Attention all videogame auteurs: There’s a new handheld gaming system coming to the market designed pretty explicitly for your inner aesthete.
It’s called Playdate, and it’s got a crank on the side of the device. No, seriously—you’re going to be using a crank to play games on the device, finally satisfying the dreams of anyone who thought their self-powered doomsday radios could be just a bit more fun. The yellow, pocketable Playdate also has a purely black-and-white screen that looks to recall the early days of game development with a spare, pointillistic style.
Equally interesting is the content present on the console. Panic, the developers behind the machine, are promising “12 brand new videogames, one each week,” per Playdate’s official website. Other than the game shown off on the website, Panic is not announcing what the games are ahead of their releases, though; they want each of the 12 new games to be a surprise to players.
Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure, the game shown off on the Playdate website, is purportedly made by Katamari Damacy mastermind Keita Takahashi. Per a press release, Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure “uses the crank exclusively to control the flow of time, backwards and forwards” as you attempt to get “Crankin’ to his date with Crankette while avoiding an ever-increasing series of ridiculous obstacles.”
Takahashi is joined by other, equally auteur-y names behind the first batch of games coming to the Playdate: Bennett Foddy, creator of flash game/nightmare QWOP; Zach Gage, the iOS developer behind some truly out-there mobile games; and Shaun Inman, who made the mega-hard iOS game The Last Rocket. The names behind the other eight games are unannounced, though we can assume they might be other heavy-hitters from the indie-sphere.
On the games, Panic ensures that “some are short, some long, some are experimental, some traditional. All are fun,” per their official website. As of this writing, only those 12 games have been announced, but Panic is keen to note that future seasons of games on the console are a possibility, should the interest be strong enough in the console.
This isn’t Panic’s first venture into videogames; the company published Firewatch and will be publishing the forthcoming Untitled Goose Game, one of Paste’s most-anticipated games of the year. Other than that, the company is primarily known for their work on Mac and iOS software like the public transportation app Transit, making this left-field move all the more fascinating.
There’s no official release date for Playdate beyond an early 2020 window as ofyet, but Panic has revealed that the system will cost you $149, a price that includes all 12 games. Stock on the Playdate will be “very limited,” so if you’re interested, be sure to preorder the system when that option goes live later this year. In the meantime, check out some images from Playdate’s Twitter account below and stay tuned for more information to come.