Retro gaming publications are so hot right now. Being a writer myself, I love that there are so many different ones to get involved with. It is not just the amount of publications out there right now either, the variety on offer is outstanding. Everything from company specific magazines, such as Ninty Fresh and Sega Powered, to more general offerings like Fusion and [lock-on]. It seems that every angle is covered for retro gamers with nostalgia of flicking through those mags of old.
So, I was delighted when Ed Regan, of Retro Ed YouTube fame, offered to send me a copy of Evercade Evolution magazine. I love getting my hands on new publications and have put my thoughts together on what the team have produced. Firstly, we need to acknowledge that this magazine is focused on Blaze’s Evercade, both the handheld and Vs. machines. That being said, there are a few bits and pieces that seep out into other areas. But before I ramble on, big shout out to Ed for sending it!
Before I dived into Evercade Evolution, I did a little homework and was pleasantly surprised to find all three back issues are freely available to read right now. It turns out that this publication is non-profit and anyone who just wants to enjoy it can do so at any time. It was also lovely to discover that any profits made from physical copies are donated to charity. I really liked this, it made me have warm fuzzy feelings about community fanzines from back in the day – remember those yellow and black printed things?
As with all magazines, I was greeted with the editors column before being thrust into a snazzy news section. My eyes were drawn to a huge Sega sign and the article about them leaving the arcade business. This was when it first hit me that Evercade Evolution does step into others areas of gaming, especially for the news. I guess that is fine, how much actual Evercade specific news will there be to report on? The news section itself was interesting and captured a cross-section of recent retro gaming news. I especially enjoyed the lost games article.
There were several editorial-style columns and while these were gripping in places, I did find the writing style difficult. They are not poorly written, not by any stretch, but they lacked cohesion and wandered off in their own direction. If you enjoy that kind of writing, you will most likely chuckle away. There are plenty of funny moments in them but just wasn’t for me personally. It is worth mentioning at this point about the fake ads at the end of the magazine. These were brilliant and poke great fun at adverts of old.
The main appeal of Evercade Evolution is its bumper review section. For this issue there are three Evercade carts up for review and each one keeps to the same formula. One reviewer explains the history behind the cart in an overview. They include history of the games and interesting information about the developers. Then, they score the cart overall with a second opinion thrown in for good measure. Following this, the games are broken down and each one reviewed separately, along with another secondary opinion.
Having the carts themselves broken away from the games is fine. One of the appeals of the Evercade is the physical collecting, so taking a look at both is worth it. I really enjoyed the review of Battle Chess, it was really funny. The depth the team go into is commendable, I really felt drawn in to what they have to say about each game. The actual reviews themselves are fine, well written and well researched. The scores appeared to be reasoned and there is plenty of images to show the games.
However, and I wish to be honest about this, I started getting review fatigue after a while. The main thing that spoilt it was how everyone had to give everything a score. There are just way too many scores all over the place. I was confused as a reader as what the outcome of the review was at times. Scores for the cart, twice, then two scores for every game. It is too much and I don’t feel the individual games need a second opinion. Maybe a summary of some other opinions at the end rather than an actual secondary review.
Another big draw are the interviews with devs that have released games on the Evercade. There were three in this issue and each one had a distinct tone that flowed. I think it helped that I knew all the interviewees and have spoken to them all before myself. The team have done a great job in getting behind the scenes of what makes an Evercade game. The questions are thoughtful and reach across other aspect into something that feels like a natural discussion.
There is a community section that features high score tables and chats with members of the Evercade community as a whole. I enjoyed this part as it helped bring to life the reasons this magazine exists in the first place. It is a celebration of all things Evercade and wants to remind you that this about the love of gaming. I feel that anyone who has an Evercade and regularly buys the carts should be adding this wonderful publication to their collection. I think the team are doing an amazing job with this and just shows you what a community can achieve.
Thanks again to Ed for sending the copy for review.