Evercade by Blaze Entertainment offers something very unique. This is a retro gaming handheld console that offers access to hundreds of fully licensed games from the 8-bit and 16-bit era. If you love mostly the early 90s video games and what to play them on the go or while watching TV, Evercade is the device for you.
Unlike other retro consoles that focus on format-specific games, such as the A500 Mini and the PlayStation Classic, the Evercade handheld offers games from across consoles and computers from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. You can find more ways to play classic games in our guide to the best retro gaming consoles, including those from Nintendo and Sega.
Just as Sony has finally begun to take PlayStation retro gaming seriously, the team behind Evercade at Blaze Entertainment has been doing this for some years now. In my review below I'll look at the design of this retro game handheld and over the course of several weeks I've put it through its paces, testing battery length, build quality and, of course, its games. Should you buy one? Let's see.
Evercade review: the design and build
Evercade is a small device that's just over seven-inches long (that's a little larger than an iPhone and double the width). The 4.3-inch LCD screen with a bright resolution at 480x272 pixels. A nice design feature is the screen's dimensions, which is a 16:9 aspect ratio because some of the games were released for old systems that featured a wider 4:3 aspect ratio.
This is one of the neat design notes that shows this retro gaming console has been properly thought through, for example you can play old Atari Lynx games without missing any UI real estate.
The Evercade sits in the hand nicely and has curved edges that make it easy to grip. Though it's small, the Evercade doesn't suffer from mobile photo problems as it's a nice depth and features well-placed shoulder buttons. The d-pad and four buttons are perfectly placed and the pad itself has a good 'rocker' feel that ensures good responses when in use.
There are no analog sticks but then most of the games running from this era don't support this so it's not missed. What could be improved is the speaker quality which is a little tinny and lacks depth. There is a headphone socket, though, and the option to hook this to a TV.
Evercade review: the experience
Evercade's emulation is fantastic. I've tested many of the game packs for this little console and 99% work brilliantly with little blurry or slow down caused by poorly synced frame rate and emulation.
While there aren't a lot of options to play with, all games feature a choice to resize the screen ratio from 4:3 to the game's original format. There are multiple save options and the opportunity to remap buttons, which is always welcome.
It's worth noting Evercade is a little 'plasticy' to the touch, this is evident in the cartridge slot at the rear that can be very tight. While this ensures carts can be slotted and remain in place, it also makes me feel a little anxious as I wrestle them in and out – the fear of snapping connections is palpable. That said, the snug fit ensures a clean design edge once inserted.
Connecting to a TV with a HDMI lead is simple and easy, and the games look great on a big screen. This really showcases the good job being done to emulate these classic games. The HDMI connection can be a little loose, however. Given the handheld resets the game of the lead disconnects, it can be occasionally frustrating.
Evercade review: the games
You can't buy single games for Evercade, instead you buy collections themed on a cartridge. Most game carts feature between 6 and 20 games depending on the collection. These include classic arcade games, console conversions, PC and Amiga games, as well as new games developed just for Evercade.
Each collection costs around $24.99 / £24.99 but can be picked up for $19.99 / £19.99, so these do represent good value for money. It can also means some collections are a little hit and miss, for example the Codemasters collection features Cannon Fodder, Mega-o-Mania, and Sensible Soccer – three examples of excellent game design – but also contains the likes of Bee 52, Big Nose The Caveman and Boomerang Kid, which are average at best.
Renovation Collection 1
Data East Collection 1
Namco Museum Collection 2
Jaleco Collection 1
Indie Heroes Collection 1
Namco Museum Collection 1
Piko Interactive Collection 2
The Oliver Twins Collection
There are some excellent collections that offer wall-to-wall hits, though. I particularly love the Jaleco Collection 1 (classic NES and SNES arcade conversions), the Data East Collection features NES versions of the developers best games, and the Namco Museum Collection 1, which crams in all of the best 8-bit games from the 80s.
Other cart collections feature games from Gremlin Graphics, Atari, Atari Lynx, The Bitmap Brothers and Intellivsion. The Pico Collection features the best games on the Amiga while the likes of the Morphcat Games Collection 1 and Mega Cat Studios Collection 2 beings together new indies. Kudos to the Renovation Collection 1, which offers some very rare 16-bit games from the 90s, too.
Evercade review: the price
You can get an Evercade handheld console for as little as $79.99 / £59.99 that makes this a good entry-level retro gaming console. This is almost half the price of other retro game mini consoles, such as the A500 Mini.
Given the low cost and wealth of games, Evercade is a good way to start playing old games. I'd recommend buying an Evercade with one of the bundle deals available, such as the Evercade Premium Edition that comes with the handheld console and three cartridges – Atari Collection 1, Namco Museum Collection 1, and Interplay Collection 1. This is priced $129.99 / £99.99.
Evercade review: should I buy one?
In short, yes. The Evercade handheld console is a simple and easy way to experience retro gaming. The emulation is excellent, the build-quality and design is very good (aside from some small niggles) and the game selection is incredible.
While some game collections can feel padded, there's enough classic and genuine hits in the lineup to offer value for money. The fact Evercade is a handheld, which means it's a good option for long journeys or sitting on the sofa, means retro gaming has never been more accessible.