Playdate handheld is an indie-powered Game Boy for the 21st century

Image credit: Panic

If you long for the good old days of simple games which place fun and imagination above everything else, then today is your lucky day, because a new indie-focused handheld is coming from videogame-publisher Panic, the company behind Firewatch and Untitled Goose Game, and it aims to bring Game Boy-style charm to the 21st century.

Revealed today, Playdate is a small, yellow handheld with a simple directional pad, two main face buttons and an innovate hand-crank which is sure to open up new and exciting gameplay avenues. 

It's also got a high-end black-and-white display which promises to be much more advanced than a Game Boy screen, with Panic telling The Verge that "it has no grid lines, no blurring, is extremely sharp and clear, and has much higher resolution," further stating that, "It sounds odd to say, but: it’s truly a ‘premium’ black-and-white screen.”

The Playdate. Image credit: Panic

The Playdate. Image credit: Panic

A new way to receive games

Another innovative element to the Playdate is how you'll get games, with Panic explaining that the portable console plans implement a TV show-style delivery system for its games, with one new title arriving on the device per week for a total of 12 weeks in what it's calling 'Season One'. Each subsequent season will include a new collection of games, and is expected to incur an additional cost.

So far, only one title has been announced for this first season – Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure from Katamari Damacy-creator Keita Takahashi – though the company has revealed that its handheld will include new games from renowned game designers Zach Gage (Typeshift), Bennett Foddy (QWOP) and Shaun Inman (The Last Rocket).

The company plans to keep these games a secret until they arrive on the handheld in an effort to surprise its customers, simply stating that, "Some are short, some long, some are experimental, some traditional. All are fun."

Playdate and its first season of games will launch in early 2020 and will be priced at $149 (around £118 / AU$217).

Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 

He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.