If they’re programmed to actually play games in their native formats, such as the original consoles, retro gaming systems are normally limited to a single set of titles. Blaze Entertainment’s Evercade defies the theme with a cartridge machine that allows you to switch out several sets of retro 8- and 16-bit titles. At $79.99 for the Starter Pack, which contains one such set, it’s a cost-effective way to experience some retro gaming on the go, and if you have the correct kind of HDMI cable, you can even play your games on your TV. The Evercade’s screen isn’t flawless, and the control interface is a little cumbersome, but beyond these flaws, it’s a powerful, stylish portable gaming device with a large catalog of inexpensive games.
Create a design
The Evercade has a distinct concept for a handheld developed especially for retro gaming. The structure is made of shiny white plastic with red highlights in the shape of parallel thick-thin lines that reflect architectural philosophies from the 1970s and 1980s. It’s loosely built like an original Game Boy Advance, PlayStation Portable, or PlayStation Vita, with a 4.3-inch LCD flanked on the left by a direction pad and four face buttons on the right, joined by a pair of shoulder buttons on top. A Menu button is located under the direction pad, with an indication LED to its right. The Select and Start buttons are located under the A/B/X/Y face buttons, which are organized Xbox-style (A on the bottom, B on the right) rather than Nintendo-style (A on the bottom, B on the right) (B on the bottom, A on the right).
Between the left and right shoulder buttons is a control switch, a mini HDMI output, and a cartridge port on the system’s top side. The bottom edge houses volume up and down keys, a 3.5mm headphone socket, and a charging micro USB slot. According to Blaze Entertainment, the Evercade will last four to five hours between charges.
The Evercade’s 4.3-inch panel has a relatively low resolution of 480 by 272, but it appears sharp and vibrant enough for the 8- and 16-bit games it is intended to play. It’s no Nintendo Switch, but it seems sharper and simpler than My Arcade Retro Champ and other cartridge-based retro gaming systems. When seen from some perspective other than straight on, the screen is subject to color distortion. You may also use an HDMI-to-micro-HDMI cable to link the device to your TV; just make sure you have the correct kind of cable (full-size HDMI would not fit in the Evercade’s port).
Cartridges are a kind of cartridge that is used to
The cartridge slot accepts Evercade cartridges, which are white plastic rectangles resembling Game Boy Advance carts. These cartridges are contoured and sit flat against the rest of the case when fed into the device.
Each cartridge contains between six and twenty games, with a range of ten available at launch. The Evercade Starter Pack costs $79.99 and contains one cartridge, Namco Museum Collection 1, which includes Dig-Dug, Galaxian, Pac-Man, Xevious, and six other popular Namco arcade games. The Evercade Premium Pack for $99.99 features Namco Museum Collection 1 as well as Atari Collection 1 (which contains Centipede, Missile Command, Tempest, and 17 other Atari 2600 and 7800 games) and Interplay Collection 1.
Additional cartridges are $19.99 each and contain Data East, Piko Interactive, Technos, and additional Atari, Interplay, and Namco sports. Each cartridge, including those included with the Evercade, comes with full-color manuals and plastic boxes that look nice on the shelves, which might impress some classic game collectors.
In addition to popular retro games, there are two sets of new retro-style indie titles. Mega Cat Studios Collection 1 features ten separate games that were created in recent years but have traditional 8- and 16-bit pixel art designs that complement the system’s actual retro games. The only cart with less than six games is the Xeno Crisis & Tanglewood Dual Cartridge, but the two games on it are tall, vibrant Sega Genesis/Mega Drive games created recently as Kickstarter campaigns. Tanglewood and Xeno Crisis are available on Steam for $17.99 and $19.99, respectively, but the $20 price for both games is very good, and $20 is a pretty normal price for any series of popular arcades games.
In terms of game variants, there are a few slight hiccups in the picks. Pac-Man is the NES edition rather than the original arcade game on the Namco Collection 1, as are Double Dragon and Double Dragon II on the Technos Collection 1. Dragon Spirit is now an NES game in Namco Collection 2 rather than the initial and superior TurboGrafx-16 edition (available on the TurboGrafx-16 Mini). On the plus hand, The Immortal in the Piko Interactive Collection 1 is the better Sega Genesis edition as opposed to the almost destroyed NES version.
Saves and Quirks
Some games are often awkward because of the button arrangement. The Xbox style with A on the bottom and B to the right is the inverse arrangement of the NES and SNES controls, where the A button is to the right of the B button. If you’re used to how these games function, getting used to the rotated face buttons may be a little disorienting. These controls cannot be remapped out of the package, although an optional firmware upgrade accessible from Evercade’s website adds remapping.
This is not to say that the Evercade is without tricks. Through clicking the Menu button, you can use emulator-like save states in any game you choose, allowing you to save your progress at any time. Given how tough these games can be, this is a useful aspect that most “pure” retro gaming systems neglect.
Despite sometimes poorly mapped buttons, Performance Games play very well on the Evercade. Button presses and directional triggers are sensitive, and in-game output is as consistent as the games’ initial controllers. That means you’ll always see any lag in titles like Weaponlord on the Namco Museum Collection, just not as much as you will with the initial on the SNES. The shoulder buttons are a little too responsive, but the overwhelming majority of Evercade gamers don’t use them in the first place.