Companies like Apple and Google have struggled to get new products out the door because of the pandemic, so it makes sense that smaller ones would be in the same boat. And while we still don’t know when the long-teased Playdate handheld will be available for preorder, Panic has a fun new feature for developers and streamers that also improves accessibility for all gamers.
First announced way back in early 2019, the Playdate is a $150 handheld console from Panic—a game developer probably best known for Untitled Goose Game these days—that swaps a backlit color display for a black and white low-power LCD screen and analog controls for a gimmicky pop-out crank. It’s reminiscent of the lo-fi charm of the original Game Boy, but to date we know next to nothing about the games that will be available for the Playdate, aside from the fact that collections called seasons containing 12 surprise titles will be delivered on a weekly basis.
Coming up on two years after the original announcement, we still don’t know when the Playdate will ship, or when preorders will be available. But now, thanks to a tweet from the company’s official Twitter account, we do know that the Playdate will support connectivity to a computer so that gameplay can be mirrored on a Windows, Mac OS, or Linux PC in real-time through a window. That window that can also be scaled so gamers can see those glorious 1-bit graphics on a bigger screen.
The feature will also make it much easier for gamers to stream gameplay or capture footage for reviews instead of having to point a camera at the Playdate’s screen. In a perhaps even more interesting twist, while the controls on the Playdate itself can still be used to control the action, so can controls on the PC the Playdate is connected to, which will potentially allow gamers who rely on devices like Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller to enjoy the innovative handheld, too.
The tweet is also a reminder that the Panic team is still working to get the Playdate out the door, and that it’s not another piece of hardware vaporware that promises a unique retro-inspired experience without ever delivering. But with the $200 Analogue Pocket on the way this year, which promises a lineup of thousands of classic games thanks to its perfect emulation, opting for the Playdate instead is going to be a tough decision given how little we’ve actually seen in terms of what it can do, or how fun 1-bit games will actually be. At least the lo-fi Arduboy is just $29.