Panic’s Playdate Looks Like a Yummy Nintendo Bizarro Game and Watch

Gaming handhelds are my favorite type of console, but they’ve gotten much bigger and more complex over time. I grew up with a Game & Watch that could fit in my pocket, but now the nintendo switch can barely fit into my jacket. Playdate, which promises to be a throwback to tiny, fancy gaming devices, has been teased by Portland-based Panic for years. It’s finally here in my hands, and I love how it feels.

My full Playdate review won’t arrive until April 18, but for now, here’s a look at the box, the Playdate, and its size alongside other handhelds.

That’s it. No case included.

Scott Stein/CNET

It’s a minimum package! The box opens, and then there’s the Playdate, sitting sideways to match its original play promises, with a small instruction booklet and matching yellow USB-C cable to charge. That’s it. There’s no case in the box, which is frustrating as the device seems to beg to be pampered in a protective bag. It’s small and square, a shape unlike any other handheld I’ve used before.

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It comes with a short yellow USB-C cable.

Scott Stein/CNET

The Playdate has a reflective black and white screen. There’s a directional pad with two buttons, plus a signature game-enabled crank sticking out of the side of the handheld.


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The size of the Playdate is close to that of Nintendo Recent game and watch models. It’s smaller than any phone currently on the market, making it much smaller than a Nintendo Switch.

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Panic’s Playdate, next to Nintendo’s Zelda Game & Watch (top) and the old Game Boy Micro (right).

Scott Stein/CNET

Besides its USB-C charging port, the other thing I appreciate is the headphone jack. Nintendo’s Game & Watch handhelds don’t have one, which means you can’t keep the audio to yourself. It’s a small touch that makes the Playdate feel less like a novelty and more functional as a portable gaming system.

My impressions of the Playdate and its games are coming. So far, I can confirm that this little yellow machine is adorable and surprisingly well built.

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