Evercade Handheld Review (Original Premium Version)

 Evercade (Original) - Best bet for most retro gamers at this point is to hold off on this device and pre-order the Evercade EXP for $50 more! It might be worth the $99.99 if you really want the 3 included cartridges to use with the EXP though... 

Evercade
Evercade

I decided to finally pull the trigger on the Evercade cartridge experience by pre-ordering the Evercade EXP. Of course, my patience to wait 8 weeks is limited, so I ordered the original Evercade handheld (Premium Version) on Amazon for $99.99 to hold me over. This will also give me the opportunity to compare both in-depth. The idea behind the device according to the company is to "bring back the authentic experience of buying retro video games and explore the history of gaming"... Blaze Entertainment was definitely onto some great ideas with the Evercade although the execution wasn't perfect. The current library of games is a fairly eclectic mix of popular hits from the past and more obscure games. 

Packaging is Premium!

The Good 👍

  • Large 4.3" Screen & Ergonomic Design 
  • D-pad Should Appeal To Old School SEGA Console Fans (16/32-bit Era)
  • 3 Cartridges Included With The $99.99 Version ($60 Value)
  • TV Out Works Well
  • Battery Life Is Good But With A Slow Charge
  • Retro Aesthetic Is Great
  • Build Quality Is Above Average
  • Large & Responsive Face Buttons
  • Officially Licensed Games
  • Excellent Website!
  • Very Easy To Use (Pick Up And Play With No Emulation Experience or Knowledge Required)

The Bad 👎

  • Official Support For Device Dead After Only 2 Years
  • No Multi-Player or Co-op Capabilities (+No Wi-Fi or Bluetooth)
  • Cartridges Fit Too Tighly
  • Viewing Angles Are Well Below Average For A Modern Device
  • Updating Firmware Requires A Computer (Windows or Mac)
  • May Not Support Future Cartridges
  • Speakers Get Covered By Hands While Playing
  • Shoulders Have Too Little Resistance
  • They Should Have Gone With USB-C charging!
  • Limited Emulation Settings Options
  • Game & System Settings Often Reset After Handheld Is Turned Off
  • No Screenshot Feature Capability w/ No Internal Storage
  • No Button Remapping!

The Meh 🤷‍♂️

  • The Device Is A Little Thick and Heavy. That Doesn't Bother Me But Might Bother Some People
  • Doesn't Come With TV Out (Mini HDMI to HDMI) Cable or Charger (Fairly Standard Today Though). It Does Come With A Charging Cable. 
  • Some Button Locations Aren't Ideal
  • I feel like a cartridge based device optimally should be FPGA based not straight software emulation like you get here, but they did a good enough job with software emulation and there's no visually noticeable input delay you sometimes get with software emulation. At the same time,  FPGA would have drastically increased the price. 
Retroid Pocket 3 (Top) vs. Evercade Size Comparison. The Evercade is a lot bigger than I imagined it in my head!

Where To Buy

If you live in the states, your best option will be ordering from Amazon or Best Buy while the device is still readily available. Blaze Entertainment has already scrubbed the original Evercade from the official site and the device is officially obsolete after only 2 years. To their credit, Blaze Entertainment has expressed that warranties on purchases from retailers will still be honored despite the device no longer being an active product.

It should be noted that there's no difference between the US and UK versions of the handheld and cartridges other than the suggested age ratings on the carts. 

In The End 🤷‍♂️

At this point with the drastically improved Evercade EXP around the corner,  there really aren't many reasons to buy the original Evercade unless you want the 3 game cartridges that come with the $99.99 version. At $20 each, that effectively turns the original handheld into a $40 buy and can serve as a backup to the EXP while it's charging,  etc.  If couch multiplayer or co-op are important to you,  the Evercade VS may be a better way to go. The Evercade is completely geared towards a single-player experience.  All in all,  I feel at $99.99, it's a still a decent buy but most people will likely prefer spending $50 more on the upcoming Evercade EXP! The original Evercade is no longer a supported device. 

Evercade Original

Evercade Specs/Info

Evercade Premium Game

  • Media: ROM Cartridge 
  • Emulation Type: Software
  • 4.3" 480x272 Screen (Plastic LCD Non IPS)
  • CPU: 1.2GHz Cortex-A7
  • Memory: 256GB
  • Battery: 2,000 mAh
  • Successor: Evercade VS, Evercade EXP
  • WiFi/Bluetooth: No/No
  • Website: https://evercade.co.uk/

Build Quality & Design 👍

Overall, the build quality is solid and above average. The plastic feels solid and the device feels premium. There's no major rattling like you see with things like cheap PowKiddy devices, etc.,  and it's a fairly thick and heavy device. Despite being thick and heavy, I found it to be surprisingly ergonomic. The d-pad and face buttons were placed in near perfect locations which is something a lot of devices struggle with. The design aesthetic is definitely retro and almost looks like it was designed in the 1980s or early 90s. Some of the other button placements and speaker placement on the Evercade were questionable design decisions. I think the device could have been even more ergonomic with some extra texture on the back of the shell or some type of grip surface.

There are no visible external screws which is a nice design and aesthetic decision. I haven't disassembled the Evercade at this point, but might take a look inside down the road. 

Evercade Screen 👎

The screen other than the size is definitely the big letdown with this device. It's great that the screen plastic and the entire front plate of the device are one piece making it flush all the way across (little to no chance of dust getting in) but the quality of the screen is really bad. When playing, you really have to be looking dead on towards the screen or the colors will start to quickly wash out. I haven't seen a handheld with viewing angles this bad in a while. Wide-screen isn't the best aspect ratio for most games (4:3 would be better) but the 4.3" screen does make up for that. You can stretch any system to full screen but it doesn't use the best scaling. The OS is locked,  so I'm not really sure what specific scaling is being used. The screen is large enough,  games still look fine in proper aspect if you don't mind a little blank space on the sides. I've found being out of aspect on devices with 3.5" and below screens to be highly annoying but it's more tolerable when the screen is over 4 inches. 

D-Pad 👍

Evercade D-Pad

The d-pad is a bit of a mixed bag but overall pretty good. It's a lot like an old SEGA Genesis controller and works well with platformers, sports games and fighting games. I feel like it struggled a little bit with shooters or games that require fast precision. The rocker style d-pad seems to generally work well with a variety of systems and isn't too soft or loose like this style can be on some devices. For a $99.99 buy, it's still good enough. Hopefully the d-pad on the upcoming EXP is a little more precise though...

Face Buttons 👍

Evercade

I really like the 4 face buttons on this device. They are large and responsive. Too many handhelds these days go with tiny buttons, so it was nice to see how large these are. They have a good amount of resistance and are a little on the clicky side. 

Other Buttons/Shoulders 👎 

I'm not a big fan of the Shoulders.  They have very little resistance,  are not as accurate and responsive as the face Buttons and simply don't feel good. Fortunately,  most games don't require them being used. 

There are some questionable design choices here as well especially with the location of the Volume Up/Volume Down buttons. Start/Select work fine but don't feel like quality buttons. 

Inputs/Outputs 👍

It's unfortunate that the device did not go with a USB-C connection for charging, but it still works fine. The headphone out is located at the bottom of the device in a way that wired headphones don't interfere with gaming. The micro-HDMI out is located well too and works great playing on a TV. If you intend to consolize the device with your TV, keep in mind that the TV Out Cable is not included!

Sound 👍

Sound through the stereo speakers on the device is above average and sounds good. They did a good job software-wise when it comes to sound. On a lot of retro game handhelds, sound through the speakers is a mixed bag with plenty of audio crackling and various issues that I haven't noticed with this device. Sound through wired headphones is a better experience with the Evercade partially due to the location of the speakers that will often get covered up by your fingers while playing. 

Game Emulation Performance 👍

The Evercade relies on a locked OS that emulates mostly 8 and 16-bit games from the past. Performance across the board was good with no noticeable input lag or issues. The emulation options are fairly bare bones. You can play games at native resolution or stretched to full-screen. The screen scaling is all right but not the best (might be a result of the low quality screen). Scaling did appear to be moderately better after updating the Evercade to the latest firmware. 

In game, you can use save states that write to the cartridge. Updating to the latest firmware does mess up some save states, so I'd suggest updating the firmware early on. 

If you are looking for an experience with tons of emulation settings and options, the Evercade isn't for you. You'd be better off just going down the route of retro game handhelds from companies like Anbernic or Moorechip's Retroid lines. What you are paying for with the Evercade is a 100% legal and licensed experience that includes old school style cartridge collecting and a very easy setup (pretty much pick up and play). Any cartridge you buy, the game developers and license holders benefit. There's no grey legal areas with any of it. Unlike retro game handhelds geared towards emulating downloaded files, the Evercade is simple to use and requires no knowledge of emulation whatsoever. 

Connectivity 👎

The Evercade doesn't have WiFi, Bluetooth or any way to play games Multi-Player or Co-op which is unfortunate but expected at this price. The upcoming Evercade EXP does have WiFi but there's no word yet if multiplayer will be an option. In the end,  the original Evercade is a single-player handheld and that's what you are dealing with. 

Battery 👍

The battery charges slow (fast charging would have been nice) but I'm averaging 4 1/2  hours of gameplay per charge with screen brightness set to "medium" which isn't too bad. 

Included Cartridges 👍

The Premium Edition $99.99 Evercade comes with 3 cartridge collections. All 3 have the standard boxes (they remind me of old SEGA Master System and Genesis boxes buy a lot smaller, and they come with a mini printed manual. For the record, I really like the Data East and Atari Collection, but wasn't a big fan of the Interplay offerings. I plan to start reviewing Evercade cartridges in the near future...

Can You Load Up Your Own ROMs on it? 

EverSD
EverSD For ROMs

Officially the answer is NO but some people have had SOME mixed success with the EverSD which is billed as a "development and homebrew kit" cartridge (not affiliated or recognized by Blaze Entertainment). The process seems tedious and a hassle for the price, so I haven't bothered looking into this option. The EverSD cart will run you around $60 (including shipping) plus the cost of a microSD card. Using the EverSD basically enables you to run RetroArch on the device and emulate an assortment of platforms up to some PS1 (probably not great at PS1) games. Prices have come down so low on quality retro game handhelds for game emulation in recent times,  so I just don't see much sense in spending $60+ on something like this but it's there for anyone who wants to experiment. I don't have any plans to experiment with the EverSD in the future. If you are looking for a high level of customization and emulation capabilities, Evercade isn't the way to go in the first place. Based on everything I've seen, emulation quality using the EverSD would be "mixed results" at best. 

EverSD Link: https://eversd.com/faq

Disclosure: No links in this review benefit me and all opinions above are my own. None of the links are affiliate links.  


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