Thursday, April 18, 2024
Opinion

The best games to play on the Playdate

A ‘best games on Playdate‘ article when the console isn’t even in the hands of the majority of consumers? You know it makes sense.

The Playdate is probably the weirdest looking console to come out in 2022 (that is, unless you’re not totally sold on the look of the Steam Deck), but that hasn’t stopped it from being sold out for pre-2023 orders already. The reason for the popularity of the Playdate varies, but we have a suspicion that it’s got everything to do with the incredible amount of games from well-known and up-and-coming developers from a swath of different genres.

The only downside is that, with so many cool games to play, how do you know which one to start with? Granted, the way Playdate is distributing its games at the moment is based entirely on Seasons – something which is similar to that of a Season Pass, only you’re not meant to feel bad if you miss a week or two. Instead of having your games straight away, you’ll get 2 or 3 new games as time goes on, giving you time to play each game before moving on to the next.

But regardless of how the Playdate distributes its games (or whether it’ll do it like that in the future), there is one question that remains: just which games are the best to play, and why? All of the games featured in the first Season of the Playdate are incredible in their own right, but there are a few that stood out from the crowd.

best games Playdate
Zipper

Zipper puts players in the shoes of a sword-wielding warrior who returns home to take his revenge on those who have wronged him. To do so, he must move from screen to screen, slicing up his enemies and making his way into the castle.

If it sounds simple, it’s because it is. You zip (where else did you think they got the title from?) from place to place, slicing your enemies down one by one. The catch is that with as many moves you make, your enemies do too. You may have killed one enemy, but the second, mirroring the number of steps you take, comes up behind you to finish you off. Each step you take needs to be calculated, making Zipper feel more tactical than it looks at first glance.

Not only is Zipper one of the best games on the Playdate, it really is my ultimate favourite out of the entire season. Part of us wonders if this is because the crank – arguably the Playdate’s most unique feature – doesn’t take up the entirety of the game, and instead is only used in a small, but neat way that compliments.

Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure

Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure is simply the best game on the Playdate that actively makes using the crank feel fun, all while delivering a humorous experience that feels both fulfilling, whimsical, and plenty challenging.

Developed by the creator of the Katamari Damacy series,  Keita Takahashi, Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure follows Crankin – an endlessly sleepy individual who can’t help but fall asleep and nap whenever he gets comfy. This has led him to miss a ton of appointments and even work, but players join Crankin as he wakes up to realize that he is late for something even more important: his date with Crankette!

With the Playdate’s crank, you need to guide Crankin to his girlfriend – all while avoiding obstacles. These obstacles could be butterflies, feral hogs or birds that feel the need to try and stab you on your journey to Crankette. I really enjoyed having to figure out just what I should do to get to Crankette, though we’re not sure if she’s all worth the trouble if she’s going to literally assault us for being late each and every time.

Sasquatchers

Who doesn’t love to hunt cryptids down and take selfies with them? If you answered that question with a firm no, then you’re probably not going to enjoy Sasquatchers, a turn-based game that feels familiar to that of Pokemon Snap if the game was about taking pictures of Bigfoot instead of Pikachu.

The goal of Sasquatchers is that you and your groupies of fellow cryptid lovers to find all of the creatures in hiding, and snap pictures of them. Depending on your choices, these pictures will earn you a fair bit of money so that you can improve your cryptid hunting grounds, or get rid of your deeply unfunny companions to replace them with someone a bit more bearable…and better at their job.

Photography is a popular mechanic when it comes to the Playdate’s crank, but as far as we’re concerned it doesn’t really shine up until you play Sasquatchers, where you can use the crank to size up the perfect shot with just a twist of your wrist.

Lost Your Marbles

If you’re not excited to try out the very first game from developers Sweet Baby, well, we’d say you’d… Lost Your Marbles. Eh? Eh?

This game is a visual novel at heart, a genre that you might not have expected on the Playdate but one that works just as well as your average, turn-based tactics game, with a twist: a pinball mechanic. When making a decision, players use the crank to balance and twist the ball to pick the dialogue choice / answer you want to say. The downside is that the answer you’re most likely to want is often the one hardest to get, meaning you’ll need to use the utmost precision to succeed.

With such a unique way to pick and choose your answers to other characters, you won’t be surprised to hear that Lost Your Marbles is dialogue-heavy. But personally? We feel that the visual novel with the pinball feature matches the fun, yet charming tone the game is going for.

best games Playdate
Spellcorked

Now on the surface Spellcorked may just seem like your average potion making game, but let us tell you that it has everything we love: witchcraft, crafting, and the most delicious thing ever to help you start your day: coffee!

In Spellcorked you take on the role of a witch who is going about their day by making a pot of coffee. It isn’t as simple as putting instant coffee in a cup, adding water and then being done with it. No, players will have to use the crank to smash beans, slice up ingredients, and then stir them into a pot. It isn’t just coffee you’ll be working with either, but you’ll also progress towards making things to help create more complex things like spells and potions.

A lot like the other games on the Playdate, Spellcorked does not come with any instructions on how to play. This may seem frustrating at first, particularly if you get stuck with not knowing what to do next, but ultimately fits the narrative of the witch getting better and more complex with what she brews as time passes. It’s also just a very sweet, whimsical game that feels just as warm as the potions you make.

Aimee Hart

[She/They] Aimee Hart specializes in queer fandom, video games and tabletop, having started her career writing for numerous websites like The Verge, Polygon, Input Magazine and more. Her goal now is to boost LGBTQ+ voices in the video games industry.