The release of the Evercade VS is a promising time to dig into Blaze Entertainment’s increasingly large library of retro compilation cartridges. But with dozens of cartridges that each contain a whole pack of games, it can be sort of intimidating to start! There’ve been a lot of new games since launch. We’re here to help with some handy recommendations!
The Best New-Retro Evercade and Evercade VS Games
To us, the most special part of the Evercade game library is its selection of newly developed games. While many of them have seen limited physical releases on the original hardware, for most? This is the first chance to play them. (And a much more affordable proposition than individual reproduction-style carts, for sure!)
Two recent releases top the list: Mega Cat Studios Collection 2 and Indie Heroes Collection 1. The second Mega Cat Studios cart leans heavily into puzzle games, platformers, and, well, puzzle-platformers! These games lean into the Evercade’s strengths and away from its weaknesses. They’re good for carrying around on a handheld or talking through with others on your TV, leaving room for other life activities. And while Evercade’s input lag is reasonably minimal, avoiding the need for frame-accurate timing always helps.
Indie Heroes appears to be Blaze’s attempt to expand access to even smaller teams. It’s a truly packed cart, with 14 games from a host of developers. These are all over the place! In platform, in genre and honestly also in level of quality. But it’s a delight to sift through these, and to see them in such a legitimate commercial release.
For more: See XenoCrisis & Tanglewood for a two-pack of particularly high-quality modern retrogames, and the first Mega Cat Studios Collection for a more action-focused offering from the publisher.
The Best Japanese Evercade and Evercade VS Games
This is Siliconera, after all, and we know most of you are here for our Japanese game industry expertise. While Evercade most certainly embraces its roots with a veritable smorgasbord of British developers, there are still some appearances from Japan-based studios.
Technos Arcade 1 is the latest of these. The developer was known for its beat-’em-ups, and that’s definitely reflected here. The two included Double Dragon games and Combatribes are classic entries in the genre, and translate well here. Still, there’s variety too! Like the top-down puzzling of Block Out.
We also have a lot of love for Data East Collection 1. This console game bundle is headlined by Magical Drop II, a strong and memorable entry in a top-ten puzzler franchise. We also had a lot more fun than we expected while revisiting Side Pocket.
For more: Data East Arcade 1 has some more entertaining beat-’em-ups and the arcade version of the first Magical Drop (dubbed Chain Reaction in the West). There’s also Jaleco Collection 1 and Technos Collection 1 for home releases, and we’d recommend the latter if those games hadn’t been released almost everywhere in recent years. (For the sake of thoroughness, we’ll also mention the two Namco Museum collections, but two caveats apply. One, they’re not licensed for home use and only play on the handheld. Two, they’re the Famicom versions of these games, and generally not the versions you want to play.)
The Best Single-Player Evercade and Evercade VS Games
Retro libraries are regularly full of games that are fun for short bursts or with friends. So it’s a bit harder to find some games to settle in and play a while solo in the Evercade library!
Our first choice for that, then, is Piko Interactive Collection 1. There’s some truly weird stuff on this cart, but its RPGs have some engaging elements. Brave Battle Saga and Canon — Legends of the New Gods are the sort of games you can play now and feel like you’re back in 1994, trying a new game knowing nothing about it but the box art. And the rest of the release is full of games that take a lot of sitting with them and exploring to make more sense.
Another solid bet is Codemasters Collection 1, with its offering of Sensible Software releases. Cannon Fodder and Mega Lo Mania are very tactical games, and they’re still different enough from modern strategy games to be worth a try today.
For more: We can definitely recommend Mega Cat Studios Collection 2 again, with its compelling puzzle titles. Atari Lynx Collection 2 might be worth it just for Chip’s Challenge.
The Best Multiplayer Evercade VS Games
There are four controller ports on the Evercade VS, and if you want to use ‘em? You’ll need to scrounge up a few more pads (it’s reasonably compatible with a lot) and scour the library for the right games. There are a lot of two-player games! And the included controllers will cover those. But let’s look past that to three- and four-player action.
Codemasters was well-known for pioneering four-player games early, both in building hardware augmentation and publishing software to accompany it. Codemasters Collection 1 contains three of these games, including Super Skidmarks and Psycho Pinball. It does seem like a lot of Codemasters’ most iconic fare (hi, Micro Machines!) might be tougher to license, but there are loopholes, like including a pre-licensing version of Pete Sampras Tennis.
And hey, even if you don’t have extra controllers, you can check out Worms Collection 1. Early console Worms games did have a bit of friction in the controls to overcome, and that’s the case in both the original and Armageddon in this collection. But it’s still Worms, and that means it’s still a lot of fun.
For more: There are a few other options scattered through the library. As for highlights, Atari Arcade 1 offers four-player Warlords! And Technos Arcade 1 has three-player options for Combatribes and Double Dragon 3.
Evercade VS, from Blaze Entertainment, is available for pre-order now for $99.99 / £89.99 / €99.99. The Premium Pack, with an extra controller and cartridge included, is available for an additional $30 / £20 / €30. Cartridges are $19.99 / £14.99 / €17.99 each. Units will begin shipping in mid-December in Europe and January 2022 in North America. The original Evercade handheld is out now for $59.99 / £79.99 / €69.99.