The handheld PlayDate console may not be on the market yet, but boy is it building up some hype – and the latest livestream from console maker Panic shows the PlayDate won’t be a one trick pony.
Specifically, it’ll be a four-trick pony. Panic’s team members showed off a multi-faceted accessory for the PlayDate console, which is a stand that can magnetically connect to the handheld and charge up its battery – much like a wireless charging pad for a smartphone.
The stand will also pack in a stereo speaker, for playing PlayDate games real loud, or the music from a pre-installed playlist of ‘summer tracks’ called Poolsuitefm. Loath to underdeliver, Panic has also said the stand will act as a pen-holder, and there's even an official PlayDate pen (in the console's iconic yellow color) that you can slip into it.
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The stand is a fascinating addition to the handheld console, and shows that PlayDate has gone beyond the loose inspiration of a GameBoy for its first gaming machine – moving into the territory of the best-selling Nintendo Switch.
The Nintendo Switch comes, of course, with a dock for charging and playing on a TV. While PlayDate won't be outputting to a TV through the dock, it can also sync up with a PC/Mac/Linux application to output on a computer screen in real time.
One of the Switch's trademark features, though, is its kickstand, which enables players to lean back the Switch while using the Joy-Con controllers at a short distance – a kind of mini-TV experience for crowding around a table by yourself or with friends. The PlayDate's stand could capture that same Nintendo magic, as a colorful cube accessory with a small stand underneath that tilts it at a small angle towards eye level.
You can check out the latest livestream in the video below:
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The PlayDate console will finally be available to pre-order in July, with Panic saying that it'll give a week's warning before pre-orders open. The console will retail for $179 (around £125 / AU$230) at launch.
The so-called Season One of PlayDate will see two new games launch every week after the console's release, for a total of 24 games over 12 weeks. They include a title called Mars After Midnight from the developer behind Return of the Obra Dinn, a critically-acclaimed 1-bit mystery game, and the dev's reputation suggests some great things to come for this humble, indie console.
Other titles include Daily Driver, Robot Fishing, Lost Our Marbles, Demon Quest 35, Executive Golf XD, Questy Chess, Whitewater Wipeout, and many more – though we'll have to wait until the console is out to really understand whether the fun, charm and potential of the PlayDate console pays off.
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Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.