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Evercade VS test: a retro console that transforms your living room into an arcade room

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The original Evercade was an extremely specialized device. He foresaw a future where handheld computers dedicated to video games not only thrived, but even still used cartridges. In a world where there are so many ways to play retro games – subscription services, builds, emulation – this offered something very different. It didn’t make sense to everyone, but it did its job very well. Now the family has grown with the Evercade VS. If the original was a modern take on the Game Boy, it’s its NES counterpart. It’s still a niche and caters to a very specific audience – and still does its job very well.

In its most basic form, the Evercade VS is a home console version of the original device. This is a white plastic case that supports up to four controllers, includes two cartridge slots, and has ports on the back for both HDMI and USB power (although the USB cable is included, you will need to provide your own adapter). It looks a bit like a larger PSOne with a really satisfying cartridge flap on the front. It’s not a high-end machine like you’ll find at Analogue, but it’s a step up from most modern retro consoles. The controllers, on the other hand, are similar to the Evercade handheld, with a rectangular layout including a D-pad, four face buttons, and start / select / home buttons, plus a few additional shoulder triggers bearing the total to four. Overall, it’s a nice, tidy set that doesn’t feel out of place in an entertainment unit next to an Xbox or PlayStation.

In order to actually play games, Evercade VS uses the same proprietary cartridges as the handheld. Essentially, Evercade has partnered with notable publishers such as Data East, Atari, and Technōs to deliver physical collections of classic games. The Data East arcade collection, for example, includes 10 titles, from well-known games like Burgers time to more obscure dishes like the beat ’em up fantasy Sorcerer’s fire. For the most part, these are well organized collections; Personally, I like to discover great old games that I have never played before, like the extremely 90s shooter Alligator hunting about skate punks fighting an alien invasion. The cartridges work on both the handheld and the new console – with the exception of two Namco collections, which only work on the original Evercade due to licensing issues – and support states backup so you can move back and forth between devices if you have both. (You can see a full list of the cartridge collections available here.)

The Evercade VS improves the overall experience in several ways. For starters, it’s just nice to see a lot of these games, with their large expressive sprites, zoomed in on a bigger screen (the console supports output up to 1080p). The original Evercade had a crisp display, but you lose some detail on a small screen. For the most part, these games were meant to be displayed on a TV or arcade machine, and they look much better with room to breathe. The Evercade VS also offers a few display options, so you can leave it in the original format, stretch the image to fit your TV, or – my favorite – use the “pixel perfect” mode which makes things, well, pixel perfect. You can also add scan lines to reproduce the reading on an older screen. The Evercade VS also adds a handful of cool tweaks, including a much more improved user interface that makes it easier not only to sort games but also your saves. It has a lot more personality than the original Evercade barebones interface.

The most important thing the VS adds, however, is good multiplayer. So many of these games were meant to be played with other people, and to coincide with the console launch, Evercade has also released a few new collections focused exclusively on arcade games. I had a lot of fun making my way through the old people Double Dragon games with friends, especially since I no longer have to worry about keeping coins on hand. It’s nice to have these games available on the go, but the multiplayer aspect makes it more community and authentic.

The key question of the Evercade is whether this experience of crowding around a TV to beat baddies is worth the price of admission. It won’t be for everyone. The Evercade VS starts at $ 99.99, which gives you a controller and a collection of games; a more premium offer includes two controllers and two cartridges for an additional $ 30. (Stand-alone cartridges cost $ 20 and usually include up to 10 games depending on the publisher or platform.) There are certainly cheaper ways to play. Pong or whatever Minky Monkey is. But that money pays for more than just precise emulation. The console also replicates an experience – an experience where the tactile nature of the cartridges is as important as the games they contain.


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