Image: Panic

Is the handheld console market dying? Well, the PS Vita might have struggled, but that hasn't stopped small publisher Panic from branching out into this space. The company has gone from creating mobile games to publishing console releases, such as Firewatch, and it's now jumping into the icy cold waters of hardware. Playdate is its freshly announced handheld games system, and it looks great.

The tiny yellow box is a combination of old and new, and it's refreshingly simple. The screen is a low-tech black and white display, and the main inputs consist of just a d-pad and two face buttons. However, one of the gadget's main hooks is its unique crank, located on the right-hand side. Players can turn the lever like the reel on a fishing rod, and it should make for some interesting gameplay.

Playdate is also interesting due to how it handles software. A new game will release every week for three months, downloaded via WiFi, meaning that by the end of its first season, you'll have 12 games of varying shapes and sizes to play. Exactly what those games are is deliberately a mystery, as the company wants to surprise you when you fire up the pocket-sized device.

One game it has announced, though, is Crankin's Time Travel Adventure, from Katamari Damacy creator, Keita Takahashi. You can see how it works in this GIF:

Several notable developers have their names attached to provide games for Playdate. For indie aficionados, it sounds wonderful. Where the PS Vita failed to consistently deliver AAA gaming experiences, it looks like this new-fangled bit of kit will focus on extremely simple, small games you can play on the go. Playdate is due to launch in early 2020 for $149, and the first season of 12 games will be free. What do you think of Playdate? Is this a cool little handheld you'd use, or is it a waste of time? Play nice together in the comments below.

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