Evercade Retro Handheld Console Review: Portable Gaming Joy

It’s a good mix of classics and obscure games that ran on a wide array of consoles, including the NES, SNES, the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive), and the Mattel Intellivision. You miss out on the feel and layout of original controllers, but a firmware update now lets you remap buttons in some titles; I haven’t run into any problems with custom layouts. 

There are a few old 8-bit Atari titles in here that are probably best forgotten, but the curated approach encourages you to try every game. Searching through to find familiar favorites is a part of the fun, but there are several titles I didn’t recognize until the loading screen and music triggered a dose of nostalgia. 

I mostly don’t miss physical media, but sliding the Evercade cartridges into place is undeniably satisfying. And I particularly like that every game collection comes with its own case, art, and a little color booklet filled with a brief history of each game. Sometimes having an endless list of games, as you typically do with emulators, can lead you to skip unfamiliar titles or get frozen in choice paralysis. That’s easier to avoid when you’re swapping cartridges with the Evercade. 

My favorites are Galaga and Pac-Man—my kids spent hours trying to beat my high score. The gone-but-not-forgotten beat-’em-up genre is well represented with the Double Dragon series, Iron Commando, Splatterhouse 3, and the hilariously bad Two Crude Dudes. And there’s plenty of platform fun with Earthworm Jim, racing with Checkered Flag, and adventure with the Dizzy series. 

Photograph: Evercade

The biggest downside is the lack of multiplayer support, which is a shame when there are games like Clayfighter and Double Dragon II. The company might be addressing this soon; it recently teased Evercade VS, a way to potentially play multiplayer games on the system, for April 23.

Have someone wanting to spectate you? Sharing the screen is tricky, because if you tilt the Evercade too much the screen can be hard to see. We had the most fun when I plugged it into the TV, but I had to buy an HDMI-to-mini HDMI cable to do this (make sure to get a long one). The console then simply turns into a controller. Many games look surprisingly good on a 65-inch screen, but a few titles like Electro Cop are headache-inducing. 

For All Gamers 

The Evercade is better than most mini retro consoles, and it supports a far-more-eclectic collection of games. It’s polished, offers a big-screen experience, and is relatively affordable, even with the price of an HDMI cable and extra cartridges factored in. As my household has proven, there’s fun to be had here for gamers of all ages. 

It’s not just a nostalgia cash-in. Real care and attention have gone into the design, with love and reverence for retro gaming that shows.