People are drawn to the charm of games from yesteryears, which is why the market for retro gaming continues to grow. The Japanese company, Panic, is aware of this and is joining the retro gaming space with Playdate.
Playdate is a palm-sized device that’s reminiscent of the design of Nintendo’s Game Boy but adds a modernized spin to it. It comes equipped with a USB Type-C port, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth and retains all the retro nostalgia in its hardware design. The display has a resolution of 400×240, is not backlit, and is reflective. So you will always need light to play games on it, which is not a bad thing for the eyes.
Playdate is available for pre-order at $179 and is expected to ship in 2023. A pleasantly surprising package that comes with the device is that you can design a game and play on it.
Price of going retro
Playdate is fully buttoned and has a detachable back area where the battery is placed. The ‘crank’ on the side of the device is meant to control the movements of the characters just like a joystick. As with other handheld gaming devices, it also can connect through WiFi to download games made by people who save them on the cloud and can run for up to 8 hours of playtime.
However, the rather steep price of the Playdate renders the retro feeling as mere wishful thinking. Competitors such as ANBERNIC release retro handhelds like the RG351V handheld which only costs $125.94. While the RG351V can only run for six hours, it is WiFi-enabled and has a much higher resolution of 640×480. It also plays beloved, colored retro games.
Adding the cost of Playdate’s shipping, the price tag leaves us wondering if it is worth it while. But what sets it apart from other retro handhelds is that it’s designed for creating new indie, retro games.
Coding your game on PlayDate
Panic has a specific game-making tool called Pulp for Playdate. The web-based application is easy to use even if you have never coded before. The coding area looks like a text editor where you can add elements such as drawing tools, animation, and sound effects, among others to your code.
After you are done coding, you can preview your game before exporting it to the format that runs on the device. The game can be then transferred through the web app to the device and you can start playing your own game based on the story theme you decide.
YouTube: Say Hello to Playdate!!
Photo credits: The images used are owned by Panic and have been provided for press usage.