Here, in T3's Evercade VS review, I intend to show you what this new console is and and the type of gameplay experiences it offers.
Ever since T3 first reported on the Evercade VS back in April this year I've been keen to get hands on with the system, and now I've spent a good few weeks with the Evercade VS Premium Pack I feel I know what it is all about.
The Evercade VS is the latest in a now quite long line of modern retro consoles, which have to date included the Nintendo Classic Mini and SNES Classic Mini consoles, as well as Sony PlayStation Classic, Sega Mega Drive Mini and NEOGEO Mini, among others.
There's a big difference with the Evercade VS, though, compared to these consoles. Unlike these systems, which came with a limited, pre-loaded selection of games, the Evercade VS is a full-on console that takes game carts.
And the library of games currently available on these carts, which are multi-game, stretches to over 260 titles. These titles are all classic arcade (with some console) games and the library of them is growing all the time.
So where the mini consoles (unless cracked open and hacked full of emulated ROMS illegally) have a small and fixed game library, the Evercade VS does not.
Indeed, the big deal with the Evercade VS is that all the games it sells on its carts are legally licensed, making it in my opinion the new benchmark (in terms of affordability and legality) for how to collect and play classic arcade games.
Let's get stuck into the Evercade VS review to see how it does this.
Evercade VS review: price, release date and editions
The Evercade VS release date is October 22nd, 2021. However, at the time of writing this review, due to shipping issues, stock of the console doesn't look like it will be available until early 2022.
Gamers who pre-ordered the Evercade VS are expected to get their orders in December 2021 in the UK, and January 2022 in the US.
The Evercade VS comes in three editions, Starter Pack, Premium Pack and Founder Edition.
The Evercade VS Starter Pack price is £89.99, $99.99, €99.99.
The Evercade VS Premium Pack price is £109.99, $129.99, €129.99.
The Evercade VS Founder Edition is not on sale anymore, as it was a limited run pre-order special. Naturally, these consoles are being sold on third-party auction sites such as eBay.
The Founders Edition comes in a different colorway and includes more game cartridges and extra collectibles.
More information about the Evercade VS can be found on the official Evercade website.
Evercade VS review: unboxing video
A new video game console review would be lacking if it didn't have an unboxing video, so right here I show you what you get in the Evercade VS Premium Pack box. Gamers will be pleased to see that Premium Pack includes the Evercade VS as well as two controllers out of the box and two game carts with 18 arcade games included.
Evercade VS review: design and hardware
Take the Evercade VS out of its box and the first thing I thought of was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), but one that is sleeker and smaller.
The console has a flip-up front lid that hides the console's cartridge slots, just like the NES, and it has small details like the slatted top-mounted vents that also hark back to Nintendo's classic console.
That makes sense considering the games that the Evercade VS plays are predominantly from the 1980s.
Other details from that era of home entertainment consoles include the very NES evocative controllers, which are larger than the NES' and definitely better controllers, but still not comfortable to hold when compared to modern gamepads.
The good news, though, is that thanks to the Evercade VS coming with four USB ports, third-party USB controllers can be used on the console. These ports sit underneath an LED lighting bar at the front of the console.
Round the back of the Evercade VS console you can find a HDMI port as well as power port (micro USB). This simple power and connectivity setup means the Evercade VS can be used with any screen you can think of, with TVs or monitors with a USB port capable of powering the console, as well as displaying its imagery.
In terms of overall aesthetics the Evercade VS looks fantastic. It's got clean lines and the white finish looks really smart. Attention to detail has been paid here in terms of design, even though the console is light and has a hollow feeling when held, evoking an old-fashioned console from the 80s or 90s.
Evercade VS review: software and performance
Of course, good looks can only take you so far, and so let's move onto Evercade VS performance and software.
As aforementioned, the Evercade VS (and the pre-existing handheld Evercade console) accept game carts. The Evercade family of game carts come as collections, which again is a bit old fashioned and in-keeping with the retro theme, of classic arcade games from, predominantly, the 1980s.
So you'll find, for example, an Atari Arcade collection on a game cart, or a Gaelco or Data East collection. These collections are labelled numerically, too, and there are multiple collections in some series, such as a Piko Interactive Collection 1 and 2.
Some collections are based purely around game series, too. For example, there is a Worms Collection 1 available that includes Worms, Worms 2 and Worms Armageddon.
Interestingly, not all games available are strictly retro, with some modern retro-themed titles also licensed such as XenoCrisis and Tanglewood. This points to a system that, providing the Evercade VS' makers, Blaze Entertainment, can license the games, the platform will be able to play more modern titles.
And, as mentioned above, thanks to the Evercade VS featuring two game cart slots, this means that at any time a gamer can have north of 20 games loaded and ready to play.
The Evercade VS, when booted, kicks you to its home menu which then displays all the games you have loaded with large, very visual flyer imagery of the games in question. This is a really nice touch as it not only gets to show off lots of the original key art made for these games, but it also cements the fact that you're travelling back in time to play these titles.
We're talking games like Asteroids, Centipede, Double Dragon, Block Out and Burger Time, which were tearing up the arcades in the 1980s. There's some really interesting and less well known stuff on some of these carts, too, including the brilliantly named Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja and The Combatribes.
These games are very much products of their time, and play like arcade games rather than home console titles, but unlike back in the arcade heyday you won't need to pump the Evercade VS with quarters to keep playing all night.
Last thing on games for the Evercade VS: the fact that there are carts and that they are officially licensed means that there is actually a games library to collect for this system, which will be like cat nip to retro gamers. I imagine plenty of owners getting into the Evercade so they can complete their Evercade set. This is definitely a step up over the other modern retro consoles we've seen so far in my opinion.
And, speaking of step up, the Evercade VS also has some strong customisation and screen option settings, meaning that purists can display these games as they remember them from their younger days.
Games can be played in widescreen, original ratio and even Pixel Perfect, and scan lines can be added (light or heavy, depending on your preference) to really emulate those old CRT monitors.
I rested on Pixel Perfect in the end and then also tweaked the bezels to display only black. The scan line options are fine, even if they don't allow the flexibility delivered on a third-party upscaler box such as the Micomsoft Framemeister XRGB Mini.
While the console is dedicated to playing, on the whole, old arcade games, it does come with a few more home console benefits, such as the ability to save and store game progress at any time, as well as enable cheat codes in games with a dedicated cheat code menu.
Finally, while the controls on most of these games are very simple (remember, they were made for arcade machines with a joystick and a few buttons), each game's controls can be viewed easily before the game or during the game. This again adds to the pick-up-and-play accessibility delivered by the Evercade VS.
Evercade VS review: verdict
Overall, I don't know what else the Evercade VS could deliver really in the pursuit of its brief, which is to make playing retro arcade games fun, affordable and accessible to any gamer.
From a point of view of, "I want to play retro arcade games but don't have tens of thousands of pounds to spend on original equipment", the Evercade VS is simply the best option on the market today.
The hardware is stylish, the software bountiful and officially licensed, and there's genuine scope for the console to do far more in the future, thanks to the modern hardware that powers it.
Retro gamers who remember the golden days of the arcades in the '70s, '80s and '90s will love this system, but I also think there's plenty here to interest younger gamers and tech enthusiasts who like to tinker.
I think the difference for me here with the Evercade VS is that it feels like a system that has legs to run. It's a proper new console release that is going to see its game library continue to grow, as well as what it can do.
Most importantly, though, the Evercade VS is making sure that this important era in video games isn't forgotten or buried in an illegal rights-battle-hell grey limbo. Here are these great arcade games, available to buy and play now in the comfort of your own living room.
And that's very special. Chapeau Blaze Entertainment, chapeau.
- These are the best gaming headsets to use with the Evercade VS