Best Paid Playdate Games root bear team root
Image via Team Root

Siliconera’s Playdate Games That May Be Worth Your Time

Now that the Playdate has been around for a while, there are a ton of paid games in its official storefront and via itch.io to help build up a library of quick titles to play when you have some time. To help you sort through them and find something that suits you, here are some we’d recommend to get started with the system. Now, keep in mind there are tons of great titles, and we’re just highlighting some of the best ones to keep in mind when you go shopping.

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Best overall Playdate Game: Mars After Midnight

Mars After Midnight is a whimsical take on Papers, Please, as you’re trying to help aliens with support groups. This means targeting the right areas, having the right refreshments, and letting the correct characters into the meeting. There’s a good balance between simulation and silliness, it looks fantastic, and it’s just a well-designed marvel that shows the system off perfectly.

Mars After Midnight is $6 on the handheld. 

Best game played in short sessions: Root Bear

Root Bear is about pouring root beer for bears via turning the Playdate crank. You get a minute to fill as many glasses as perfectly as possible, with the customers tipping you for performance. Those tips determine your scores. Since you have to account for different glass shapes, foam, and fill requirements, it always feels fresh and fun to play for a few minutes.

Root Bear is $3 on the handheld.

Best action game on the Playdate: Pullfrog Playdate Deluxe 

Pullfrog Playdate Deluxe is a combination action and puzzle game. You’re trying to clear lines of blocks, a la Tetris. However, the way you move said blocks is by directing a little frog around and pulling them with their tongue. You also can hit fallen blocks to chip away at them to make them fit or fall. Plus, there’s a roguelike element as you get additional power-ups or enhancements as you clear lines. It’s great!

Pullfrog Playdate Deluxe is $8 on the handheld.

Best infuriating, but fun, game on the system: A Balanced Brew 

A Balanced Brew makes me want to scream sometimes, and that’s why I love it. You use the crank to help a person get a cup of coffee. Said person insists on using a unicycle on the most perilous and winding road ever. This means you need to balance, speed up, slow down, and handle situations where you ride a unicycle on a unicycle to get your latest cup. It’s tricky, but so satisfying when you get it right.

A Balanced Brew is $8 on the handheld.

Best game to play every day on the Playdate: Bloom

If you enjoy casual games with daily life simulation elements, Bloom is probably the closest you will get on the Playdate. Run a flower shop, grow flowers, and exchange text messages with folks as you go through a casual life that encourages you to stop by each day as you progress.

Bloom is $10 on the handheld.

Best Simulation game on the handheld: Glagstone

Ready to manage an entire island? One that doesn’t seem quite right? Glagstone tasks you with keeping up with a community and taking on quests as you attempt to manage resources and build up the island while also perhaps finding out what happened to the last manager.

Glagstone is $6 on the handheld. 

Best shooter on the Playdate: Gun Trails 

I had no idea a shoot’em up would not only look so good, but also work so well on the Playdate, but Yoyogi Games proved it is possible with Gun Trails. It’s an amazing shmup with great graphics and modes for newcomers and veterans. There’s even an online leaderboard.

Gun Trails is $6 on the handheld.

Best puzzle game on the Playdate: Generations

Generations is a match-3 game where it is very easy to mess up if you don’t pay attention. You need to place portraits on the wall of a home and ensure ones of people from a similar age group are all next to each other. Doing so starts a chain in which they all come together and transform into one portrait of the next “generation.” You keep doing this as much as possible until you start to clear the board. It’s incredibly strategic, but also easy to play for 5, 10, 15, or even 20 minutes.

Generations is $6 on the handheld. 

Best RPG on the Playdate: Under the Castle

I didn’t expect an action-RPG sort of experience on the Playdate, but there are quite a few and Under the Castle is one of the best at making the most of the system. It’s your goal to face the Evil Lord, heading through dungeons and gathering things you need to make saving the day seem possible.

Under the Castle is $10 on the handheld.

Deceptively Difficult: Jolly Chimp Champ

Jolly Chimp Champ is one of the most recent Playdate games, and I’d say it is one of the best at looking simple, but then being much harder than you’d expect. You use the crank to control conveyor belts and get a monkey toy from one point to another. However, there are also hazards like guns, bombs, and gaping holes, and precise timing and thoughtful cranking is the only way to get around each challenge.

Jolly Chimp Champ is $6 on the handheld.

Most Pokemon Like: Shining Gadget and Shadow Gadget

There’s no true Pokemon type of game on the Playdate, but the next best thing is a creature-collector of sorts. Shining Gadget and Shadow Gadget, both collecting ghosts with the crank. There’s no RPG element, but there’s still that drive to fill your collection or maybe even use Spirit Swap to share with other Playdate players.

Each of these gamesis $13 on the handheld.


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Author
Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.