Playdate Console Review: A Handheld Gaming Console That is Fun and Unique

The unique playdate console is finally here after a batch of defective batteries postponed its release date to 2022. This handheld with a crank, which combines a modern and an old look, isn’t for every gamer, but it has a lot of promise among handheld gaming devices. Here is a full playdate review.

Playdate Console Review

Panic seemed to rely far too heavily on its unique look when initially showed the Playdate, with its monochrome screen and pop-out crank. It has a lot of exciting potential, but its design has severe flaws.

Hardware That is Both Fun and New

The panic playdate is small, light, and portable. The handheld is made mainly of plastic but feels incredibly durable. The Playdate sports a separate headphone jack on the console’s underside and a USB-C charging and syncing port. At the top of the Playdate, opposite these ports, is a power/lock button is an LED that glows as new games arrive.

A pair of action buttons and a four-way directional pad are located on the front of the playdate console, on the side of a metal pop-out crank.

It’s a crucial component in many games, but it can also be used to explore the device’s user interface. Although there are no specific volume controls on the playdate, a menu button adjacent to the screen can be used and provides access to the home screen, console settings, current game choices, screenshots, and a volume slider.

Great Lineup of Games

Panic is using a subscription model for the Playdate’s games library. Once booted, charged, and connected to wifi, the handheld will install two games, with two more titles accessible every week after that, for 24 for the first season.

The Playdate’s inaugural season features space shooters to RPGs, turn-based strategy games, side scrollers, and puzzle games. Additional titles may be readily sideloaded onto the playdate, and panic has released all of the tools game developers will need to create for the device.

A 168 MHz Cortex M7 CPU and 16 MB of RAM power the panic playdate. The portable may have a vintage appearance, but the games are entirely modern.

Not a Great Screen

Panic’s decision to use the monochrome Sharp Memory LCD drastically degrades the handheld gaming console. The screen’s 400 x 240-pixel resolution allows for some impressively complex visuals. However, the screen’s tiny size makes fine details challenging to notice.

The primary issue is that the Playdate’s screen is entirely reliant on a bright source of light to be visible because it lacks its backlight. The troublesome screen is a letdown given the rest of the Playdate’s quality.


Despite having 24 games included at launch and more on the way, the Playdate’s $179 price tag is difficult to justify. The first round of playdate console games displays the system’s potential, but buying a pricey electronic gadget for what it could become one day is also a difficult sell. Panic is instead going after casual players and people searching for something different in the gaming world.

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