Nine months ago, the team responsible for Playdate mobile game system Send us the “semi-final” device version for a review. I’ve spent weeks holding, tapping, and playing it while testing four pre-installed games. It’s a unique and fun deviceeven if you land more in the “twisted hipster” column than in the “necessary” column.
But this preview was inherently limited by issues such as an unfinished operating system and 83 percent of the system’s games not ready. Next week I’ll be able to report anything else regarding the retail version of Playdate, which I’ve been testing for two weeks now. In particular, I will answer whether the device’s combination of unique shape and 24 built-in games is worth it Retail price $179 (Its estimate is “2023” for new applications submitted as of the time of publication).
My Playdate system review will be posted in one week, on Monday, April 18 at 1 PM ET.
Prior to this review, the system producers at Panic and Teenage Engineering invited me to share an idea of what the final machine would look like… as long as I’m not showing anything beyond a nice introductory animation, which appears after setting up a process brief and a control introduction. The introduction requires that new users click each of the play buttons (A, B, all D-pad directions, plus a few crank turns). Doing so turns on the simple Rube Goldberg hardware. The cartoonish animation and the catchy music are charming.
Although I’m including a video of the full animation, it looks different on a standard web browser than it does on the Playdate’s highly responsive e-ink screen. The still images in this article, taken with my smartphone, are crystal clear, though some of the images capture full animation. I’ll have more to say about screen fragility in my Playdate review.
In the meantime, the system and its box should look familiar. Last year’s box had the same look and design, only with newly modified logos and text. Aesthetically, you’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference between either system, thanks to the identical buttons and dimensions.