Updated: Jul 17, 2020
This one has been a while coming, not because there's anything wrong with the product, but purely for the fact that the Evercade has 10 cartridges available at launch each with a differing amount of games on and I wanted to try them all. You can buy the machine in a couple of packages, with 1 game cartridge (Namco Museum Collection 1) the Starter pack, or with 3 cartridges (which again comes with the Namco Collection 1, but also the Atari Collection 1 and the Interplay Collection 1) the Premium Pack. There was also an All In package that included all 10 cartridges, but it sold out quickly.
But whatever package you pick up, it's hard not to be impressed by the presentation of the thing. This really does look like a premium product, with impressive artwork and pictures of the games' stars. Upon opening the box the impression is compounded. It's roughly the size of a Sony PSP, which in my opinion is the perfect form factor in comparison to something like the Nintendo Switch which is just a bit too big in my opinion. Also, like the PSP, the Evercade has the same sized 4.3" screen and matching resolution. By today's standards that's quite low, but the Evercade isn't playing today's titles, it's firmly facing the past, playing yesterday's games as it's labelled as a Retro Games Console. Also the responsive face buttons, 'clicky' shoulder buttons and an awesome dpad that's reminiscent of the one on the Sega Saturn controller make playing the games in handheld mode an unmitigated joy.
The same cannot be said for playing the machine on the television however. As has become common place these days, the Mini HDMI cord that you need to hook the Evercade up to the TV is not included (nor is a plug to charge the thing for that matter). Luckily I had the right lead on my Neo Geo mini, but lots of people won't, and if you're going to put that you can play your device on the television on your box then you should be supplying it.
The other problem is that the Evercade does not always work properly when plugged into the television. On many occasions the sound has cut out to be replaced by a loud static hiss. On other times it doesn't connect at all. This is a big shame. Because, when the Evercade is connected and is firing on all cylinders, it's a joy to behold. The machine outputs at a rather low 720p, but games like Earthworm Jim and Splatterhouse 2 still look stunning. On the flip-side, It should be mentioned that not all games have been optimised for the big screen. WeaponLord is so blurry that it's almost unplayable.
But for all of its flaws as a plug and play device, the Evercade, when taken on its merits as a handheld, is something special. It has a 5-hour battery life which while not enormous, is good enough. The graphics on the screen are crisp and clear. With the games displayed in the standard 4:3 (with a smaller picture) or 16:9 (slightly stretched to fit the full Evercade screen). Both look great regardless of what game you're playing.
As mentioned earlier the games come on cartridges, which on the surface seems pretty strange for a product released in 2020 with many consoles offering downloads over physical media. But it makes sense. All of the cartridges are geared towards collectors. With lavish box art, full colour instruction manuals and even numbered cartridges, you'll want to own them all. And with the Evercade retailing roughly between £60-£80 depending which package you go for and the cartridges themselves selling for £14.99, this is something that is more than achievable. There's also a good mix of games on each cartridge. Admittedly, there're some 'filler' titles, but there's also some real gems. And they're not all retro games. Some of them, like the games included on the Mega Cat Studios Collection 1, are retro style games. Which whilst running on machines like the Megadrive, have actually been created recently.
The only real issue that I have with the Evercade in its handheld form is the fact that it's strictly single-player. Blaze (the company behind the Evercade) has hinted that they may release some hardware in the future that remedies this, but that's a way off yet. There's also the fact that the arcade games included in packages like the Atari Collection 1 are not arcade games at all but are their console counterparts. This isn't a dealbreaker for me, but is worth mentioning if you wanted the arcade originals (Blaze have also mentioned that they plan on doing an Arcade collection in the future).
So what do you get with the Evercade?
+ multiple collectable cartridges with more on the way
+Impressive emulation, controls and hardware
If this was just about the handheld experience I would score it a 9.
But unfortunately it has these flaws:
-Glitchy television output
-Only Single Player
-No Mini HDMI cable included
If I was just reviewing the plug and play TV performance I would score it a 6.
So taking both of these scores into account, I score the Evercade a 7.