If you grew up with the Amiga, then The Bitmap Brothers will need no introduction. This legendary British developer was responsible for some of the most critically acclaimed games of the '80s and '90s, and even today, titles like Speedball 2, Gods and The Chaos Engine remain solid-gold classics.
You can see, then, why the arrival of The Bitmap Brothers Collection 1 on Evercade is such a big deal. However, while there's a lot to like here, this pack is hampered by the fact that it doesn't feature the original Commodore Amiga versions of its games, but the console ports – ports which are, for the most part, inferior.
The original Speedball, for example, is the Sega Master System version. While it's by no means a bad game (and was relatively well-received at launch), it's simply nowhere near as good as the Amiga version, and is saddled with sluggish gameplay. Speedball 2, on the other hand, is the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis iteration, which fares much better; not only does it match the Amiga version's visuals, it offers the same frantic pace and energy. In fact, omission of the iconic "Ice cream!" voice sample aside, it's a wonderful conversion and is probably worth buying the cart for on its own.
The third and final Speedball title on the cartridge is the PlayStation release Speedball 2100, one of many unfortunate attempts over the years to emulate the brilliance of the second game. The transition to 3D doesn't help the experience at all; not only are the graphics ropey, but the game runs rather poorly, and much of the signature Speedball magic is lost as a result.
Xenon 2: Megablast is another Bitmap Brothers classic which is celebrated on the Amiga, but we get the Sega Mega Drive version here. Like Speedball 2, it's not a terrible port, but it doesn't feel quite as tight as the original – and the legendary Bomb The Bass soundtrack sounds rather wimpy in this version. Finally, we have the SNES port of The Choas Engine, a fantastic top-down shooter blessed with bags of challenge and some amazing steampunk visuals. The SNES version is very close to the Amiga original, making this a welcome inclusion on the cart.
And sadly, that's your lot. With only five games, The Bitmap Brothers Collection 1 is disappointingly limited when compared to other Evercade carts. Since its release, Blaze has been able to secure a deal to get Amiga games on Evercade, so we've got our fingers firmly crossed that it can, in the future, release a second Bitmap Brothers pack which not only has the original games but also includes the likes of the first Xenon, Cadaver, Gods and Z. For now, though, this will have to do.