Two years ago now, Blaze’s Evercade ushered in a new era for retro gamers who were sick of going through emulation over and over again and they wanted to bring back the classic games like yesteryear. In physical format, dedicated boxes, with instruction manuals and as many extras as possible. Evercade carried it out with a very interesting portable console and hundreds of licensed games, and whose success even led to a desktop version, the ‘Evercade VS’ that we already talked about on Xataka.
My retro laptops and me
I have a peculiar love relationship with portable systems that run retro games. When I get my hands on a new system to carry in my pocket, it’s the first thing I think about: are there classic compilations? Is it easy to emulate, and if so is it worth it? It’s no small feat: already at the time of the first Gameboy I was inevitably attracted to adaptations of games from the past. The titles I tasted there are countless, but let’s just say that I really enjoyed ‘R-Type’ or ‘Double Dragon’, despite not being exactly the same as the classic arcade games.
Since then I have tried countless laptops and retro games were always the touchstone, which helped me decide on one or the other. The legendary GP2X console (and its many variants before it, although this incarnation was my favourite) emulated all sorts of old systems with ease. Y I played the PSP classic compilations (Capcom’s are very widespread today, but they started thereto which those of companies such as Taito, Sega or Midway were added) almost more than any other title in the Sony pocket console catalog.
My last revelation has been, of course, the Steam Deck: I already told here how it turns out that yes, everything is very good, but I’m not going to put ‘God of War Ragnarök’ on Valve’s laptop, no matter how much the machine I can with it. I use it for indies and, of course, emulation of already ousted systems. The quality of the screen and the versatility of the console is giving me great moments of ‘International Karate +’ at full throttle.
In the same way that I tell you that I like to play retro pocket classics, I also tell you that I fervently defend tube TVs and original machines, and my space and my constant grease are difficult for me to have them ready. And yet there’s something special about carrying your favorite classics in your pocket everywhere you go.
For a while, I carried a Game Boy Advance Micro, which literally fit in my pocket, with a ‘Pac-Man Collection’ cartridge and a ‘Super Mario World’ cartridge, both perfect ports of the classics for Nintendo’s lower case. Just to make sure that I could, at any time, be able to play some of my fetish games. In the subway, in silly moments. Those were times before the infinite somatization of social networks, of course.
Y It is not only about resorting to infallible games -for not putting «perfect», or as young people say, «10/10»-, but to bring your favorite games close. There is a strange comfort in the retro portable, a bit of claiming that you are not going to get into a ‘Far Cry 6’ in a spare time, but that withering game of ‘Bruce Lee’ while you wait for the chard to cook, that one at best gives you the best time of the day.
The Ultimate in Portable Retro
That is why we receive with cheers and applause a little gadget like the Evercade EXP, which is nothing more than the improved version of the first Evercade. Improved because, after the interval of the magnificent desktop VS, this redesign of the first portable seems to have been done with great care and attention to the small flaws of the first (already a great little console).
For example, this one is wider and thinner, which makes it especially comfortable to hold, especially if you have large hands. The back has a rough feel that makes it more pleasant to hold and, above all, it loses that «plastic toy» feeling that the first console sometimes had. Of course: that Blaze had a curious special charm in the design, which gave it the appearance of a toy or a primitive laptop, and enhanced its retro approach; I particularly think that the design of the original had more personality, but for practical purposes and mere comfort, Evercade EXP is a step forward.
The buttons and triggers have undergone an absolute improvement. Again, perhaps these are more impersonal, but the handling is vastly superior to its predecessor: the D-pad is more responsive, especially on the diagonals, the four action buttons are curved ever so slightly inward, and the triggers are wonderful, especially the ones. two lower ones, also slightly curved for a more comfortable access. A ten in that sense.
But where this new portable Evercade stands out is its 4.3-inch IPS screen. It is not much larger than that of its predecessor, but it is brighter, with better definition and, above all, with impeccable visibility from any angle. In addition, it is protected by a sheet of tempered glass, which makes it infinitely more durable and resistant to the harsh life of backpacks and pockets full of keys and other objects that are not very compatible with glass.
Even so, it is a screen with its limitations and its modesty. First, for the brightness: do not compare it with that of an OLED Switch. Second, because of the size: I wish the Evercade EXP could have afforded to do without the white frame that surrounds the screen to gain a few extra inches, although then the price would have skyrocketed. We are afraid that if you have been playing with the Steam Deck for a few months, like us, this screen will feel small. But again, you have to balance prices, needs and possibilities.
As for the characteristics of this console, we have the TATE button, which allows you to place the screen vertically, that is, play with the console on its side, using the two that are placed next to the crosshead as action buttons. It’s a great idea for vertical ship games, but the action buttons and D-Pad are too close together, making the console uncomfortable to grip. In my case, I have preferred to play ship games with the horizontal screen (respecting the format with lateral stripes, yes) for mere ease of use.
And little else: battery that has lasted us around four hours and peak intense play (between four and five says Blaze) with good volume and maximum brightness; a Wi-Fi connection that is only used for hardware updates (no virtual stores, for the moment the invention is still adjusted to physical cartridges -with the exception of the ones pre-installed from Capcom in this same EXP); and the ability to connect via HDMI to a TV (cable not included) and watch games in glorious 720p.
Games and more games
The indisputable strength of the Evercade is obviously its catalog of available titles. Currently is close to 400 games in packs that cover all types of consoles and microcomputers, and that they not only point to the indisputable classics: in their highly varied packs, rarities, failures and uncommercialized games abound. In the Evercade catalog we are not going to deepen, but the truth is that it is a small wonder and a very commendable effort to keep games on the market that should not be forgotten.
The Evercade EXP includes 18 games (arcade and console) from Capcom pre-installed, with few surprises in the selection, but hey: you get three classics like ‘Mega Man’, ‘Final Fight’ and ‘Street Fighter II’ in between others impeccable. Also included in the box is ‘IREM Arcade Collection 1’, a cartridge with six essential IREM shooters: ‘R-Type’ and ‘In the Hunt’ alone already mean hours of gnashing of teeth and swearing against everything sacred (but mange with pleasure…). Also, coinciding with the release of the EXP, Blaze launches a compilation with eight Toaplan games that include an obscure cult classic for which I have devotion, the insane ‘Guardian’, a fantastic orthopedic clone of ‘Kung Fu Master’.
Games and options will not be missing. Without a doubt, it is the great attraction of Evercade EXP: face a system that you already know works (the emulation is, as always, impeccable, and the possibility of saving games is useful and simple) with a very large catalog and where you already have a lot and for all tastes to choose from. The limitations are the same as always: very limited configuration options (it’s a shame we still can’t remap the buttons) and less documentation than we’d like (we’re afraid the amazing ‘Atari 50’ has spoiled us).
There are few more details to consider: great (almost unbeatable) price, retro served impeccably, very manageable limitations, possibility of sending the signal simply and effectively to a TV… a sure bet for devotees, like me, to take the retro game everywhere. Because the pleasure you feel when tasting a quick game of ‘Commando’ while queuing up in the administrative hell that touches you this week, you can’t pay for it with money.