10 of the best Evercade games: 2021 “Purple” edition

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We’re coming up on the end of the year, and of course every gaming site out there is doing their “best of 2021” lists. So we thought we’d do our own little variation on that formula by taking a look at the complete library of Evercade games available as of the end of 2021, and picking out some of the best Evercade games that you should spend your time with.

Trouble is, across the 26 carts currently available for the Evercade as of the end of 2021, there are a lot of games to choose from. So we thought we’d split this feature into several parts. Last time around, we looked at the best Evercade games from the “red” (home console) carts that released in 2021. So this time, we’re going to look specifically at the four purple arcade carts that released in 2021 and pick out the best Evercade games from therein.

The next Evercade releases due to arrive are the Renovation Collection 1 and Gremlin Collection 1 cartridges, which will be joining us in March of 2022. So if you haven’t already got caught up with the rest of the Evercade’s substantial library, here are some great places to start — and, as always, this is far from an exhaustive list, so if you have your own favourites you want to share, please feel free to do so down in the comments!

Double Dragon II: The Revenge

Best Evercade games from arcade collections: Double Dragon II

Technos’ classic and genre-defining beat ’em up is likely one of the first things people will head for on the Technos Arcade 1 cartridge, and it’s a solid choice. Casting you (and, optionally, a friend) in the role of Billy and Jimmy Lee, it’s your job to take down the vicious Black Warriors in revenge for the murder of Billy’s girlfriend Marian.

Featuring a combat style that emphasises directional strikes, Double Dragon II is a challenging beat ’em up where you’ll need to demonstrate a solid understanding of reach and an ability to manage space. Its NES counterpart on the Technos Collection 1 “red” cart — actually a rather different game — is already one of the best Evercade games, and this is a fine accompaniment to it, particularly if you bring a friend along.

Block Out

Best Evercade games from arcade collections: Block Out

One of the best things about the Technos Arcade 1 cart is the sheer variety of different game styles that are on offer. While Technos is primarily known for its pioneering work in the beat ’em up genre, they experimented with all manner of different games in the arcade — and Block Out is one of the best examples.

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Best thought of as a three-dimensional take on Tetris, Block Out challenges you to rotate three-dimensional pieces made of cubes around three different axes and create “faces” — complete layers of cubes in a pit. It starts out tricky as you get to grips with the peculiar control scheme and only gets harder from there — but the sheer addictive and rewarding quality of this puzzler makes it one of the best Evercade games from the arcade collections.

Lock ‘n’ Chase

Best Evercade arcade games: Lock 'n' Chase

Lock ‘n’ Chase is one of those games that was pretty popular back when it originally released, with ports to several classic retro gaming platforms including the Atari 2600, Intellivision and Apple II. But as the years have gone on, it’s been mostly forgotten — which is a shame, as it’s a really interesting take on the Pac-Man formula, and one of the best Evercade games on the Data East Arcade 1 collection.

Taking on the role of a thief, it’s your job to pick up all the coins and as many of the other treasures as possible from a vault before the security forces catch up with you. Rather than Pac-Man’s power pills, though, your main form of defence in Lock ‘n’ Chase is the ability to slam doors closed behind you, changing the layout of the maze and creating dead ends to throw off your pursuers. It’s a tricky game — noticeably harder than Pac-Man to get into — but once you get to grips with its idiosyncrasies, you’ll lose hours to this one.

Wizard Fire

Best Evercade games: Wizard Fire

Unfolding as something of a blend between a beat ’em up and Atari’s classic Gauntlet, but presented from an isometric perspective, Wizard Fire and its predecessor Gate of Doom (also known as Dark Seal and Dark Seal II) are really solid, visually striking additions to the Data East Arcade 1 cartridge — and some of the best Evercade games to enjoy with a friend.

As arcade games in the beat ’em up mould, these are enormously challenging affairs, but in many ways these games are about enjoying the journey. Battle your way through hordes of weird and wonderful enemies, enjoy the many beautifully presented environments through which you proceed — and never worry about running out of coins in your pocket. And if nothing else, this one is worth playing for the voice acting alone.

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World Rally

Best Evercade games: World Rally

The Gaelco Arcade 1 collection for Evercade is filled with a selection of somewhat lesser-known arcade games — but World Rally is one you would have probably come across at some point or another. Unfolding as an isometric-perspective racing game, World Rally tasks you with completing high-speed courses against an extremely tight time limit, and offers a highly enjoyable thrill ride in a variety of visually spectacular environments.

World Rally is fast, difficult and enormously satisfying to get right — and the Evercade version is noteworthy as being the first officially licensed home version of the game ever after a proposed PlayStation version never made it to market in the ’90s. Absolutely one of the best Evercade games to demonstrate what the system is really all about.

Biomechanical Toy

Best Evercade games: Biomechanical Toy

Described rather aptly by a friend of mine as “weirdo Euro acid trip Metal Slug”, Biomechanical Toy casts you in the role of a super-cool ’90s action figure who is tasked with tracking down the evil criminal Scrubby and the Magic Pendulum he has stolen. Your quest unfolds as a side-scrolling platform run-and-gun game with colourful levels, wonderfully animated enemies and Gaelco’s in-house musician Joan Sanmarti Serra wailing away on electric guitar in the background.

It’s one of those arcade games that actually feels a lot more at home on console, so it’s surprising that it never got a port to home systems back in the day. Now it’s part of the Gaelco Arcade 1 collection, though, we can comfortably declare it one of the best Evercade games out there!

Alligator Hunt

Best Evercade games: Alligator Hunt

Yet another Gaelco game that never came home back in the day, Alligator Hunt is a Cabal or Wild Guns-style shooter that challenges one or two players to fend off alien invasions in a series of spectacular scenarios — initially on the ground and subsequently in space.

While its controls take a bit of getting used to initially, particularly if you’ve never played a game like this before, once you get into things it’ll become clear that this is one of the best Evercade games from among the new arcade collections. Bring a friend for maximum enjoyment, but this is an absolute blast solo, too.

Canyon Bomber

Best Evercade games: Canyon Bomber

The Atari Arcade 1 cartridge for Evercade, consisting entirely of significantly older games than those found on the other three arcade collections, may be a harder sell for some gamers. But if you can look past the dated visuals and sound of these games, you’ll find some of the best Evercade games to enjoy — and Canyon Bomber is absolutely one of the most formidably addictive from among the entire collection.

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Canyon Bomber’s appeal comes from its simplicity: all you do is press a button to drop a bomb, and all that is required of you is to score as many points as possible — or at the very least, beat your opponent, who can be controlled either by computer or another player. This is a game that anyone can pick up and play — and as such, you can expect it to be enormously competitive if you get a few people together to give it a go!

Crystal Castles

Best Evercade games: Crystal Castles

The Atari 2600 version of Crystal Castles can be found on the Atari Collection 1 cartridge for Evercade — but while that version is an admirably enjoyable take on the game that plays well to the 2600’s limited capabilities, the arcade original is a rather different beast. Unfolding in a convincing trimetric projection quasi-3D style, Crystal Castles challenges you, as Bentley Bear, to get all the gems before your enemies do — and before the bees get you!

Other ports of Crystal Castles’ arcade version — such as the one found in Atari Flashback Classics — are rather prone to oversensitive controls due to attempts to simulate the trackball-based control scheme of the original machine. The Evercade version strikes a good balance between responsiveness and actually feeling like you’re in control of the action, though — and that means you can actually enjoy the game. Don’t expect an easy ride, though!


Best Evercade games: Millipede

Finally, we come to an all-time classic from the Atari Collection 1 cartridge: Millipede, the follow-up to Centipede, and one of Atari’s most frantic games from its early days. Millipede can, at times, feel a little overwhelming to play, but its sheer sense of energy is infectious — and being able to enjoy it in its original arcade version either on the go or on the big screen is a real pleasure.

Any retro gaming system worth its salt really needs to make sure that it pays proper homage to the most venerable classics — and it’s fair to say that the version of Millipede we have here certainly qualifies as one of the best Evercade games in the arcade collections. It may not be as complex or visually impressive as some of the other games on this list — but dang, it’s fun!

So those are our picks for the ten best Evercade games from the “purple” collection so far — what do you think? Let us know your faves down in the comments or via the usual social channels!

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