Playdate: Little. Yellow. Different.
The most exciting Crank since those movies with that bald fella.
Well, it's happened. We've got an artisanal gaming system, now. Complete with a crank. It has a crank. There is a crank attached to the side of the system. A crank. Either you're already reaching for your wallet, or you've been hit by (pow pow) you've been struck by (pow) aggrieved cynicism.
To make matters worse, it's called Playdate. I mean, for god's sake. Why don't they just call it the Tactile Infantilisation Engine, or the Degeneracy Solution. Someone sat back and went "What the world needs now - other than love, sweet love - is a gaudy yellow Game.com for the noughties that plays crank-based games." Actually, I know full well who said this. It was Panic, the folks behind the... ugh... Playdate. Also known for bringing us the rather good Firewatch, this is their first foray into hardware.
$150 for a handheld that closely resembles a Caramac, with a monochrome screen, a D-pad, two buttons and a crank. Sort of like a Jack-in-the-Box, but for grown-ass adults. Twelve games are planned and will be delivered digitally once per week, which is admittedly quite cool. It's also worth noting that the limitations of this thing will no doubt foster creativity in a manner that more conventionally powerful systems (such as the Switch) haven't. Since its every product is presumably bespoke, the titles released for it could well end up exclusive for the remainder of our time on this dying planet.
This gives it a begrudging appeal - there's something stunningly self-indulgent about releasing something like this, but it's also confident. It's quite daring, it's bold. Confirmed to be working on games for the Playdate so far are Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy), Bennett Foddy (Getting Over It) Zach Gage (Ridiculous Fishing) and Shaun Inman (Retro Game Crunch). Some of these are admittedly more exciting than others, but the potential is certainly there for big names and - more importantly - good games. I'd personally like to see Terry Cavanaugh (VVVVVV) and Stephen Lavelle (Stephen's Sausage Roll) take a crack at it.
So, nnnngh, damn it, the Playdate looks like it could be really cool. I'm excited to see more. Crap!