Playdate Season 1

:warning: Season 1 Spoilers Ahead :warning:

So I finally finished going through the first season of Playdate games. I’m curious how others feel about this season.

I’ll be honest, I’m a fan of Panic in general and I love quirky handheld hardware and odd game ideas. But overall I can’t help feeling like I was expecting more from this season. There are a couple of gems in there, but the hit to miss ratio was pretty high for me.

Here are my Grouvee ratings along with general impressions…

# Game Rating Thoughts
1 Whitewater Wipeout :star: Physically hurt my hands to play.
2 Casual Birder :star::star::star::star: A chill, Toem-esque top-down RPG with a great soundtrack. (Full review)
3 Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure :star::star::star: Love the animation, but eventually grew too difficult so I gave up.
4 Boogie Loops :star: I don’t find it fun to make music on this small of a device.
5 Lost Your Marbles :star::star: The gameplay wasn’t engaging enough for me to wade through so much dialog.
6 Pick Pack Pup :star::star::star::star: A fun match-three game that’s really well designed for this display. (Full review)
7 Flipper Lifter :star::star::star: A reasonably fun arcade game, but the difficulty ramps up a little too quickly for me.
8 Echoic Memory :star::star::star: I like the concept in theory, in practice it just gets too repetitive too quickly.
9 Omaze :star::star::star: For some reason my brain just can’t handle this as soon as the enemies that chase you show up.
10 Demon Quest '85 :star::star: I just don’t find it fun to mix and match the different ingredients until I figure out what the demon wants, and that’s basically the game.
11 Hyper Meteor :star::star: I like Asteroids fine. This improves on it in some ways and feels like a step back in others to me.
12 Zipper :star::star: I’m okay on the concept, but it feels like I’m missing a manual or something.
13 Questy Chess :star: The presentation felt too minimalist to keep me engaged.
14 Executive Golf DX :star::star: This one is so precise from the get go that I didn’t find it fun.
15 Saturday Edition :star::star: I had high hopes for this one, but everything is so slow. I gave it a while for something of interest to happen.
16 Star Sled :star::star::star: I think this is more engaging to play than Hyper Meteor, but there’s something off about the controls. It didn’t always feel like failure was my fault.
17 Spellcorked :star::star::star: I like this better than Dragon Quest '85, it’s very creative with the use of the hardware, but it suffers from the same issue of a guess-and-check gameplay loop I don’t personally enjoy.
18 Inventory Hero :star: I despise inventory management, but having to do it on a timer while watching all the fun stuff happen is even more excruciating. Seems well executed, I am just 100% not the audience.
19 Snak :star::star::star: It’s Snake.
20 Sasquatchers :star::star: I’m not a turn-based strategy guy, and like Lost Your Marbles this just takes too long to get going for me to give it more of a shot.
21 Forrest Byrnes: Up in Smoke :star::star::star: I really want to like this one, but it feels almost too fast… like it was tuned on a PC and not on the actual clicky Playdate buttons.
22 Battleship Godios :star: This must be an homage to something I have experience with and no nostalgia for?
23 b360 :star::star: It’s a 360-degree breakout, but it felt weird to play since the bricks are still rectangular. The ball never bounced how I expected it to.
24 Ratcheteer :star::star::star: I enjoy the concept, but everything’s way too small for me to comfortably squint at on this display.

That’s an average rating of 2⅓ stars. So if the whole season were a Grouvee rating, it’d be closer to “mostly didn’t like it.”

I think my biggest recurring issue was one of ergonomics. There were a lot of games that felt extremely fast-paced and reflex-driven in the tradition of classic arcade games, but I find the Playdate’s buttons require more force to press than something like a Game Boy or Vita, the crank requires more physical movement than joysticks or touchscreens do, and the reflective screen means you need a very steady hand to consistently see what you’re doing.

I also wonder if my expectations were raised by some of the games I sideloaded. Eyeland’s high contrast visuals and simple puzzles feel perfect for this device. Bloom feels like a tiny, self-contained little world. Sketch, Share, Solve plays as well as any monochromatic Picross game.

Anyway! I hope I’m not bumming anyone out, but I’m genuinely curious if others had a similar experience or if I’m just not the target audience. What’d you think?


I’m still making my way through the season but I will say that our differing feelings about White Water Wipeout might be sign that the Play Date will resonate in wildly different ways for disparate people. At present White Water Wipeout is on my shortlist for favourite games released in 2022. I play it often and thoroughly enjoy its simple yet, to me, elegant design. I’m curious about the fact that playing it hurts your hand and wonder what may be different about our physical experience of the Play Date.

Echoic Memory is probably my other favourite game so far and also a potential for a longer list of favourite games from 2022. Based on your critique I’m starting to think that repetition is where I think the Play Date shines, while that’s less of the case for you.

In contrast, while I like the art and concept of Pick Pack Pup, one of the rare games you rate four stars, overall it didn’t hook me and feels like one of the less interesting entries from my perspective.

I do agree, E Y E L A N D presents a level of design and polish that elevates the potential of the system in several ways and is one of the best titles on the platform at the moment.


Very early in my career, I was doing my normal work routine and I started having this persistent pain in my wrist and forearm. I went to the doctor and was told “you need to improve your ergonomics or you’re going to get carpal tunnel.” I was given a wrist brace, I took ergonomics lessons, and thankfully I’ve avoided any other spells quite that bad since then. But sometimes I’ll encounter some sort of action that gives my wrist a twinge of that feeling, and when that happens I try to change whatever I’m doing or avoid the task entirely.

I’ve played smaller handhelds like the Arduboy and I’ve used a handcrank to play Sega Bass Fishing, so I wasn’t expecting this console to hurt my hands. I think what I underestimated was how many games would require quickly changing the direction of the crank, or quickly switching between buttons and the crank.

That’s probably fair. In general, I’d say I’m probably not as big of a fan of twitch arcade games as the average gamer. I’d much rather relax with a leisurely puzzle or explore a little world than try to beat a high score or complete a reflex-based challenge.

Re-watching the original Playdate trailer and the 2021 update video, I think I was expecting more adventure games. Panic published Firewatch and Untitled Goose Game. They devoted a big chunk of their first games showcase to projects from Lucas Pope and Michael Frei, neither of which were part of this season (which I don’t think I fully understood at the time).

I’m happy to hear that others have had a more positive experience. But I hope future games will be purchasable a la carte: I get the sense that whoever curated this season has different tastes than I do.


I empathize. I have trigger finger which has caused me problems with finger dexterity and mobility. I’ve had surgery a few times and it’s mostly much better than when I was younger but I used to frequently get finger lockup or pain so ergonomics were a key in anything I did. It was a minor contributing factor to me leaving the life of a chef.

I don’t think I’m inherently a fan of twitch gaming but I’m probably in the middle of the road compared to you. I like both a leisurely game but also enjoy something that challenges me occasionally. I also do not care for high scores. But if I like a game mechanic I might be willing to try to beat my own score. From my perspective White Water Wipeout is relaxing. It’s a very repetitive and serene mechanic that I can play on end when I want to unwind. The repetition is similar to grinding in some RPGs, something that I find relaxing. And it doesn’t hurt that I used to love California Games.

Lucas Pope’s first game for the Play Date is the thing I’m most excited for, hands down. It reminds me of old Hyper Card adventure games and I can’t wait to play it. I think I was aware it wouldn’t be part of season one so I’m less disappointed and still very excited.

I’ll wait until I’m done to fully declare I loved this season but at least I have two titles I enjoyed thoroughly. I don’t know yet if I’d purchase a second season, but I will certainly purchase individual games.


I do want to add that I was pretty excited for a game from Zach Gage, and While Snak is fine I wasn’t blown away. I expected more from him in terms of a deconstructed title.


Have anyone seen this?

Playdate Community Bundle

1 Like