Most nostalgic gamers don’t realise that a big part of the fun of classic consoles was playing against friends on the same screen, not across the world over the internet. So the creators of the Evercade handheld are back with a new home console called the Evercade VS that facilitates four-player gaming on a big screen.
Released last year, the original Evercade was a handheld gaming console that, like many others as of late, gave gamers access to hundreds of retro titles without requiring them to carry around hundreds of cartridges, but with an approach that made it incredibly easy to use.
Most of the handheld systems available today rely on emulators to play classic games and often require endless tweaking of settings to achieve optimal gameplay performance without frame rate issues or problems with audio sync. These systems also usually require gamers to source and provide their own video game ROM files, which is a legal grey area. The team behind the Evercade took a different approach. The company instead licensed classic games from the original publishers and created a series of themed cartridges (reasonably priced at around $25) that each included a small collection of titles. The approach also meant the Evercade itself played every retro game flawlessly and was incredibly easy to use.
The handheld Evercade even included an HDMI port for playing retro games on a big screen, but it was limited to a resolution of just 720p, and gaming was always just a single-player affair. But that’s where the new Evercade VS enters the picture. It’s a home console designed to nest alongside all your home entertainment centre gear and make the current run of 20 Evercade cartridge collections playable on the big screen at 1080p, or slightly smaller depending on how you set your screen scaling options. Remember, most of the available games were released at a time when TVs boasted a little over 350,000 pixels, not more than 2 million, and weren’t widescreen.
The Evercade VS actually features two cartridge slots, increasing its roster of games available at any one time, but its most appealing upgrade is the inclusion of multiple USB ports that revive single-screen multiplayer for up to four participants — assuming the game you’ve chosen actually supports that many competitors.
For the complete Evercade experience, the console works with a custom gamepad that’s styled after the original Evercade handheld, but we weren’t the biggest fans of that circular directional pad. Thankfully, because it uses USB ports, the Evercade VS will work with almost any wired controller (including the Microsoft Adaptive Controller) or 8BitDo’s wireless lineup when paired with one of the company’s USB wireless adapters. Owners of the Evercade handheld can even plug it into the Evercade VS and use it as a controller, although the screen offers no competitive advantage.
The Evercade VS will be available for preorder starting May 28 and will start at $170 for a starter pack that includes the console itself, one game cartridge, and a single controller. Other packs that increase the number of included games and controllers will also be available, but pricing for those options hasn’t been announced yet. The actual release date for the hardware is expected to be closer to November later this year, but don’t be surprised if the ongoing pandemic throws a wrench in those plans.