Panic is a developer of Mac and iOS apps, and joined the gaming industry recently when they became the publisher of the hit indie game Firewatch in 2016 and the upcoming Untitled Goose Game. Today on Twitter, they’ve unveiled their latest project–a handheld gaming system dubbed “Playdate.”
Introducing Playdate, a new handheld gaming system from Panic.
It fits in your pocket. It’s got a black and white screen. It includes a season of brand-new games from amazing creators. Oh and… there’s a crank???? https://t.co/WiIPUkpjSq Yes. A thread… pic.twitter.com/47BwSOtiiP — Playdate (@playdate) May 22, 2019
Panic’s new Playdate is promising to be distinct from other handhelds or mini consoles on the market today. The Playdate itself is a fun and vibrant yellow and measures 74mm × 76mm × 9mm, or about three inches square. The screen is a “premium,” highly-reflective 2.7-inch black and white display by Sharp, and it looks retro and futuristic at the same time. It also has a traditional D-pad and A and B buttons on the face, reminiscent of the Nintendo Game Boy. The compact Playdate also sports WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, a USB-C port, and a headphone jack.
The most eye-catching feature is obviously the crank on the side that looks a bit like a survivalist’s crank radio or flashlight. The crank is not the way the Playdate maintains power; it’s a novel way for developers to make gameplay on this new device fun and innovative. The crank was the brainchild of Swedish company Teenage Engineering, who contributed heavily to the Playdate’s development. The crank is an input device like the traditional face buttons, and is a unique way for players to interact with some of the system’s games.
In order to develop content for their new device, Panic reached out to “top game designers” Keita Takahashi, most famous for the unforgettable Katamari Damacy, as well as Spelltower’s Zach Gage, QWOP’s Bennett Foddy, and Retro Game Crunch’s Shaun Inman.
We showed them Playdate and asked, “Want to make a game for it?”. Then we lost our minds when they said “Yeah!”
Keita Takahashi is working on a game called “Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure,” which makes interesting and exclusive use of the crank input. Panic posted a preview video of the game in their Twitter announcement thread.
Panic plans to release content for the Playdate in seasons, or a collection of 12 games delivered over 12 weeks. Season One’s game collection is going to be included with the purchase of a Playdate system.
Edge magazine will have exclusive coverage of Panic’s Playdate in it’s forthcoming issue, #333. More hardware specs and game details will also be revealed as the Playdate’s release date approaches.
With so many innovative game development figures supporting the project, the Playdate is sure to make a splash. The Playdate will cost $149 and begin shipping in early 2020, fulfilled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Panic is warning that “stock will be very limited,” so those interested in this quirky little device should sign up for notifications on their official website.