Sunday, September 19th, 2021

Soapbox: Playdate sold out in 20 minutes-is it time to buy a new Nintendo handheld?

Image: Panic

Many of us at Nintendo Life have been patiently and excitedly waiting for Playdate to go on sale because we are fascinated by the colorful plastic fragments. Well, it is true, but we missed it because all 20,000 initial units were sold out in just 20 minutes. [Not all of us missed it! – smug Ed]

It’s no surprise that Playdate is so popular-it’s a cute little thing with an attractive yellow shell (not to mention a small initial batch that can be pre-ordered, although Panic says it will be produced for many Units to meet demand).Of course, it’s more like a artwork For those adult nerds who also have glass cabinets, their walls are filled with original Lego toys and professionally framed childhood game manuals, but that doesn’t mean it’s not return A very interesting handheld console.

Look at this little guy!
Look at this little guy! (Image: Panic)

I can think of the reasons why some people might want to wear gloves on Playdates for the first time. I mean, I am one of them, and I even know that a group of lucky turf already owns one, either by knowing people related to the product, or by being a reporter with the privileges of a review unit. I held one; I even shook the crank. This is a sexy engineering and design work, albeit surprisingly light.So why Yes People line up to buy a small plastic toy for $179 (£130)?

The first is novelty. It has a crank! In addition, it is retro style, while renewing the aesthetics of the modern era without being too constrained by its inspiration. It’s hard not to be attracted to something that does things a bit differently—including the way it handles games, releasing them in a 24-game season (two games a week for the first 12 weeks), rather than expecting people to buy games directly.

Whitewater Wipeout comes from Chuhai Labs, this is a studio founded by Giles Goddard-you may know that he is the creator of Super Mario 64 elastic face
Whitewater Wipeout comes from Chuhai Labs, this is a studio founded by Giles Goddard-you may know that he is the creator of Super Mario 64 elastic face (Image: Panic)

These games are another important reason why people may want to own Playdate: they are all exclusive products, and there are already some quite attractive names associated with them, from the likes of Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy) and Chuck Jordan (Curse of Monkey Island) Independent darlings like Lucas Pope (Paper please, The return of Obra Dinn) and Bennett Foddy (QWOP, Overcome it). For those who will buy Playdate, the game itself may not be important; it is more about participating in a new way of doing things and being able to say that you played a game that only a few people have seen.

Of course, nostalgia is also a big part of it. Don’t think that we didn’t notice that Playdate is a very special yellow color of a certain electric mouse, or its simple design is reminiscent of another handheld console that we know and love. After all, handheld devices have not been like this for decades-DS replaced the Game Boy family in 2004, and since then Nintendo has been using dual screens in the portable field-so it is not difficult to see what Playdate is blinking.

More succinctly, Playdate is a lightning bolt combination of all the right things at the right time. The 3DS, which was discontinued at the end of 2020, is slowly crawling towards the official time of death: just this year, support for Netflix was withdrawn, maintenance was stopped, StreetPass proved to be a desolate wasteland, but Nintendo does not seem to plan to replace it (of course, Except Switch Lite).

Gorgeous.Bulky but gorgeous
Gorgeous.Bulky but gorgeous (Photo: Nintendo Life)

The Switch, and to a lesser extent the Wii U, seems to have been a proving ground for merging handheld computers and home game consoles into hybrid products. In fact, in 2013—four years before the release of the Switch and a year after the final 3DS console was released—Nintendo actually merged their handheld division into their console division, blurring the gap between the two. The boundaries and marks a new way for Nintendo consoles to work from then on.

In my opinion, it is a mistake to give up handheld game consoles altogether-and the numbers are the same as mine.

Nintendo’s top five best-selling game consoles are the Nintendo DS series, Game Boy and Game Boy Color, Wii, Nintendo Switch and Game Boy Advance series. Sales of the DS family alone surpassed the Wii by more than 50 million units. With all their sales, Nintendo’s handheld game consoles sold approximately 430 million units—nearly 65 million more than Nintendo’s home game consoles (Source: Nintendo).

Personally, I always prefer Nintendo’s handheld products.Not only is it easier to play games on the go, it means I usually play games more, But the game catalog on DS and 3DS is one of the best ever. Part of the reason is that Nintendo is willing to publish weird things. This is a subject I discussed in detail on Nintendo Life, as is the freelance writer Nathan Ellingsworth. One of Nathan’s famous sayings is best:

“Will Nintendo launch a home console with an interactive dog simulator?”

…Is missing NintendogSwitch say no.

But another highlight of Nintendo’s handheld products is that DS and 3DS are proving grounds for many non-mainstream ideas. The in-house studio seems to be able to develop a mainstream game at the same time, such as “Twilight” (2006), and at the same time make a handheld game, such as “Phantom Hourglass” (2007), keeping all the strange and funny content for the latter And make the former more heavier and more serious. So, what happens when Nintendo combines the two into a hybrid? Are you the best of both worlds, or a diluted version of both?

At some point, aren't all of us walking around the city while playing Nintendo Switch while laughing at something out of the ordinary?
At some point, aren’t all of us playing Nintendo Switch while walking and laughing in the city playing Nintendo Switch? (Photo: Nintendo)

Nintendo Switch is clearly designed to welcome handheld gamers into the home game console field, and vice versa, but its performance in home game consoles far outperforms as a portable gaming solution. Despite a lot of marketing behind it, no one really played the Switch in their corridors or skate parks under the bridge, and I traveled around the world to prove that the Switch is nowhere near as durable as my 3DS. This is a console designed for playing in bed or in a cafe, but it is the safest on a small dock.

Although Playdate is cute, it is not really designed as a portable console. It’s very lightweight, and the case-sold separately, in the pretty Game Cube / Game Boy Advance purple, depending on what you think of “purple”-won’t do much to protect it from the elements. In contrast, Nintendo’s special handheld computers can indeed withstand bombs.

Please don't start "Is it purple or blue" I can’t accept the arguments in the comments anymore
Please do not start the “purple or blue” debate in the comments, I can’t accept it anymore (Image: Panic)

Of course, in the past year or so, many of us have done nothing except staying at home, so all discussions about handheld devices that can be taken out have no practical meaning. But with the increase in vaccinations, it is only a matter of time before international travel and work in cafes return to normal. The question that follows is: Will we get a new Nintendo handheld?

I hope the answer is yes, and there are good reasons. Most of my favorite games-Reverse Referee, Majora’s Mask 3D, Fantasy Life, Zero Escape-are launched on handheld devices. Even with home game consoles, I often enjoy games as portable as possible, such as Wind Waker HD on GamePad and Breath of the Wild in handheld mode. My favorite studio, Level-5, has also launched their greatest works on handheld devices, such as Professor Layton, Yokai Watch, and yes, I want to mention fantasy life again. Really good.

This is the 20 years of my life summarized in one picture
This is the 20 years of my life summarized in one picture (Photo: Nintendo Life)

Without the success of Game Boy, DS and 3DS, many of the great games we now have on the Switch—The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a good example—would not exist. Obviously, Nintendo did not give us a hint about what will happen next. But in my opinion, the success of Playdate seems to mean that there is a market eager for the next handheld computer-something smaller, more powerful, and more unusual than the Switch. The Switch OLED model seems to improve the portable experience of the current console, but I want more.

I don’t expect Playdate to achieve what I hope, and it is unfair to impose these expectations on Panic when they have never promised anything of this kind. This is a work of art that contains interesting and innovative games, but it may not be something you carry with you, or play for hours like a 3DS. It is somewhere between Tamagotchi and amiibo: it has perfect functions, but it is mainly used for visual appreciation and cool points™. It’s ok! I like these things! I have a Tamagoki at home now!

But if Playdate is the crank prince of the palm kingdom, then Nintendo’s portable computer is the undisputed king — and the throne is getting colder.