We've just taken receipt of four shiny new cartridges here at Time Extension and thought it only right that we give you a little taster of what's on each of them.
Sunsoft Collection 1
Japanese company Sunsoft was one of the major players in the 8 and 16-bit eras, pumping out a combination of original IP and high-profile licenced games (the firm's Batman titles are some of the best in the business). It faded from view during the 32-bit era but has been recently revived via some canny re-releases of its classic properties.
This Evercade cart showcases six classic Sunsoft games, the most famous of which is arguably Blaster Master, the NES action title which spawned a franchise of its own (indeed, the Game Boy iteration, Blaster Master Boy, is also included on this cart – although it's actually a Bomberman clone and plays quite differently from the NES original).
Blaster Master is practically worth the price of admission alone, but the inclusion of Aero the Acro-Bat (Sunsoft's attempt to create its own Mario and Sonic-style mascot) sweetens the deal considerably, while the amazing Journey To Silius is an additional highlight (fun fact: the game was intended to be based on the original 1984 Terminator movie, but the licence fell through at the last minute).
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Piko Arcade 1
Piko is a company that hoovers up dormant IP and republishes it on a wide range of formats, so it's somewhat disingenuous to claim the nine titles included on this cart are 'Piko games' – but we're willing to overlook this, thanks mainly to the wonderfully eclectic selection on offer here.
Six of the games were created by Korean company Unico, which was moderately successful in the world of coin-ops back in the '90s. The most recognisable game is Dragon Master, a Street Fighter II clone from 1994. It's certainly not in the same league as Capcom's title, but it's still fun – as is its direct sequel, Master's Fury, which is also included on the cartridge.
Unico's other offerings are a little less essential; 1996's Fancy World: Earth of Crisis is a single-screen action title very much like Bubble Bobble and Snow Bros. Magic Purple, released in the same year, is thematically similar, placing you in the role of a Dynamite Dux-style animal protagonist. Meanwhile, Legend of Silkroad is a likeable scrolling brawler which has dated quite badly thanks to its use of pre-rendered 2D sprites – something that also impacts fellow Unico title, Burglar X.
Joining Unico's titles are the surprisingly good Ultimate Tennis (1994), Alien Breed-like top-down shooter Steel Force (1994) and the largely redundant Diver Boy (1992). It's an odd mixture of games, then, but that's what makes this collection so fascinating; these are titles that don't have the widespread fame of many other '90s coin-ops but are of a sufficient level of quality to warrant further investigation.
Sydney Hunter Collection
The games included on this cartridge – Sydney Hunter and the Shrines of Peril, Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe, Sydney Hunter and the Caverns of Death and Jester – are 'new' retro titles which span a wide range of platforms (Shrines of Peril, for example, was originally released on the Intellivision console in 2014).
They're decent enough games, especially if you have a fondness for this period in gaming, but out of the four cartridges featured here, this is perhaps the one that will be the hardest sell for most Evercade owners.
Delphine Collection 1
The legendary French studio Delphine needs no introduction, and even though this cartridge only offers a modest quartet of games, it's arguably one which is going to be of particular interest to seasoned retro gamers.
Based on the original Amiga versions (with the exception of Flashback, which is the Mega Drive version - apparently the best one, according to creator Paul Cuisset), Delphine Collection 1 includes Another World (also known as Out of this World), Flashback, Future Wars and Operation Stealth.
Another World and Flashback are cinematic action platformers considered to be some of the finest games of the 16-bit era; Flashback, in particular, is a solid-gold classic and would be justification enough to buy this collection.
Future Wars and Operation Stealth are point-and-click adventure games, and therefore feel a little awkward to play using the Evercade D-pad – but it's by no means a deal-breaker (another piece of fun trivia: Operation Stealth was sold with the James Bond licence in North America).