A little over a year ago, we took a look at the games available on the Evercade platform at the time of the launch of the Evercade VS home system. Since then, there’s been a big focus on arcade releases in the Evercade lineup, as almost a dozen cartridges have joined the library. We’ve been checking out the most recent collections, and we’re ready to guide you to the best Evercade VS and Evercade EXP games to start in 2023!
The Best New-Retro Evercade VS and Evercade EXP Games
One great supporter of the Evercade has been the new-retro community. And with good reason! More players and a physical cartridge release have undeniable appeal. Picking the best example of this is a tough choice with so many options. Still, we think the Alwa’s Awakening / Cathedral dual pack is the best place to start. The two are a good pairing for a number of reasons, starting with both appealing to the same sort of player. They’re about exploring and collecting and generally spending time in an action platforming world.
How they get there is different, though. Cathedral, which has seen release on modern platforms as well, is the Evercade’s first and so far only native port. The emulation on the Evercade devices is fine, but seeing something run natively and fill the screen shows just how good things could be. We know the work is probably a real barrier. Nevertheless, more native ports of games with old aesthetics would be wonderful.
Alwa’s Awakening gets there the other way around. Rather than a native port, the version here is the one developer Elden Pixels crafted specifically for the NES. The original game certainly felt like it wanted to be like those games! Building specifically for that spec, though, gives it just a bit more authenticity.
For more: We talked about it in our previous version of this guide, but Mega Cat Studios Collection 2 continues to find its way back into the cartridge slot through its innovative ideas and pure gameplay variety! And stay tuned for our focused look on the first new collection of 2023, Indie Heroes Collection 2, soon.
The Best Japanese Evercade VS and Evercade EXP Games
This is one area in which Blaze Entertainment’s licensing team has really been putting in some work. And, of course, around here? We’re grateful for that. It’s been great to see the continued dedication to preserving and showcasing the platform’s local United Kingdom developers, but adding more Japanese studios broadens Evercade’s appeal.
They’re still doing things the Evercade way, though, with libraries full of games unlikely to get these collections elsewhere. It’s certainly hard not to miss some bigger releases, but those are far more likely to be on Nintendo Switch Online or dedicated microconsoles. A great recent example: Jaleco Arcade 1! You may have played a few of these, but 64th Street: A Detective Story has a hard time making compilations over something like Final Fight and Rod Land has to deal with competition like Bubble Bobble. Here, though, they feel special. And they also bring the distinctive Japanese feel that a retro platform needs.
For more: We took a deeper dive into Irem Arcade 1, Toaplan Arcade 1 and the EXP’s built-in Capcom titles in our review of the new handheld. The Technos and Data East arcade collections also have a lot to like. And, well, there are some interesting ones in our next pick…
The Best Single-Player Evercade VS and Evercade EXP Games
With both quality and variety in spades, Renovation Collection 1 is arguably the best cartridge available for the Evercade platform. The publisher is known for picking up and releasing many of the deeper cuts of the Sega Genesis library. These came both from its parent company, Telenet Japan, and other developers. With a few small exceptions, this collection is dedicated to solo play, with a host of shoot-’em-up and RPG titles to keep you playing for quite a while.
Included in Renovation Collection 1 are some choice titles from revered studio Wolf Team. Like RPG Arcus Odyssey! And action-platformer El Viento! Oh, and Dino Land, a quirky pinball game that’s a lot more fun than you’d think? There’s a reason people love the Wolf Team library so intensely, and though we love the Tales franchise around here, it’s nice to see the genre variety of the studio’s early days.
For more: The library is expanding and covering up a lot more of its genre weaknesses, but Codemasters Collection 1 and Piko Interactive Collection 1 still offer a good variety. There are also some fun inclusions in the new Gremlin Collection 1, even including a soccer management game.
The Best Multiplayer Evercade VS Games
There are tons of great two-player options for Evercade VS play, bolstered by the growing Arcade cartridge line. Somewhat more elusive is a good four-player centerpiece for party play. Enter Morphcat Games Collection 1, with its two Micro Mages campaigns.
While Micro Mages’ aesthetic may initially remind players of TowerFall, its dedicated co-op approach lends it a different feel. Those titular “micro” mages aren’t just personality; making them so small lets worlds be much larger than you’re used to seeing from an NES game, and two whole campaigns mean you’ll be playing for a while.
For more: All the Arcade collections offer some fun titles! And you can’t go too wrong with a few rounds of Worms.
The Evercade EXP handheld retails for $149.99, with the IREM Arcade 1 cart and built-in Capcom titles. The Evercade VS home system is also still available. For more coverage on the Blaze Evercade ecosystem and its games, check out our archive.