A digital future for gaming is all but assured, as much as we fight against it tooth and nail. Just as movies and music have embraced digital distribution, gaming is slowly but surely following suit – which is what makes a product like Blaze's Evercade so interesting.
This new handheld system lacks any kind of online connectivity and instead uses physical cartridges as its software delivery method. Bandai Namco, Interplay, Data East, Technos and Atari have all signed up to support the machine with their games, which means there will be over 120 titles available when it launches on May 22nd – but is it worth a look when we already have the Nintendo Switch catering for our portable gaming needs? Let's find out, shall we?
Evercade Review: The Hardware
Fashioned from white plastic and around the same size as a Sony PSP, the Evercade is chunkier than you might expect. Despite sporting an engaging retro aesthetic that calls to mind the classic Famicom branding, it does look a little cheap when compared to the portables Nintendo has produced in the past. Still, it feels solid enough when you're actually using it and there are no creaking parts or joins in the casing.
The console's striking dimensions have much to do with the big 480x272 LCD screen and reassuringly large D-Pad. There are also four face buttons (which are made from transparent plastic and look pretty smart) as well as two clicky shoulder buttons and three function buttons (Menu, Start and Select). On the bottom edge, there are two volume keys, a 3.5mm headphone socket and Micro-USB charging port, while on the top you'll find the power switch, cartridge slot and Mini-HDMI port – the latter of which connects the system to your TV, Switch-style, for 720p gaming.
Because it's such a wide system, the Evercade is very comfortable to hold for prolonged periods; those lovely rounded corners help too, of course. The face buttons have a nice amount of travel and are very responsive, while the D-Pad is fantastic – it's clearly been modelled after the Sega Saturn's lush rolling pad, and is a joy to use. Blaze – the company behind the Evercade – has clearly invested a lot of time into making sure the controls are as good as they can be, and all that effort has paid off handsomely.
The console's screen might not be particularly impressive in terms of resolution, but it's large and reasonably bright. Viewing angles are solid for the most part, although the image does 'invert' the colours when you tilt it at an extreme angle. Flanking the display is a pair of speakers which are pretty loud at maximum volume. The whole shebang is powered by a 2000mAh battery which provides around 4 to 5 hours of gameplay on a single charge.
The system comes in two SKUs – a starter pack (£59.99 / $79.99) which comes with the Atari Collection 1 cartridge and a premium pack ($99.99) which comes with three cartridges – the Atari one as well as Namco Museum Collection 1 and Interplay Collection 1.
Evercade Review: The Software
There are no games pre-loaded onto the Evercade; instead, the system accepts old-school cartridges which are around the same size as a Neo Geo Pocket game. There will be 10 different collections available at launch, with each one containing between 6 and 20 games and costing a very reasonable £14.99 / $19.99 a pop. Two more carts – an Atari Lynx Collection and Xeno Crisis / Tanglewood bundle – are also on the way later this year, and another cartridge is due to be announced before the system launches in May.
Each cart comes in its own plastic snap case, complete with a lavish full-colour instruction manual packed with information on every title included in each collection – something even Nintendo Switch games lack these days. Collectors will love the fact that they can stack these uniform cases on their shelves, so the Evercade definitely services that desire for tangible, physical items that drives many dedicated collectors and retro gaming fans. And, in an age where the consumer only owns the right to play a game and not the game itself and digital titles are often 'delisted' without warning and lost forever, the fact that nobody can take your Evercade cartridges away from you will be instantly appealing.
Given that there are over 120 games available across all 10 launch carts, that's a pretty impressive lineup of games for anyone contemplating buying an Evercade. Emulation across the board is decent, but what's even more impressive is the sheer volume of quality featured on many of these cartridges; Earthworm Jim 1 and 2, Splatterhouse 2 and 3, Midnight Resistance, The Immortal, Ninja Golf, Dig Dug, Xevious, Pac-Man, Metal Marines, Mappy, Double Dragon, River City Ransom, Top Racer, Bad Dudes and Magical Drop II are just some of the more notable games you can play on day one.
However, it's worth noting that although there are some famous arcade names included in that list, the Evercade is currently limited to emulating home systems, so Double Dragon is the NES port, as is Pac-Man. Midnight Resistance and Two Crude Dudes, on the other hand, are based on the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis versions. Likewise, all of the Atari games across the two available Atari packs are based on console titles from the 2600 and 7800 rather than the infinitely better arcade originals. Blaze has argued that this is necessary because using the arcade editions would cause display problems (Pac-Man uses a vertical screen in its original coin-op variant, for example), but it has also stated that it is looking into perhaps putting together a cartridge in the future which is based on arcade ROMs, and is confident that the 1.4GHz quad-core processor which powers the machine is more than capable of handling '80s and early '90s coin-op releases.
While big-hitters from Bandai Namco, Interplay and Atari are sure to attract the attention of seasoned retro gamers, there are a few unknown gems scattered across the 10 carts which are also worthy of investigation. Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics is a decent SNES sequel to the beloved original, while the Piko Collection is home to such varied delights as the SNES RPG Dragon View, an enhanced version of Core Design's Atari ST title Switchblade and the previously unreleased SNES platformer Dorke and Ymp. This cart also has the Chinese RPG Canon: Legend of the New Gods and Taiwanese title Brave Battle Saga, both of which offer many hours of role-playing action – even if they're not quite as polished as the Japanese classics they seek to emulate.
The hit rate across all 10 carts is pretty good, then, but therein lies a problem – you really have to buy all 10 carts to get all of the best games, and some of the collections are padded out with filler that you'll play once and forget about. Namco's Quad Challenge / Mega Trax on the Mega Drive has to rank as one of the worst racing games of the 16-bit era, while Sofel's Titan – included on the Interplay collection – is an obscure and unremarkable puzzler that was largely ignored upon its initial release, with good reason. Mixing high-profile games with no-name filler is forgivable given that there are a whopping 10 collections available at launch, but unless you want to be a completist and snap them all up, you might want to be very selective when it comes to deciding which packs to purchase.
During gameplay, it's possible to bring up a menu which allows you to toggle the screen ratio and access save states. These are supported across all cartridges so you can retain your progress in any game. Sadly, it's not currently possible to remap the console's face buttons, which is unfortunate as some of the games are saddled with unusual button mappings. Mega Drive games, for example, map the 'C' button – traditionally used for jumping – to the Evercade's uppermost 'Y' button, which isn't a deal-breaker but certainly takes some getting used to. Blaze has told us that the option to remap controls may be added to future games, though.
The console's UI is functional but quite rough-looking in places, and each movement of the D-Pad and press of a button is accompanied by an annoying 'bloop' sound effect which sadly cannot be disabled. Still, given the small amount of time you'll be spending in the menu system, it's not a huge problem.
Evercade Review: The Verdict
For those of you who grew up in the '90s and fondly recall the thrill of investing in chunky plastic cartridges for your Game Boy or Game Gear, the Evercade scratches an itch we didn't know needed scratching. It might sound silly, but the simple act of slotting in a cartridge comes with its own nostalgic connotations, and being limited to the cart you have in the console at any one time encourages you to extract the maximum enjoyment out of each collection – another throwback to the days when we had less money and therefore fewer games.
Despite the Evercade's impressive selection of launch cartridges, the library still feels like a work in progress; while having Bandai Namco and Atari on board is great, we'd like to see a wider selection of companies signed up to support the console. Blaze previously had Sega on-board with its ill-fated Game Gadget handheld (which was pretty much the same concept as the Evercade, but with games delivered digitally rather than physically), so there's a chance we could potentially see the likes of Sonic, Streets of Rage and Shining Force come to the machine – which, we'd imagine, would dramatically enhance its appeal with retro gamers all over the world. For the time being, however, there's almost certain to be more than a few games that take your fancy across the 10 existing carts, and the fact that the Evercade is getting 'new' games like Xeno Crisis and Tanglewood hints at an exciting potential future where 'faux-retro' indie games get high collectable physical releases on the system.
Evercade is a solid platform, then; while we can't imagine it's going to be a mainstream system that will sell tens of millions of units like the Switch, it's appealing enough to surely sell in the modest numbers required to build a fairly robust audience and thereby attract the attention of other publishers who are keen to monetise their back catalogues in physical rather than digital form.
The Evercade used in this review was kindly supplied by Blaze. Thanks to the ever-dependable Noah McFerran for his assistance with the product photography.
Hardware » Retro Consoles
This article was originally published by nintendolife.com on Tue 14th April, 2020.
Why not? It is a niche market for collectors
Without the arcade versions, this just isn’t worth it for now. If they had dedicated their time to perfectly emulating arcade titles, they could focus on some really great obscure games but at this point, we’re left with console ports of games many of us have already played. It’s a shame alright.
Its all about the software and the nostalgia.
The market no doubt is there.
I most likely wont be picking it up, got enough to be getting on with
Dug out my Dreamcast recently.
@mesome713 like if the Switch was "right priced"...
Wouldn't that comparison just be to show the relative size ?
Most on here have an NX we know how big it is.
And this is a very niche product, I doubt it wil sell tens of millions units as well.
But it could very well do well for itself.
@Yogsoggoth I can't tell if you're joking or not, but that could be lockdown's fault.
I see the potential, it would however have benefitted from the arcade versions from the start. Final Fight, Sunset Riders, Double Dragon.
What about 2 player games? Maybe I missed it, can 2 systems play a game together sitting next to each other?
Pricing is very fair. I see younger children often preferring 2d games over 3d.
@Yogsoggoth it is just doing it to show the size comparison nothing more nothing less.
The pricing of the games is pretty fair, I expected them to be twice as expensive.
The usual Atari suspects I find off putting though.
How many time scan the same old Atari games be trotted out again and again ?
And which Atari is this anyway.
I'm considering this to fiddle with me. It probabaly wont be for long play times or anything, but could be fun in spurts.
I am kind of interested in this more because compared to all the other emulation handhelds floating around out there this actual has officially licenced games from the publishers on it so the physical media is good in that respect as you know it's a licenced product lack of a digital online market place isn't really a bad thing since the cartridges are hardly that expensive. From early picture with no size comparison I originally did think it was going to be tiny the size actual makes it more appealing because if it was too small it may have been uncomfortable to hold for long periods.
Seems to be too niche to gain much traction. I imagine it will have a cult following.
Mildly interested for the Lynx collection alone. But then, I'm more interested in the Lynx for collection purposes, so what I really want is an actual Lynx.
@whizzkidd It is, why else you think it's the fastest selling console ever made?
Pass. Most of these games are already on the Switch in some way shape or form. Also points off for not getting arcade perfect ports of these titles. I love my older games (play lots of Pac-Man and Frogger on my Switch), but I'm far from a nostalgia gamer, and I know that market's hot, so I think this just doesn't fit what I'm looking for, similar to how I have zero interest in Arcade 1-UP cabinets and would rather just have arcade titles continue to be ported onto the Switch.
@kingbk Plus for much cheaper. This device just makes no sense, it's a cash grab.
Now imagine a bunch of developers making new games for the system? Wouldn't it be cool?
That would definitely give it more life and new directions as well.
"It might sound silly, but the simple act of slotting in a cartridge comes with its own nostalgic connotations, and being limited to the cart you have in the console at any one time encourages you to extract the maximum enjoyment out of each collection – another throwback to the days when we had less money and therefore fewer games." - so real and on point...
With some increased support and classics from the likes of Konami, Capcom and Sega to name a few then I'd definitely be on board. The biggest issue for things like this are the sheer amount of quality licenced titles from back then which simply cannot be sold again. I still much prefer physical media or at least on systems where it really counts, too many games today we're not playing the version on disc or cartridge, oh and as much as I like the Switch, I wish its cartridges were much bigger
@mesome713 way over priced? It's really cheap
@mesome713 Look at the prices. The Namco Starter Pack is £140 cheaper than the Lite. To paraphrase Shrek, I think maybe you're compensating for something.
The key is the price. Having it that low from the get-go along with the cheap cartridges makes it worth picking up just to try honestly.
You had me at "Physical Game Manuals"
I pre-ordered one of these. Its a good accessible way to play Atari 7800 and Lynx games. oh and Xeno Crisis!
I've been looking forward to this for a while now. A cool concept combined with the right price if you ask me. I was already very interested, but the Atari Lynx collection (first Lynx collection ever!) convinced me.
@Damo little correction: the article mentions twice that the Evercade launches in April, but the release date was postponed to May 22nd.
On the subject of the release date: anybody hear anything from this company? I follow them on Youtube and they haven't uploaded a video for a month (before that almost daily, with sneak peeks into manuals, gameplay videos etc)
@TheAwesomeBowser For $100 more, you get SO much potential and great software.
Sadly they're not arcade versions, but the system and the collections aren't expensive at all. Might give it a shot once its price drops, because whatever the starting price we know it's going to drop at some point, and I'm in no rush.
I could see this device taking off if modern developers ported their lighter indie offerings on the system, games that don't take up much space like Terraria and the like. There are too many ways, legal and otherwise, to play most of the games mentioned for the system to gain any real traction as it stands. But it's a nice idea that will probably find a market.
£60 with 10 games seems pretty reasonable to me, but it needs a collection with a solid RPG to back up all those quick-play arcade games.
Is port able.
...but no dock.
In all seriousness, the Switch is scratching my retro itch just fine. Now...hurry up Hamster with the Green Beret arcade archive!
What is this crap?!
I'm just holding out hope that we can finally see Midway/Atari arcade games from the 80s-90s on the Switch in some form. I'd also like to see Arkanoid come to Arcade Archives from Taito and Rare Replay finally ported over.
Biggest downside is there is no TWO Player option even though some games on there were from Arcade with two player option. This is the biggest reason I passed on buying it. If they could implement this with Two connect console that would be great but as of now that is a decider for me even if I don't use it having that option helps.
Well, It sounds good, but I have more than enough arcade retro & compliations on my switch.
I'm tempted to pick this up but for now I will hold off due to the uncertainty right now. The Lynx collection is especially intriguing.
I feel like a new console should have new games. I like some of the old games, but, I've played them and had access to them for decades in many forms. And physical products is such a waste of resources.
The no coin op versions is not a big deal, since titles like Midnight Resistance wouldn't be playable as they had dedicated control systems not easily replicated on a handheld......plus the megadrive soundtrack on this one was a huge improvement over the arcade original.
I actually think this is a really neat idea...
Nintendo, take note. This is a pretty good way to do a GBA Classic console. £14.99 for a GBA Castlevania Collection! Or Metroid Collection! That would be awesome.
@Dualmask the indie games would have to be something that was also designed with a version on a retro console since this just emulates those systems and not a dedicated system in itself that is why games like Xeno Crisis and Tanglewood are on there as they are Mega Drive/Genesis games and are being emulated. I don't know if developers can program for the system directly.
@Zenszulu good point, didn't think of that. I think that sort of feature would be more valuable than a console totally designed for older games.
Being bigger is not a positive thing for a handheld. The smaller size compared to the Switch makes it even more portable, a good thing.
Honestly every handheld review should have a size comparison with other rivals on the market.
Also for someone that talks about those "insecure fanboys", you sure do mention how much your preferred console with its "big boy games" is better than the Switch.
This thing is a joke.
It’s definitely not a joke and it’s not meant to compete with modern consoles. I’ve read all of the reviews out there on it and it appears to be a solid system with some good games. Personally I’ll get it. It’s not overly expensive and I love supporting companies like this.
It’s just another fun system to add to my collection.. all which will be passed down to my son who was just born yesterday.
When he is ready to start gaming, I’m starting him off with my 2600, then every year he will get a new system... vectrex, Dreamcast, colecovision, jaguar, 3do, intellivision, etc etc.. he has a lot to play before he gets to current systems ❤️😊
@tgchan This is an excellent point. I have recently tried to be more disciplined about not game surfing from one title to the next. What I've discovered is that Nintendo packs their games with more content than I ever imagined. Not just a collectibles series of boxes to tick. More like "huh, I didn't know you could do X, maybe I should also try Y." In the days of cartridges and a limited library, I spent hours doing this. That has been lost a bit, unfortunately.
I think it will be a success in the sense of it filling a niche and being able to turn a profit. That said, I don't see it being a huge success. A lot of people that hang out on NL or similar sites are into this sort of thing, so there's a lot of us but we're still the minority compared to all the people who are content to play free-to-play trash on their phones.
I wouldn't mind something like this from NINTENDO.
Imagine such a console packing NES/SNES/GB/GBC/GBA games!? Even digital only it would have been a BIG SUCCESS, I bet¬!!
Insta buy for me day 1. Replaceable li-ion (or similar) battery would nice to go with it
When they get some RPG's then I'll consider it.
@Dr_Corndog The Lynx is definitely worth getting! It's the only retro console I've gone all out with and I love it.
Not sure I'd buy this while knowing that all of it is emulation, and that both the hardware and cartridges mostly are a smoke and mirrors thing.
But it IS a very sleek looking little thing, and I DO like many of these games. Ain't no two ways about that, no sir.
Quick answer: no. This console is a dream project by some nostalgic 40-year-olds who reminisce about the Game Boy. But the Switch allows you to play a ton of classic arcade games, so why buy this thing? In fact, the Switch even lets you play the classics on cartridge: Sega Mega Drive Classics, SNK Anniversary Collection and Namco Museum are on cartridge. Maybe other collections were released physically too - I just can't think of any more off the top of my head.
This is extremely appealing. However, for me, it would have to be the genuine arcade games. If someone made a cabinet (or 2-stick console) that could easily slot in cartridges from Capcom, Technos, Konami etc, and also have the cartoon/film-licensed games from the time, that would be very hard to resist indeed.
Still you had to ask why bother getting this when you could play pretty much all these same games and more through emulators on cheap Chinese handhelds or a hack PSP/PS Vita which run these much better.
We're close to hitting peak nostalgia with the NES and arcade titles, in particular as more and more millennials and Gen-Zers have no experience with either.
There will always be a market for both, but it'll likely be shrinking.
Yeah this never really appealed to me because it is basically just an emulation machine, new and original content isn't really a thing. When it comes to retro games I have no shortage of them in the form of ACA games, and then there's the NES and SNES apps and other classic game collections. This just doesn't really have much to offer me and I am definitely in no need of more handheld game consoles. I have multiple 3DS's, an old DS XL, GBA SP, old Vita and a Vita slim, as well as a PSP Go and a Switch and Switch Lite. At a certain point I need to admit how something like the Evercade is just completely unnecessary and unlikely to get much use.
@JRJalapeno awesome idea. Warms my heart
I think I’m gonna get it even though Im not too into retro gaming these days. I’m drawn to the tangibility of it all. I really miss instruction manuals. I really hope they do start getting modern retro style indies. That’d be awesome.
@TheWingedAvenger Yeah this is one of those things where I see it having a niche market with aging retro gaming enthusiasts who are nostalgic for old games from the 80's and early 90's. Can't say that I could see anyone else wanting it though unless it gets really cheap with a bunch of game collections included. Most kids who are interested in classics will just play them on their Switch or mobile phone with an emulator. They don't exactly have the money to be going out and buying a handheld and lots of games like this when it doesn't have anything else to offer really. A Switch is more expensive but it's got far more to offer kids who are likely to be desiring Fortnite over old Atari games.
More like fanboy logic, where everything that is not their chosen one is double plus ungood.
Makes too much sense so they wont listen
God forbid Sega has any sense left, or Konami.
Low resolution LCD display, half the battery life of a DS Lite and no games from this century!
Not to me.
I would love for the Nintendo and Sega mini consoles to take this approach. Have their games in a mini replica cartridge that plugs into the console. It means they could sell future collections easily (say 10 or 20 games per cart) rather than release a new console each time they want to release a fresh set of games (assuming they even do that at all, nobody has yet).
I really like the idea of this, but not with the current selection of games. If that ever improves, I’d consider getting one.
@mystman12 It fascinated me when I was a kid. I knew about the Game Boy and Game Gear, but I then I looked through the Sears catalog and saw it and thought, "What is this thing?"
Both the Mega Cat collections and the Xenocrisis+Tanglewood collections are both entirely made up of homebrew games that have been made during this century.
Though all the games were programmed for consoles made in the 20th century.
Has anyone actually experienced your digital game purchases being "delisted", as noted in the article, and thus not assessible? It's something I have thought about in the past when I glance at my Steam library or digital Switch collection.
i played Nosgoth on steam an MMO.
it was abandoned and shut down, and is utterly gone
I lost ALL my VC purchases when my Wii died.
£14.99 for 600 (whole) kb of Atari Games!
Why wouldn't it be able to? It's not like 500 years have passed since we had a system that was purely physical and there are plenty of physical games still being sold.
@PixelMist I have bought plenty of games that later got delisted, but it has never effected my digital library. Games still work, I can still download them whenever, it's only a problem if you missed out.
awesome idea. Warms my hear
@KitsuneNight Yeah that's the problem with the old approach to digital games that Nintendo had. If your console died you lost all your games since they were tied down the console, not an account. Luckily that isn't an issue with accounts.
I'm sure it will have its market but its the opposite of what I want. I'm all about digital, and for old school gaming I prefer a bundle of 50 games like the Megadrive collection.
The lineup of games on this thing is surprisingly solid. Really surprised to see Midnight Resistance on there. For me, Earthworm Jim is one of the main reasons to buy this. EWJ on the go? Hell yeah! The only problem is that I have a CFW PSP already so it's hard to justify this, but part of being a gaming enthusiast is buying pointless things. So chances are I will end up with one of those at some point.
Speaking of Custom firmware, I wonder how long it'll be before someone cracks this.
I think it will definitely be one to watch once indie-retro releases appear. I'm actually intrigued by it and will be watching.
@PiXeLSteF sunset riders! Love that game soooo much, also zombies ate my neighbours
I don't get the appeal of this when you could spend a similar amount on the NES/SNES/Genesis Classic or decent NES/SNES clone system and get a much better library of games. If the portability is that important to you, you're better off in the long run to save up for a (2/3)DS or Switch with their own superior libraries of retro classics along with so many great modern games as well.
I think it looks cool. I have it preordered. I get that it’s not for everyone, but there are games on there that I’m very much looking forward to playing again (mostly from the two Interplay collections). Happy that the system itself is solid as it looks. Very much for me and I’m excited for it.
If the console didn't look completely sh#t, i'd definitely own one. I think it's a great idea and seems to work well too. The design aesthetic however is dreadful. The graphics, the buttons, it looks like the cheap chinese system that it is. Now what would be better is to put these guts into a home console. I'd buy that regardless.
@KitsuneNight Yeah, that's a good point. You might not lose money but rather time.
I did lose money actually
I lost all my investments when my Wii was wiped out.
Kinda soured me on Nintendo for a while.
@Damo Are these still available?? I am seriously thinking of picking one up.
Tap here to load 80 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...