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May 2019 Retro Gaming Article


May 22, 2019 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Playdate is Panic's little yellow game console that's so insanely different, I feel drawn to it

Play Date black & white handheld game console
I love quirky things that are a bit different. Playdate fits the bill perfectly with a B&W screen, wifi, and a hand crank!
Panic announced Playdate their quirky handheld game console and it seems like a love/hate sort of device. It'so bizarre, but in a wonderfully delightful way. I can't help but leap into the 'love' column on this one. A 2.7" black and white screen (400 240 resolution), a few standard buttons... and a hand crank. A hand crank! There's a freakin' crank on the side! And you know it'll be used for more than a random fishing game.

I'm very excited for the sheer novelty of Playdate!
As for the love/hate aspect... it will arrive early next year (2020) with a $149 price tag. That seems rather high, but this also includes the twelve games available at launch. They're new games and created by renown developers like Keita Takahashi, Zach Gage, Bennett Foddy, and Shaun Inman. They seem to run the gamut from short to long and traditional to quirky.

But you don't just get them outright. New games seem to be organized into 'Seasons' and automatically arrive weekly via wifi. I'm getting SpotPass flashbacks! The Playdate comes with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a headphone jack and USB-C port for charging.

I was not familiar with Panic. They've been around for two decades making Mac and iOS games. This little square console is so odd, I'm really excited about it, but stressed that I'll have to wait until next year. A light illuminates alerting the arrival of a new game. How cool is that!?!

As word of Playdate spreads, I'm hoping gamers will be as tickled by it's eccentricities as I am. All too often different = bad with a lot of people. The novelty of this device reminds me of how I fell for the 2DS with it's slate format and novelty of StreetPass. I'm stoked for Playdate!

Play Date black & white handheld game console
As I read through the usual dimwitted comments from folks who still can't figure out why Mommy never loved them, many more level-headed folks are questioning the price. $149 is steep, but it's worth repeating that 12 games are included in this price. Think about that from a retail perspective. 12 3DS games would make this a bargain. The problem I see is we know next to nothing about the games.

Games sell a system. Great hardware is key, buy load it with awful games and even the best hardware can fail. Panic is taking a coy approach to this and keeping the games "hidden", but for good reason - according to their strategy. They want you to be pleasantly surprised each week as a new game magically appears on your system. I get the concept and think it's pretty cool, but in the cut-throat world of the Net, info is king.

They certainly have some impressive developers lined up, but that alone doesn't guarantee great games or even the kind of games I'd want to play. I'd like to see them showcase several games and let half of them be a surprise. I dig this system, but it if comes with 12 puzzle games, I don't want it. Most of us won't take a gamble on a new un-proven game console when we don't know what games it will play.

Atari is going through the same thing with it's upcoming VCS console. It will play classic games we've all played for forty years, but what about new games. Atari won't say and people are not happy. Regarding Playdate, I'm eager to see how this unfolds as the launch nears. I think we'll get a lot more info - hopefully more about the first 12 games and what to expect down the road. Give it a look!

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