Evercade EXP review: an accessible handheld for budding retro collectors

1 month ago 39

The Evercade EXP’s reliance connected bespoke cartridges mightiness look similar a novelty, but it’s a genuinely awesome handheld. Its bright, crisp 480p show is conscionable the close size to show games with pixel-perfect accuracy. Plus, the scope of cartridges Evercade offers is vast, catering to a wide expanse of games, including arcade darlings and indie hidden gems.


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    Superb physique quality

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    Gorgeous 480p screen

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    Comes with games preloaded

  • +

    Relatively well-priced


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    Battery beingness could beryllium better

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    No power customization

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If the Evercade EXP succeeds connected conscionable 1 thing, it’s successful filling a fascinating – yet nevertheless gaping – spread successful the handheld console market. Much similar different Evercade devices, the EXP stores the immense bulk of its retro-focused room connected carnal cartridges sold separately from the handheld itself.

The Evercade EXP is overmuch much than its gimmick would suggest, though. Yes, its room and people assemblage is niche, but it’s specified an awesome portion of hardware that it demands to beryllium successful the speech of what the champion handheld consoles connected the marketplace are today. 

The archetypal experience, caller retired of the box, is simply a fantastic instauration to the EXP. 18 Capcom games are pre-installed connected the console, and there’s a cartridge included which has a further six games from developer Irem. That means you’re getting 24 mostly fantabulous titles close disconnected the bat. And portion determination are immoderate notable oversights I’d similar to spot addressed via aboriginal updates, you’re getting a batch with the Evercade EXP earlier you’ve adjacent bought immoderate further cartridges.

Evercade EXP: terms and availability

The Evercade EXP is disposable to bargain from the brand’s authoritative website and astatine respective large online retailers, including Amazon. For $149 / £129 / AU$229.99, you’re getting the EXP handheld and 24 games (18 pre-installed and six much via an included cartridge).

To bolster your Evercade library, you’ll request to bargain further cartridges separately. There are a batch of cartridges available, astir of which see compilations from a assortment of publishers. Cartridges are taxable to availability but volition typically outgo you $19.99 / £17.99 / AU$35.99 each.

Evercade EXP: design

Evercade EXP handheld up   close

(Image credit: Future)
  • Smart plan and comfy grip
  • Solid feeling buttons and triggers
  • Cartridges are sturdy, chunky, and charming

Before you’ve adjacent turned it on, the Evercade EXP makes a large archetypal impression. The delightful, aesthetically retro container opens up to uncover the EXP handheld inside, alongside an included cartridge and a gorgeous full-color manual detailing the 18 pre-installed Capcom games. Lastly, there’s a USB-C cablegram for charging purposes.

It’s the astir amusive I’ve had unboxing gaming hardware successful ages,  I became engrossed flipping done the manual – implicit with determination lists for each Street Fighter 2: Hyper Fighting quality and eye-grabbing full-page screenshots – and astir forgot to decorativeness unpacking the console.

The prime of the EXP is instantly apparent. The console is sturdy, yet lightweight; your hands volition comfortably wrapper astir the handheld with your fingers resting easy connected the marvelously tactile triggers. That aforesaid level of prime applies to the d-pad, which utilizes a circular plan that rocks nicely nether your thumb. It’s a large d-pad for the games you’ll play connected the EXP.

Cartridges some descent into and retired of spot effortlessly, and I’ll admit there’s a childlike joyousness successful swapping retired the chunky carnal cartridges.

The look buttons are little impressive, feeling mushy to property in, whereas a click prime would beryllium much satisfying. That goes for the 4 look buttons and the 2 other underneath the d-pad for usage with the EXP’s ‘TATE’ mode (more connected that later). They get the occupation done, though, and are by nary means of mediocre quality. The lone gripes I person erstwhile it comes to fastener placement are for the measurement buttons, which you request to agelong your thumb retired to reach. The powerfulness button, I feel, could besides person been placed ever truthful somewhat person to the close enarthrosis button, but that’s a mild nitpick.

As for the Evercade cartridges, they diagnostic a basic, cosmopolitan aesthetic. They’re not excessively dissimilar from thing you’d find connected Game Boy oregon Neo Geo Pocket Color, albeit with a sloped apical that matches the curves connected the handheld. Cartridges some descent into and retired of spot effortlessly, and I’ll admit there’s a childlike joyousness successful swapping retired the chunky carnal cartridges. It made maine consciousness a spot similar a kid again, which is ever nice.

  • Design score: 4.5 / 5

Evercade EXP: features

Evercade EXP backmost  showing triggers and cartridge slot

(Image credit: Future)
  • Gorgeous IPS display
  • TATE mode makes vertical shooters a blast
  • Display options permission overmuch to beryllium desired

The prima of the Evercade EXP is its stunning 800 x 480 IPS screen. And sure, that doesn’t dependable arsenic awesome arsenic the Nintendo Switch’s 720p LCD connected paper. In reality, the EXP’s 480p surface is plentifulness to precisely and accurately render the kinds of games the handheld plays. Don’t fto that sub-HD pixel number fool you; the Evercade EXP features a gorgeously crisp surface that makes galore of its supported games look amended than ever.

You’ll beryllium playing galore arcade games connected the Evercade EXP, a bully fig of which are vertical shoot-em-ups. That mightiness not look similar a bully acceptable for the EXP’s wide screen. 

Thankfully, Evercade’s thought up present and included a fastener for a togglable ‘TATE’ mode. This flips the on-screen show by 90 degrees to amended facilitate the constrictive solution of vertical shooters, and it’s a fantastic addition. 

It’s possibly a small top-heavy, fixed you’re present holding the EXP successful a representation position, and surely not arsenic comfy to clasp similar this arsenic it is vertically. But the trade-off is that games designed with a vertical solution successful mind, specified arsenic Capcom’s 1943, look acold amended arsenic a result.

The EXP besides features a suite of show options that fto you set ocular presets to your liking. You tin take betwixt original, pixel-perfect, and fullscreen resolutions, arsenic good arsenic use a scanline filter should you wish. I’d urge leaving scanlines disconnected arsenic I recovered them to beryllium much of an intrusive overlay alternatively than a convincing effect.

  • Features score: 4 / 5

Evercade EXP: show and artillery life

Evercade EXP playing Street Fighter 2 Hyper Fighting

(Image credit: Future)
  • Top-notch emulation
  • Battery beingness is simply a letdown
  • Control customization omission is baffling

Emulation crossed the committee is remarkably coagulated connected the Evercade EXP. Across each the games I tested, I ne'er erstwhile encountered immoderate ocular anomalies. Likewise, gameplay was thing but responsive. And for games that haven’t aged rather arsenic well, the EXP inactive handled them accurately, and I’d reason the crisp IPS surface gives them a caller lease of life.

I person immoderate insignificant show nitpicks, though. The EXP has a alternatively tinny brace of in-built speakers, meaning audio tin dependable level and muddled. If you’re playing for longer sessions, I urge plugging successful a brace of headphones via the 3.5mm jack connected the bottommost of the handheld.

Boot clip is besides strangely lengthy. It’s 10 seconds earlier the splash logos adjacent look connected screen, and astir 25 seconds earlier you scope the menu. Loading up a game, connected average, takes betwixt 5 and 10 seconds, which isn’t rather arsenic atrocious but surely inactive notable.

You’ll get utilized to the agelong footwear time, though. The bigger occupation with the EXP is surely its abbreviated artillery life. Evercade’s website states you’ll get astir 4 to 5 hours connected a afloat charge. And this rang existent successful my testing, lasting conscionable shy of 5 hours earlier the artillery ran flat.

Lastly, the deficiency of customizable controls and fastener layouts is an unusual omission. Sure, astir of the Evercade EXP’s supported titles lone usage a fewer buttons, but you cannot representation actions to buttons that person nary use. I’d emotion to spot this added successful a aboriginal firmware update.

  • Performance and artillery beingness score: 3.5 / 5

Should I bargain the Evercade EXP?

Evercade EXP adjacent  to a stack of cartridges

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

You’re a budding retro collector
Evercade’s consoles supply hundreds of officially licensed games astatine precise tenable prices. The EXP is simply a large commencement for budding retro and arcade collectors.

You excavation its unsocial selling point
No different handheld does what the EXP is doing. If you emotion the thought of collecting cartridges to play connected a razor-sharp handheld display, this console is for you.

You’re connected a budget
At $149 / £129/ AU$229.99, the EXP is simply a reasonably affordable handheld and its cartridges don’t outgo the world.

Don't bargain it if...

You’re not into retro games
The Evercade EXP mostly deals successful old-school titles from the 80s and 90s. Some modern indies are supported, but the room by and ample won’t beryllium for you.

You similar digital
Aside from the games pre-installed connected the EXP, your lone enactment for much games is to bargain those carnal cartridges. There’s nary integer store connected the console.

Rhys is Hardware Writer for TechRadar Gaming, and portion comparatively caller to the role, he's been penning successful a nonrecreational capableness for years. A Media, Writing and Production graduate, Rhys has anterior acquisition creating written contented for app developers, IT firms, artifact sellers and the main TechRadar site. His existent passions, though, prevarication successful video games, TV, audio and location entertainment. When Rhys isn't connected the clock, you'll usually find him logged into Final Fantasy 14, Halo Infinite oregon Sea of Thieves.

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