Putting the 'cade in Evercade with arcade games
Four new collections of electic coin-op treats
Well, this is pretty cool. Regular Nauties will know that I'm a pretty big fan of the Evercade handheld (and soon to be console, in Evercade VS) and I've enjoyed watching more and more cartridges get announced for it - the previously covered Worms compilation is perfectly suited to the local-play-focused console and the upcoming Intellivision, Codemasters, Bitmap Brothers and Mega Cat Studios carts are bringing some real classics home. But this is the biggest news of the lot - four new comps are coming in November, each featuring a selection of the arcade output of their subjects. Here's the full rundown, along with some thoughts on each cartridge.
Atari Arcade 1 features Asteroids Deluxe, Canyon Bomber, Centipede, Crystal Castles, Liberator, Lunar Lander, Millipede, Missile Command, Night Driver, Pong, Skydiver, Super Breakout and Warlords.
This is the least exciting of the bunch for me, but that doesn't make it a write-off. My major concern is the playability of trackball titles like Centipede and especially Crystal Castles, which in my experience is a pig on almost any other input besides its original speedy trackball cabinet. But I do trust Evercade with "game feel" and this is a pretty generous package, so jury's out.
Gaelco Arcade 1 features Alligator Hunt, Biomechanical Toy, Glass, Snow Board Championship, Thunder Hoop and World Rally.
Now this is wild. I made a joke recently about Biomechanical Toy, safe in the knowledge that it was never, ever getting re-released. And here it is, a wonderfully bizarre run n' gun title packaged alongside what I believe are first-time home releases. World Rally is an absolutely cracking racer.
Data East Arcade 1 features Bad Dudes Vs Dragon Ninja, Breakthru, Burger Time, Chain Reaction, Dark Seal, Darwin 4078, Lock 'n' Chase, Sly Spy, Tumble Pop and Wizard Fire.
When I saw this cart had been announced my first thought was "well, it won't have Tumble Pop so I'm not that enthused" but it only bleedin' bastard well buggering does. A massively under-rated single-screen arcade joy not a million miles away from Snow Bros, it's one of my personal favourite arcade memories. I used to play that in one of the many arcades on Great Yarmouth's "golden mile". That and Bells & Whistles, which you probably know better as Detana!! Twin Bee. Anyway, my waxing nostalgic aside, that and Sly Spy are the standouts here, but the whole collection is pretty good stuff.
Finally (for now), Technos Arcade 1 features Battle Lane Vol. 5, Block Out, The Combatribes, Double Dragon II: The Revenge, Double Dragon III: The Rosetta Stone, Mania Challenge, Minky Monkey and Mysterious Stones: Dr John's Adventure.
Right, so, I went looking for Battle Lane Vols 1-4 and found absolutely nothing doing. I wondered if it might be some sort of surprisingly violent sequel series to Puddle Lane, but apparently not. There are some pleasantly deep cuts here, especially Block Out. The original Double Dragon is also conspicuously absent and on enquiring as to why this is, I was informed that it was substituted for Combatribes which runs on the same hardware as Double Dragon but without the egregious slowdown present in the original arcade version of Billy and Jimmy's inaugural adventure. So that's interesting!
The Gaelco cartridge stands out here, but all four offerings are worthwhile. They'll make a good match with the Evercade VS home console. When I started writing this, pricing/packages hadn't been announced, but they now have so I'll cover them very briefly; there's a starter pack that comes with the console, one controller and the Technos cartridge. Not bad, but buying a console that's literally named VS with only a single controller strikes me as counterproductive. The Premium bundle includes said second controller as well as adding the Data East cartridge for £109.99. Two carts, two pads and the system for £110 is pretty good, especially given how reasonably priced the whole library is and that it's compatible with all of the stuff released so far (with the odd exception of the two Namco carts, which has to be a licensing thing).
As you can tell from, well, all this, I remain a fan of what Evercade is doing - curated collections of lesser-known games that deserve way more love mixed in with the odd big crowd-pleaser? Why, it's basically my M.O. So I'll be nabbing myself a VS at the first opportunity and shall be sure to inform you all how it is. Hooray!