Meet Playdate: A Tiny Handheld Console With A Crank

Panic Inc.'s Playdate is an upcoming handheld console with a standard D-pad and two face buttons ... and a crank.  ( Playdate | Twitter )

A new handheld console is coming soon from Panic Inc., the publisher behind Campo Santo's Firewatch and the yet-to-be-released House House's Untitled Goose Game.

Called "Playdate," the device is a yellow portable gaming system that arguably took some cues from Nintendo's Game Boy design. What makes it peculiar is its small hand crank — yes, a real functioning crank that users can turn and use to play certain titles.

The Hardware

Playdate is tiny, and by the same token, it has a minuscule screen that measures at 2.7 inches with a 400 x 240 resolution. Speaking of which, the display is in black and white, and it doesn't even have backlighting.

It features a simple control layout: a standard directional pad and two face buttons. As noted, it has a crank, which was made in partnership with Teenage Engineering, and it can be neatly tucked away in its side when it's not in use.


The Playdate's games will come in "seasons," as opposed to cartridges and typical digital downloads. The first season will comprise 12 titles, where one game will roll out each week for three months.

Panic is keeping the new games a secret, but it did say who the folks behind them are: Keita Takahashi who made Katamari Damacy, Bennett Foddy who is behind QWOP and Getting Over It, Zach Gage who is best known for SpellTower, and Shaun Inman who created The Last Rocket.

The publisher also shared an image on Twitter that showed the title screens of four games: Zipper, Time Travel Adventure, 360, and Executive Golf DX.

As mentioned earlier, the handheld's crank can be used to play games, and Panic demonstrated it with Time Travel Adventure, which is being developed by Takahashi, on Twitter. In the game, users will wind the crank to move forward in time and turn it the other way around to move back in time. Their objective is to get their character moving to be on time for a date, but if he's late, his date will end up suplexing him.


Playdate is scheduled to ship out in early 2020. It's going to cost $149 and come with the first season of games at no extra charge.

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