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Playdate – A New Handheld Gaming System (play.date)
1370 points by dombili 34 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 402 comments



Panic never stops surprising me. You'd think you had them figured out, they keep jumping onto another shelf.

It must be fun to work at Panic. It reminds me of how tech companies were in the 90s. Clear mission, but open horizon.


It is partially designed by https://teenage.engineering of Sweden, they apparently among other things came up with the crank.


I was really surprised to hear this. Although I live in Sweden I don’t think I’ve ever heard about TE before. Usually Spotify and Klarna gets the majority of the tech news coverage around here. TE seems like a really interesting company!


Very well known in the music/synth world thanks to their OP-1, which I bought 2 weeks ago: https://teenage.engineering/products/op-1

It looks like a toy, and kind of plays like one, but it's actually a marvellous piece of gear, very capable musically, and providing a fantastic user experience. There's just nothing else like it out there.

The company itself is very unique. Just look at what they came up with [1] for OP-1 accessories: brick LEGO shafts, a bender, and a crank, like the one for Coda.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COVNwdMld8Q


This OP-1 reminds me of the Casio VL-1 [1], made famous (in Germany at least) by the pop band Trio in their NDW (Neue Deutsche Welle) song Da Da Da [2] [3].

I wonder whether that's accidental, or an homage.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casio_VL-1

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Da_Da_Da

[3] for example about 1:25 into this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNYcviXK4rg


I coveted mine as a kid. And it had a calculator! All 80s gadgets turned into calculators!


I've still got one of those - the tone creator on it is awesome :)


From what I recall, it's definitely an homage.


You can still buy the OP-1? Last time I checked they were out of stock and you could only grab them on ebay (and you had to pay extra bucks)


OP Z was just released (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19987746#19990334)

You couldn’t find any on reverb dot com?


They restocked at some point in the last few months but sold out instantly.


It's available again, but the price went up considerably, from around $850 to $1300, theoretically, because some design changes needed due to some components not available anymore.


Yup, admittedly quite frustrating because I want one but the new, higher price just pushes it a little bit too high for me to consider...


Teenage Engineer and Elektron are two beloved companies of the synth world from Sweden


Elektron I do recognize! Perhaps I was more in touch with cool things back when the Sidstation was released :)


It's crazy how much they've grown since then. I've had a handful of their current products around to play with and the quality is pretty top notch. They have a habit of being a bit buggy at first, but they also do years of firmware updates so over time it only gets more impressive.


Their OP-1 is one of the most brilliant pieces of hardware I’ve ever used. Very Dieter-Rams esque. Just brilliant.

https://teenage.engineering/products/op-1


I have an OP-Z, it is equally as brilliant, also how they built the iOS/Mac app to work as a screen for the OP-Z is really cool, it's very fun to use and the UX (while not easy to master) is very intuitive.


TE does big things for IKEA, we have been trying to run circles around, trying to get more IKEA business, but TE is naturally ahead with them being Swedish


[flagged]


...what?


I've been using their software for easily 14 years. It's really cool to see them expanding like this.


It says something that their primary product is a $50 FTP client and I actually don't mind paying for it.


To me it seems like very unclear mission


Their mission, as far as I understand it, is to make software that they enjoy making and do it really well. They had an idea for a software gaming platform and decided they needed hardware to support it, which seems to fit nicely within that goal.


You’re assuming that their mission is something narrow, like “Build world class software for MacOS and iOS”, when it’s probably something much broader like “Build really cool stuff”.

To me this is the dream: a company that is so successful that you get to take risks and build cool things that you want to exist.


It would be so awesome if this worked with Pico 8 or a similar fantasy console. I will be much more interested if the barrier to entry for making my own games is as close to zero as possible.

I want to make my own games for fun, but also to expose my son to the creativity and exploration of programming.

A physical console would make this experience so much more real.

https://www.lexaloffle.com/pico-8.php


Have you seen https://arcade.makecode.com ? It's a free, open source, web-based editor for making games, and you can download games to a number of hardware boards, or play on your phone or any web browser. The cheapest hardware right now is $25 from Adafruit [0], but more hardware is coming out all the time.

Also this audience might be interested to know that soon there'll be Python support in MakeCode. More details on our language toolchain here [1]

Disclosure: I work for MakeCode :)

[0] https://www.adafruit.com/product/3939 [1] https://makecode.com/language


Another great online game resource: http://labs.phaser.io/

Not affiliated, just also interested in new and emerging easy to use game systems, and this is just the latest in a long line of them I've been playing with ..


tried phaser a year back - it was not very dev friendly - you had to be phaser expert to make sense of it


Same. I tried it a few months ago. Navigating Phaser2 vs Phaser3 alone was so bad that it radicalized me to believe that you should just rename a project after a full rewrite.

Everything I googled would give me results in the Phaser forums and the exercise was on me to figure out which version they were using, which was 100% Phaser 2.

And the API definitely wasn't written for Typescript support. For example, just changing the physics string completely changes the API available which felt like an exercise in obfuscation.

Also found the API so unintuitive that I was trying to repurpose examples to get what I wanted which is always a bad sign to me, like hoping your question appears in an FAQ because the code is too hard to read.

Ended up using https://excaliburjs.com/ which is written in Typescript thus much less guesswork. I really didn't like my experience with Phaser.


We built a few small web games with phaser. It was very easy to start and also easy to finish. You can prototype with it very quickly and there are a lot of resources explaining things to you. Recommend.

I don't know about changes in the last 2 years, haven't used it since then, maybe it's changed for worse but can't imagine


Strange. I've found the opposite to be true. They do a pretty decent job explaining why you need a web server and how to make a basic one. Once it's set up, there are tons of examples and resources to look at.


I played with arcade.makecode.com at MS Build this year and made a Taco vs. Burgers side scroller on the MeowBit. My kids love it! My daughters and I are coding up something with a duck right now and it's uber fun! Thanks for making that platform!!


Awesome! :) We're really happy to hear that.

If you have any suggestions or bugs, please feel free to comment on https://forum.makecode.com/ or https://github.com/microsoft/pxt. We're still in the early stages with Arcade so feedback is especially useful.


This is awesome! Is MakeCode a subsidiary of Microsoft? It looks like it’s based on some Microsoft tech similar to Google’s Blockly I hadn’t seen before. I’m curious because I’m working on a product in this space.


Yeah, we're a team at MSFT (same org as VS Code). All* our code is open source. We use Google Blockly, and we've made a number of contributions upstream to them.

What's your product?

* Our server code isn't open source, but it's basically just a node app serving a SPA. Everything is client side. Works offline too.


My product is called Devev. I moonlit the product for the past few years while working at Microsoft. I quit about a month ago to get it over the finish line. I'm still pre-launch but here are some images: https://imgur.com/a/zLS1g0t

I worked on video games for the past few years and saw many less technical colleagues empowered by tools like Unreal Engine's Blueprint (https://docs.unrealengine.com/en-us/Engine/Blueprints). I thought that the same paradigm may apply more widely but the visual languages used outside of games weren't really hitting the mark.

Devev is a framework for creating visual programming languages. They are supported through extensions. For launch I'm working on an extension which parses TS types and allows you to use the existing code in nodes. That's what you'll see in my image above. This will allow early users to tap into existing libraries published on NPM.

I don't expect much traction with the launch version and plan to target a specific domain shortly after that. I'm leaning towards a build system where you can capture your dependencies in a visual graph. One of the applications I'd been thinking about was allowing users to build and share games or other applications in a web-editor similar to Scratch.

Devev is also a JS SPA and the client editor uses Electron. The client editor supports more features like multiple windows, editors panes and plugins. Additionally the client can parse new Typescript files but not the SPA. For the SPA to parse TS I'd need to deliver TSC over the web which I won't figure out for V1.


This is really cool! I've often wondered if a Blueprint-like editting experiences could be used more broadly. Looking forward to seeing this grow. I think there is also great potential for a very approachable debugging experience.

Targeting build systems seems like a great fit as well, since as you pointed out the build DAG is naturally a graph.

When you mentioned games programming, I thought of Dream's visual programming: https://youtu.be/eMRp3QMAkz8?t=773

I love the idea of using typescript types to define visual code atoms. We do a very simple version of that to create our Blockly blocks, e.g. block definition: https://github.com/microsoft/pxt-microbit/blob/master/libs/r... although I'm sure you could take that much farther.

We run TSC in the browser in a worker thread, here's an example, in case that helps: https://github.com/microsoft/pxt/blob/master/pxtcompiler/emi... We use TSC for typechecking and our own typescript compiler for compiling down to ARM assembly.


Thanks for the reply. If you have any ideas for potential use cases or want to see a short demo of what I have running so far let me know if you'd like to get in contact.


Are you hiring?


Not at the moment.


Very cool! Any plans for making it possible to create Android apps with this?


Games for Android and iOS are a real possibility, but general Android apps aren't on our radar. Our focus is CS education, and I'm not sure general Android apps would be a good fit for that.

That being said, our platform is fairly extensible so someone could create an Android Apps target. They'd need to create a new backend to target the JVM probably and some work to link with whatever pre-built Android binaries.


Go on ebay and dig up a PocketCHIP; it's as close to a first-class mass-produced physical Pico-8 as anyone is likely to see.


Check out BlockStudio [0] (disclaimer: I'm the creator) -- it lets you make simple retro-like games with a text-free program specification method (Programming By Demonstration).

[0] www.blockstudio.app


There is this thing: https://www.clockworkpi.com/

It's awesome and it comes with PICO-8 pre-installed (you only need to add the license key).

It can also run lots of emulators.


It can be coded with Lua. Graphics performance still required considerable optimization. No info on whether development will be open to the public.

Source: know one of the lauch game developers, have cranked the prototype hardware



Anyone into this sort of stuff should check out https://androidarts.com/ there are a whole ton of fantasy console concepts on it.


Wow. This is very cool. It has a whole virtual desktop. Neat.


What's really cool about PixelVision8 is it's a meta-fantasy console. IE, you can define your own spec/constraints and then code up a little game prototype in C# or Lua.

Looks like the PlayDate will support lua and apparently isn't a complete potato according to their presskit page, so it's not out of the question that platforms like PixelVision8 could port its runner to the platform and then you could author for actual hardware using the editing tool.


Recent versions of PICO-8 support full controller operation (browsing cartridge PNGs, launching, and quitting) through EmulationStation.

https://www.lexaloffle.com/bbs/?tid=3935

So you could use any Raspberry Pi enclosure as a physical PICO-8 platform.


What we're doing with 32blit is effectively Pico 8 with hardware. I'd be happy if we saw a tenth of the success that Pico 8 has achieved- some of the titles written for it are truly remarkable and seeing how people push the artificial limits is genuinely interesting and something I'd be honoured to foster more of.

I think Dank Tomb's lighting is by far one of my favourite examples - https://hackernoon.com/pico-8-lighting-part-1-thin-dark-line...


I personally love weird single-purpose hardware. Unfortunately it tends not to do very well commercially.

Anybody remember this guy? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WikiReader


When hardware is increasingly becoming just a way to interface with a larger platform (IoT, game console subscription services, etc.), I think there will be a certain nostalgia for more static, tactile and analog hardware. I collect records, own a couple pocket operators, and buy physical books for similar reasons.

Single-purpose hardware has identity. It has explicit purpose. If it is well-designed, it has an interface that is intuitive while encouraging a limited amount of experimentation. I think a lot of good software emulates these properties, but often with the tradeoff of being less extensible/integrable/power user friendly.


In my experience, single-purpose hardware also lasts longer because it isn’t as reliant on software updates and maintenance.


> I think there will be a certain nostalgia for more static, tactile and analog hardware

There already is, for me. I'd imagine a product like this depends on that nostalgia to a degree.


After entertaining the idea of getting a smartwatch for years but always feeling unimpressed, I started carrying a dumb casio. There's something great about machines that only do one or two tasks but do it very well. Look at ebook readers. They are not super popular, but they have a solid market.


On this point, I just got a Withings Steel HR [1]: It's a classic analog watch, with a sole extra function of measuring heartbeat and exercise on a tiny LCD in the back of the watch face.

I love that it's purpose-specific and isn't gimmicky like smartwatches. This also means the battery lasts about a month. Plus, it looks good.

[1] https://www.withings.com/ca/en/steel-hr


Same! In fact there's an entire subreddit devoted to the idea of very specialized tools [0].

There is one example that is still firmly lodged in my head from the labs in my electonic engineering degree. It was this big box with a nice keypad, a screen that could display a few characters, and a big handle to lock in place the integrated circuit you wanted to test. You would slot it in, pull the handle, then type the ID numbers of the particular IC. If it was functioning as expected, the screen would say something like "OKAY" and that was all this thing did. Truly magical! On further googling and reflection I'm now not so sure about how big the handle was, but the machine was something like [1].

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/specializedtools/top/ [1] https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Digital-IC-tester-digital-in...


I had a lot of fun hacking with these: https://github.com/JohnEarnest/Wikireader-Adventures


I love single purpose hardware on an ideological level.

On a more pragmatic level, it feels more and more like companies creating semi-disposable toy electronics should be held to extremely high standards when it comes to how they source their components and the environmental impact of the lifecycle of their device, because this is ultimately cheap junk that’s hurting the environment.


"[C]ompanies should be held to extremely high standards when it comes to how they source their components and the environmental impact of the lifecycle of their device, because [it] ultimately [ends up as] junk that’s hurting the environment."

FTFY

All products should be held to that standard, not just "semi-disposable toy electronics", which it's not even clear applies to this.


If we're talking single-purpose gaming devices that failed, there's always the Gizmondo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gizmondo

I don't think Panic is involved in organized crime, though.


Gizmondo is such a crazy story, LazyGameReviews did a 30 minute video about them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dv6UaHZxUys


I miss the GP2X and related...


I remember hacking my gp2x adding an USB port, plugging a gps on it, porting driver and a gis/map lib.. so much time to waste and learn new things!


I remember someone back then wrote a script to scrape Google Maps data and make it viewable on the GP2X, so you'd have offline portable maps. This was in 2007 or so, before smartphones became mainstream (not that as a student I could have afforded one anyway, or a data plan for that matter).


Ah those were the good old days! I wish I'd spent more time actually getting code up and running on those and the Dingoo A320 but it really was way over my head at the time.

Still contemplating a Dragonbox Pyra. The OpenPandora, despite a rocky start, played host to some incredible things.


And now I know what a Ferrari Enzo is. Yeesh.

https://www.xkcd.com/214/


This is one of my most prized possessions: http://www.fm3buddhamachine.com/v2/


I have several of them, and love each of them. My phone has far more capacity, and could stream effectively unlimited music from Spotify, but there's something unique and special about the Buddha Machine.


I have loved Panic’s focused software for many years, and have several Teenage Engineering single-purpose hardware devices too (especially love my OP-1).

I have never typed my email into a signup form so fast.


Oh yeah, those were fantastic little devices. It's a shame that it wasn't popular enough to warrant successors. The OpenMoko people did some really innovative stuff back in the day, but hardware is tough.


The problem with single-purpose devices is they're a frivolous cost. When your phone can do everything, buying a separate dedicated device is inherently impractical. Of course, impracticality is also what tends to give things charm.

Put differently, limitations create interest, but they're also the opposite of cost-effective.


Touchscreens can’t [yet] replace a dedicated keypad for games.

That’s why you don’t see many platformers for mobile. The ones that do exist auto run for you or put virtual buttons on the screen, which I haven’t found to work well.


Still, even a mainstream game console is far less specialized than this one


Not even digital controls could really replace analog controls. While as impressive as the Pubg controllers (essentially a gamepad with a dock) are I'm still amazed there is still no "the one mobile analog input" device is out yet.


I'm OK with five devices that do five things well instead of one device that does a poor job at five things.


I've never heard of that, but would've loved one. Kinda useless with cellphones, but I could see that being nice for backpacking if the battery lasts long enough.


I've actually ordered one from ebay last week. Looking forward to it.


Not to discount the hardware, which looks absolutely beautiful, but what strikes me the most is the business model.

A new game, every Monday, delivered wirelessly to your pocket.

What excites me about Playdate is that it is something only an outsider with no attachments to existing business relationships could make.

Games released today are still encumbered by the regional and geographic thinking of traditional software distribution. While Steam, the App Store, etc have certainly democratised some aspects, they are still an exception to the traditional model that generates the most revenue.

Episodic games tried to bring seasonality to gaming. That didn’t really work (Episode 3 anyone?). Fortnite has been the most successful at it, but it is still a AAA game attached to a big publisher. It’s the evolution of the old model.

Playdate and Apple’s upcoming Arcade feel like the beginning of a new model and that’s really, really exciting.


I'm actually really dreading the Apple Arcade business model. The game developers are compensated by time spent in their game. This means that, similar to the current craze for open world games, shorter, more experimental games will simply earn less. Thus, meaningful content will be stretched even thinner to fill up more of the user's time. It's another nail in the coffin of single player narrative experiences.

Streaming services, like Google's recently announced Stadia will probably have similar compensation models.


A number of businesses have moved towards models where compensation is directly tied to time spent consuming: Kindle pays authors by the page, YouTube monetizes based on watch time.

I really think it harms the world by incentivizing creators to pad and fluff. Dickens is great, but you can really tell which of his works were published serially, because it affected how he wrote.

At the same time, paying a flat amount for each created work incentivizes creators to pump out a huge pile of small works. It's all singles and no albums, which I also think is bad.

The programmer part of my brain wonders if you could solve this by simply picking a function somewhere between O(n) (pay linearly by quantity consumed) and O(1) (pay a fixed price for the whole thing). The obvious middle point is O(log(n)).

I wonder how well it would work if creators were paid by time spent consuming but with a function that offerred diminishing returns the larger the quantity was?


In that case you incentivize sybil attacks, because publishing content across multiple identities is more lucrative than a single one.


Games like Rocket League are my favorite payment model. ~$20 to get in, with semi optional small transactions over time. $5 here and there. I've spent over $100 in my hundreds of hours in game. I guess that's close to your "O(log(n))".


The App store and Steam are certainly not the exception. The traditional model with geographic restrictions is not making more money. Do you have citations for that?

Your sentiment is great, but I think the world has moved far beyond where you are coming from and that isn’t where Play will differentiate. The subscription new games is neat though, but iOS will have that this summer.


Seasonality has been achieved in games like Magic the Gathering, League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Path of Exile.

I think the key factor is content leveraging. How much the game's core systems can leverage assets to create varied gameplay. Because with seasons you have to help your customers get excited about relatively small batches of content.

Through that lens you find that narrative driven single player games are the worst candidates for seasonal games. It's more suited to match-based multiplayer games with sensitive meta games.


I don't think this comment is very accurate.

The first party stores do not make more money than Steam and other third party stores combined with mobile

I also don't really know what business model you're describing. Subscription with a weekly game drop? PSN is the subscription for online Playstation services and it comed with several free games a month. There are a few existing "stream any game" services as well, PSNow, Origin's subscription etc.


I refuse to believe that anyone came up with a crank based input system organically.

Here's what I think happened. They decided that they wanted to make a low power black and white game system for people to use while camping. They decided that a crank charger was the best solution for this and went ahead with development.

Further into the process they discovered that they couldn't get the power budget low enough to make cranking a viable option, but they were too far along to abandon it completely.

Then someone had a brilliant idea. Lets make the crank an input system, and develop crank based games.


Look at some of the other products Teenage Engineering has produced. They have a crank control for the OP-1 (https://teenage.engineering/products/op-1/accessories) plus other LEGO accessories.


So maybe the easier explanation is they hired some good industrial designers, who had happened to previously work on various cranks, and they possibly pitched the idea to the Panic team when asked to design the game device?

The point standing that it was an odd choice for a game controller anyway you cut it and most likely wasn't through some UX problem solving process related to games.


But what if the wacky random choice of a crank unleashes some new game mechanic we haven't seen before? Wouldn't it be fun to break away from D-pads once in a while?


That’s an R&D/lab question. Not a production device question.


I'd like to think there's some nascent game developer out there that would think up something cool once they have their hands on a production piece of equipment.

You can't always lab-grow your most creative ideas.


It THOSE guys! I’ve never used the OP-1, but I love watching people on YouTube make music on it. It seems like an amazing piece of hardware.

Check out “red means recording” https://youtu.be/7z4hoazra_g


I get the impression that you may not have played a lot of indie jam games. A hand-crank is one of the least weird things I've seen done. Hell, I once made a game where the controller was two people arm wrestling each other. At least a crank is practically usable.

As a self-described inveterate hobbyist, I completely understand looking around a workshop full of parts and saying "gee, what could we do with that?" And buying parts completely at random just to full future sessions of "Mystery Meat Monday"



I played this at the Videogames exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The breadth of visual effects they can achieve with just a 1-dimensional display is surprising. https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/videogames


This is so cool! The future looks bright again,im starting to feel we’re gonna survive the touchscreen takeover and will go back to revisit physical analog controllers.


The tone may not have been clear, but my post was at least partially tongue in cheek.

I'm sure someone could come up with this idea and probably did, but getting to the stage of actually releasing a commercial product with a crank makes me think there is more to the story.


Too bad not a lot of people saw Namco's Panic Park:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaGF4z03UvY

You're literally shoving the other player out of the way.


I'm skeptical of this explanation only because the idea of cranking a handheld gaming system has been reasonably debunked by a variety of commenters in this very thread. I would expect (possibly naively) that the creators of this hardware knew - at the ideation stage, prior to any meaningful development - that literally cranking the machine to recharge it would never work.


Reminds me of the story of the crank charger for the $100 "One Laptop Per Child" (OLPC), as told by one of the team members:

Everyone loved the crank charger built into it, but it exerted really large forces on the chassis. Our industrial designers came to us and said "This is a totally solvable problem: We just need to make the chassis out of milled titanium!" We were like: "Thanks guys, but that's so far out of budget..."

When I first saw the Playdate I thought the crank was a really odd use, a one-trick pony. Then I saw that Teenage Engineering was partnering on the design and it totally made sense.


I think they just read Bret Victor's rant about touchscreen interfaces ruining interface innovation: http://worrydream.com/ABriefRantOnTheFutureOfInteractionDesi...


You're approaching this from the wrong end.

Think about vinyls, cassettes, VHRs, typing machines.

It's all about the cool factor, the "authentic", the "vintage". That's where the crank it's coming from.

The weirdo typing love letters on a mechanical type writer on the park bench. The weirdo cranking this thing on the subway, with his Air Buds on and the expensive sneakers.


I refuse to believe that anyone came up with a crank based input system organically.

Is there a Hurdy Gurdy app yet?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurdy-gurdy


I dunno. Remember this piece of antiquity?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_joystick_port#/media/Fil...

It was a great controller for some games, like Breakout.


> Some games use the crank exclusively...Some don’t use it at all.

Not speculating at all. Just wanted to point that out.


Occam's Razor


From the Media Kit page, it looks like this device will use a Sharp memory LCD display (LS027B7DH01), which is similar to an e-ink display, but without refresh issues. The same display as in the SwissMicros DM42 [1].

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ong91Ji3iDk


Same tech as the Pebbles too!


RIP. I miss Pebble.


It would be cool if the crank was also used to charge the device's battery.


Apparently the issue is torque for such things, the OLPC was originally going to have a crank but the force was too much for the laptop body to take long term.


It was removed because it wasn't going to generate enough power without cranking it constantly. And the ergonomics weren't great for kids. They did end up making an add-on crank at one point, but I don't think it ever was widely distributed


They need to put a handle on it. Then it could be like those handheld fishing games.

https://www.amazon.com/Radica-Games-Bass-Fishing-Handheld/dp...


OLPC would have needed a lot more power than this device, plus due to its small size the whole thing could be machined aluminium.

Especially if there's games that utilise the mechanic. could just have a much lower torque (and therefore lower-current-generation) since it's going to be used a lot. Missed opportunity.


Is OLPC still around? I feel like I haven't heard much of anything about it for quite a few years.

Maybe at this point it's supplanted by smartphones?


that's what i thought it was for, and then maybe it could be used to charge something else with crank-power through usb


Yeah same here. I'm not sure I really buy it as control mechanism for playing though.


It looks uncomfortable to spin the crank while using the other controls, which means you’d want it to be used exclusively if at all.


[flagged]


Then you do you. But you don’t have to be a buzzkill about it.


it's not even accurate - nintendo labo has shown there is a market for high spec high quality non standard games(as long as there is an assurance of quality behind it)

biggest hurdle for playdate is word of mouth - nintendo has that trust, i don't trust the company behind this. Same reason that android console failed - hell nvidia couldn't get enough support behind it


I trust Panic. They have an extremely long history of producing really high-quality Mac software, and they published Firewatch (which was excellent).


Panic is, ironically, a "moral panic" type of company. When e-culture shifts, they shift their policy accordingly. I would not trust them for stability.


What do you mean by this? What has Panic shifted on? The only example I can think of where they've shifted on anything is they released Transmit for iOS, then after a while they discontinued it, and that's because it simply wasn't making enough money for them to justify the cost of maintenance.


I don't see Panic approaching this as a "console" and looking for outside platform support. This is more like ten $15 Game-and-Watches bundled together.

If they offer more games after the fact that's cool, but at this price point I think most customers will love it for what it is.


There was a great fishing mini game in one of the N64 Zelda titles.

This crank would have ruled.


I had one of those dedicated fishing games back in the day with a crappy LCD display and a crank. Played it to death.

https://i.imgur.com/tdESids.jpg


The Dreamcast had a game and controller to go with it.

https://i.imgur.com/6AGrtRy.jpg


Ahh, the Dreamcast. I love those consoles. Recently picked up one basically new. It's archived for the grandkids, along with some 8 bit machines and a six switch Atari VCS (2600).

In a few years, we are going to revisit the golden era again, and it's going to be as fun as it was last time.


I've seen those things. Had no idea they were that engaging.


The Digital Crown on Apple Watch is a thing though. I’m ready to give it the benefit of doubt.


Most apps don’t use it and Watch OS 2 introduced the ability to scroll with your finger instead of the crown, since no one was using it


I'm surprised you say that - I have an Apple Watch and I genuinely love the ability to scroll with the crown - I don't block the display with my finger and I get tactile feedback.


I’m more concerned with how long this thing is going to last.


I view it more as a collectible art piece that you can interact with.


Yeah, if the crank charged the device, it would have been an instant buy for me.


Ditto. Missed opportunity to charge while you interact. Imagine if the buttons also squeezed out charge as you hit them. Would be a fun concept.


it wouldn't be a meaningful amount of charge. same with solar panels on electric cars.


Not a meaningful amount of charge from gameplay, I agree. But it could have a "charging mode" where the screen goes off and you just turn the crank for 5-10 minutes to get a substantial charge because it already has the hardware thingie built-in.


You overestimate how much energy you get from cranking


Tell that to the Boeing 737 Max geniuses that included a handcrank to restart the engines.


The crank looks a bit delicate for this purpose and I can imagine its lifetime would dramatically decrease for no real benefit.


That was my first thought as well. But would it actually be practical? Anyone have an educated guess as to how much cranking it'd take to get 30 minutes of play time?


Optional power drill adapter.


Though, if the drill isn't gas-powered, this would be kind of silly.


Optional bicycle adapter!


I thought at first that was the only reason to have the crank.


Would not work very well, you can only produce a few watts of power with a crank. And I bet it consumes tens of watts of power.


Between Panic and Teenage Engineering I actually have faith in this being a worthwhile endeavor. From the face of it I would expect this to go the way of the Ouya, but with those two at the helm it could actually be something cool. It's a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant casual mobile gaming space.


> stagnant casual mobile gaming space

Between Switch and a lot of great mobile games I'm not sure how it's stagnant.


Do people consider the switch a mobile platform? I mean it sort of is but... It's really a console. Depends how you define mobile, if mobile === carry in your pocket it's not. If mobile === independent from a TV then yes.


In London, it does not appear to be treated like something mobile – but in Tokyo it certainly is. You will see kids – mainly boys – huddle together around Switch screens or playing using the wireless wherever you go in suburban Tokyo.


> In London, it does not appear to be treated like something mobile

I saw a fair few people on the tube with their switch!


I’m one of them


I've seen one or two people using the Switch on the London Underground. Rare but not non-existent.


Until recently, I exclusively played my Switch while travelling - it’s great for planes.

It’s now permanently in my backpack and I play it on the tube on my daily commute. It’s great


It’s very common for high school kids (in America) to take their switch from class to class and play during free periods. A lot of people take their switch everywhere in their bag and just prop it up when they want to play a quick game of smash with friends.

So yes, I would definitely consider the switch mobile


I've played roughly 1000 hours on my switch, so far. Most of that is on the commuter train.


As a single data point, I've only played the switch with a TV once or twice, when I was playing with friends.


It fits in a big pocket (or two) or a medium-small purse. I'd call it mobile.


yeah, I bring it around with me, as a portable gaming device. I consider it a mobile platform, plus I have big pockets.


My mind immediately went to Ouya when I read the article, but the concept here seems interesting, and I hope it does better than Ouya did.


It doesn’t have the same goals as the Ouya. The Ouya wanted to be the next big thing, it wanted to be a platform. This wants to be a nice, fun, arty thing and definitely not be a platform. I don’t think it makes much sense to compare the two.

A possible point of comparison for me would be Fujifilm’s very successful line of Instax instant cameras. They are similar to other cameras (phone, compact, DSLR, mirrorless) in that they take photos but framing them as a competitor to other cameras doesn’t make much sense.

Taking photos with them is much more expensive (given that nobody will give up their phone for an Instax camera and practically all phones today will take better photos than Instax cameras, just purely from a technical point of view, ignoring aesthetic preferences) and the photos you do take are just much more impractical than digital photos. But that doesn’t matter at all since all of that is not the point of Instax cameras.

In the gaming space the biggest actual competitor is still probably Nintendo, but not with their “normal” Games, more with their “weird” experiments like Nintendo Labo. I could actually imagine someone deciding between Labo and this.


Where's the SDK? That's what I'm interested in. I don't wanna be limited to just twelve games.

Edit- looks like an SDK exists, it's just not available quite yet: https://play.date/media/


Chatter on Twitter from people at Panic indicates that you program it in Lua. Seems like C might also be an option. There’s definitely going to be an SDK.


Yeah but mac only


They say it'll be a mac only sdk...


This looks really cool and would be great for a fishing game.

I wonder about the lack of backlighting though? Hopefully the screen is much better in this regard than the original non-backlit GBA, which was difficult to see in low light conditions.

It was tricky getting light to hit the screen in just the right way: https://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2001/06/13/lame-boy-advan...


They're using a transflective LCD, so it should be plenty visible even in lower-ambient light conditions. Nothing like the original Gameboy.


Doesn't a transflective LCD have a backlight? The media/FAQ page says pretty clearly that the device has a reflective LCD with no backlight, same as the GBA, which the parent comment was referring to.


As far as I'm aware these LCDs switch between black or very reflective silver and not so much black and white. Doesn't really matter what the ambient conditions are since the black is always reflecting way less light than the silver.


If the crank orientation can be changed, it can act as ship's navigator wheel and valve


that... would be so cool. I'd love to see ship games, or a u-boat game. Heck even operating the crank to elevate and/or turn an anti-aircraft gun or tank turret


I'm kind of hoping for Tetris.


This is gonna be fun: "Every Monday, via WiFi, owners receive a new game, the notification light on top of the case blinking to announce its arrival. Whenever you have five spare minutes, you’ll be able to reach into your own shirt pocket, and make time for your Playdate."


I am really excited about this. Firewatch is an amazing game with amazing execution. Teenage Engineering's OP1 is supposedly really good hardware (from what i heard and saw on youtube). Single purpose devices like this are more enjoyable to use since you aren't always itching to use a different app etc. The gradual "rollout" of games with a new one each week sounds like an exciting thing to look forwards to every week actually! Although the price is steep (for a student), i'm pretty sure i'll get it as this sounds like a well crafted and enjoyable experience


This is going to be a tough sell.

$150 dollars is very expensive for a portable game system, which will compete with any tablet/phone that can play games that have better graphics and game play.

The problem is that this is competing with entire ecosystems of games that have been around for almost a decade.


This isn't meant to compete or be "the best". I think your comment is entirely missing the point of what this is.

This is more of a play on nostalgia and classic bulky simple handhelds. It would be in the same category as the NES Classic Edition or the Sega Genesis Mini. It's fun and almost a collectible honestly.


"It would be in the same category as the NES Classic Edition or the Sega Genesis Mini. It's fun and almost a collectible honestly"

The NES class edition and Sega Genesis only work because of people that remember playing these games as a kid (like me). I have the NES classic edition and my teenage nephews were bored pretty quickly after they played it.

Nostalgia isn't usually there for something new that looks like the games I used to play when I was younger.


I don't fully agree, there are many games that manage to imitate the "old school" look and feel pretty well, I don't see why this couldn't pull that off too. But I could be wrong, we'll see how well it sells once it comes out.

By referring to it as a collectible, I also meant that this will most likely not going to be a huge success, but more of a niche product. I see it as an indie hardware; the Cuphead of Gaming Systems if you will.


Cuphead was well after indie games had been well-established. Go back a decade and change -- if it does well, this could be hardware's Cave Story or Braid or Spelunky.


If the game play is there and it's fun, it could be successful.


It won’t be. The games industry is littered with hardware that flopped. Most indie games fail to turn a profit and even the likes of Sega and Nintendo have released hardware that has failed to sell. Apple couldn’t even make a successful console and they had tried. Yet this thing is weirder and significantly less appealing to the mainstream so they’re reliant entirely only a super niche crowd to turn a profit.

While I’m sure they will sell some devices and they will likely become a collectors item in the future; I can’t see them selling enough to make this worthwhile nor keep people playing on it long enough to be considered anything more than an expensive yet short-lived novelty item.

Hopefully I’m wrong, but as a collector of games consoles - including many of those that failed - I’m not filled with any confidence about the Playdate.


> It won’t be. The games industry is littered with hardware that flopped.

What do you think Panic means by successful?

From the PlayDate's site:

> Stock will be very limited. Sign up early.

It doesn't sound like they're trying to take over the gaming industry here.


I wasn’t expecting that to be their mission with a device like this. What I mean by “successful” is two things:

1. Have any longevity beyond a novelty. By that I don’t mean hundreds of hours clocked up; I just mean people will use it for more than a couple of hours before putting it in a draw to never be seen again.

2. Make a profit. Obviously including all the time spent in design et al as well.

Personally I can see this both being unsuccessful in terms engagement as well as financially unsuccessful.


Mobile games:

1] are infested with IAP/psycho crack time gates

2] cant cost more than a dollar or so, no one will buy them

3] have no buttons, and the number of games that work well without buttons is few.

4] have a horrible reputation, people discount games just for being mobile

5] ridiculously fragmented hardware, who knows what screen size or device type you're targeting if you develop for mobile?

6] are too high res. All new game systems are. Low res games with few buttons can be developed cheaply and quickly (i.e., 20k instead of 5M)

I want some simple games with real buttons. I want to make some. I'll pay for it. I think others will too.

I do think $150 is a little high, but that might also convey a sense of value, rather than "another crappy emulator box thing"


Also check out the pimoroni kickstarter 32blit then. it's a bit cheaper than the play date (but not by much and at full retail cost will be pretty much the same) but has better scope and will be open source. it's not a Pi-in-a-box-with-retropie but a STM32 microcontroller with a light OS/SDK layer on top. a development toolchain that looks a lot like the editors for Pico-8


Sadly I think no one will ever pay money for games for an unadvertised, not-sold-at-retail, open source game platform, which means people aren't going to make quality games that cost money to develop, which means adoption will be all the lower. So, that means it's not "viable" in a commercial sense. I would rather like to run a sustainable business, which seems more plausible with the playdate than anything else on the market outside nintendo/sony.


Sorry, I didn't infer that you were looking for a commercial sales games platform. You are right about the 32blit, however I don't think you're right about the playdate. If the 32blit is a niche product (which I'll admit it definitely is) the playdate is being made as a niche within a niche product and the numbers that are made in total will be a limiting factor. While the HN crowd seem to be able to see this for what it is and mostly wouldn't think twice about splunking 150 on this, I'm not getting the same feeling from any other handheld/retro/modern gaming communities. a few collectors are going "well it looks nice and well designed..." they're also the type who will buy one just to sit it on a shelf with their other oddball gaming hardware. I doubt the playdate will be any more viable to base a game business on than the 32blit, however from a different set of reasons, but along the same lines as people who buy the Pocket Operators as neat gadgets, but have no intent to actually make music with past the first few days of novelty. of course you could try the Pico-8 games on itch.io route which is a well travelled path and probably a much bigger target audience


I completely disagree with 6]. Mobile app developers crank out high res throwaway games for less than $20k.


You know, I think it would actually be a lot harder to sell a $50 portable game system than a $150 one.

Both price points are in about the same range of disposable income for the target audience.

But $50 is a cheapo, side thing... as junky as the maker felt they could get away with. Not necessarily bad (Personally, I really appreciate things that are made as cheap as someone felt they could get away with, especially games. The cheapo-ness tells an interesting story and sometimes these things absolutely amaze me.) but usually pretty bad.

$150 is a centerpiece. It's a product that delivers at some decent level of quality/aesthetics. From the website I think they nailed that. (It looks like the handheld console you've made out of Lego and then imagined the details of what the real thing that the Lego model represents.)

So the $50 portable game is maybe too crappy to be a centerpiece gift (to another or to yourself), but maybe too expensive to fit in as a second-tier gift (e.g., a Christmas stocking-stuffer).

While this might qualify as "the gift of the year". (Or purchase for self of the year.)

The experience on the cheap device will probably be inferior in virtually every way to the phone you already have in your pocket.

But this device is different. Your phone doesn't have a crank. (Nor does whatever handheld system you may already have). It doesn't look like Lego. It doesn't have a black-and-white screen and it doesn't have a new, unique game coming out every week. (well your phone has seemingly a million games coming out each week, but in a diffuse, general way where you have to discover them for yourself and figure out for yourself if the IAP are too annoying or not, etc.)

Games are about new and fresh experiences so anything you already own and have been playing for 10 years is at a serious disadvantage, despite that it's cheaper to keep using it because you already own it.


This isnt hard for Nintendo, but Nintendo fans are fanatics.


Nintendo have had their fair share of failed consoles as well


I love this so much. I'm such a sucker for simple gaming mechanics, and I have some faith that these specific people could make this work.

I know devices like this often fail to thrive in the market, but Teenage Engineering has some experience making this sort of single-purpose device work for customers. Panic seems to be very passionate, quality and delivery oriented, and good at doing an exceptional job on familiar products. There might be some potential here. I'd absolutely take my chances on this thing if I could get my hands on one! My kids would love it too.


Personally the association with Teenage Engineering makes me more concerned that this will not be as exciting as it sounds. TE's Op-1 is a fine piece of kit, but their recent offerings have been very underwhelming. Also the placement of the crank and the form factor look very un-ergonomic.


Can you comment on the Op-1 and what makes it great?


The OP-1 is a well built, self contained musical instrument (sequencing, synthesis/sampling, effects, mixing) with a very clean industrial design and solid construction.

The main issues people have with it are 1) long-standing software bugs that don’t get fixed 2) TE doesn’t seem that focused on producing it anymore- it was out of stock for a couple years, and they raised the price significantly on the new batches.


It's an opinionated piece of hardware, designed and manufactured more or less uncompromisingly for a specific musician experience. I decided it's not for me (though its follow-up, the OP-Z, is a lot closer), but I absolutely adore Teenage Engineering's approach to pretty much everything, even when it's not personally my style.


https://streamable.com/ued04

made this in bed at 3am last night. sampled the vox straight from my phones headphone output into the line in on the op-1. its a beautiful piece of hardware that i take with me wherever i go.


Not from personal experience, but it seems that it's an all around decent synth/sequencer/sampler that makes a good musical scratchpad. People like it, and if I had a g to spare, I might join in.


The Pocket Operators are pretty cool, for the price, no?


This company seems well aware they aren't a match for Nintendo. Based on the comments, Hacker News does not seem very aware.

Much like how Teenage Engineering's OP-1 is not competitively priced. This is another example of an insightfully designed, well built product for adults. Older millenials looking for a sentimental package so they can feel like it's their 8th birthday again. They are reunboxing a gameboy color.

Their goal isn't to revitalize the dying, Nintendo/Smartphone dominated scene of handheld gaming. Just a small company releasing a niche product in a low quantity for a low risk profit.

No different than a craft brew or a local farmers market.


This is the best take, and I'm excited to live in a world where hardware entertainment devices don't require mass market appeal and can be "artisanal."

In many ways, I think this is the antidote to a lot of the bad behaviors Silicon Valley has developed in the last several years. Sometimes not achieving hyperscale is OK.


Agreed. I've been thinking about a market for small batch or boutique electronics in various markets for a while. There is boutique furniture, small batch alcohol, all sorts of small runs that would never compete with the big guys but still make money and are fun for people to buy. More people should get into it. The biggest barrier to entry may be that you have to self fund for these smaller attempts.


There's a huge number of boutique products in music technology, particularly synth modules and guitar effects pedals. They're relatively simple analog products, so it's entirely feasible for one person to design and manufacture a small batch in their bedroom without a big investment.

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/modules/browser


There's also the fact that making consumer electronics is incredibly hard, and even when talented engineers attempt to fulfill their overfunded kickstarters they often fail.

I'm not saying I don't love the idea of boutique electronics. I'm just saying it's not really for the faint of heart.


I feel like with electronics, its so complicated to make it durable and long-lasting while also being very good in function that if it's worth making at all, its worth making well - in a way with mass-market appeal.

That's not to say that spending loads on marketing is a requirement. Stuff like the original few OnePlus phones for example prove that if (at least in some sectors) tech is good and cheap, people will spread the word


Not competitively priced? Yes it costs a lot, but it's pretty easy to drop a grand on music equipment. You could buy a decent guitar, a vintage synth, half of a small Nord 4 piano, or a drum kit. It's dead on midrange for an instrument of that calibre, which it absolutely is. It seems expensive because its popularity and apparent ability to turn anyone into a musician make it appeal to the amateur market, who would normally buy a Squier strat or a practice drum off Craigslist. TE caters to these folks with less ambitious products. The OP-1 only really competes in the sense that these folks just save up for longer, because it really is worth that much.

Whether or not it's accurate for the OP-1, I think your analysis applies perfectly to the Playdate.


Absolutely. I never had a Gameboy, so now I hope I can kind of make up for the missed experiences with this gadget.


Just buy a Gameboy. Good games are timeless.


I’d pay a lot to play one more game of “Nobunaga’s Ambition.”


Which one should I buy? I don't really know the Nintendo world.


I'd recommend a Gameboy Advance SP, because the older, non-backlit, screens were genuinely poor under some non-ideal lighting situations, and you still get support for older generation games. But a standard Gameboy Advance or even Gameboy Color is still good. I'd avoid things prior to the Color personally.


GBA SP: Play Summon Night Swordcraft Story, SRW Original Generation 1+2, Castlevania Aria of Sorrow, Yggdra Union (Warning: extremely difficult), Harvest Moon, Riviera (I played the PSP version)

NDS: Ghost Trick, The World Ends With You, Ragnarock DS, Devil Survivor, 999, Rune Factory 3, Disgaea DS


If you're not concerned with retro aesthetic, get a Game Boy Advance. It's compatible with the entire back catalog.


I think it's cool. I'm not that old, but games these days mostly seem to be about squeezing every last dollar out of the consumer through shady means. I think this is part of why I don't play video games anymore. It's nice to see something different.


$150 for what looks like 12 simple games isn't that much different.


1) I don't mind paying for games. I just don't want the game mechanics to be designed to divert me towards spending more money on the game.

2) It's 12 games to start with. I'm sure there could be more later on.


They say that the production run will be very limited. Which means there isn't much incentive for gamedevs to make more games later, as the audience can never expand beyond the initial sales.


They've clarified that the _first_ production run is very limited. There will be more production runs after that.


Point taken, but this is the difference between $12 for a Bud Light at a huge sports venue versus $12 for an interesting and memorable cocktail at an out-of-the-way bar. Both are expensive, but the latter is something you can't get anywhere else and might barely even turn a profit when everything else is factored in.


They claim to have an SDK. Assuming that goes public (why wouldn't it?) it's 12 games + anything else they release + anything the community comes up with.


And a free console


That's an interesting interpretation of "Season One is included free of charge."


I think they're more referring to evolution of skinner-box and lootbox type of games, but yeah, this device was probably funded with a subscription model in mind.


Then buy different games? There are so many games out there, you don't have to buy from the sleaziest, profit-whoring of them.

N++, Papers Please, Geometry Dash, Return of the Obra Dinn, Ori and the Blind Forest, 1001 Spikes, Hollow Knight, the list goes on. Then you have things like The Talos Principle, which does have DLC, but it's many hours long, or Humble and their bundles and monthlies, or that Lichess and Pokemon Showdown are legitimately completely free.

The Playdate looks like a fun toy, but it's vastly more of a cash grab than the games I play regularly.


Isn't $150 expensive? Or may be I am just too poor, to throw money at anyone who asks for it.


It's expensive but not nearly as expensive as I would expect a Teenage Engineering product to be. For example, their most famous product, the OP-1 (a small digital synth with a small LCD screen) is $1300.


To be fair, they also sell things like this for $59: https://teenage.engineering/store#po-20


That's the same price as a Nintendo 2DS, which is about as cheap as mobile gaming comes. So I mean, you might have opinions about how good a value it is, but it is not a very high price point for its market.


Used 2DSes or 3DSes are ubiquitous and around $110 or so.


But $20-40 for each game.


A $40 game provides 20-100 hours of high quality gameplay, which I think is a good value.


Playdate is not in the same market as the 2DS, or really anywhere near it. It's not trying to compete on any of the games-industry metrics, nor could it.

It's like comparing the latest Avengers movie with a niche YouTube show. You can compare the price of a movie ticket with a Patreon subscription, but what are you even comparing?


No, it doesn't. It only might. You or your kids might play it for 10 minutes and never touch it again.

How many people on HN have $100s spent on Steam games they haven't even installed once and probably never will? Or games they finally played but didn't like, yet too much time elapsed for a refund?


You could make the same argument about anything. No product is worth the money it costs if you never put it to use.


That was my impression. If I’m paying $150 anyway I might as well buy a DS.

Still, I guess there is a niche for this. It just isn’t me.


> I guess there is a niche for this

Nerds with disposable income who will play with it for a few hours, after which it’ll take dust on a shelf.


For $150 you get the console and 12 games. That's not too bad.


Based on the technical specs $150, even with 12 games seems like price gouging. It's not too far off the Adafruit PyBadge someone else mentioned in another comment only that comes with a color LCD and more buttons for only $35 ($25 if you get the trimmed down version). Sure it doesn't come with a fancy case and it's missing an analog crank (really?), but there's literally hundreds of free games you could get for it that I'm willing to bet are as much fun or more than every single one of those 12 free games that Playdate will include.

Sorry, this looks like a overpriced gimmick. The digital equivalent of a pet rock, or a more modern (and far more expensive) take on a tomagotchi.


Why are you willing to bet that "hundreds of free games" made by internet randos for a cheap gizmo are more fun than every single one of the 12 games made by experienced game developers?


If you are looking at technical specs and a budget system, it's not for you and that's okay.

This thing looks beautiful and that by itself is worth a premium price to a lot of people. I bet it's going to sell out instantly.


It would entirely depend on the quality of the games, wouldn't it?

I compare it more to a subscription to Kindle Unlimited or Netflix. With the difference that once I played them all, I can even sell all the games and the device.

I'm prepared to pay 12$ for a good book. Then pointing to free books as an argument that said book is not worth 12$ is not really applicable. I am not just paying for some book, I am paying for a specific book. Like, say, there is a new book out by Neil Gaiman. I will buy that unseen, even if you tell me that I could get a free book by Somebody INeverHeardOf instead.

In the case here, I loved Firewatch and I am willing to give Panic the benefit of the doubt.


It'll probably be worth a lot as a collectible in the future.


Oh, I have some 1st gen Pebbles to sell you then :)).


I'll give this idea one plus - it's a got a playful, fun design. I get the idea of going simple and fun with this.

As a device to plunk down $150 on, no way.

- If the crank is so fun, they didn't manage to show it.

- Hopefully they'll show more games, because the promise of 12 black and white games involving two buttons a crank isn't awe-inspiring.

- The 2DS is the same price and is vastly more powerful and capable. Obviously they're going for simplicity and quirkiness but objectively it's just a real hard sell here.

- Nintendo is rumored to be making a cheaper more portable Switch along with a Switch Pro this year, and I bet that cheap one is going to be $200.

I just think the only "why" of this thing is "because we could." That's totally okay, but I'd be shocked if this was any more than a limited run item, and even more shocked if anything beyond those initial games ever make it to the platform.


That's fine. You're not their target market.

I think it's a hilarious idea, and will 100% buy one if I can. I have zero interest in buying a 2DS or Switch though.

Teenage Engineering seem to have a nice little "lifestyle business" producing electronics that most people just go "But why?"

(Also, the crank is demonstrated in the last image is you scroll right down the page. It looks fun!


Don't be quick to dismiss a physical control from Teenage Engineering. Those Swedes are geniuses. Have you seen the OP-1? They are masters of constraints that push creativity along. I have no doubt they can make a crank fun.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7z4hoazra_g


Teenage engineering does make a handheld musical toy thing. I have a couple. They are very bare bones music calculator-sequencer things.

They're called "pocket operators". Oddly fun to make beats on.

https://teenage.engineering/products/po

This one has some better pictures and soundcloud audio.

https://www.engadget.com/2015/04/22/teenage-engineering-pock...

youtube has a lot on these little things.


I’ve never heard of them before this post. Their other products are far cheaper and seem to have a more unique place in the marketplace.

This is literally a game boy with a crank, you can get a thousand-game library device with dual color screens for the same price.

Maybe nobody else besides TE is making cool portable synthesizers but this is definitely something that’s been tried before.

Obviously it’s a novelty and not trying to be a million seller, but I’m struggling to see who would buy one based on the price and features considering the alternatives.


If it was a little cheaper, I would probably pick it up for my nephew. But at the current price point it’s just way too expensive. Vague promises of future content are not enough to justify the price IMO.


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