeling backlight. There actually isn’t a lot available on the market that appears like this, and I believe individuals will perceive the choice to go monochrome as soon as they see it for themselves.

The general building of the Playdate is reassuringly chunky and strong, with a clicky D-pad and two responsive face buttons. The yellow plastic is properly textured and, properly, it’s an ideal yellow. The speaker is surprisingly loud and clear.

However the design component that has gotten everybody speaking is the crank on the best of the Playdate, which Takahashi’s recreation is solely managed by. There’s simply the correct amount of resistance on the crank, and the machine is so gentle that it needs to be simple to make use of it similtaneously the D-pad if any builders determine to go that route.


Our first take a look at Playdate, the world’s cutest recreation console 1

Crankin’s Time Journey Journey itself is hilarious, from the chunk I bought to play. You progress your participant character by way of a 2D aircraft and time itself by winding the crank to advance the clock; arrive late for a date and your rightly pissed-off girlfriend will suplex you into the bottom. It’s as offbeat as you’d count on from the creator of Katamari Damacy, Noby Noby Boy, and the upcoming Wattam, which can also be being proven off at BitSummit and appears to be much more charmingly unhinged.

The Playdate isn’t set to ship till subsequent yr, and admittedly that date can’t come quickly sufficient. I like the concept of a tiny, hyper-portable machine that may be simply performed outdoors and comes with authentic video games designed particularly for its distinctive {hardware}, and my fast encounter with the work in progress has solely satisfied me additional.

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