Playdate is a retro handheld console and a “celebration of the video game”

Playdate console

Announced on Wednesday, Playdate is a brand new – but intentionally low-tech – games console that resembles the original Nintendo Gameboy with a black & white screen and simple controls. The pocket-size machine will be released next year with 12 pre-installed games.

Manufactured by games developer Panic – previously known for making Mac and iOS games plus indie titles like Firewatch – the console features a fold-out crank, adding an extra dimension to games (for example, spinning the crank to reel in a fish in a fishing game).

Some games will use the crank exclusively, while others will only use it for certain sections, and some won’t feature the crank at all. In one of the launch titles, Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure, players use the crank to control the speed and direction of time.

Playdate crank animation
The crank opens up new gameplay possibilities, such as controlling time in Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure

The Playdate measures 74 × 76mm and 9mm thick, with a 2.7-inch black & white display. Despite its retro looks, the device is WiFi and Bluetooth enabled and uses a USB-C port for charging.

In addition to the pre-installed games, new titles will be released every week. Panic won’t give up any further details as they want each new game to be a surprise, but they have said that “some are short, some long, some are experimental, some traditional. All are fun.”

The Playdate is priced at $149 (no UK prices yet). In the words of the manufacturer, “It’s not super cheap, but not super expensive.”.

“There’s so much more to come,” they add. “Playdate is alive with possibilities and surprises, future games and new ways to make them. We’ll have even more to talk about at launch.”

All images from Panic.

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