Ever since its release in 2020, the Evercade family of systems has been a runaway success with retro gamers. The idea of offering a way of distributing physical cartridges packed with some of the world's most famous games might not sound revolutionary, but Evercade is perhaps the first example of it done right – and, as a result, we've seen two new hardware iterations (the Evercade VS and Evercade EXP) and a flood of carts since then.
Blaze – the British company behind the Evercade – has recently launched a new division called Hyper Mega Tech, which will be focusing on expanding its retro business in new directions. The first product in this line is the Super Pocket, and it's a device which shares a lot of similarities with the Evercade; in fact, it even runs Evercade cartridges. It's available in Capcom and Taito-themed versions, each with a different selection of pre-loaded games.
However, there are some key differences to note between this product and the more expensive Evercade – some of which make the Super Pocket an exciting alternative, and others which place it in an entirely different sector of the market.
Is it worth a look? We're about to find out.
Super Pocket Review: What's In The Box
Inside the Super Pocket box you get the device itself, a USB-A to USB-C charging cable and a poster / quick-start guide.
Super Pocket Review: Design
The design of the Super Pocket is arguably one of its most appealing qualities. As the name suggests, it's been built with portability in mind and really does fit in your pocket. It's roughly the same size as your typical smartphone, but a little wider and thicker. The unit is comprised of a single piece of plastic, with a front plate which features the controls and screen, so it feels pretty sturdy.
The face of the Super Pocket is dominated by the 2.8-inch IPS screen, which boasts a 320x240 pixel resolution. Below that, you'll find a rolling D-pad, four face buttons and three other buttons – one opens the system's in-game UI menu (for changing settings and accessing save states), while the other two are 'Start' and 'Select' – the latter of which allows you to 'insert a coin' on the many arcade titles which are included.
On the bottom edge, there's a power switch, 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB-C charging port. On the rear, the volume controls can be found next to the cartridge slot, and there are also four additional action buttons (L1, R1, L2 and L2) located approximately halfway down the unit. There are vents on the rear and on the sides which you might assume are speaker grilles, but there's only one speaker – and that's located on the front of the unit.
The D-pad looks a little awkward at first, but it's actually more accurate and comfortable to use than you might think. The true test, of course, is always Street Fighter II, which is pre-loaded on the Capcom variant of the Super Pocket. Pulling off fireballs and Dragon Punches is pretty easy with this D-pad, but the awkward placement of the shoulder buttons on the back makes accessing strong punch and kick commands rather tricky, especially if you have large hands.
Overall, though, the controls are decent, which is commendable when you consider the small size of the device itself.
Super Pocket Review: Display & Battery Life
At 320x240 pixels, the display might not be the sharpest in the world, but it doesn't need to be; you'll mainly be playing retro games on this thing. The most important thing is that it's bright and sharp, with solid viewing angles.
In terms of display options, you can choose between 'Original' aspect ratio (which maintains the aspect ratio but makes the image fill the display vertically), 'Pixel Perfect' (which displays the image at the original resolution, usually with borders) and fullscreen (which stretches out the image so it fills the entire display, and is usually the least appealing option). You can also choose to apply 'subtle' and 'strong' scanlines; these are simply laid over the top of the image, so the effect isn't always convincing.
Blaze quotes around four hours of battery life from a single charge. That should be enough to get you through your daily commute to work, and using a pair of headphones should help you achieve the best playtime.
There's no way to control the screen brightness, however – so you can't drop it down to help eke out a few more minutes of play.
Super Pocket Review: Games
The Capcom and Taito Super Pockets each come pre-loaded with a unique selection of titles.
All games are the arcade versions, unless noted.
Capcom Super Pocket Game List
- Street Fighter II': Hyper Fighting
- Mega Man (NES)
- Ghouls 'n Ghosts
- Final Fight
- 1944: The Loop Master
- Bionic Commando
- Captain Commando
- Forgotten Worlds
- Wolf of the Battlefield / MERCS
This selection mirrors what comes pre-loaded on the Evercade EXP, which might be slightly disappointing to those of you who already own that particular system. Even so, you're getting some of Capcom's most beloved titles here.
Taito Super Pocket Game List
- Space Invaders
- Space Invaders '91 (Mega Drive)
- Bubble Bobble
- Puzzle Bobble
- Operation Wolf
- The New Zealand Story
- Chack'n Pop
- Don Doko Don
- Elevator Action
- The Fairyland Story
- Football Champ
- Kiki Kaikai
- Legend of Kage
- Liquid Kids
The Taito model benefits from more titles (Blaze even added an 18th game, Puzzle Bobble, just prior to release), and while you might argue that none of these can match the likes of Strider, Final Fight or 1944: The Loop Master in terms of quality, there are some outstanding arcade releases here.
The aforementioned Puzzle Bobble is practically worth the price of purchase on its own.
Super Pocket Review: Emulation & Performance
Like the Evercade itself, the Super Pocket offers superb software emulation across all of these titles. Games run perfectly, and the sound is excellent; in fact, despite only offering mono audio, the Super Pocket's speaker is surprisingly punchy. We also love the save state feature, which allows you to save your progress in-game at any point you wish.
As we've already covered, the Super Pocket's cartridge slot grants access to hundreds of additional titles available for the Evercade. These are delivered via curated collections of games, usually focused on a particular publisher or system. However, there are also carts which feature 'new retro' titles, like the excellent Xeno Crisis. Because the Super Pocket lacks the Evercade EXP's 'TATE' mode, games that use this vertical screen orientation will have large borders down either side of the screen.
We tested a wide range of Evercade carts on the Super Pocket and found only a single instance of incompatibility: Cathedral, which is included on Evercade cart #27, doesn't load, giving you an error message stating that it is not currently supported. Cathedral is one of the few titles on Evercade which runs natively on the system, rather than via software emulation – and this could account for the issue. Blaze has told us that this will be fixed in a future firmware update, applied via the unit's USB-C port and a PC-based updater app.
The only other grumble we have about gaming performance is that there's currently no way to remap the buttons, and this can lead to some frustration, depending on the game. For example, in Final Fight, punch is mapped to B (the right-hand button in the four-button cluster), while jump is mapped to A (the bottom button). If you're used to jump always being assigned to the right-most button on your controller, this can result in you constantly having to fight decades of built-in muscle memory.
The really odd thing about this is that the buttons are reversed on the Taito version of the Super Pocket; in all titles, the 'action' button is A, and the jump button is B. We've been told by Blaze it currently doesn't have any plans to introduce this feature in a future firmware update, as it is keen to keep the Super Pocket's UI as simple as possible.
One neat touch we really like is the ability to enable 'easy' mode in the Super Pocket's main UI. This universal setting can be applied to all of the pre-loaded games and manifests itself by automatically tinkering with the in-game dip switches and dropping them to their least challenging settings. You also get the maximum number of lives or health, depending on the game.
This is brilliant for those of you who find some of the coin-guzzling arcade titles too tricky, or if you have young kids who want to get a piece of the action but lack the required years of training in smoky amusement centres.
Super Pocket Review: Price & Where To Buy
The Super Pocket costs £49.99 / $59.99 / €59.99.
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Super Pocket Review: Conclusion
When you consider that the Super Pocket costs around the same price as a single Switch, PS5 or Xbox Series X/S game, it represents stunning value for money, and this fact alone is likely to make it a solid seller as a Christmas stocking-filler.
What you're getting here is a highly portable retro gaming system that not only comes pre-loaded with a suite of classics but also offers access to a growing library of physical Evercade cartridges. That gives the Super Pocket a massive amount of longevity, as, unlike other systems with pre-installed games, you won't be stuck playing the same titles forever. Also, if you already happen to own a collection of Evercade cartridges, you can pick up a Super Pocket for a younger family member and they can share your library of games.
The unit's diminutive size might cause some comfort problems for those of you with large hands, and the control layout isn't ideal for games that require more than four buttons. It's also a shame that you can't remap the buttons, as many of the titles on the Capcom variant have odd input layouts that take some getting used to. However, on the whole, the Super Pocket is an utter delight to use; it's also an excellent way to discover the back catalogues of two of video gaming's most famous companies without breaking the bank.
While you could argue that they're aimed at different audiences, if you're looking for a more complete experience, then the Evercade EXP is probably still the best option as it offers features like a TATE mode, button mapping and TV-out. Having said that, the Super Pocket is a more agreeable alternative for those of you who favour portability and price – and it's one of the most exciting retro products of 2023.
Massive thanks to Blaze for supplying the Super Pocket units used in this review. The Super Pocket launches on November 14th, 2023.