Dreamcast On Evercade? "Never Say Never" 1
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

Blaze's Evercade family of systems has played host to NES, Mega Drive, SNES, PlayStation, arcade and even Amiga games, but its upcoming Piko Interactive Collection 4 finally adds a format which people have been crying out for - Nintendo 64.

The pack will include the N64 title Glover, accurately emulated using some special techniques cooked up by Blaze and its software partners. Keen to know more – and what other consoles we could see come to the system in the future – we spoke exclusively to Blaze's Head of Marketing Sean Cleaver.

Time Extension: N64 on Evercade?!? This is witchcraft! How much work went into getting N64 onto the system?

Sean Cleaver: We had to invent some dark magic to make this work, for sure. Working with Maximilian Wedell and our own development team, we’ve had to make some optimisations to get the best performance we can and performance across all Evercade devices.

What was the biggest challenge with getting N64 emulation up and running on Evercade?

Technically, memory bandwidth and solving general memory restrictions that come from the more powerful system so optimisations have been made there. Where there are intense moments for the emulation, we’ve implemented specific hooks to keep the process running as you’d expect it to. There are lots of things going on under the hood to keep everything working at the speed and performance you remember.

Could you explain exactly how you've improved Glover in this particular iteration?

Byteswap Labs have rebuilt Glover from the original source code to specifically target the N64. They built the game's code using modern techniques to speed up the execution of the game and make the experience much better, which was also part of the puzzle, allowing it to run on Evercade hardware.

Since many of the original game's asset handling tools have been lost, Byteswap had to write some of these themselves to be able to make a few changes to the game, including updates to the intro screen to use the Piko, Byteswap Labs, and Blaze logos, and adding our own mascot, Cadey, as a cameo.

It’s given us the ability to maintain as much of the original game as possible but with the performance that you’d expect from a retro game released 26 years ago.

How tricky was it to factor in the N64's analogue control on a system which only has digital input?

A lot of effort was put into this particular title to rework the controls to suit a more modern style controller. So rest assured, this is fully playable with Evercade’s controls. The layout and inputs are much more intuitive now compared to the original controller, with cameras being a good example of that.

As a consequence of the input change, some sections of the game may feel a little harder with a digital input, or present a bit of a new learning curve. However, there are elements and sections of the game that have become much easier with digital input. The D-pad style on the Evercade also helps a lot as being disc-based, it allows you to roll your thumb on the D-pad giving an analogue feel.

That being said, we know there will be public feedback and demand for analogue control support on the Evercade VS as a result. The Evercade VS already supports a vast number of third-party controllers and we do test with some, such as the SN30 Pro.

So, we have started some initial work on supporting third-party analogue inputs for the Evercade VS. No promises at this stage, but we hope we can bring that support in the future.

What plans do you have for future N64 games on Evercade?

These optimisation tools were written with the future in mind and are able to facilitate even more releases with optimisation. So, in the future, it's possible more 64-bit games will come to Evercade.

This is a pretty exciting development - could we perhaps see other consoles added to the Evercade stable in the future, like the Dreamcast?

Never say never. The tools have been designed to be architecture abstract, so they aren’t tied to a specific system. They can be used to bring other similar systems as well. It’s all dependent on what games are available for us to license and that being at the right time for such a release.