There are now a lot of truly excellent handhelds that let you enjoy the retro games of your youth anywhere, but none are as simple and streamlined as the Evercade, which is getting a major upgrade later this year with the Evercade EXP. This new model has Wi-Fi and a better screen, but more notably includes extra buttons, allowing the console to be played sideways for games requiring a portrait-oriented screen.
When we first heard about the Evercade back in 2019, we were sceptical about its use of cartridges, since most retro gaming handhelds available today allow gamers to fill microSD cards with thousands of ROM files, putting a massive library of classing games in their pockets. But when we reviewed the Evercade in 2020, the handheld’s appeal became immediately obvious.
Each themed cartridge contains a small collection of games from a specific publisher — like Atari, Namco, or Data East — and all of the games play absolutely perfectly on the Evercade, without glitches, slowdowns, or the need for gamers to pour through config settings in emulators to tweak the system’s performance. The Evercade was portable retro gaming made easy (and completely legal) and its creators are about to make it even better.
Today, Blaze Entertainment announced the new Evercade EXP, with an improved 1.5GHz processor, 4GB of memory, a larger 3,000 mAh battery good for about four or five hours of gaming, and an upgraded 4.3-inch IPS screen that’s still the same size as the original’s, but bumps the resolution from 480 x 272 pixels to 800 x 480.
The original Evercade’s Start and Select buttons have been rotated and relocated on the Evercade EXP, but the biggest improvement for the EXP is an extra set of A and B action buttons located just left of the screen and turned sideways. The Evercade EXP will support a new TATE mode, allowing the handheld to be turned 90 degrees and played sideways, in an orientation like the original Game Boy, so that scrolling shmups or arcade shoot ‘em up games can take full advantage of the entire screen.
Other upgrades improve the addition of L2 and R2 triggers, putting two on each side of the console’s top edge now, and Wi-Fi, which Blaze Entertainment says will be used to make software and firmware updates a lot easier, but not for game distribution. The Evercade EXP will still be dependent on the original’s ever-growing collection of cartridges, although the company isn’t ruling out the possibility that Wi-Fi could be used for other features later on.
Of all the improvements made to the Evercade EXP, our favourite might be the device’s new monochromatic colour scheme. The all-white version of the Evercade EXP (bundled with a single cartridge collection) will be available for pre-order starting in September for $US150 ($208), with delivery expected sometime later in the year. We’re a bit more fond of the all-black Evercade EXP Limited Edition, but as the name implies, only 5,000 units will be made available when pre-orders open for it tomorrow at Funstock.co.uk. It will also be considerably more expensive than the all-white option, with a £180 price tag, which translates to roughly $US226 ($314) on the other side of the pond.