The new handheld game console offers novelty and nostalgia : NPR

Bright and cheerful, the Playdate fits in the palm of your hand.

Keller Gordon


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Keller Gordon


Bright and cheerful, the Playdate fits in the palm of your hand.

Keller Gordon

I love unboxing a new console. The feeling of slipping a pocket knife through neatly taped packaging, the plastic cover that slides over the crisp black screen, new joysticks that haven’t loosened with use yet. It’s an intimate experience, unboxing a device that will take up a significant portion of your days.

Unboxing my Playdate, the developer’s new portable console Panic, brought me instant joy. I smiled from ear to ear after carefully unpacking it, and when I first started it, a sunny yellow device smiled at me (literally).

The Playdate welcomes a new user with this cute animation.

The Playdate has nothing to do with the Steam Deck, which has more power than I know what to do with. In fact, it’s the opposite – he focuses his tiny, adorable energy on tiny, adorable games like Occasional birdwatcher Where Choose Puppy Pack. The Playdate is a nostalgic trip; it reminds me of my first consoles, like the Game Boy Advance or the Nintendo GameCube. As long as it can’t work Horizon: West forbidden Where Ring of EldenIt can make me feel like a little kid again.

Overflowing with new games

It also comes with an impressive suite of free games. When I first started using the little guy, I mistakenly assumed he would start with two or three games max. But every morning for two weeks, a flashing light on the wake/sleep button alerted me to another black-and-white treasure coming out. Not every game is entirely successful, but it’s easy to find something you’ll enjoy among the dozens of games already released – with many more on the way (my favorite is probably adventures in time).

Designed by Teenage Engineering, a Swedish electronics manufacturer specializing in music gear, it’s also beautifully crafted. While its twee aesthetic comes with some ergonomic pain, they hit a sentimental nerve by evoking a simpler time in gaming. It has a basic layout: a D-pad, an A and B button, a crank, a wake/sleep button, a reflective screen, and – wait, Keller, did you just say a crank?

The Playdate crank in action.

GIF of playdate launched

Yes I did it! The Playdate has a nice silky smooth crank. Use it to go back and forward in time in adventures in timecircle your spaceship around the stars in Starry sleighor focus with your camera Occasional bird watcher. Some games use the crank more than others, but when the occasion arises, it’s a nifty experience. Who would have thought that a new console in 2022 would have a crank like an old emergency radio? Sometimes it feels a bit fancy, but it’s exciting compared to console controllers that haven’t changed much in two decades.

Although the Playdate’s crank makes it stand out, it’s not the coolest thing about the console. Ever wanted to try designing a video game? The Playdate makes it easy. Right now you can go online and download his software development kit free. Experienced developers who want to bring their creativity to the small screen can do so without paying licensing fees and can even distribute their projects however they see fit. Panic even has a web-based game editor (Pulp) that you can use right from your browser. It’s more than refreshing to see a game company giving freedom to budding creators in a world filled with intellectual property. court case.

A selection of the many games already available for free on the Playdate.

Panic


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Panic


A selection of the many games already available for free on the Playdate.

Panic

Cute and extremely awkward

I might be more inspired to make my own rudimentary game if the Playdate felt better to stick with. Despite its sunny appearance, I haven’t always felt so sunny playing it for more than 20 minutes straight. The sharp edges dig into my palms as I turn the crank, and I have to repeatedly readjust my grip on the tiny console.

It can also be difficult to tell apart. The Playdate’s black and white screen is not backlit. I found myself constantly turning the console towards a light source, contorting my body and hands accordingly. I’d relax in bed, ready to play, only to be foiled by Playdate’s dim screen.

Overall, the Playdate seems to be more of a collectible than a basic game console. After spending tons of time with it at first, I quickly left it unplayed on my desk with its handy clock in sleep mode staring at me. I don’t know how much I will use Playdate in the future, but I still admire it. An adorable bright yellow retro console with an awkwardly quirky crank. As we move ever closer to virtual reality, the metaverse, and Unreal Enginesit’s refreshing to see a console go back to basics.

Keller Gordon is a columnist for Join the game. Find him on Twitter: @kelbot_