PlayDate Update: Part 1

A while back I reviewed the PlayDate, a new handheld gaming device that has a crank on the side that you can wind to control some of the games.  The other unique thing about this device is how you get the games.  They come two at a time and are downloaded automatically on the handheld each week on a Monday.  I talked about a few of them when I wrote my initial review, but since I didn’t have all the games yet in ‘season one,’ I said I would talk about more of the games later when I get a good amount of them.  So now that I’ve got a few more, let’s go over what they are here!

Lost Your Marbles

This is a really weird mix of an interactive story and a marble maze tilting game.  You are a girl who is about to go visit her scientist friend, who also happens to be a talking cat.  This cat scientist has invented a new machine that lets your brain automatically pick the best decision without you having to think about it.  Unfortunately you make the mistake of bringing your dog with you, who makes a mess of the lab when it sees the cat scientist.  Even worse, you were using the new invention at the time, so now that everything got messed up, your brain is all addled and you can’t make the right choices.  So now you go out on an adventure to find your dog who has now run away, and see if you can fix the invention as well.  But when you get to an important decision, the game switches to a marble maze tilting game where you tilt the maze with the crank.  You must make the marble break an object in the maze that represents a decision, but usually the best decisions to make are the hardest to get to in the maze.  So yeah, it’s a pretty weird game and it makes me wonder if it’s done by the same folks who did Casual Birder, since it’s done in that same style.

Pick Pack Pup

Now I really like this one!  It’s match three puzzle game where you are a dog and must ship out items by matching up three of them.  You slide around the pieces similar to how you would in Puzzle and Dragon, and when three or more are matched up, they’ll turn into an unmovable box.  You must try and match up as many as you can, then touch a box with the cursor to ship them all out and earn points.  Each stage has an objective, like shipping out a certain number of something in a time limit, or reaching a certain score, etc.  My only problem is the text to read these objectives is too small on that little screen!  I wish this game would be ported to other consoles, as you only use the crank to scroll the ‘story’ along, and even then you can just press down on the control pad to do that.

Flipper Lifter

Use the crank to raise and lower an elevator in a building.  Penguins will get on and/or off, depending on the floor you are on.  You get points when they get off.  Only problem is it’s hard to tell which floor the penguins need to be on, and the game doesn’t give you any instructions at all.  The game is pretty simple, so at least it doesn’t really need much, but a little direction would’ve been nice.  It kind of reminds me of a mobile game I reviewed a few years ago called Lifty.

Echoic Memory

It’s like a memory match game, except instead of flipping over pictures, you’re playing sounds.  You must turn the crank to play the sounds, which seems a little unnecessary.  I guess it’s good for listening skills.  Only problem is they play a lot of Dubstep, and I’m not a fan of that music genre.  To me it sounds like Optimus Prime’s digestive tract.

Demon Quest 85

The menu selection ‘box art’ of this game makes it look like some sort of cool side scrolling Castlevania-like 2-D action game.  Which would be cool since there hasn’t been one of those yet on the PlayDate.  But unfortunately, this game isn’t that.  You are a high school student and you find a book under your older brother’s bed.  The book has instructions for summoning demons, so you must gather clues from the book, pick a tribute (food) from the kitchen, choose the appropriate music, and then invite three friends over from a yearbook menu.  If you select all the right things, you’ll summon a demon to help you be more popular at school.  So it’s basically a demon summoning dating sim.  Blech!  No thank you!  They even warn you this game may be inappropriate for younger players.  And the text is way too tiny on the small screen.  Hard pass on this one.


I THINK “Amaze” is the title of this game.  It’s not on the title card on the menu screen, just an eyeball.  And if you blink, you’ll miss the title at the beginning of the game.  So I’m not sure if that’s the game’s title or the developers.  Anyway, in this game you use the crank to move a dot around circles.  When your dot is next to another circle, you can press the A button to have it switch to the next one.  Do this to get to the goal at the end of a sequence of circles.  Sometimes you must avoid obstacles and if you hit one, you’ll have to start the maze over again. This game isn’t “Amaze”-ing or anything like that, but it is perfectly suited to the PlayDate handheld.

Hyper Meteor

This is a unique take on Asteroids gameplay.  You control a triangular ship like the one in Asteroids, and you steer it around with the crank.  Press up to thrust forward.  Instead of shooting asteroids, you must ram into them.  But you can only ram into white asteroids.  If you ram into the side of the asteroid that is black while it’s rotating around, you’ll explode and lose a life.  If you press right on the d-pad, you’ll use a smart bomb that’ll clear out the whole screen.  Use those when things get too chaotic.  Only problem I have with this game is that the background is white with these abstract shapes all over, and it makes it hard to see your ship.  Plus this game requires more precision control than Asteroids since you’re ramming into things instead of shooting them from a distance.  And I was never that good at Asteroids anyway, even if it is a fun game.


I guess this would be considered like a super simple strategy game.  You are a ninja samurai dude storming a Japanese castle.  You view the action in an isometric viewpoint and the spaces where you can move are full of squares.  You can move as many squares as you want to as long as it is in one direction.  When you do that, you’ll ‘zip’ to the last square you highlighted.  In each single screen room are enemies you must deal with.  When you move, they’ll move a certain number of squares, too.  You must figure out where you can move so you can cross paths with them and kill them before they get you.  Only problem is I can’t tell you any more than that because the game comes with no instructions so I’m not totally sure how to deal with enemies or their logic or whatever.  Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I’ve been playing video games for over 40 years, so I would like to consider myself pretty adept at figuring these kinds of things out.  But at least a LITTLE direction would’ve been nice.  Especially since when you die, you must start over at the beginning of the castle again!

Executive Golf DX

You play golf in an office building skyscraper in 2-D side scrolling fashion.  Regular golf controls work here.  Change the trajectory with the D-pad, and the strength of the swing with the A button in time with a rising meter.  You must make it to the elevator on the top of a few floors, which serves as the ‘hole.’  You must also watch out for obstacles like office furniture along the way.  The gaps you must make the ball go through to get to the next floor are teeny tiny and hard to get through, and yet once you make it up there, it’s super easy for the ball to fall back down again.  So yeah, more frustrating than fun in my opinion.

Questy Chess

Now this one is a bit interesting, even if it’s not my cup of tea.  You are a pawn stuck inside an old chess playing computer.  In fact, all the graphics look like an old Apple PC and the sound effects are like the grinding and whirring noises of floppy disk drives, if anyone remembers those.  It’s kind of like a strategy game using chess rules.  In each level you must get to the exit using pawn moves, either moving one or two spaces forward.  Land on enemies to defeat them.  If they get the best of you, you’ll lose a health bar from your meter of three.  Run out and you must start the level over again.  Also if you run out of moves, you must start over as well.  You can get items that’ll help you change the landscape so you can move forward.  I’m not sure if you can play as other chess pieces with their moves, as I didn’t get very far with this one since I’m not a big fan of chess anyway.  But I guess this would be a good way to learn some chess strategies, maybe?

End of Part 1

And that’s all for now!  There should be ten more games coming out for ‘season one,’ so in a couple more months, I’ll post a final update with those.  You’d think that with a handheld game with a crank on its side, one of those titles would be a fishing game.  But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!  Later!  –Cary

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