We all love a list, so every Tuesday we’re posting one, on a variety of retro-themed topics! Feel free to share your own favourites down below — and let us know what other lists you’d like to see on future Tuesdays!
Continuing on with our look back over the Evercade’s substantial library to date, it’s time to look at the cartridges that released in the platform’s first year on the market. That includes the initial launch lineup, plus the two Atari Lynx collections, the Xeno Crisis and Tanglewood double-pack, and the Oliver Twins collection.
These cartridges all fall into the “Red” collection of Evercade cartridges, which consist entirely of games that originally appeared on home consoles, and home console ports of arcade games. The newer “Purple” collection launched alongside the Evercade VS TV-connected console, and features original arcade versions — so bear that in mind if you have favourite versions of certain games!
Now, obviously with 14 Evercade cartridges to cover and only ten slots in our list we can’t necessarily put one game from every cart in the mix. So with that in mind, if you have any particular favourites we haven’t covered here, be sure to share them down in the comments or via the usual social channels!
Let’s get started!
The Atari 7800 isn’t a super well-known or well-loved console outside of a community of hardcore enthusiasts — but it plays host to some interesting, excellent and genuinely unique games. Ninja Golf is one of the most well-known — and well-loved — examples of these Atari 7800 exclusives, and seeing it show up on the very first Evercade cartridge was a delight.
In Ninja Golf, you’re tasked with completing the most deadly final task of your ninja training: nine holes of Ninja Golf, during which you’ll have to alternate accurately hitting shots across the course and fending off the endless unwanted attentions of ninjas, snakes, gophers, sharks and more. Combining simple sports action and straightforward Kung Fu-style scrolling beat ’em up fun, this is a really enjoyable game that constantly demands “just one more go”.
It’s a real shame that the two Namco Museum cartridges won’t currently work on the Evercade VS due to licensing shenanigans with Namco, because they play host to some of the finest games from the Evercade’s launch lineup, and indeed the platform’s entire library.
Standing tall and proud among this collection of great games is Star Luster, a 3D space sim in the Star Raiders mould, originally released for Famicom back in 1985. It looks, sounds and plays great — and if you’re interested in going down the substantial rabbit hole of Namco lore, you’ll discover that it’s a distantly-related spinoff to Mr Driller, Dig Dug, Galaxian, Galaga and Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere. Also its sequel Star Ixiom for PlayStation is magnificent, but that’s a tale for another day.
Found on the Data East Collection 1 cartridge for Evercade, Burnin’ Rubber (which some might know as Bump ‘n’ Jump) is one of the most monstrously addictive games in the platform’s library.
Unfolding as a simple vertically scrolling racer in which you have the ability to jump over cars and obstacles, the catchy music, colourful graphics and compelling gameplay will keep you coming back time after time with this one.
Another space sim, this time originally for the Atari 2600 and appearing on the Atari Collection 2 cart. Solaris is the sequel to the classic Star Raiders, and was developed by the original creator of that legendary game, Doug Neubauer. It’s quite a different beast to the original Star Raiders, placing a strong focus on exploration and strategy rather than simple defence.
It’ll take a few attempts to make it through this one — but even if you never make it to the legendary planet Solaris, you’ll have a great time on your journey with some of the most varied space encounters on the 2600.
Prior to the Evercade’s launch, it’s fair to say that this exciting game was something of a system-seller. Developed for Mega Drive and released as part of the Mega Cat Studios Collection 1 cartridge, Tanzer is a speedy Strider-inspired arcade-style platform hack-and-slash game with astonishingly good visuals and sound.
Taking on the role of the last survivor of a galactic plague, it’s your job to travel back in time and slash the crap out of all manner of horrible nasties for… some reason. Said reason doesn’t really matter when the game is this fun, though — and with a stiff challenge factor plus lots of levels Tanzer will keep you busy for some time!
Originally known as Top Gear — not sure how they got away with that back in the day, because Top Gear was still a thing on the telly at the time of its 1992 release — this is basically Gremlin Graphics’ non-licensed version of their classic racer Lotus Turbo Challenge, complete with Barry Leitch soundtrack, ridiculous speed and a distinctly British sense of humour.
It’s a highlight of the Piko Interactive Collection 1 cartridge, one of the most enormously varied compilations from the initial lineup of Evercade titles — and it’s a great game to play with a friend on the Evercade VS with its enjoyable split-screen action.
Double Dragon II: The Revenge
For the unfamiliar, the NES versions of Technos’ classic Double Dragon games are substantially different from their arcade counterparts, making them well worth exploring independently of their big brothers. And you can do just that on the Technos Collection 1 cartridge for Evercade, featuring three Double Dragon games and a selection of other titles from in and around the Kunio-kun series.
Double Dragon II: The Revenge refines some of the slightly wonky edges of its predecessor, making its occasional platforming sequences in particular much more enjoyable. Great music, too — plus you can actually play with a friend, unlike the first game.
The Mega Cat Studios Collection 1 cart for Evercade had already showed that the platform was happy to support modern indie developers putting out new games for classic platforms, but the Xeno Crisis and Tanglewood double-pack demonstrated quite how seriously this part of the market was being taken, with two games of absolutely astonishing quality — and a cartridge that is quite a bit better value than buying the games individually!
Xeno Crisis is a twin stick-style shooter — though obviously with the Evercade’s all-digital controls, the “right stick” becomes the face buttons. It’s an enormously satisfying game featuring hordes of horrifying monsters, huge and gruesome bosses, well-crafted mechanics and a stiff challenge for one or two players. Absolutely a modern classic.
And it really wouldn’t be fair to leave out Tanglewood, since while it’s a very, very different sort of game to Xeno Crisis, it is just as high quality in terms of production values, graphics, animation, sound and gameplay.
Unfolding as a puzzle platformer, Tanglewood places you in the role of Nymn the fox-like creature, who is faced with the challenge of surviving a perilous night in the woods and making a dangerous journey home. Beautifully animated and oddly moving at times, Tanglewood is a modern indie masterpiece that should not be missed.
And finally we round things off with a title that originally appeared on Atari Lynx — though one which has been ported to a wide variety of other platforms over the years, too. The Lynx version found on the Atari Lynx Collection 2 cartridge for Evercade is the very original release of the game, though — and for many it’s the most fondly remembered version outside of Microsoft’s legendary Windows 3.1 port.
Chip’s Challenge is a top-down maze puzzle game with some absolutely infuriating brain-benders over the course of its 148 stages — the real pros can finish it in one sitting, of course, but if you don’t think you’re up to that you can either use the game’s password system or the Evercade’s Save function to pick up where you left off at a later time.
So there’s ten of the best Evercade games from the platform’s first year on the market. What are some of your faves? Let us know down in the comments, or via the usual social channels!