First Impressions of Playdate – Quirky on the outside, not so much on the inside

I’m not sure I’ve experienced such a quirky device since playing on a Barcode Battler in a small trailer in Butlins in the 90’s. game date, a much smaller than I expected, pudding yellow handheld gaming device that garnered quite a following after its unveiling. It’s easy to see why. It’s cute, it’s novel, it has a modern simplicity with a retro vibe, it’s being developed by some top indie talent, and it’s been the cover star of UK gaming media printing press EDGE. But after waiting for its arrival, is it really fun to use?

To put it in a nutshell, without preamble to many clever and funny words: sometimes. How much fun you’ll have on Playdate will inevitably depend on how you find the 24 games included in Season One. And this is where it gets a bit negative. But first, a little more about the quirkiness of the playdate.

It has a crank. Undock the yellow handle from the slot on the lower-right side of the handheld, twist it a bit, and you can spin a crank like people did on game shows like Crystal Maze or Medieval Ages, for reasons I know can’t say exactly fingers on it (but they were probably horrible). I think most people looked at this crank as what would give Playdate a unique selection of games. “What can the best game development talent create now that they have a turning stick to play with?” we all thought. We’ll get to it.

Next, as I mentioned earlier, the playdate is small. Here’s a photo of it next to my iPad’s small plug adapter. Look, it’s very small. Somehow to the point that it’s not the most comfortable thing to hold for long periods of time. The screen is therefore also small and 1-bit black and white. That’s okay, of course – there were a lot of brilliant games before we had amazing colors in games. I started playing games on a green screen amstrad. What’s not so cool is how I struggled to see the screen properly in low light, e.g. B. in a bedroom with only one side table lamp switched on.


The last quirk is one that I really love. Those 24 games that you get in the cost of the handheld will be delivered twice a week for 12 weeks. If 10,000 people get a playdate on the same day, they’re theoretically experiencing the games at the same time, which is nice. It also encourages you to try every game instead of discarding it after a few moments to see everything as soon as possible. So yes, the Playdate is quirky and because of that very easy to love.

I purposely ignored all of the press material that was broadcast about the games included in Season 1, so the digital unpacking of each new game provided a real thrill of discovery that I haven’t felt since the days of the random Mega Drive (Genesis) game more can remember rents from Blockbuster. I pretty much know what to expect with everything these days (which is partly a side effect of the job and partly due to excessive marketing and advertising), so getting these mini-games that could be absolutely anything was a real highlight.


And yet my love for playdates is waning. For all the things I find charming about this handheld, I can’t help but be disappointed with a large chunk of the games library. Maybe it’s my expectations taking a step back, or the fact that I still have to play each game as long as I want, but out of the 12 games I’ve played so far only one has stood out as the game would I unreservedly recommend to others. This game is Crankin Presents Time Travel Adventures.

A robot man wakes up to find he’s late for a date. You’ll then have to turn the crank to whiz Mr. Robot Man through a level to reach his destination, usually late and to the wrath of his date – but you’ll have to avoid obstacles or it’s game over. The twist is that you can reverse the crank to send our robo-buddy backwards while the other denizens of the world carry on normally. I became obsessed with it for a while, cranking to smell flowers while arrows flew overhead, hopping onto tables while wild boars ran amok, and jumping on poles to let things pass through an elongated midsection.

Time Travel Adventures works for me where others don’t because it has a single core gimmick, sticks with it and does as much as it can with it – and that’s the game. Other games I’ve tested so far are a bit text-heavy or use the crank in a way that doesn’t feel necessary. Time Travel Adventures is what I expected to play. A game as whimsical as the quirks that define the console.


I reserve my final judgment on Playdate as to be honest I was on vacation and didn’t have the time to test everything as much as I would have liked. There is definitely something here. In the sense of discovery, the feeling of something fresh and new and in the gimmicky joy of Time Travel Adventures. I hope I can say I’ll experience more of this as I spend more time handheld. First Impressions of Playdate – Quirky on the outside, not so much on the inside

Fry Electronics Team

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