Part of what’s so exciting about Playdate – and weeks in, I am still excited about it – is the fact that it’s been conceived as a system people can make their own games for from the off. With Pulp, a web-based game editor, and easy drag-and-drop sideloading of game files, there’s already a Playdate scene developing on Itch.io.
It’s still very early, but I wanted to get a sense of what’s already out there. Here are just a few of the games I’ve enjoyed so far.
Pulpmon, Brothers Online
A lot of early Playdate games are a bit like Pulpmon – a loving recreation of an existing game, in this case Pokémon.
This is stripped back but still delightful – the top-down world brings back memories of the first Zelda, and the needle-sharp lines of the art style show off the Playdate screen in all its weird glory.
A Game & Watch remake involving bouncing people into an ambulance out of a burning building Rescues gets hectic quite quickly. A friend who is a paramedic tells me this game is very realistic, but even if you aren’t interested in emergency medicine, know that the crank works nicely for moving back and forth and the score-chasing is very pleasant. Be warned though: your rescuees resemble giant ants.
Coin Germs, Raspberrybrain
Okay Coin Germs is an absolute banger. Collect the coins and avoid the germs – and you can use the crank to speed up the germs’ movement when it suits you. There is a touch of Vlambeer to this kind of focused score-attack delight, and the soundtrack is absolute chugging brilliance.
Sketch, Share, Solve, RDK
Sketch, Share, Solve is fabulous nonogram/picross game that encourages you to remix the suite of available puzzles and make your own from scratch. This is a generous thing indeed, with excellent tutorials and lovely controls. It manages to cram a lot onto the Playdate screen, too.
Art7, Ledbetter Games
Art7 is the kind of thing I am so excited to see on Playdate – a private art gallery to wander around at your leisure. It’s a fascinating game, even in its current demo form, and apparently it’s inspired by a similar experiment from the Game Boy Camera community.
An adaptation of a 1984 PC game, this Beast is simple monsterish fun as you move walls to squish your enemies. The original Beast was shareware – in a way this Playdate version feels like it’s coming home.
Moody audio and relentless enemies make this action-adventure a dark treat. Tochi’s oppressive and spooky – a wizard’s journey around a dungeon filled with skulls and crates and locked doors. And horrible beasts who can’t wait to do you in. Super stuff.