This Playdate console doesn’t appear to be a joke

Looking like a Pikachu in console form, the Playdate's tail is actually a rotating crank control. — Picture courtesy of Panic, Inc
Looking like a Pikachu in console form, the Playdate's tail is actually a rotating crank control. — Picture courtesy of Panic, Inc

SAN FRANCISCO, May 24 — Retro Game Boy styling meets wind-up toy in early 2020’s Playdate console, which comes with a three-month Season Pass of video games made by famous designers.

With a miniature crank poking out of its side and a pocket-sized presence that makes it look like a slim, monochrome wide-screened, bright yellow Game Boy, the Playdate is a curious new console from an atypical manufacturer.

Panic, Inc has its roots in Mac and iOS software design, but more recently got into video game publishing via story-led nature reserve adventure Firewatch and the upcoming mischief maker Untitled Goose Game.

It’s come up with this limited stock, US$149 (RM625) odd-looking handheld because its staff “love video games... the places they take us and the feelings they give us.”

“It sounds silly, but they really mean a lot to us.”

As the play.date website explains, this tiny console is not just its unusual form, but also its line-up of game designers and seasonal subscription model.

A three-month season pass is included with the Playdate, and Season One is to deliver one new game every week of that 12-week stretch.

One game has been revealed in advance: Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure by Keita Takahashi, a title that uses the crank to control the flow of time as stickman Crankin’ tries to get to his date with Crankette.

Though the Playdate’s crank forms a focal point of the little machine’s design, it still accommodates a directional pad, two face buttons, and a pause button, as well as WiFi and Bluetooth.

Game designer Takahashi is known for his vibrant, playful style, creating the Katamari Damacy franchise, Noby Noby Boy, and 2019’s upcoming Wattam.

Three other designers have been named: Zach Gage, Bennett Foddy, and Shaun Inman. Together their past work may give some insight into what’s coming down the seasonal Playdate pipe.

Zach Gage is perhaps best known for his variations on traditional pastimes by way of mobile games Pocket-Run Pool, Flipflop Solitaire, Really Bad Chess and SpellTower.

Bennett Foddy has a reputation for games that are both extremely challenging and embrace a slapstick humour, such as dexterity dashes QWOP, CLOP, GRIP and Poleriders, and ridiculous mountain ascent Getting Over It.

Shaun Inman is known for retro-styled video games The Last Rocket (iOS) and seven-game collection Retro Game Crunch (Mac, PC). — AFP-Relaxnews