The success of Blaze’s Evercade handheld since its launch two years ago – along with its sister console, the TV-based, multiplayer-focused Evercade VS – cannot be overstated.
Many retro gamers, myself included, struggled to see the point of a console that offered retro games in relatively small collections, considering the wide availability of Android consoles and the relative ease of getting your hands on thousands upon thousands of ROMs for countless machines.
Yet in the face of illicit ROMs and consoles, it still managed to carve out a really great niche for retro gamers and collectors alike.
What made Evercade work so well?
Despite the convenience of countless ROMs at your fingertips – usually to be played on one of a selection of cheap consoles, often imported from China – quite often, there’s compatibility issues that leads to inconsistent frame rates, poor emulation and even controls that can need endless remapping.
There’s an awful lot of tinkering involved with retro gaming the ‘unofficial’ way – but that’s never been the case with the Evercade.
Everything just works perfectly – and the handheld console itself is brilliantly designed from a form factor and control point of view, with a big, bright display and carefully curated selections of games that dare to delve deeper into the back catalogues of publishers, beyond their more familiar ‘greatest hits’.
Numerous save slots per game are also a boon; especially for longer games or those titles in which it makes sense to keep track of your high scores.
The cartridges themselves bring a tactile feel back to retro gaming, with beautifully designed packages and even mini-manuals to add further, tangible appeal to the physical compilations of old titles
Being able to attach a mini-HDMI cable and output the display to the TV is a genuinely useful, genius touch too.
So if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Just as the Evercade VS brought the Evercade into the living room and made it possible for multiple players to take part in the retro gaming fun – whilst retaining compatibility with the vast majority of cartridges (Blaze’s handheld-only deal with Namco stopped them from ensuring compatibility with the VS console), the Evercade EXP doesn’t seek to reinvent the wheel – just improve it.
What’s new with the Evercade EXP?
The premium look of the Evercade EXP is immediately evident; though the original Evercade handheld had the classic feel of a retro console, the Evercade EXP dials the design up to eleven, with a sleek, modern aesthetic. The standard console – in all-over, minimalist white – is beautiful, but the improvements to the look and feel of the console don’t just stop at its aesthetics.
An IPS screen, USB-C charging and even WiFI are all new improvements. The WiFi will, just like the Evercade VS, make updating and adding extra features much easier than on the original handheld console.
Why are there buttons on the left side of the screen?
The two buttons beside the screen are there to facilitate one of the Evercade EXP’s most exciting new features: TATE mode.
Now, when playing games that originally came on vertically oriented displays, there’s no need to play them in a tiny window or stretched to fit a horizontally oriented screen – you can instead rotate the console 90 degrees and utilise the control pad and buttons to play the games exactly as they were originally intended to be played.
It’s another thoughtful and incredibly useful design aspect, which demonstrates that the Evercade consoles are devices made by gamers, for gamers.
When will the Evercade EXP be released?
The current release date is ‘Winter 2022’. During – and just after – the worst of the pandemic, supply chain issues caused severe delays to both the Evercade VS and even some cartridges; it’s an issue still affecting the release of cartridges even now. So even though a slightly non-committal Winter 2022 may seem a little frustrating for those gamers itching to get their hands on the new console, it makes sense for Blaze to not fix a specific date, so as to avoid the frustration that Evercade collectors have felt with some of their previous releases.
How much will the Evercade EXP cost?
The standard edition of the Evercade EXP will be available at £129.99, $149.99 or €149.99. Pre-Orders will open in September 2022. Note that this will net gamers the console and the newly announced Irem Collection 1.
What games are featured on Irem Collection 1?
The Irem Collection 1 is another purple-boxed cartridge, which means that it contains the original arcade versions of each game on the collection. The six games in this collection are: R-Type, In The Hunt, Moon Patrol, 10 Yard Fight, Battle Chopper (Mr Heli) and Lightning Swords.
What’s on the other announced cartridge – Toaplan Collection 1?
That’s right – the Irem cartridge wasn’t the only new collection to be announced. Another compilation of classic arcade games, the Toaplan Collection 1 features eight games: Flying Shark, Alcon (Slap Shot), Tiger-Heli, Truxton, Zero Wing, Guardian, Snow Bros and Teki-Paki.
Is there a Limited Edition version of the Evercade EXP console?
Just as the original Evercade and the Evercade VS were also available in special, limited edition versions, so too will the Evercade EXP have a Limited Edition release.
The black version of the Evercade EXP is available to pre-order right now, priced at £179.99 and exclusively at Funstock.co.uk – but be quick, only 5000 units are available!
What’s included in the Evercade EXP Limited Edition?
The all-black Limited Edition console package contains an exclusive hard carry case for the EVERCADE EXP, art cards, a poster, a certificate of authenticity, a keyring and other extras, along with the inclusion of not just the Irem Collection 1, but the Toaplan Collection 1 too.
What’s happening with the original Evercade console?
Sadly, the original, more affordable (though less capable) Evercade handheld is being discontinued. Blaze will continue to honour warranties and support requests from the purchase date of the product.
Furthermore, there will be one further update to the original console. Games will work best on the latest firmware. Blaze will no longer support cartridge releases for firmware versions 1.3.x and below, but will be guaranteed to run on version 2.x or higher.
All cartridges – including the Namco collections – will of course run without issues on the Evercade EXP.
What do the Team at Retro Dodo think of the Evercade consoles?
We’re very excited to see the hardware being refreshed and upgraded – and we can’t wait to get our hands on the Evercade EXP, so stay tuned for our review.
Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.