As part of the 2nd anniversary celebration for the Evercade handheld this week, Blaze announced some genuinely exciting news. Bouyed by the success of their original handheld and its home console sibling – the Evercade VS – Blaze will be releasing the Evercade EXP in late 2022.

Despite the fact that many retro gamers play on unofficial, often fairly inexpensive consoles using illicit ROMs – causing many industry observers and gamers themselves to question whether or not there was even a market for a console which charged actual, you know, money for relatively small, curated selections of games on cartridge – the Evercade has carved out a genuinely interesting and vital niche for itself. The machine’s emulation is seamless, the consoles themselves well built and full of useful features that clearly demonstrate its nature as a device made for gamers, by gamers.

The appeal of physical cartridges in packaging with a unified design aesthetic and even colourful, well presented manuals can’t be understated either.

Though highly successful, Blaze have not rested on their laurels; the new Evercade EXP moves away from the more retro look of the original handheld to a much sleeker, more modern and mature design that owes it’s aesthetic to a more minimalist approach.

There’s more to it than just an aesthetic upgrade though – more buttons, a higher resolution, higher quality screen, WiFi, USB-C charging and even a TATE (vertically oriented) screen mode are some (though not all!) of the upgrades that Evercade owners can enjoy if they move up to the new console from the original.

The TATE mode in particular is incredibly interesting, especially as there has never been a console designed with this feature in mind from the beginning – and, with an increasingly large selection of arcade games on new cartridges (many of which were originally vertically oriented in their original, coin operated versions), TATE mode is going to be a very welcome feature indeed.

Sadly, the original Evercade is being phased out – which is a shame, because it has an incredibly low cost of entry for gamers looking to get a retro fix. The EXP isn’t expensive, however – and will be packaged with the six-game Irem Arcade 1 cartridge, featuring R-Type and In The Hunt; two games that are worth the price of admission alone!

With more than 300 games now available on the Evercade’s constantly expanding library of cartridges – with two ranges: red cases for console game collections and purple for arcade games – it’s a genuinely exciting time to jump on board and see what the fuss is about with a retro console that, unlike so many others on the market, is officially licensed and truly plug and play.

The Evercade EXP is set to launch in Winter 2022 and will be priced at £129.99. I’m a huge fan of the Evercade (check out my previous articles featuring the consoles and games here) and can’t wait to get my hands on the Evercade EXP. It’s a fantastic time to be a retro gamer right now, with Evercade leading the charge for officially licensed games on thoughtfully designed, reasonably priced and reliable hardware.

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