A downloadable game

PSA: an expanded version of ICARUS will be released on Playdate Catalog some time in early-2024. Please look forward to it!

ICARUS is an arcade-style high score chaser where you gain points by flying close to the edge of the screen.

This might sound easy enough but you have limited energy and you'll use it up by turning or crashing. Every move you make counts! 

To improve your best score you can observe the rules and physics of the world and use them to your advantage. There is a lot of depth in this #smallgame!

The game can be played on a Playdate handheld, or in the Playdate SDK Simulator.


  • Fly near the screen edge
  • Closer scores more
  • Turning uses energy
  • Energy is limited


  • Buttons-only
  • Buttons & Crank

Note: Crank-only control is not advised!


  • Sound: music+sfx*, only sfx, only music
  • Speed: low, medium*, high
    • these correspond to 30, 40, 50fps

Note: defaults are shown with an asterisk*

Known Bugs

  • in the game jam version it's easier to turn left than it is right—oops! 
    (you can download and play a fixed version as of 2023-11-01)
  • fixed version still has broken crank controls—double oops!
    (this issue will not be fixed any time soon, sorry)


The game is fairly old-school in its difficulty, but it rewards continued play. You'll get better with practice and as you come to understand the game systems. 

There is a menu item to select game speed. Choice of game speed does not affect scoring, so you can play at whatever speed you're comfortable. Have fun!

If there is something about the gameplay that you're finding difficult, rest assured that there are one or more ways to leverage the game systems to counteract it. I've worked hard to balance risk and reward.

  • Going too fast? There are multiple ways to slow down, and one of them is crashing into the edge!
  • Turning too tightly? You turn less tightly at higher speeds and there are multiple ways to speed up.
  • Running out of energy too quickly? There are multiple ways to replenish it.
  • Out of control? Let go of the controls and let the ship correct itself.
  • etc.


  • Get close
  • Not too close
  • Go in and out
  • Speed up
  • Slow down
  • Avoid crashing
  • Regain energy
  • Seek balance


  • Graphics are drawn using only shapes and fills
  • Sound effects are a mix of synthesised and digital
  • Music is digital
  • Fonts are bitmaps


A game by Matt Sephton.

With music by watson.

Game Jam

This is my entry into the #yellowsquarejam for Playdate, October 2023.
I was a very late entry and created this game between 26th and 29th.


If you like ICARUS you'll really love my game YOYOZO which is OUT NOW on Playdate Catalog: https://play.date/games/yoyozo/


game jam entry (202310292226) 573 kB
post game jam fix (202311011603) 574 kB

Install instructions

The game is built using Playdate SDK 2.0.1 so does not require the latest firmware.

This game only runs on the Playdate console or the Simulator as part of the free Playdate SDK. Please see this page by Panic on how to side-load the file to your device.

Development log


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I feel there needs to be more of an explanation in the game about what the controls are. I tried to play and really didn’t understand how I was even controlling the character.

(2 edits)

I agree. I think the angular momentum (where the ship doesn’t stop turning after you let go) is too confusing. I will address this in any forthcoming Final Edition.

But they key is to only make occasional moves, and if you let go straight. Of course, there should have been a visual indicator of that in the game. Such is the life of an unfinished gamejam game!

(1 edit)

An update has been posted which solves a problem with the steering! This explains why people were having a hard time with it.

Almost should have named this "Uzumaki" for how much I spiraled out of control :). Towards the end of my initial playthrough, I was starting to get the hang of it without hitting the walls (too often lol).  

An update has been posted which solves a problem with th steering! This explains why people were having a hard time with it.