Welcome, one and all, to another gaming review that should provide a nice blast from the past for a lot of people. That’s right, I’m back with the Evercade and this time. I’m looking at Evercade 02: Namco Collection Volume 1. This cartridge contains 11 games from the company, spread across a number of different platforms. The games are as below:
Arcade: Libble Rabble
Mega Drive: Quad Challenge
NES: Dig Dug, Galaxian, Mappy, Mappy Kids, Pac Man, Star Luster, Xevious
SNES: Battle Cars, Metal Marines
So, straight away, you can see that home console versions have been provided for some of the bigger arcade titles. While that will no doubt be a disappointment to some, it’s worth noting two things: Firstly is that the arcade versions were never promised. Secondly, these are very good ports.
If you’ve ever played the NES versions of Dig Dug, Galaxian, or Pac Man, you’ll know what to expect. For me, I grew up with the Atari 2600 versions of these games, so they represent a visual step up. While Pac Man plays better than the Atari port, I’d say that Dig Dug isn’t hugely different, and personally, I preferred the 2600 version of Galaxian. That is more to do with the nostalgia of it though, I think. All three are great games to play, even now.
The rest of the line-up was new to me. Sticking with the NES offerings, while Mappy Kids was a serviceable platformer, it was Star Luster that impressed me the most. It’s a cockpit view space fighter that runs really well and is both visually and technically very impressive for the original hardware. On the flip side to this, I thought that both Mappy and Xeviosu suffered from being ‘fine’, but little else.
Both the SNES titles are far better, however. Battle Cars felt to me like it may have had an influence on Rock n’ Roll Racing. It’s an attitude-filled racer that sees you battling against various rivals using a mix of speed and weaponry to head up the pack. Combing fast gameplay and an unexpected upgrade system, it was honestly a real blast to play.
In a similar way, Metal Marines was shockingly deep in terms of gameplay. It’s a real-time strategy game with a futuristic setting that makes great use of some nice visuals and an emphasis on tactics. It’s possibly the most complex title on the cartridge but is still easy enough to pick up and dive in to.
Unfortunately, the final two titles didn’t impress me as much. Quad Challenge is a quad bike racer that feels clunky when put next to other behind the vehicle racers on SEGA’s flagship console. You need only compare it to the likes of Super Hang-On and Road Rash to see what I mean. Meanwhile, Libble Rabble, the one arcade ROM on the cartridge, just wasn’t my sort of thing. I can see where others may enjoy it, but it’s not for me.
Overall, the great far outweighs the bad for me here. Namco – or Bandai Namco now – are a company with a long history of putting out memorable titles, and this cartridge showcases some of their finest, right up to the 90s. Both the 8-Bit and 16-Bit generations are well represented, as are both arcade ports and home console originals. For me, this is an easy 4.5 out of 5.
Top 3 Recommended Games: Battle Cars, Metal Marines, Pac Man