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PlayDate Update: Part 2

On 11/13/2022 at 07:59 PM by Cary Woodham

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A couple of months ago 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, and then another batch of ten more about a month later.  And now I’ve got my final batch of ten from season one, so we’ll go over those as well as my final thoughts on the PlayDate.


I really like this one.  It reminds me of old Atari vector graphic games.  You use the crank to steer a ship around space, and the ship leaves behind a trail.  Your job is to encircle sparks with the trail.  But you have to be careful and only trap ONE spark.  Any more and you’ll explode and must start the stage over.  You also have to avoid colliding into enemy ships and other obstacles.  It’s a lot of fun and really fits the concept of the PlayDate games well.

Saturday Edition

This reminds me of point and click adventure games from the mid to late 80s, and even some in the 90s.  You play as John Kornfield, who was abducted by aliens and lived on their planet for a while, but was sent back to Earth when the political powers reshifted on that planet.  When you play as him, you are first trying to get into a locked gate, and once you solve that puzzle, you are whisked away to your apartment where you escape the police by using a fire exit and then you can drive to other parts of the city.  Two reasons why it was hard for me to stay interested in this.  One, the text is so small to read on that tiny screen.  And two, the story was just all over the place.  Maybe I’ll come back to it when I’m more in the mood and don’t have as many other games to play.

Inventory Hero

This one’s kind of an RPG, but plays like a cleverly disguised card game.  You’re always in turn-based battles, but you don’t have control over them.  This part reminds me of a PSP game I really enjoyed a long time ago called Half-Minute Hero.  As you fight battles, you’ll gain items in the form of cards, and you can have five in your deck at all times.  You must choose to either equip a card with the A button, or discard it with the B button.  There are cards with armor on them you can equip, as well as healing items.  You’ll want to discard trash cards as well as equippable items that make you weaker.  But the items you have equipped constantly break, so you pretty much equip whatever you can.  Watch out for cards that can ‘poison’ your deck and fill them up with trash cards!  The game ends when you run out of HP, and the game saves your high score in the form of how high a XP level you got.  I kind of wish this one was a mobile game instead, as it really fits that style of gameplay.  Just a fun little timewaster.


It’s a cooking game except you are mixing potions instead of food.  Each day you get orders and ingredients in your email, and you must use them to fill the orders.  To make potions, you use the crank to stir them in the pot, or crush them into powder with a mortar and pestle.  Since all the things you cook are imaginary and not real food, it’s kind of hard to know if you’re doing it right.  But I guess it makes things more imaginative.  I think it would be cool if there were an actual Cooking Mama game on the PlayDate.


You know those games where you’re a snake and you have to eat dots and when you do you grow longer, and you have to keep from biting your tail?  Yeah this is one of those kinds of games.  This snake game is mostly known for being one of the first games on cell phones, but it’s actually been around way longer than that.  They added a couple of things to this version, though.  The things you eat can attach to your body, and if they reach your head it’s Game Over.  You can also push a button that makes your head bigger, I suppose this is the snake actually opening its mouth.  You have to do this to eat the things otherwise they’ll attach to your body anyway.  If there are any new additions to this game, I don’t know what they are.  Usually these simple kinds of games don’t need instructions, but when they add stuff to an already existing formula, I think they kind of do.


One of my guilty pleasures is I like watching ghost shows where an investigating team tries to find physical proof of ghosts.  Yeah I know those shows are dumb, but I don’t care.  They’re fun.  I don’t really get into the shows that do the same thing with Bigfoot, though.  But this game is all about that.  You control a bigfoot investigating team around a grid, and you must take pictures of them.  It’s like a non-violent Advance Wars.  In fact, they even reference that game in the tutorial.  Yes this game has a tutorial, thank goodness.  In each level, your team gets a turn and the bigfoot gets a turn.  You can move around, move the van around so you can resupply, find campsites so you can resupply without the van, etc.  Each member of the team has different skills.  There’s a host, which you get bonus points if you take a picture of him.  There’s also a photographer who can take pictures of things, and a wrangler who can lure bigfoot, calm it down, etc.  Your goal in each level is to take pictures so you can earn money and get lots of ‘likes.’  I’m torn on this one because I like the premise, but I’m not big into strategy games like this.  I think I’d be more willing to play this game on a regular console with a bigger screen.

Battleship Godios

This one’s a 2-D side scrolling shooter.  It looks typical at first, but one unique thing is that you only get one bullet that bounces around the screen, and in order to shoot it again you must catch it with your ship.  Which is hard to do since the screen is so tiny.  If you get hit, you can use the crank to rewind time, but you can still only do this three times and then your lives run out.  Not too terribly fun.

Forrest Byrnes: Up in Smoke

Another typical 2-D game, this time a side scrolling platformer.  You play as a park ranger armed with a shovel (hmm that sounds familiar) that you can use to swipe at obstacles and dig holes in the ground.  You are constantly being chased by a forest fire but the dumb thing is that it chases you during the tutorial level so you don’t have time to read the signs telling you how to play.  You can turn the crank to do gimmicky things like pull up a bucket in a well.  Play control wasn’t very good because you’re supposed to be able to double jump but it only worked about 10 percent of the time.  It’s a shame because this could’ve been a decent game had it played well.


Have you ever played the old arcade game Gyruss?  It’s really fun, and the best way to describe it is that it’s a cross between Galaga and Tempest.  Interesting fact: the creator of Gyruss would later move to Capcom from Konami and helped make a little known game you might’ve heard of called Street Fighter.  Anyway, the best way to describe b360 is that it’s a cross between Gyruss and Arkanoid.  You use the crank to move a paddle in a circle, and bounce a ball to hit blocks in the middle of the screen.  There are four walls that the ball can hit and they’ll disappear when you do that once, and when the ball goes outside the walls, you lose a life.  The hard part about this game is that since you’re moving in a circle, it can be hard to judge the trajectory of the ball.  Plus it doesn’t help that I’m not very good at Breakout style games anyway.  I like them, I’m just not good at them!


This one’s a top down overhead adventure game, very similar to Zelda.  It really reminds me of Link’s Awakening, my favorite Zelda game, so that’s a plus.  It has a more modern setting, too.  They don’t give you a lot to go on, but I think you are in an underground fallout shelter and everyone is in frozen sleep.  But every so often, you get woken up to maintain the machines, so that’s what you are doing.  You find a lantern to light dark passages, but to charge it up you must use the crank.  Then you find your ‘sword’ which is actually a wrench.  You can use it to slash at enemies, or use the crank to swing it around which also turns certain machines.  There’s even dungeons to explore, like a power plant.  Once neat thing is they tried to make the text as big as they could most of the time, so I appreciated that.  If only the screen were backlit or bigger, I’d be more inclined to play it longer.

Final Thoughts on the PlayDate

And those are all the games in Season One for the PlayDate!  Overall, I do like the creativeness and playfulness of the handheld with the crank and all.  And it’s cool how you get the games in that you don’t have to buy any of them!  But I do have some problems with it.  Like the small screen that isn’t backlit makes it hard to see some of the games.   And only about half the games on here were interesting to me.  I pre-ordered the PlayDate during the beginning of the COVID scare when we were all stuck at home and I was sad about that.  But I think if I had to buy it now, I’d pass on it simply because money is tighter now.  And that’s really all I have to say about the PlayDate.  If they ever do a Season Two, you know I’ll write about the games here!  Later!  --Cary




11/16/2022 at 02:37 PM

Inventory Hero and Ratcheteer look good to me. 

Cary Woodham

11/17/2022 at 08:28 AM

Those are two of the better games in this batch.


11/23/2022 at 03:17 PM

Racheteer sounds really cool. I like how they used an unusual setting for a Zelda-like game. And Sasquatchers being a non-violent Advance Wars. That's neat. I bet I could get into StarSled too. Definitely sounds like there are some stinkers but overall not a bad bunch of games.

Cary Woodham

11/24/2022 at 08:11 AM

Yeah the three games you mentioned are definitely some of the better titles in this batch.  I took a survey from PlayDate recently and they asked how much I'd be willing to pay for a season 2.  If they ever did one, I hope it doesn't cost too much!

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