We've been playing around with Panic's crankable handheld console, and have picked out the best games available in the first season.
Earlier this week, I published my review of Panic's mini handheld, crank-controlled console, the Playdate. In that very review, I talked about the hardware and the system as a whole, and looked at how the unique control system is used in games. To this end, I mentioned that some games suit the Playdate's unique design better than others, and in this article, I've picked out what I believe to be the ten best games available in the Playdate's first season of titles. In no particular order, let's start with b360.
This is one of those super straightforward titles that are just timeless. b360 is essentially a 360-degree version of Breakout, meaning you simply have to destroy blocks using a ball by using the crank to position a rotating platform around a level that will bounce the ball off before it goes out of bounds. It's not as colourful as Breakout of course (as the Playdate is a black and white console), but will it draw you in with its engaging and chilled-out gameplay? Without a doubt.
Executive Golf DX
I'm going to keep this one short, because there's not much more to say about mini golf games that hasn't already been said. Executive Golf DX trades the lush greens and wacky environments of mini golf for the corporate landscape of an office, and asks you to guide a ball across levels and up floors to reach an end goal - all while using the crank to aim each shot.
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Not only is Flipper Lifter one of the most adorable titles on the Playdate, it's also one of the most basic and yet most entertaining. The concept of this game is to use the crank to raise and lower an elevator in a penguin hotel. You have to ferry penguins from different floors, to the floor they want to go to, and do so as fast as possible, else the penguins will start to get rowdy. The catch is that as you continue to find success, more floors are added to the hotel, making your duty as the elevator operator all the more challenging.
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Do you remember the arcade classic Asteroids? Well, Hyper Meteor is very similar to that game. The idea here is to use the crank to turn the direction a spaceship is facing, all so that you can guide it into the soft spots of meteors in the near vicinity to rack up points. You don't get blasters or any other ranged weapons, you simply have the power to steer the ship, and it's your duty to go for as long as possible, all without crashing into the harder parts of each meteor.
For a lot of people, the art of managing inventories in games can be a chore, but Inventory Hero is looking to turn that on its head by offering up an experience that literally asks you to solely manage inventory. The game practically plays itself, all you have to do is judge whether items that are picked are worth holding on to, or whether they should be discarded to make space for new items, and you have to do this while also using consumables and equipping weapons and gear that are found to make your character all the more capable for the journey ahead.
This is the one game on this list that is really challenging to describe. It's weird, unusual, and yet very entertaining to play. Known as Omaze, it simply asks you to use the crank to rotate various circles to be able to guide an eyeball through a maze composed of these rotating circles, and you have to do so while dealing with overcoming different mechanics that aim to send you back to square one. It will baffle you at times, but it will also leave you with a craving desire to beat the challenge ahead of you.
Pick Pack Pup
While I'm not really a massive fan of match-three type games, Pick Pack Pup has just the right balance of matching and adorable narrative to make me fall in love with it. The idea is to simply match various symbols on a 5x6 grid, where groups of three or more symbols are morphed into a parcel which can then be delivered. The idea is to make as many parcels as possible on each grid, to rack up as many points as possible, all to make money and to advance to the next chapter of the story.
You're probably starting to sense a bit of a theme here. Snak is literally just Playdate's version of Snake. There's not much else to say there. This game is still iconic, timeless, fun, and if anything just that little bit more engaging, thanks to the use of the crank as the primary method as to how you control your Snake. It is slightly more difficult because of this, but I'm not one to run away from a challenge.
If you're a fan of Cooking Mama, then this one will really be up your street. It asks you to run a magical café, where customers email their orders and you have to prepare the brew they request by using the Playdate in a variety of unique manners. Be it grinding coffee with the crank, pouring brews into bottles by tilting the Playdate, or stirring potions with the crank as well - this really is one of the most interactive games on the system.
I've already mentioned Hyper Meteor on this list, and at first glance, you might think that Star Sled is the same game, but it really isn't. The idea here is to pilot a spaceship, using the crank as a controlling method, and you have to dip and weave around stars, caging them in with the trailing effect you leave in your wake. It can be very hypnotic, yet at the same time challenging, especially as more stars and more obstacles are added with each new level.