The Playdate Invokes a Better Bygone Era of Handhelds

The true evolution of Tiger Electronics and the Game Boy

The Playdate is an irresistible little thing more of us at Fanbyte have gotten our mitts on in the past few weeks. For this week’s Thanks for the Knowledge podcast, I sat down with two proponents of the device, featured contributor Fūnk-é Joseph and podcast producer Paul Tamayo, to check in on what they’ve been playing.

You can also listen to our wonderful conversation on Spotify and other podcatchers, of course.

One of my favorite takeaways from the conversation (other than figuring out the Playdate is exactly half the size of an iPhone 11) is Fūnk-é’s live reaction to finding out just how many apps and games you easily side-load onto the device. This was pretty fresh information to me as well, as only days before Paul let me know of the very happening itch.io page with Playdate content ready to go. It’s such a nice ecosystem for a device that works with seasonality for its official releases. I’ve wondered out loud how much the Playdate can really stand the test of time with only 24 games releasing in a “season,” but having paid and free 3rd party games available on popular platforms like itch.io give me hope that there’s more to the device than what Panic will provide.

Speaking of what Panic provides with the Playdate, we also chatted about the creation suites available to developers. There’s the official SDK for complex apps and there’s Pulp, the web-based creation tool simple enough for laypeople to mess around with.

I highly recommend you listen to the roundtable, but just like I do every week, I’ll wrap up the biggest headlines and game releases you can look forward to in a compact rundown. Topics and full transcript of the roundtable are below:

playdate

Topics on this week’s Thanks for the Knowledge

Transcript of Playdate roundtable

John: The steam deck is not the only handheld setting the world on fire right now. We also have the Playdate, which is roughly, I’m going to say 1/20th of the size of the Steam Deck. And that might be understating it actually. Now that the Playdate’s been in the wild for a couple of weeks and some folks here at Fanbyte have gotten their hands on it, I wanted to have a little round table, my guests today, are my very own producer, Paul Tamayo Hello?

Paul: Hey, how’s it going?

John: Pretty good. And Featured Contributor Fūnk-é

Funke: Yo!

John: Ayyy. So y’all gotten to play around with- this is full disclosure to start. I unboxed my Playdate today. I was telling Paul about this and this has been in my mailbox for I don’t know about a week?

(Paul and Fūnk-é gasp)

John: But like here’s the- listen listen. We got real COVID hours here over at shay Warren. We’re not really leaving the house at all. I know it’s just a mailbox, but we feel real weird and but here’s the thing that really scared me though.

We had several days in a row of 95 degree heat, and then also like a torrential thunderstorm. Now the thing that Paul said that made me feel good is that this thing was packaged very well. And it was like, double-sealed, super, super tight. And yeah, no weather was getting into this box.

So that was good. But I was worried about the heat. Fortunately, this thing has turned on and is behaving perfectly for me, but I’ve not gotten a chance to play these games, check out the backend. I really want to download from y’all. How long have y’all had yours and and what have you played so far on it?

Paul: Yeah, I forget when I got mine, but I want to say it’s been maybe two or three weeks at this point.

John: Okay. Fūnk-é, how long have you had yours?

Funke: Like four days. It shipped to my parents’ house by accident. (John: “Ah boo!”) I know I visited them and I just picked it up like a couple of days ago. And it’s been fun! Yeah. It’s been really fun.

Like the first thing that I love about it is the size. It’s a perfect little square!

John: Let’s talk about the size. It is like- when reviews started rolling out for this thing, everyone was like, this thing is really small. It is very small. Like it is a very small device.

Funke: Yeah. It’s half of an iPhone.

John: Yes it is. And it is basically-

Funke: Put it on your phone. It’s half!

John: An iPhone 11. It is basically, exactly, half the size. You’re right.

Funke: On the flight back. I had my phone and my Playdate in my like chest pocket. And I was just like switching between them while I was like bored on the plane. It was perfect. It was so convenient.

Paul: It’s great. Yeah. The minute I saw it, I was like, I need this thing in my life immediately. I jumped on the pre-order and yet it’s like Fūnk-é said, I bought the little cute ice cream sandwich case along with it. And it’s so- it’s like adorable, in that- I also just think like yellow and purple. It was just like a perfect combination- color combination.

But yeah, it fits in my, like usually any Shacket (Shirt-Jacket) that I’m wearing, if it fits in the chest pocket or if it’s in a bag or just like my regular pockets, I’ll just throw it in there and forget about it. And yeah. It has introduced me to a world that I’ve honestly been asking for for a while now that I just continue to fall in love with, and I can’t wait to see what else they cook up for this thing because the stuff that I’ve already seen, I’m like sold.

Funke: Yeah. It merges like the things I love so much about games. First of all, like the retro style, it reminds me of putting it in the light and being in the islands with my family and playing like Pokemon Red on my Gameboy and just being like, like shivering under the light and just trying to get a little shine so I could see what I was doing. This backlight is like way better than the Gameboy, but it’s still is reminiscent of that in a way that I love. And also the Playdate releases games in like seasons. So every- I think it’s every week it’s two games you get. So right now I have Whitewater Wipeout, Casual Birder, Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure, and Boogie Loops. And I love serialized stuff in games. Like life is strange one: GOATed! Like just the release of that. Having a game drop like in segments like that, like it’s a TV show is the best! I love that anticipation that waiting that surprise being like, oh, what am I going to get today?

And Playdate definitely delivers that already.

Paul: It is interesting that you mentioned a backlight though, because this like famously doesn’t have one. I think part of the design is it has like a reflective touch to the screen that when it’s in light or when a catches any little bit of light, it enhances the image because- it’s yeah, because it’s, there’s no color to it.

And it’s cool that you mentioned that the Gameboy as well, because that’s one of the things I love most about this? It really reminds me of way back when way before your time Fūnk-é. Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe not. I used to love these old, like Tiger Electronic game handhelds that would come out for every Disney property and Marvel thing possible- and even things like the Tamagotchi and stuff. It’s very reminiscent of that. And what’s cool is that it makes sense because Teenage Engineering who are the folks that are responsible for the cri- for the crime of the crank. (laughs) and just the overall beautiful design of the device itself.

They’re a Swedish company. It’s a very Swedish-looking device. And I don’t know Fūnk-é, you might know about this, but the OP-1 is a really cool-

Funke: I have the Speak I have the they’re like little Teenage Engineering synthesizer where like Pocket Operator-

Paul: Oh, I have that too!

Funke: Where you can sample things- sounds from around the just wherever you’re walking and make it music.

John: So you can take foley from what’s around you and make music out of it?

Funke: Yeah. And make it- like there’s 20 buttons or something on it. And like each button could be a sound and you can like augment the sound to make it higher or faster or lower and just make a song out of it on the fly. It’s so sick!

Paul: Yeah. I don’t have that one, but because they have a bunch of them, they even have like Street Fighter and Megaman ones. But the one that I have is it’s similar, but I can, it’s like a sequencer. So I could just mess around with the different pitches and tones and sound effects and actual like beats and rhythms.

It looks like a little circuit board that it’s very like bare bones with really interesting clicky buttons and knobs here and there, and a very Game and Watch- inspired display. And it’s for good reason, because one of the founders Jesper Kouth- I’m sorry, I’m gonna say this wrong, Jesper Kouthoofd says the Pocket Operator actually took a lot of inspiration from the Game and Watch. So like the roots of this thing is- are embedded in like the, those earlier plastic-y clicky gadgets that you would just mess around with. These toys! And that’s what this is!

I think that’s why I’m so fascinated by it. And it satisfies a very particular want of mine that I have that like the Steam Deck will never give me and a Switch will never give me, my phone will NEVER give me. And yeah, I’m just I’m absolutely in love with it. I, I think the forced limitation of the design with the two buttons and a crank and the D pad, I think really has already shown that when you force those limitations onto creatives like that, the things that they can produce because of those limitations is really impressive. Have y’all had- Fūnk-é, have you had a chance to side load, any games onto your Playdate?

Funke: Yes. I originally got the first two. What’s it called the Whitewater Wipeout and Casual Birder which are both pretty fun. But I really enjoyed the one that I got like yesterday. Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure. Have you played that?

Paul: Oh yeah. Yeah but I meant like the ones outside of the ones that they send to you automatically.

John: Fūnk-é, did you know that you can go to itch.io and download Playdate games?

Funke: No!

(John laughs)

Paul: Let me tell you about the games I have been obsessed with. So there’s a few of them. Sorry, John, if I’m jumping ahead here.

John: No, it’s okay. Let’s get into this ’cause I’ve got itch.io Playdate games open right now. And we could read off a list here if we want so yeah.

Paul: Yo, Anybody listening, who also just finding out about this, do the same.

John: Yeah, it’s legit. There’s a ton of shit out already.

Paul: Because Yeah. I think the, what is it called? Like the SDK has been out for a long time. So I’ve been like, I’ve been treating it the same way I treat like Bandcamp.

I’ve been like finding things that I really like. And I’m like, yeah, you know what? I’m going to give you like double what you’re asking for because this shit is cool. And I want to support. It, depending on, how generous I’m feeling and how zooted I potentially am, I’ll go ahead and just just throw money at these developers.

Because I’m like, yeah, this is cool. I want to encourage this. It’s one of those things where like the same way I am with like MiniDisc on Bandcamp. If I see you have a MiniDisc printing of an album, I’m going to buy it and give you more than what you’re asking for, because it’s I want to support it.

Hashtag save the manuals. So there’s one called Super Corporate Tax Evader, which I fucking love. It’s basically a WarioWare mini game, where you’re using the crank to shred evidence while a lawyer I think, or someone is- I think they’re like auditing you?

So you have to do it quietly in this kind of closet office that you’re stuck in and you hear the, and you can like read what the lawyer is saying right outside the door. And you have to like, put it away right before they come into the door and catch you. And they’re like, “what are you doing in here?”

And you’re like, “nothing!” It’s great. There’s a game called Bloom, which is basically like a Stardew Valley- like a light Stardew Valley. Where you’re you- it’s like a visual novel of sorts. So you’re talking to folks through text and you get to select what you’re doing, but also- what you’re saying rather, but you’re also like planting flowers and shit on the roof and maintaining those and selling those. It’s wonderful. There’s one called A Joke That’s Worth $0.99. It’s really great. It’s literally just like one mechanic where you’re, it’s like a visual representation of the crank and the Playdate itself and they’re telling you this long joke, and while you’re doing it, you have to use the crank to keep these characters that keep falling with bouncy butts and you have to like just juggle them. It’s wonderful. I told you about Yoshimi Yahtzee, which is basically just Yahtzee. It’s great.

This Bomber Panda, which is Bomberman, it’s just- with a Panda. On top of that, the stuff that I’m seeing in the works for Playdate, even coming from, I think Panic!, or at least in collaboration with Panic! Itself makes me excited about what the future holds for a device like this?

I don’t know if y’all have heard of poolsuite.net? So poolsuite.net- it’s got some like corny NFT tentacles attached to it. But , I think you can sidestep that if you wanted to, but poolsuite.net is essentially just like a really cool website that lets you use this fake eighties inspired like Mac OS or nineties inspired Mac OS and it’s very vaporwave-ish, there’s different radio stations. You can listen to that sound like city pop and different kinds of electronic songs. And you can like, there’s a video window. You can open that’s b roll of shit from like the eighties and stuff.

It’s very much like some Vaporwave shit, but it’s pretty cool. It’s a pretty cool idea. And apparently they’re working on an app for the Playdate that lets you just listen to the radio stations. And it makes sense for that kind of display like that really low res display and even on itch.io, you can see folks who are making- there’s a planner that somebody made, which I like completely blows my mind, because I don’t know why you would ever want to use this as a planner, but it’s also one of those things that’s core to the mission statement. (Fūnk-é: “Why not, though?”)

Yeah. Who am I to judge?

John: There are like fancy clocks too and things like that.

Funke: Oh my gosh! There’s Bird and Beans! That like a DSI game I used to play all the time. They remade it for the Playdate! This is too sick!

John: Yeah. I think too- I don’t know who to blame for this, but I feel like Fūnk-é his reaction to this is like the common reaction, because I really didn’t know how- I knew the SDK had been out for a while. I knew that making your own stuff- which we can talk about in a second- making your own stuff was like a feature of this thing. Being able to develop for it relatively easily. They even give you some tools to help with that, which we can also talk about, but like, How many games that are in itch.io right now?

This is just weeks after the release of the Playdate. Really encourages me because that, like we said, there are two games that come out each week, 24 games in a season, very unclear what happens after season one, right? Are they doing a season two? And is that on a separate device or is it going to be on this one?

Very unclear. But the fact that there are all these apps and games you can sideload relatively easily. That’s huge like that, that is a really big deal. And I think not enough people are talking about that aspect of it in the past few weeks.

Paul: Yeah. I think the ease of which you can side load games onto the device is key for me because-

Funke: Can you talk about that process a little? Because I don’t really know how to do that.

Paul: Yeah. So I initially hooked it up to my PC thinking I would have to do it that way, but you don’t. You basically log in to the Playdate- your Playdate account, and there’s a tab where you can basically, whatever games you’ve downloaded, even if they’re- I think if they’re already zipped, you can just drag them in to the window and it’ll unpack it and have it up in the cloud.

And then you go into your Playdate. And much like you do whenever there are new games for the Playdate through Panic!, you just go to your settings and go to the games, you refresh the list and it should be in there, like in your queue to download and you just download that way. So it’s it’s easier than other things that I do with my phone that’s- have all this kind of tape around it that prevent you from, utilizing these devices you have as tools.

And I think that’s one of the things I love most about it so far is that it can kind of mold itself to whatever I want. And usually from gadgets like this that’s key for me because it opens up so many possibilities that excite me even to the point where I’m like, I think I might want to make something for this.

And that is that’s wild. Like I only ever experienced that through things like Dreams or like Mario Maker and things where it’s very locked down but the idea and the playfulness behind this gadget and the the ways in which it’s forcing folks to be creative with their ideas has gotten me a little interested, which is really wild!

Funke: I love that too, because one of the games that was recently released on the season one is Boogie Loops by May-Li Khoe and Andy Matuschak. And it’s just basically a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Like you can just make music in there and like a slice of pizza, a panda, a bunny will dance to it and you can choose what dances they do.

If they want to floss or something. It’s really fascinating. My only issue with the rollout so far has been: there’s not really any description. Like when you get it on the console itself, there’s no instructions of how to do like anything. What the game actually is. And that’s really fun for games like Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure, but for Boogie Loops, I was like, I do want I do want like a guide of how to use this properly. Because it does get a bit like- it’s a whole system and I would love to know how each of these things work and that’s available, I think, on the internet. But I would like that just on the console itself.

I think that’d be pretty useful.

John: Yeah, for sure. So in terms of making stuff for Playdate, Playdate basically allows you to do two different things. You can use the SDK, which is a full suite. You need a Lua and CAPI. You need a simulator for local dev. It involves profiling and you and advanced kind of simulation and emulation and things like that.

So if you’re an experienced developer, you can do that, but it also comes with Pulp, which is a web based game editor for Playdate so you can basically go in there. It’s really simple. It’s like grid based placement simple scripting. You can make your own chiptune music. The pixel art is basically there.

You can also create some physical pixel art, I believe through Pulp. So there are two different ways if you’ve never made a game, but you want to play around with it. There is this cool app called Pulp, which you can try. If you are experienced, you can use the SDK and do wilder shit like the shredding game that’s absolutely made with an SDK like that was a full fledged- there is this like first person perspective thing, and it’s like pretty advanced, but there are games I’m seeing on itch.io that look like they were built in Pulp. So it is a legitimate way to get into this.

And I think it’s so cool. And they have all this history with making music- the hardware devs and they’ve put some of that magic into this web based editor, which I think is really cool. So I don’t know. I think that’s a really neat aspect of this thing.

Paul: Yeah, for sure. And even just the act of using it, like it’s so interesting to me. Like it’s silly and it makes you laugh in really cool ways.

And it’s so charming and even the, what Fūnk-é was talking about with the screen, like there are moments where. It feels like an old, device that you would have maybe played with in the nineties, but it still feels magical because of that refresh rate and the little, the speakers actually pretty surprisingly like good.

Funke: And it connects to wifi! (laughs)

Paul: And it connects to wifi! And it has a little bit of the modern trappings that you would come to expect from a device like this, but for me it even when just looking at it right now, like sitting on my desk, I just want to pick it up. It has this sort of like quality to it that is so pretty to look at, in the way that I feel about, some of my favorite gadgets, some of my favorite things like, most recently I think about the Switch and how colorful and vibrant it was and how I wish more folks would take risks like this? When it comes to how loud it can be and how playful it can feel and sound. Yeah.

Funke: Nintendo’s moved away from that, like I remember the 3DS and DSI. They were like, okay, you can break the console, make whatever for it. You’ll have themes like for different games or just different things you like or different colors.

Whereas switch is just Nope. Black and white. Everyone else is doing that. Why don’t we do that? Yeah it’s nice to see the Playdate like be so expressive and be like, “Hey, we’re shining yellow. And we have a giant crank where we are silly. And we like that!”

John: Yeah. Paul mentioned that the Game & Watch comparison earlier, and it’s like, the Playdate kind of looks like an evolution of the Game Boy Advance SP or something.

Like it’s something that like if Nintendo had gone down a very specific path of let’s make a Game Boy Advance SP that is literally half the size, but still vibrant in color. I wouldn’t- I would believe it. I’d believe that this was a Nintendo joint from like the early 2000s, but they’ve gone away from that and they’ve, they’ve left a hole in the market where folks like the Playdate folks can be like, “Well… If y’all won’t do it.”

Paul: Yeah , like I remember my bright teal GameBoy Color, and I remember seeing kids play with that little like Pikachu- that little yellow Pikachu device. And there was a playfulness-

I mentioned the Tamagotchi earlier, but there is that space in my pocket and in my heart for a device like this because I think with things like the Switch and mobile phones and the Steam Deck, especially, I feel like I feel like at times those devices really don’t speak to me because that’s like the last thing I want when I’m on the go is like basically a shrunken down version of something that I would much rather prefer on a bigger screen.

Like all my couch, even, but I understand like different use case scenarios for different people, but like for me, when I’m thinking about games, especially on mobile devices like a cell phone- or smartphone, for example those that’s like the last place I want to play the game because those devices- I’ve talked about this before.

I actually talked about this on DLC recently, but like the, a touchscreen for me- like smartphones to me. I put up with them, I guess. Like they’re fine. They have to be what they are, because they’re just these blobs that exist in your hand that transform into whatever you need. But touchscreen to me still is fine, but it’s not my preferred method of an input- especially when it comes to games and the games that exist on those platforms are constantly screaming at you to buy more tokens or whatever the fuck-

Funke: It’s twisted! I got Tetris on my iPhone and it’s a free game. You can download it. And there’s just 20 to 40 seconds of ads that play between each run. (Paul: “Ugh!”)

Yeah. For some like random shitty puzzle game that like- that I would just scroll past on my computer, and it makes you look at that stuff. (laughs)

Paul: And even before, when I was like, before I was introduced to the Anbernic, actually on a conversation on TFTK with you, John and merritt.

I was like using a little controller attachment on my phone to play Advanced Wars and shit like that, but even then, like having your phone on you, you can put it on, do not disturb or whatever, but the temptation or the, if you don’t put it on, do not disturb, the interruptions that your phone constantly has with text messages or Slack messages, emails- it’s just constantly trying to move you away and do something else.

And it’s something really beautiful about, like Fūnk-é was saying earlier, just throwing this in your shirt pocket and walking out the door. And then, when I’m on the train, I’ll just play a couple of rounds of Pick Pack Pup, which is a great game that’s on the Playdate and it’s like ” oh, it’s my stop! Alright, cool.” I’ll like flip it over, put it back in the case, throw it in my pocket, forget about it. Like it’s a really cool little toy that can serve so many purposes.

Funke: I have a question about the rollout, cause I got mine pretty recently. And is it staggered? Like. Whenever you open it and register it, you’ll get two games?

And then the next week you get two games and then the next week… or is it like on a set schedule aside from you like- Paul, how many games do you have right now from the 24 of season one?

Paul: I think it’s probably dependent on when you get it, because I have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. I have eight games from season one so far.

Funke: Okay. Yeah. I guess I’m getting two each week, then that’s really cool that it’s like, based on you when you have activated it.

John: Yeah. Which is odd?

Paul: It is a little odd.

Funke: I like that too so that you still are experiencing that oh, surprise. What am I getting?

John: Yeah , okay. Yeah. I’ll give them a definite credit for sticking to the kind of-

Funke: Keeping it serialized.

John: Yeah, they’ve got these limitations that they put on this device, which I think are mostly to its benefit and that is one of them, right? Like it is a limitation of, yeah. Even if you get this in six months, you’re not going to have access to all the games.

You’re going to experience the rollout. They want you to like, play the games that are in this rollout. Get a sense of them. Like really spend time with them. I think that’s really nice. I don’t think that’s tenable. I think they’ll probably change that at some point. Just because I think this rollout has been very protracted. And I think it’s going to continue to be protracted. It’s a small team. Like I’m not- that’s not really criticism. It’s just saying, even Valve had issues getting Steam Deck out the door and they still are having issues with that. So it’s not an issue that’s, only with these small groups, but yeah.

I wonder if they’ll change that because I do think that the longer this goes, that’s going to be an odd feature.

Funke: I could see that seeing some friends playing a game that you don’t even have access to-

John: That’s a little frustrating. I think that’s going to be a little frustrating, but I guess you can always just side load the stuff that’s out there.

Funke: Y’all told me about this thing and I’m sorry, John. I don’t know if I’m going to be getting work done today.

John: Yeah, I know! It’s a big list of stuff. I’m in the same boat. Like I just unboxed thing and I’m looking at this list like, okay, what am I going to put on this thing?

So it’s very exciting.

Paul: There is something really cool though about- speaking on that sideloading stuff, like there is something really interesting about these communities of like actual genuine organic excitement around a device like this that- obviously apples and oranges, but I didn’t feel really as much as when I got like my next gen consoles, like when I got my Series X and PS5, I was like, oh cool. These obviously look way better and there are some minor upgrades, at least in my opinion the haptic feedback and things that are there with a Dualsense, like there are some interesting things being done there, but here it feels like there is a genuine organic excitement around wanting to mess around with those limited inputs. And I keep talking about MiniDisc, but there is a small community out there of people who like print and make mixes and like- myself included- who like utilize the MiniDisc for reasons that maybe the original developers and creators didn’t quite envision? I’m excited about that too.

I’m excited to see how this evolves. I’m excited to- I’m hoping that this is a successful platform that can spawn iterations on this design, or maybe even like attachments. We’ve seen the speaker we’ve seen like what the speaker is going to look like with the little funky pen holder, which I cannot wait for!

So I’m curious to see like what ways that little USB port will be used if at all, or cause we talked. Earlier with the GameBoy and stuff like that had these weird Frankenstein things you could attach to it that would magnify the screen and a little worm light that would stick out from the side.

And it just makes it that- that modular potential for that modular design is so fascinating to me outside of just the software side. But there’s a lot of potential for this little toy that I think a lot of folks are sleeping on.

Funke: I really like the comparison to next gen consoles.

Which, every piece I read about a PS5 game or the PS5, there’s always a sentence in there that I’m like, this console doesn’t really need to exist. Like I could have played this on PlayStation 4. Continuously do that until there’s a game that like utilizes it to its most capabilities and wouldn’t be able to be played on a PlayStation 4.

I genuinely don’t think the PlayStation 5 should exist. Like straight up. I have it for work. That’s it really I would be so comfortable with a PlayStation 4. But the Playdate fills this gap that John was talking about, like the gap of like joyful, upbeat, just silly game play that like anyone can tap into and develop for like the tools are up there as we see.

And there’s so many just small games out there. It really makes me excited in a way that I haven’t been excited for a console in a while. Like I think since the Switch, which is like 2017.

Paul: Same, because the switch made you like realize what was possible. And in terms of outside of the marketing and “oh, I’m at a party, I’m going to break out the switch and we’re going to play Mario party or whatever.”

Funke: Are you saying you don’t do that, Paul?

Paul: (laughs) I’ve actually- what’s funny. I actually have done that. We went to a party once with a bunch of friends and we were just all kind of sitting around. Yo, y’all wanna play Mario Kart? And we just played Mario Kart, like five of us. It was great. But yeah, no, you’re right, Fūnk-é. Like I remember the excitement in my mind around the switch and like the sort of retraining of my brain. I talked about how I’d much rather- I’d much rather play these experiences on a TV, which I did. I think I played through most of Zelda on my TV, but I would play on the way home from work on the train.

But that idea that I could just pick up where I left off was something that my brain had to get used to. It was like a new novel thing. It was exciting and the potential for it, I feel like, still hasn’t really been in my opinion, explored enough because I think, usually when you try to satisfy a lot of different wants and needs by making this Swiss Army Knife of a thing that has to appeal to the, “hardcore gamer” with games like Doom and all these other things, but then also like these wacky experiences, like I think about Clubhouse Games even, or Ring Fit- like there is a bit of a watering down that happens, like amongst all of those things that is a little unfortunate because, it’s the whole, like it can do all those things okay, but it can’t do any one particular thing really great.

And I think the Playdate is an interesting use case because we- it could do like a small set of things in my opinion really well. And in a really neat fun, justifiable way, like it justifies its existence by being so small and like easy to play with and fun to use. That I’m way more excited about this than I was about the Switch when it came out, which is wild, considering that this is just a little bleep bloop device that play that lets me play Yahtzee and then also Casual Birder blew my mind!

Funke: With how much depth there is there!

Paul: Yeah, it’s a big game. So I’m excited to see what folks cook up to like down the road. What kind of cool visual novels are we going to get? What kind of cool RPGs are we going to get? What kind of cool? Even just again, radio stations.

John: Give me an F1 game.

Paul: Ohhhhhh, look, I don’t want to put this out there, but I may be working on something.

John: (laughs) Let’s goooooo!

Funke: Also on Casual Birder. I was so- I didn’t even know, but the music producer for that is one of my favorite producers from like SoundCloud back in 2016, Maxo, and I was like, “Oh shit like this is fire!” I’m just, I’m so happy that they’re getting all these creators together to make new experiences for this like weird little crank thing.

John: It’s awesome. It is a cool little device. I can’t wait to dive in and especially with some of the sideloading stuff, that’s really exciting.

I don’t know what to, it’s like- not that I think that- not that I’m wishing for the big console manufacturers to necessarily try to step in here, but something like the Playdate does make me think God, what if Nintendo did open up their ecosystem just a little bit?

Like what if they did make it easy to make games for this as a hobbyist and sideload something like, what if they did do those things?

Funke: Like what if they stopped trying to compete with PlayStation and Xbox so directly and went in a different direction.

John: Yeah. It begs that and Playdate says, okay yeah.

What if something- what if a company that used to have a sense of whimsy and playfulness with its devices, did something like this? And it does seem to be more of a continuation of the Gameboy model then Nintendo even did, which I think is very cool. And I’m definitely interested in checking this out and yeah, I think early, early impressions from some folks I knew who got it, like really early were not super optimistic, but like you two have both been optimistic about it that I’m like, okay, I gotta really give this a, try.

Paul: It also, for me at least- it’s genius because these are games that I usually would probably tinker with on my PC. I’ll be honest for, maybe 10, 20 minutes, and then forget about forever. Because again, that idea of sitting at my desk, or even if I was playing it on a Switch or something like the form factor- like it justifies itself. Like, it makes an experience like that- these small bite-sized little tinkering, fidget, style games. It makes them shine on a device like this because the screen is beautiful in my opinion. And it’s small enough and bite that it feels right on that kind of device. And it makes me want to stay there for longer, as opposed to like being at my desk again, where there’s a million other things I would much rather be doing or games I’d rather be playing on a bigger screen.

And in this case, it’s just again, it just makes a better case for itself and its unique qualities than a lot of the consoles that are coming in and cost you an arm and leg to buy. I’ve become such a fan of this device. I’ve been telling everybody I know about it. Who, would be interested in something like this.

Like I was talking to a friend of mine my friend Monty who, like I showed him this immediately. Like I sent them a photo and he was like, “what is this?” He had never even heard of it. But he has experienced in that background, in that world of engineering and electronics and stuff.

I was like, this is right up your alley. And I was also key showing him in the hopes that like, please make something for this because I want to see what your weird brain comes up with. So yeah.

John: Yeah, it’s very cool. For all the reasons we just talked about. If you are a lapsed Tiger handheld electronics or old Gameboy player you definitely owe it to yourself to check this out.

I think you’re right. I think like very connected games people know about the Playdate. I do not think a lay person who might’ve fallen off of games, but would actually love this? They probably don’t know about it. Yeah. So tell your local lapsed gamer about the Playdate, because like I genuinely bet that they would jump out the opportunity to get another chance to play an old school game, boy experience again with a lot of bells and whistles.

Paul: Fans of peripherals will be very pleased.

John: Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. Paul, Fūnk-é. Thank you both for this illuminating roundtable about the Playdate. Yeah, you can go you can go grab one of those bad boys now.

It’s technically a pre-order I think they’re saying, because-

Funke: Next ones are coming in 2023.

John: Yeah. So you won’t be able to get one for a while. Womp womp. But if you’ve already gotten one and you you just haven’t received it yet. I guess get excited because, yeah, we liked this thing quite a bit over here at fanbyte.com. Thank you!

Paul: Yeah. Thanks.

Funke: Bye!