Game news Playdate: the Game Boy with a crank for all players?
While the portable console market is gradually being sidelined by our video game giants, Sony having left the race and Nintendo having opted for the choice of hybridization, the Playdate arrives with more than one turn of the crank in its bag. Indeed, this radiant little machine designed to fit in all pockets, except those with sea urchins, promises a regular delivery of independent games to discover by operating a funny handle. What to turn heads?
A very square portable console
We already had luck to put our big hands on the most “India” handheld consoles last July. Our hours spent on the final version of the Playdate confirm all our good initial impressions. The Playdate is a small machine perfectly designed to fit in all pockets thanks to its minimal dimensions and light weight. Its design is reminiscent of a Game Boy Pocket which would have received a hammer blow on its upper edge: the format is almost square, the yellow color tickles the retina and the design is sleek. The only elements visible on the front are limited to the directional cross, the two buttons “B” and “HAS”, to the “Menu”, to the loudspeaker, as well as to the three fixing screws. Thanks to its delicate coating and rounded corners, the console designed by Panic with the collaboration of Teenage Engineering is pleasant to handleeven after long gaming sessions. inputs involuntary. Same observation for the buttons “B” and “HAS” which are reactive and quick to rebound. Their arrangement on the same horizontal line will surely prevent you from handling classic platform games where “B“is used to run and”HAS” to jump.
The Playdate at the height of other portable consoles?
During the first start, the configuration is done in a few steps. You must first connect your machine to Wi-Fi, then register the device online in order to receive the latest updates. Nothing very complex for those who are accustomed to setting up today’s home consoles. At first glance, the screen of the Playdate is reminiscent of that of our good old laptops, since Panic decided to display black and white. The games are therefore in 1-bit monochrome for a definition of 400×240 (5:3). However, the rendering is much sharper than what we once had.. With its 180 MHz Cortex M7 CPU, the laptop aims to offer the sensations of yesteryear while improving visual comfort thanks to backlighting and various technical improvements. The few concessions made have at least the merit of allowing very good autonomy : we only needed to recharge the device after 8 hours of use. Be careful, downloading/installing games eats up the battery faster. If the rendering is pleasant compared to the size of the screen, the absence of colors remains a questionable choice since it will prevent the developers from launching concepts around certain visual nuances.
Regarding the general interface, it is ergonomic. The game library shows large animated banners representing the different software installed, while the options allow you to manage different details. We regret all the same the absence of a parameter reinforcing the brightness of the screen. A list of less graphic but more ergonomic games is available in the “Games” section of the options. Finally, the standby mode displays a rather sober virtual clock.
|Features of Playdate|
|Cut||76 x 74 x 9mm|
|Screen size||2.7 inches, or about 68 mm diagonally|
|Autonomy||14 days standby (clock), 8 hours active|
|CPU||180MHz Cortex M7|
|Storage capacity||16 MB RAM, 32 KB L1 Cache, 4 GB Flash|
|Wireless Specifications||802.11bgn 2.4GHz WiFi, Bluetooth|
|His||Built-in mono speaker, stereo headphone port, Condenser Mic + TRRS Mic In|
|Keys||D-Pad, A, B, Sleep, Menu, Crank|
|Price||$179 (excluding postage)|
More crank turns than magic?
It is at this point in your reading that you are surely wondering “why the hell pay 179 dollars for yet another retro console”. The answer is simple: despite appearances, the Playdate is not a retro console. Using the small crank located on the right side of the device, the laptop designed by Panic aims to appeal to fans of indie games looking for sensations both known and new. Indeed, this funny accessory brings a breath of fresh air to the ways of interacting with our video games. In a few turns of the crank, the surfboards move, the characters move, the balls bounce… in short, the worlds come alive with joy and good humor. It will obviously be necessary to ensure the resistance of this crank after several months of use. For the moment, we have no reservations to make about the quality of the material. However, the few reservations we had during our preview find a new echo today. If we took a lot of pleasure in discovering apps with a very arcade principle, where the crank played a decisive role, we are less enthusiastic about the more classic adventure games where the accessory takes second place (when it is not not purely and simply useless). Left-handers will complain about the fact that the location of the crank is designed for right-handers, although an option exists to flip the screen (which allows you to flip the machine, and therefore move the handle to the left).
Do Playdate games make a difference?
Before being one of the most atypical portable consoles ever designed, the Playdate is above all a concept based on a promise: that of providing two free games each week, for twelve weeks. This therefore makes a total of 24 titles for this first batch promised with the purchase of the machine. Each time a new title arrives, a gift to open appears on the history interface to make the event festive. We were able to access all of these works imagined by certain renowned developers such as Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy), Zach Gage (SpeelTower) and Bennett Foddy (Getting Over It). As of this writing, Lucas Pope’s creation (Return of the Obra Dinn) is not in the package. Given that one of the principles of the console is to surprise players by bringing two new games a week, we are not going to spoil the surprise for you by describing the content of all the software planned. We will just say that in the lot, there is something for everyone with shoot, adventure, platform, textual experience, puzzle-game, rhythm rhythm, arcade , etc. We note despite everything the absence of horror games and the virtual non-existence of sports games.
In all the titles, we mainly retain eight creations that are out of the ordinary, and which manage to sell the original concept of the Playdate. One of the best is none other than Time Travel Adventures, a project that Panic has promoted a lot, and which makes perfect use of the device’s functions. We also like Omaze, a very clever puzzle/skill game, and Whitewater Wipeout, a very effective surfing/scoring game. We also retain Echoic Memory, Flipper Lifter, Sasquatchers, Spellcorked and Forrest Byrnes Up in Smoke. Know that only a little more than half of the apps to download use the crank wisely, when they use it at all, which is surprising since the Playdate is sold in part for its original way of playing. For information, the 24 games of the first season weigh between 59 Kb and 160 Mb. Once all downloaded on the internal storage space of 4 Gb, 2.6 Gb remain available.
Playdate Pulp: become a video game developer!
Playing games from independent developers is good, but becoming a creator of monochrome virtual universes yourself is better! If you feel the soul of a game designer, know that the purchase of the Playdate gives access to Playdate Pulp, a tool available directly on the browser which grants the possibility of creating your own games for the small console.. If there is a method to make your apps simply by using bits of code, you will quickly have to roll up your sleeves and go through the PulpScript to give life to your most absurd ideas. Which means that users will have to deal with an austere scripting language made up of functions and variables. The level, sprite, music and sound editors are sufficiently well thought out to allow you to produce quickly. Professionals who do not wish to go through Pulp can get the SDK (free) and create their works with their favorite LUA and C APIs.
The Playdate, a console for an informed public
With an entry price set at $179 ($241 including shipping costs for France and taxes) and delivery now scheduled for 2023, the Playdate is undeniably expensive, even if the player would have access to 24 titles. after three months of use. This rate reserves the Panic machine for fans of indie productions, skilled with the language of Shakespeare (both the games and the menus are in English), and who are not afraid to put the price in order to own an object coming out of the ordinary. Some will see it as an undeniable breath of fresh air for elitist enthusiasts and hackers, others will not understand the enthusiasm around this expensive little machine with a monochrome screen. From our point of view, the Playdate is a beautiful object that already offers amazing experiences, although we would have appreciated even more audacity in the way the crank is used inside the pixelated universes offered.
By CarnbeeJournalist jeuxvideo.com