Though there’s a sense of repetition in the first half dozen or so Evercade cartridges, especially in terms of the companies featured, the game collections mostly featured enough games that there were usually more than a few titles to justify buying them.

Unfortunately, the Interplay Collection 2 is perhaps the first big disappointment in the library, where the number of games is low and sadly, there’s not enough oomph in the titles included to make it an essential purchase.

As with any retro game compilation – or indeed individual games – the appeal may well rely on the nostalgia of gamers and collectors. So your mileage may vary of course; this is just the opinion of one middle-aged idiot on the internet.

That’s not to say there isn’t any appeal here of course. The two claymation themed titles still have a slightly off-kilter charm, even if the visuals have aged poorly. Clayfighter 2: Judgment Clay does improve on its predecessor but it’s still not a great fighting game. It’s got a limited roster and just doesn’t feel as responsive or playable as the games it purports to parody. Likewise for Claymates, which pairs some clever clay-based mechanics with some unfortunately dire level design and clunky controls.

My feelings on Earthworm Jim are well documented. The short version? I’m not – and never have been – a fan. There’s no denying the brilliant presentation, slick animation and excellent music – but the same problems that plagued the first game are still present in the sequel. Obtuse puzzles, elaborate but claustrophobic level design and humour that just doesn’t work all conspire to make this another case of the Emperor’s New Clothes (the Emperor’s New Clothes 2, perhaps?). Widely praised upon release, the first game’s hype train gained such steam in previews that it seemed critics and audiences were unable to admit that the game just wasn’t much fun. Earthworm Jim 2 just feels like more of the same. If that’s your thing, good for you – this collection is probably going to be up your street.

Now onto the (relatively) good stuff. The Brainies is a clever and unique little puzzle game that has a pointless Mode 7 visual gimmick, but it is enjoyable nonetheless. The Adventures of Rad Gravity is a platformer for the NES that’s a good showcase for the 8-bit era in terms of its presentation, but it can be a bit frustrating in terms of its slippery controls, weird difficulty curves and lack of direction. Featuring what is essentially a fairly open world – which itself is impressive for an 8-bit title – the problem is that it’s often unclear as to where you need to go in order to progress.

The last game in the compilation, Prehistorik Man, is another caveman-themed title (these were very big in the 16-bit era – there’s already been one – Joe & Mac 2 – featured on the Data East Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade). Though it doesn’t have the more varied level design or enormous dinosaur sprites that Data East’s Joe & Mac 2 had, it’s a playable platformer that’s arguably the best game on the collection; certainly the best platformer that’s featured here (sorry Earthworm Jim – but then you know I never liked you).

So this is one cartridge you can skip if your collector’s impulse – to have every numbered cartridge in the library – will allow you to. Unless of course you have particularly fond memories of one or more of the games included, but even then I think you should be careful not to smash your rose-tinted glasses; though a few of the games are decent enough, there’s certainly nothing here that feels as if it’s an essential part of any collection, unless you’re truly looking to be a completist.

You can purchase the Interplay Collection 2 cartridge from Amazon here.

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