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This Homage to 1-Bit Video Games Swaps the Joystick for a Crank

The Playdate charms with simplicity.

relates to This Homage to 1-Bit Video Games Swaps the Joystick for a Crank

Photographer: Victor Prado for Bloomberg Businessweek

Of all the game systems out there, none is quite like the Playdate ($179), a bright-yellow machine slightly bigger than a deck of cards. Developed by app maker Panic Inc., in Portland, Ore., the minimalist device has a directional pad, a few buttons, and—in a game industry first—a crank. It’s used in Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure and other titles to make the main robot character walk faster. The graphics are deliberately lo-fi, as on an old Nintendo Game Boy—evidence that they’re made by only a couple of people, as opposed to the hundreds, even thousands, who create immersive worlds for the Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation.

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