Greetings, Programs! If you read Part One of this series, you’ll know that 2020 seems to be Ground Zero for an invasion of retro game systems. But it’s not just the consoles like Atari, Intellivision, and the TurboGrafx-16 that are making an unexpected comeback. The retro gaming handhelds are swarming like never before as well!
I swear, it’s like someone decided to reboot the entire history of gaming all at the same time. And, frankly, it’s freaking amazing! They even made it better than ever so let’s get started!
Super Retro Champ
As Sonic the Hedgehog tears across the movie screen this year, it serves as a nice reminder that, once upon a time, Mario had real competition for the title of top mascot. And god knows that even if the new Sonic movie is not great, it cannot possibly be worse than this cinematic turd:
The early 90s saw a ferocious battle between the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. No console war has ever been quite as brutal and I’m not sure any have been quite as close, with both systems selling almost the same amount of units in the United States.
But that was a long time ago and those systems, hardy as they were, were not meant to last 20+ years. The cartridges, on the other hand, actually can last just about forever. As long as you replace the batteries so your save files don’t delete every time, they’ll probably still work for another two or three decades.
But why buy two retro gaming consoles or handhelds, when you can buy just one? That’s where the Super Retro Champ shines.
The Champ is like a somewhat bulkier version of the Switch that you can plug your old SNES and Genesis cartridges into. So if you still have some like I do (didn’t I tell you to stop judging me in the last article?!) you can play them again but this time on the go.
The battery isn’t quite as good as the Switch one, but you can always plug into the wall for unlimited play. You can also hook it up to a TV and play with two wireless remotes. Super Mario Kart and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 beckon once more…
The Super Retro Champ is tentatively scheduled for 2020 but it’s not clear when.
If you thought it was a nifty idea to make a system that lets you play two different consoles at once, you’re going to love the Analogue Pocket.
Taking the shape, more or less, of a Gameboy, the Analogue Pocket lets you play -- surprise! -- Gameboy games.
But not just some Gameboy games. All of them. It can accept the cartridges from the original Gameboy, Gameboy Color, and Gameboy Advance. The screen is brighter with higher resolution making those marathon Tetris sessions less torturous.
It will not, however, save you from the Tetris Effect. You will start seeing those blocks falling when you close your eyes. Then when your eyes are open. They will haunt your dreams… Not that I would know anything about that. *cough*
Now, that alone would be worth the price. But the Analogue Pocket also lets you play Sega Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket, and I kid you not, Atari Lynx. Atari has been incredibly active this year. Have you seen the Atari hotels?
On the official website where it lists the systems, there’s an “and more” at the end. What other systems are there? There’s the Sega Nomad, the TurboExpress, and the Nokia N-Gage.
What was the Nokia N-Gage? It was a phone and a game system 4 years before the iPhone. Seriously. Considering how well the iPhone did, you’re probably wondering why you’ve never heard of the N-Gage. Well…there was a little problem with its design. Specifically, it was really really bad.
I was a manager at Electronics Boutique at the time and Nokia gave us free N-Gages to try to get us on board. It did not work.
Anyway! The downside to the Analogue Pocket is that you have to have some of these games lying around. And there’s still that issue with the batteries and your save files…
There’s no specific date for the Analogue Pocket other than “2020,” so spend that time cleaning out your old cartridges or start looking for them in bargain bins.
On the flip side, there’s the Evercade. Don’t have a handy collection of 30-year-old cartridges lying around? Congratulations, you are like 99% of the population of the world. The other 1% are cooler than you but you’ll get by (See? I can be judgey, too).
The Evercade solves this obvious problem by securing licensing agreements from the game publishers. A collection of their games is put onto a single cartridge and off you go! Classic gaming bliss achieved.
Super Nintendo started this trend with the Williams Arcade’s Greatest Hits way back in the 1990s. The Playstation and Dreamcast continued it with the Atari and Namco Collection series. And this is the logical continuation of that. A handheld system that allows you to buy old games, some of them very old, and play them without breaking the bank on eBay.
Like the other retro gaming handhelds on our list, you can plug the Evercade into your TV and play it on a big screen instead.
The Evercade will have titles from Namco, Atari (more Atari?!), Data East (Bad Dudes and BurgerTime!), and others. If it sells well, you can expect more companies to get in on that action because why not make money off of ancient IPs sitting in a digital vault?
The Evercade will be on sale Apr. 9 for $79.99 USD, which sounds like a pretty good deal.
It’s raining retro game systems!
We are in a serious sweet spot for retro gaming systems, be it consoles or handhelds. The technology is more than powerful enough to accommodate pretty much any kind of handheld game ever made. Even better, it’s been long enough that game companies aren’t going to jealously guard their catalogs.
At this point, who cares about the rights to a 30-year-old cartridge that almost no one has a working system to play it on? Game companies will just be happy that people are still interested in their ancient titles and possibly still willing to spend money on them. It’s the best of all worlds!