Playdate - new handheld gaming system, with a crank

Congrats on finally getting yours! Out of interest, what was your order number sitting around? Mine’s around 17,000, but I haven’t had any movement since I was asked to confirm my shipping address last month.

Around order 8900. It shipped earlier this week but hadn’t had a chance to try it until last night.

Wow, the wait is real for me then. They started shipping two months ago and it’s still group A…

Looking forward to hearing your more detailed impressions once you’ve had a chance to get stuck in with more games!

I’m 4 games deep so far.

Without spoiling anything, one of the games is more of an app that I won’t be using much. The other 3 are a bit mixed. Two are just slightly better than what you’d see out of something like a WarioWare MicroGame. One has online leaderboards, the other has more of a level progression. Both involve heavy use the crank. I like them as time wasters.

The other game though… man that one is cool. It’s more of an adventure style game with dialogue and everything. While it’s also extremely short (I imagine you could clear it in a few play sessions) it has so much ridiculously good personality. I won’t spoil the premise though. I’ll just say between the music, character design, and overall feel, it had me looking up the studio for their other games. I really wish it were just longer with more of that music.

Also, the device itself is very cool. The screen has an incredibly high contrast ratio for a device with no backlight. It’s much easier to see than an unlit GBC or a NGPC or something. No ghosting I could tell. And the pixels are dense enough not to see any of them individually. It all lends itself to a rather nice image quality in person.

The buttons are high quality as you’d expect, clicky d-pad too. And the crank is… interesting. It’s got a lot less resistance than I was expecting. And there aren’t any click “notch” intervals to tell you how much you’ve spun it. This is truly smooth 360 degree movement. Learning to use it to control some games is like learning motion controls or an analogue stick for the first time. It requires re-training that same space in your brain.

And a lot of the games require a bit of a different touch. One of them has you spinning it rather fast for one task and thankfully it seems built well enough to withstand that sort of use.

The crank also spins in both directions and that’s recognized by the software. And, surprisingly, the hardware also has an accelerometer which I haven’t seen used by the software yet, but there is a calibration feature for it in the settings.

The sound output via the headphone jack is just INSANE. Easily the best part about the hardware. 3DS and Switch have NOTHING on this. In fact, no handheld does. It’s that good. The bass is so damn deep and punchy. The treble is full range and clean. Pair this thing with decent headphones and you’re bound to have some fun, especially if future software has music as cool as the adventure game I’ve mentioned above has.

I’m impressed by the device overall. I don’t even mind its lack of ergonomics or sharp edges. It fits the lo-fi charm of it.

I imagine this thing sounds so good because Teenage Engineering helped with the hardware design and also has a synthesizer on the market. Definitely sounds like it could be used in a pro environment. I really can’t get over just how clear it is. It’s better than any handheld I’ve ever heard, including my iPhone.

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I wasn’t expecting you to be in awe of an adventure title, I was expecting it to be the surfboarding game. That does have me intrigued indeed.

Glad to hear the device is very high quality, I really like small devices that have a nice solid, substantial feel to them. I guess that’s like the appeal of a well made watch, but it carries through to handhelds like Game Boy Micro.

Is the audio modern audio or is it constrained to sound like something like Virtual Boy?

It’s has both.

Digital audio and synthesized audio.

Entirely up to the developer how to do it.