Evercade, the new retro-focused handheld from UK-based Blaze Entertainment, is starting to ship in late May with a launch game lineup that sports more than 120 games in its ten multi-title cartridges. So what’s there to play? We’ve tried them all and we’re here to help.
I want to play the classics I remember.
The biggest weakness in a library like the one the Evercade sports is simple and obvious: it doesn’t have the first-party heavy hitters from companies like Nintendo and Sega. Even still, there are many games you’ll know. Our pick for peak nostalgia is Technos Collection 1, which sports games like Super Dodge Ball and River City Ransom. The NES versions of these games are by far the most popular, and especially for fans of Japanese games, Technos releases are both distinctly Japanese and deep in a way that makes them worth revisiting through longer portable sessions.
The Evercade’s initial focus on home ports means that collections like Namco’s and Atari’s feature the NES and 2600 conversions. These are certainly playable, but they’re not necessarily what you’re likely to want if you’re trying to scratch your Pac-Man or Asteroids itch. The strongest nostalgia pulls in these compilations comes from the home originals. The pack-in Atari Collection 1 lets you play Adventure in its original form and the second cart adds Yars’ Revenge. You may find decent consolations in these two releases’ Atari 7800 versions of many games, which come closer to replicating the arcade feel and features.
I want to play games that remind me of classics.
If you’re looking for games that feel like the ones you used to play, the Evercade launch lineup is happy to oblige. This is essentially the forte of modern retrogame publisher Mega Cat Studios, which has a collection in the system’s releases. Whether it’s the you’re-definitely-not-jamming-something-else Log Jammers, Lolo homage Little Medusa or brawler love letter Coffee Crisis, this collection will offer new games that take advantage of old hardware’s strengths. The value of Evercade’s $20 cartridges shines best when compared with the cost of playing these through individual original console reproductions. Plus: games made now unsurprisingly hold up really well.
In terms of older releases, the Data East collection seems curated to bolster genre weaknesses in the Evercade launch lineup. Without a blockbuster fighting games from Capcom, Midway and SNK, Fighter’s History starts to look a lot more appealing. Without big-name puzzlers like Tetris or Puyo Puyo, seeing the recently-localized Magical Drop II on the platform is more than welcome.
I want to play some weird stuff.
Piko Interactive is here for you, fellow pursuer of peculiarities. The publisher’s expertise is salvaging and resurrecting niche releases, and the company’s Evercade cart is full of them. Of special interest to Siliconera readers is its selection of RPGs. From localized Taiwanese games like the tactical Canon and more traditional Brave Battle Saga to Kemco’s Drakkhen, this collection has a lot of games that can test the system’s battery life more than its many quick-play options. Piko’s lineup tends to be rough around the edges, but rough can be charming in the right context.
For more weird stuff in the Evercade launch lineup, well, Interplay loved weird back then and it still shows. The two collections offer all the Clay Fighter you could possibly want (and probably more than that), as well as some obscure releases from French publisher Titus that have odd sensibilities.
Which version should I get?
If you’re looking to dip your toes in for as little cash as possible, you may look at the $80 starter pack option. It’s probably not reasonable to think that’ll be enough, though, as the lone pack-in, Atari Collection 1, is far from the standout release for the platform. It’s an option, though, if you have zero interest in the two extras included in the $20-extra premium pack: Interplay Collection 1 and Data East Collection 1. That way you could essentially swap them for one cart like the Piko or Mega Cat collections for the same price.
Blaze is also making it easy to buy into the whole 10-cart slate of the Evercade launch lineup through special bundles, but if you’re that committed, you probably didn’t need our help!
Evercade launch systems begin shipping May 22, 2020. Stay tuned to Siliconera for a closer look at the hardware and an interview with Evercade’s director.