Although the design of the device seems to be straight out of the 90s, the era when the classic GameBoy reigned supreme, the Playdate can count on several modern features, including Bluetooth and wi-fi connection.
The console, whose hardware was designed by Teenage Engineering, has 16 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage. Everything fits in a case of 7.6 cm by 7.4 cm, and 9 mm thick. The screen has an image quality of 400 by 240 1-bit pixels. Headphones can also be plugged into a stereo jack.
A Playdate application can connect the device to a PC or Mac, which allows you to play with traditional controllers, or to broadcast your exploits on YouTube or Twitch, for example.
Panic estimates eight hours of battery life, when the Playdate is active, and 14 days in standby mode.
However, you can’t count on a screen backlight, and the graphics are only in black and white.
Contrary to what one might think, the crank on the side of the console is not used to extend battery life. Rather, it is a gameplay feature unique to each game and in addition to the traditional buttons
B and the arrows on the top of the integrated controller. This is what distinguishes this new console from the others, according to several critics, because each game has been developed according to this crank.
Once the device is opened, the player first has access to a library of two free video games, which supports animations well, even the most complex ones. Two new titles are added every week for 12 weeks, so we can expect 24 games to start, all designed specifically for the console.
Panic is planning new seasons for its console, which means new titles may be added in the future. The publisher and developer is also working on paid games for its handheld console.
However, it will be necessary to be patient to be able to get your hands on the Playdate. The device has just started to be sent to people who have pre-ordered it, and the site warns that the next deliveries are only scheduled for 2023. Those interested can still pre-order the handheld console, which is detailed at US$179 (CA$226) plus shipping.