Remember the Game Boy? Those old-school little handheld gaming devices were all the rage back in the day, but they met their (timely) demise when smartphones and iPod touches became ubiquitous (and when flashy gaming graphics just made playing on a little black-and-white screen seem boring). Well hold tight, because Playdate is bringing handheld gaming back and it’s doing it with flair.

Old-School Handheld Gaming

Playdate Handheld Gaming Device 2The Playdate doesn’t look like much, and that’s because it isn’t. It’s an old-school gaming device in the vein of the old 1990’s Game Boy, with a small black-and-white screen (400 x 240, in case you’re wondering) just two A & B buttons, and a nav button.

It also has a crank on the side. And no – it’s not powered by the crank. It has an internal battery for that. The crank is merely another control (of some kind) for input into the game).

What does it play? Right now, not a whole lot; just a limited roster of games specially designed and programmed games to run on it. “Season One” as they’re calling it will include 12 games to start, including a release by renowned game designer Keita Takahashi called “Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure.”


This device might look like it came of 1989 – and that’s the idea – but it doesn’t leave hanging when it comes to Playdate Handheld Gaming Device 3basic everyday convenience and functionality. The Playdate charges via USB-C (because Micro USB is so last year), has an integrated AUX jack for plugging your headphones (will there be more than beeps audible?) and a WiFi antenna to make sure you can access the internet.

We’re not sure why you need WiFi access with the Playdate, but we imagine they have some need for it (updates? Social sharing?).

Trusted Game Maker On New (Old) Ground

The Playdate is the work of game developer Panic, the team that created the critically acclaimed game Firewatch (for PC, Mac and gaming consoles) a few years back. They created a proprietary operating system for this new device, and apparently want to share the love of old-school gaming with others.

It won’t be released until 2020, but you can preorder a Playdate for yourself for $149.

Sounds like a cranking good time.