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One Year On, The Evercade Is The Best Way To Replay Retro Favourites

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One Year On, The Evercade Is The Best Way To Replay Retro Favourites

Blaze's handheld console, the Evercade, released almost exactly one year ago. In that time the system has received 16 multi-game cartridges, and its makers are promising that over 280 games, from 8- and 16-bit classics and curios through to new arcade-version compilations, will be available on the platform by the end of 2021 (via no fewer than 10 as-yet-unreleased carts). And there's more besides: a home console, the VS, will release in November to complement the roll-out of Evercade's arcade carts, offering a punchier processor and bringing multiplayer action to the fold. You can read about the VS, here.

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When I reviewed the Evercade ahead of its release, in April 2020, I wrote that this console was "warmly recommended" to anyone with memories of playing on Atari, SEGA or Nintendo systems in the 1980s and '90s, and to anyone who was simply interested in investigating gaming's heritage via a fully licensed, incredibly convenient means. But in hindsight, and in light of just how little it's left my side (which is to say: my desk) in the months since, I definitely undersold this little beauty.

Check out the trailer for the recently revealed Evercade VS, releasing in November, below

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Affordable, accessible, and ever so easy to use, the Evercade puts most emulation devices to shame in terms of the user experience - and, of course, the people who own the games in question actually get something back when you buy a cartridge, and support this particular ecosystem. If you're after tech specs and all that, please do click to the review - but the long story short is that it comfortably runs anything from the 16-bit era or before it, and can even stretch to a 32-bit game or two (and has, on recent carts). You can plug it into the TV, but you shouldn't - it's a super-comfy handheld with a decent screen, so play with it the way it was designed.

For the last year, I have delighted in dipping into games I know really well and those I'd never played before they landed on Evercade. For every Pac-Man, Double Dragon, Earthworm Jim and Burger Time, there's a Splatterhouse 3, Tänzer, Water Margin and, ahem, Ninja Golf. And with no cartridge so far costing over £15, and the console itself having an RRP of around £60, this isn't bank-busting stuff, either. In an age when one game can cost £70, to be able to pre-order Evercade's forthcoming Codemasters Collection 1 - with Cannon Fodder, Sensible Soccer, Super Skidmarks and several more - and its Bitmap Brothers Collection 1 - with Speedball 2, The Chaos Engine and Xenon 2: Mega Blast - and get change back from £30 feels like daylight robbery.

The Evercade running 'California Games' from the Lynx Collection 2 / Credit: the author
The Evercade running 'California Games' from the Lynx Collection 2 / Credit: the author
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Except, unlike certain other ways to play old-school games, this isn't robbery. There's no need to add your own shadily acquired ROMs here, and fiddle with the settings to make sure you're not playing on a blank screen. Everything in the Evercade library is legit - and that brings with it a satisfying sense that you're giving something back, however small that something is. And yes, there are other ways to play old games. Antstream Arcade's free-to-play streaming service is also fantastic, but demands a stable internet connection (should they ever allow downloads, though, for premium subscribers, that'll be a game-changer). Piepacker is launching soon after raising over $220,000 on Kickstarter, and promises to make your old SEGA Mega Drive and Super Nintendo multiplayer games online compatible - which is exciting, but still largely untested and, again, dependent on your internet not being patchy. Contrastingly, Evercade's offline play-anywhere, any-time model is, for me, exactly what I need.

And once the VS is available to pre-order, at the end of May, I will be putting my money down straight away. With bundles starting at £89.99/$99.99, it offers the same kind of exceptional value as the handheld - only, with local multiplayer at the heart of its play model. The controllers look great, occupying a throwback-styled middle-ground between the NES and PC Engine pads; and the console's flip-fronted design evokes a retro-futuristic NES. It also has dual-cart compatibility, encouraging less-frequent swapping, which is something that Tiger's Game.com handheld tried in the 1990s, but it'll no doubt be more successful in the VS.

The Evercade running the Jaleco Collection 1 / Credit: the author
The Evercade running the Jaleco Collection 1 / Credit: the author
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I've already written a piece very much like this one before, at the end of 2020, where I said my favourite new console of the year was neither a PlayStation 5 nor an Xbox Series X, but the Evercade. The responses to that were predictable enough: comments along the lines of me only saying that because I can't get a next-gen console (I mean, I can't), or I can't afford one (I can), or that I'm just stating such an opinion for clicks (I mean, every single piece that's published on these pages is done "for clicks" - we want you to read it). Basically, my positive sentiments and enthusiasm about a piece of tech that exists to reconnect gamers with titles they've not played in years, alongside a host they never played at all, were spun into negativity, distrust, and some flashes of outright hate.

But I really want you, if you've clicked to this page and read this far, to go away differently. I love video games, but I'm not one of these people who swears blindly that the '90s was gaming's golden era, or the arcade scene of the '80s was everything. What we have now is the best it's ever been - but that includes dedicated retro systems like the Evercade, the VS, and the incoming new consoles from Intellivision and Atari (I mean, they might suck, but I also love that they exist). I have no agenda against Xbox or PlayStation - heck, the Evercade can play 3D, polygon-based games that originally came out on the PS1. This isn't one thing, or the other - it's a part of everything we have to play with, right now. And being able to pick up my Evercade and explore, to educate myself a little, while also having a blast with favourites from my childhood, has been a true highlight of my last year of gaming.

This isn't an ad though, and it's not been paid for, so, um, yeah the font on the buttons is a bit shit, and some of the button mapping is annoying. So think on that, Evercade.

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Evercade cartridges / Credit: the author
Evercade cartridges / Credit: the author

If you're a newcomer to Evercade, or you're simply looking to expand your collection, here's a quick guide to the 16 cartridges released so far, and a rating based on GAMINGbible's own reviews scoring system.

Atari Collection 1
Number of games: 20
Highlights: Adventure, Ninja Golf, Crystal Castles, Alien Brigade
Score: 6/10, Good

Namco Museum Collection 1
Number of games: 11
Highlights: Pac-Man, Galaxian, Mappy Kids, Dig Dug
Score: 7/10, Very Good

Data East Collection 1
Number of games: 10
Highlights: Burger Time, Midnight Resistance, Magical Drop 2, Side Pocket
Score: 7/10, Very Good

Interplay Collection 1
Number of games: 6
Highlights: Earthworm Jim, Battle Chess, Boogerman, Incantation
Score: 6/10, Good

Atari Collection 2
Number of games: 20
Highlights: Basket Brawl, Asteroids, Desert Falcon, Planet Smashers
Score: 5/10, Average

Namco Museum Collection 2
Number of games: 11
Highlights: Burning Force, Splatterhouse 2, Splatterhouse 3, Weaponlord
Score: 6/10, Good

Interplay Collection 2
Number of games: 6
Highlights: The Brainies, The Adventures of Rad Gravity, Earthworm Jim 2
Score: 6/10, Good

Mega Cat Studios Collection 1
Number of games: 10
Highlights: Tänzer, Log Jammers, Little Medusa, Creepy Brawlers
Score: 6/10, Good

Piko Interactive Collection 1
Number of games: 20
Highlights: Water Margin, Brave Battle Saga, Top Racer, The Immortal
Score: 8/10, Excellent

Technos Collection 1
Number of games: 8
Highlights: River City Ransom, Double Dragon, Super Dodgeball, Crash N The Boys Street Challenge
Score: 8/10, Excellent

Xeno Crisis / Tanglewood
Number of games: 2
Highlights: Xeno Crisis (covered in-depth, here), Tanglewood
Score: 8/10, Excellent

The Oliver Twins Collection
Number of games: 11
Highlights: Super Robin Hood, Treasure Island Dizzy, The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy, Wonderland Dizzy
Score: 8/10, Excellent

Atari Lynx Collection 1
Number of games: 17
Highlights: Scrapyard Dog, Dracula the Undead, Crystal Mines II
Score: 6/10, Good

Atari Lynx Collection 2
Number of games: 8
Highlights: California Games, Blue Lightning, Chip's Challenge, Zarlor Mercenary
Score: 8/10, Excellent

Jaleco Collection 1
Number of games: 10
Highlights: Super Goal! 2, Brawl Brothers, Bases Loaded, Operation Logic Bomb
Score: 8/10, Excellent

Piko Interactive Collection 2
Number of games: 13
Highlights: Soccer Kid, World Trophy Soccer, Hoops Shut Up and Jam
Score: 5/10, Average

Featured Image Credit: Blaze Entertainment

Topics: Sega, Atari, guide, Nintendo, Opinion, Retro Gaming, Evercade

Mike Diver
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