On the surface, Blaze's Evercade has added a lot of simulation-based multi-game handheld computers-but this is a tortuous system. It uses the actual ink cartridges included with each ink cartridge, licensed games and customized simulation software. This is a fascinating method, but also a controversial method. Of course, it is too easy to simply pour the entire game ROM into the SD card and immediately call it. Obviously, this is the way forward, but the well-designed method provides some interesting benefits, and behind the scenes, the quality of the simulation choices exceeds my expectations.
In terms of hardware, Evercade is a well-designed suite. This is a rugged handheld computer with four face buttons, a pair of shoulder buttons and an surprisingly decent d-pad. It's also awkward, which is perhaps the best design feature-easier to hold, and surprisingly comfortable. Handheld systems are increasingly focused on thin designs, but I feel this will reduce overall comfort, especially when pushing the buttons to the edge. In contrast, Evercade is a thick beast, so it is more comfortable to sit up. It has a good weight and doesn't feel like a cheap hollow device.
The system includes the expected inputs and outputs, including a micro USB charging port, a 3.5 micro jack for headphones and a micro HDMI output for playing the system on a TV (if you are looking for a large screen experience to complement handheld games). Internally, Evercade has a 1.2GHz Cortex A7 SoC running custom Linux settings. Just like PSP, the 4.3-inch screen has a resolution of 480×272. The battery life is listed as four to five hours, which is consistent with my experience after drying the battery three times during shooting.
Turning on the machine without the ink cartridges happened very little, which made us understand what makes Evercade different-its status as a cartridge-based system. All simulation software and games are present in these shopping carts. Insert one, it loads very quickly with a sensitive menu design that is responsive and easy to navigate. The trolley itself contains simulators and games that use flash storage. But what makes these trolleys attractive is the overall packaging. The game is packed in a plastic box with a full-color manual inside, and the quality of the packaging is surprisingly high-reminiscent of the system of the past.
It's quick and easy to set up, and it feels good, but I have some criticisms of hardware features. First, I encountered a strange problem when using the HDMI output-if I turn on the unit with some cables plugged in, I will hear the screaming sounds from the internal speakers. The solution I found is to power on the device and then Plug in the HDMI cable, but strangely, this is necessary.
Second, the viewing angle of the built-in LCD is not good-tilting the device forward or backward will significantly reduce it, indicating that the TN panel is cheaper. Although this is no big deal in a normal game, it is worth noting. At least the blur of the LCD is kept at a reasonable level-for example, the motion resolution is better than all iterations of PSP. Even so, despite these two shortcomings, the hardware itself still feels good and is very pleasant to use.
The most important element is performance. Although simulations seem insignificant today, few devices actually do this. Delivering high-quality software simulation requires a combination of accurate, fast software, attractive scaling options, and minimum input delay. The current form of Evercade can emulate a few platforms-8-bit Atari, NES, Super NES and Sega Mega Drive / Genesis. In order to gain a deeper understanding of Evercade ’s ideas, the Mega Drive emulator is a port of BlastEm. BlastEm is an emulator with cycle accuracy on a PC, with excellent accuracy and performance. BlastEm author Michael Pavone personally handled the Evercade port and optimized it for mobile hardware.
As far as other systems are concerned, it is not clear which emulator is used, but the effect in each case is very good, with accurate audio and interference-free visual effects. I compared the simulation with the capture of real hardware. Evercade remained the same overall, only to notice that Evercade seemed to mimic the arcade-based PlayChoice 10 RGB palette for its NES emulation, and it looked a bit fancy. Since Evercade is designed around these movable carts, this really limits our testing to the included games. For example, we cannot perform torture tests similar to Analogue Mega Sg on these emulators. However, in this case, the key point is that the included games can run correctly. The quality of simulation is one step higher than other portable systems, especially where Mega Drive / Genesis is involved. In addition, the design of the shopping cart means that we will see simulations of other systems in the future.
Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks, all of which stem from the limited set of options for adjusting the experience. First, the control-button cannot be configured, and not every default setting is suitable for me. For example, in NES games, A and B are mapped to corresponding buttons, and I usually prefer X and A. Mega Drive / Genesis games also use A, B and Y. Again, this is not completely natural for users. I. Of course, Super NES is good, but other platforms may have problems. At least some games allow button configuration changes.
Another issue comes from video output options. In the pop-up menu, you have a 4: 3 option and a stretched 16: 9 option, that's all. The problem here is that there are no adjustments that can scale the image to your liking, and the default settings are not very good. Unfortunately, the 480×272 pixel LCD screen does not fully meet the needs of all these games-the image is only scaled up to fill the appropriate size screen with some light interpolation. In most cases, keep the flash at the lowest level, but you will notice it in vertical scrolling, especially in Mega Drive / Genesis games. Due to the uneven scaling, any areas with tight grid patterns will also have obvious problems.
This is a problem faced by PSP owners when dealing with simulations of older games, and here is the same problem-only this time, there is no 1: 1 pixel option to solve the problem. Basically, the choices and options of LCD do not blend well, and the image quality is not what I want. That said, this choice does make sense when considering the wide range of concerns of devices-for example, Atari Lynx has a wider aspect ratio, can use more screens, and has the potential for other applications in the future.
However, the performance of the HDMI output is much better. The system displays at a resolution of 720p and has a stable zoom ratio-very similar to the latest Mini console, you can see a very slight shimmer in a game of 256 pixel width, but most of the time it is not very serious. Therefore, in this sense, HDMI can work normally. However, in all cases, I would like to see more advanced zoom options, including allowing users to adjust the image beyond the default.
If we take a step back and look at the big picture, then many things become meaningful. Evercade comes with one cartridge that can be loaded for $ 80, three cartridges that can be loaded for $ 100, and each cartridge costs $ 20. In this sense, they are actually targeting the budget price here, so it is easier to forgive certain shortcomings. In fact, the construction quality is surprisingly good considering the price. There, the idea of collecting systems has become more interesting-this is not a huge investment, and collecting these carts may be interesting.
As I mentioned earlier, when you can put the entire ROM set on a portable device, it seems strange to return to the cassette tape media, but in fact, there are ways to make it crazy. In addition to collectability, I found that by focusing on smaller game choices, I can enjoy each game more easily. At least for me, the huge ROM list will only result in no games being played at all, and I feel that the game is not getting the attention it deserves, and it feels a bit casual. In this regard, my feelings are similar to those of Capcom Home Arcade: due to the reduced number of games and careful selection, I have spent more time on each game, and I have received more appreciation for some low-key games. The game is actually very, very good.
Obviously, this approach does not appeal to everyone, but as a retro enthusiast, it seems like a good idea for me to see the owners of classic properties compensate their games while opening the door to a new collection. In the case of Evercade, the core hardware is excellent and the price is very reasonable, so I can definitely see that the system attracts the audience-I hope it can be done.