After many delays, the Evercade finally arrived to my home. It’s interesting because I was super excited about the Evercade and pre-ordered it as soon as I found out what it was (a handheld gaming device that plays retro cartridges filled with retro games). As time passed and the delays mounted up, I considered cancelling the order multiple times. The system and the game carts cost me around $200 shipped. I purchased the Deluxe bundle that came with 3 game cartridges and then grabbed every available cart on Amazon at the time. The price is fair but as the pandemic raged on and my job security wavered, it was hard justifying the purchase. I can confidently say at this point that I am happy I didn’t cancel the order.
The first thing you will notice when you open the Evercade is the packaging. It’s so striking! I felt like a kid seeing this amazing box with a picture of the system itself and then an explosion of every game’s box art and logo around it. I found myself looking at the games and wondering if they are available yet and just the nostalgia burst of seeing the images. One of my favorite experiences growing up was staring at the Sega Genesis box art and fantasizing about the games on the box that I don’t have. The amazing packaging extends to the game carts too. They are beautiful showcases of the companies and games inside. Each game has a full color manual and the carts themselves have great art on them as well.
Set up is easy. Jam in a cart (more on that later), turn the console on and play. It’s fantastic. There is no setting up your WiFi or figuring out settings. This is a gift you can give a kid or an adult who hasn’t touched a game since the Atari 2600 was new. You will be playing within minutes of picking the system up. From a software standpoint, things are simple. Each cart has a menu where you scroll through the games left to right and you hit the “A” button on what you want to play. The emulation is decent. I have only found a few problems with the games. The biggest flaw I have found is in the game Top Racer. When you hit the nitro button the car just explodes forward and never stops. The nitro never stops blasting and you can’t lose. It breaks the game. I also feel like the games runs a little slower than it’s SNES counterpart but I can’t confirm that. Every game on the Evercade has save states available which is a quality of life feature that improves all of the retro games dramatically. Save states make punishingly hard games beatable, and they make RPGs more accessible. No need for password systems anymore and that alone is valuable. All of the button mapping is done on the software side. There is no universal button mapping on a system level. You have to go into each game’s menu and see if you can map the buttons. It’s not a huge deal because most games only use 2 or 3 buttons but as more complex game become available this will become more of a problem.
The hardware is...Ok. It feels good. It looks good. The white is sharp and the buttons have a glass look to them that stands out. The Evercade has a few hardware flaws that are unforgivable. There are gaps everywhere on the machine where the plastic comes together. These gaps allow dust to get under the screen and on the display. There doesn’t seem to be a lining or anything around the display to keep dust out. It also allows light to escape under the display so in a dark room you just see light pouring out of crevices in the machine. This is a shame because the display is very large and clear. The buttons feel fantastic, even the shoulder buttons have a nice click. The D-Pad is solid and works well for most games even the fighting games.
The Evercade’s biggest issue is that the cartridge slot is too tight when putting cartridges into the system. Lining up games to put them in is do-able. Taking them out is nigh impossible. The cartridges are completely flush with the machine and you can’t get a finger in. You’re forced to rub on the cart and push really hard on the cartridge to force it out. This wouldn’t be terrible but all the cool graphics on the cartridge will absolutely get rubbed off. This issue is baffling because reviewers were complaining about this when the demo versions came out and Blaze (the company who made the machine) assured them this would be fixed. I hate changing games on this unit. That is a giant failure for this system.
My last complaint with the Evercade just falls to game preference. I wish there were more sports games on the system. There are a few Atari basketball games, some vintage racing games, 2 boxing games, and a Disc Jammers clone but there were tons of unlicensed fun sports games from the 8-bit and 16-bit era that are nowhere to be seen. There are a ton of great beat-em-ups on the system, amazing platformers and RPGs are available too though, so no genre was left unrepresented if you bought at least a couple of cartridges. In my opinion, if you have a passing interest in the history of games and want to see them in action, the Evercade is a fun way to check it out. Personally, I have never understood the nostalgia for Atari games especially the 2600 because they barely feel like games. The Evercade game me a chance to check them out and most of them are bad but I can see the appeal of some the shooters. The real surprise for me was how solid the Atari 7800 games were. The 7800 games had vibrant colors, some more complex game play and really shocked me with how good they were. Alien Brigade and Ninja Golf are legit good games.
My final verdict is that the Evercade is a great gift for somebody and a convenient way to play a lot of retro games on the go with solid tactile controls. The price is fair. The cartridges all feel like a good value but that really depends on your preference in games. Check it out. Thanks for reading!