Evercade: This is my hole. It was made for me
Classic games and... old games unite!
Okay, sorry, what? I think I'm going to have to sit down. There's a new handheld coming out called the Evercade; a nice-looking PSP-ish thing with the major gimmick being that it takes proprietary cartridges like in ye olden days, rather than use an SD card or internal storage for built-in games. That's a neat idea, because the cartridge medium adds a pleasing physicality to the whole endeavour, and stimulates the retro brain-circuits nicely.
So why am I incredulously gobbing my Diet Pepsi all over my keyboard? Well, Nauties, it's because I've seen the stuff the Evercade is launching with, and it's like someone's reached into my brain and plucked out all the silly shite that my many hundreds of close friends will agree has come to define me.
The base unit comes with a Namco Museum Vol. 1 cartridge, which is all well and good; it appears to be NES and SNES games, with yer Pac-Man, Dig Dug etc all present and correct - but then things get interesting and you've got the likes of 1993 SNES/PC strategy title Metal Marines, and best of all an official, exclusive localisation of the rar-thar good Famicom platformer Mappy Kids.
Fascinatingly, this is basically where the avowed classic games come to a full stop in favour of exciting oddities. Further cartridges for the unit include a second Namco cart with the lesser-released likes of Splatterhouse 2 and 3, Interplay cartridges with not just Earthworm Jim but also Incantation, Claymates and Prehistork Man. There's a Piko Interactive collection with 20 seemingly-random games, including Radical Rex, Nightshade, The Humans, Jim Power (Jim Power!!) and the unreleased SNES title Dorke and Ymp. There are two upcoming Atari Lynx compilations with Scrapyard Dog, Slime World and Chips Challenge amongst others. Carts from Technos, Data East and Atari round off the release slate with frankly underwhelming collections, and a very important question is raised - who is this system for?
Don't get me wrong, this is not a condemnation. I guess the answer is that it's for me. If you've been reading my Retronauts stuff for the past couple of years, you'll know that I have a healthy appetite for... let's say recherché games. So to find a handheld that offers up dedicated carts featuring the likes of Claymates as a selling point is essentially reaching directly into my wallet and impatiently flicking my money. The price of the unit (£59.99 in the UK, complete with Namco Museum Vol. 1) seems reasonable, but part of me wonders if a system like this is worth my investing in - the fact is I (like many retro enthusiasts) have multiple devices capable of playing these games, but the whole cartridge thing definitely piques my interest. The Evercade itself, based on pre-release coverage, seems robust and with good emulation, but when the game experience they're absolutely nailing is bloody Jim Power, how enthusiastic can people really be?
I'm looking forward to the Evercade mostly for the novelty of it all - and yeah, I'd like to play Claymates on handheld, because it's ace. The Lynx titles have never seen a re-release, so they're a nice get, as well. But for it to be a real contender, even in the enthusiast market, they're going to need some big guns.
They should have used the Mega Drive Radical Rex, too. Not SNES. Evercade launches on June 1st.