For my 42nd birthday, I treated myself to the Evercade handheld system. British company Blaze Entertainment develops the system, and unlike other systems on the market, it doesn’t depend on SD cards filled with illegal ROM downloads. After some investigation, I decided to purchase the premium pack, which comes bundled with three-game carts. Each contains an officially licensed collection of titles from publishing houses with a rich history of video games.
The Console Itself
The console, even though not the most stylish, boasts a retro type design. The system is comfortable to hold and boasts the best d-pad I’ve used since the original DS. The D-Pad is designed to feel like that of the Sega Genesis/Megadrive controller. The systems buttons are big, clicky and responsive. The system’s speaker is nice and clear.
My only gripe with the Evercade is the screen. Obviously, I’ve been spoilt by displays used in more modern and expensive devices over the years. Saying that, for the price point, the screen is more than sufficient to play retro/retro style games on. In terms of size, the screen equals that of the PSP and supports both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios.
The design and many games in the available collections make introducing retro games to children fun. Because the D-Pad and buttons are so big, and the system’s OS is basic and easy to operate, children can easily play the system without complications. What’s more, because some retro games are simple to control, my youngest children appear to get on better with the Evercade than, say, more complicated titles on Switch and Xbox.
A Snippet about the Atari Collection
The premium pack features Atari Collection 1, Interplay Collection 1, and Namco Museum Collection 1. I also decided to purchase two additional packs: Data East Collection 1 and the Oliver Twins collection. Sadly, I couldn’t buy the Oliver Twins Collection in time for my birthday, so I’m awaiting its delivery with much anticipation.
Now, I can’t even begin to judge which collection is best because I haven’t given either collection the time they deserve. Out of the four in my possession, I’ve played the Atari collection most. Atari collection 1 is a mixture of Atari 2600 and 7800 titles. In all, there are 20 games in the collection, and surprisingly, it’s my favourite collection so far.
Old but New
There are games here that I’d never heard of, never lone played: Alien Brigade, Food Fight, and unreleased prototypes such as Aquaventure, as well as a broken 2600 prototype version of Tempest.
Now, you may wonder why Atari or Everblase would want to release prototype software that never made it to store shelves. Well, Aquaventure is quite good and highly addictive. In the game, you play as a deep-sea diver whose task is to retrieve lost mermaid treasure from the ocean’s depths and return it to its rightful owner by swimming back up to meet an awaiting mermaid.
Beware, for between you and your objective await an army of fish, which kill once having touched you. If possible, the player can avoid the fish, or if required, they can use a harpoon to shoot them. If you’re a high score enthusiast, you will want to harpoon as many sea creatures as possible. The player must also complete the objective of each stage within a set time limit.
The second prototype unreleased title is Tempest for the Atari 2600. And where Aquaventure is fun and playable, Tempest is a mess! And I love the fact it’s part of the collection because it deserves its part in gaming history. Tempest, of course, is rated by many to be one of the greatest arcade shooters of all time. Sadly, The Atari 2600 (or the 5200 for that matter) didn’t have the specs to produce a competent home port. But was it quality control that put a stop to both an Aquaventure and Tempest release? Perhaps, but when you consider the masses of garbage and rushed releases of titles like ET, which led to the great video game crash of 1984, some may argue that it was too little too late.
Old but Great
Other notable games in the collection include Adventure, which was the first “open-ended role-playing game.” For a time, gamers believed Adventure to be the first game to feature what’s fondly called an Easter Egg. The hidden secret consists of a room that gives credit to the games programmer, Warren Robinet. This accolade was later given to Starfighter 1, which featured a similar Easter Egg two years earlier.
Then there’s Centipede, which was programmed by Dona Bailey, the sole woman who worked for Atari’s development team at the time. Sadly, the 2600 version does suffer from flicker, but that doesn’t detract from what’s a fantastic version of an Arcade classic.
A major highlight of the Atari package is Foodfight. Foodfight is a much loved Arcade Classic in which you take control of an ice cream addicted child. The object is to complete each stage by guiding the child to the coveted ice cream before it melts. Waiting to stop, you are four chefs who specialise in food warfare. To survive, you must be ready to dodge each chef and, if needs be, fight them off with whatever foodstuff is available. If you’re a high score enthusiast, then try to use as little food as possible, for leftovers are used at the end of each round to top up your score. It’s game over if you get hit or if the ice cream melts. The version included in the collection is the Atari 7800 home port. Atari Collection 1 for the Evercade provides enough content for Atari and retro gamers in general.
That’s it for Now
So that marks the end of this Gaming Blurb. Actually, since writing the above, I’ve become addicted to Mappy’s Kids, which is part of the Namco Collection. Mappy’s Kids is a platform game that previously never made it to the West. Well, now it’s here thanks to the Evercade, and I’m enjoying it immensely. I look forward to sharing more about this and other Evercade titles in the future. Also, please check out fellow Ladiesgamers contributor James Luff’s article about his experiences with the Evercade by clicking here.
This is Jonah signing off.