Retro Gaming Consoles Can Bring the Family Together

A throwback to fun

Key Takeaways

  • The Evercade VS is a $99 home console that plays genuine vintage games.
  • Vintage games are a great way to get the family playing together.
  • If you already own a Nintendo Switch, check out its online SNES and NES subscription.
The Evercade VS retro home gaming console.

Copyright Blaze Entertainment Ltd.

Evercade VS might just be the perfect home console for just about anyone. 

Think about video games for a second. If you're into them, then you probably play either alone or with like-minded friends. But what if you want to play with folks who aren't gamers? Or family members who enjoy a quick blast of Super Stickman Golf on their phone, but little else?

That's where a retro-minded console like the Evercade VS comes in. It's a four-player home console that hooks up to the TV and lets you play a bunch of old console and arcade games. It's not quite the same as getting grandma and grampa hooked on Destiny, but it beats watching It's A Wonderful Life with them yet again this holiday season. 

Perfectly Non-Portable

The Evercade VS (available in January) is a sequel to the original handheld Evercade, and I’d argue that the four-player TV-connected living-room version is a way better idea than the portable version. For one, you’ve got to be pretty deep into games to spring for a handheld that only you will play—unless you’re buying it for your kids. Most folks will get their retro and casual gaming fix from their phones, or maybe even from their Switch. 

The Switch is probably the default family-gaming console of choice, thanks to its great catalog of SNES and now Sega and N64 titles. With a home console, you can get up to four people involved, and the rest of the family can watch them fight it all out on the big screen. But unlike the Switch, the VS costs $99, and you can use it with any old USB controller, not just expensive Switch controllers. 

The controller inputs on the Evercade VS retro gaming console.

Copyright Blaze Entertainment Ltd.

Retro Games? Seriously?

Many retro games are fun, right up until you start playing them. Good game design is timeless, but what passed for a good game back in the 1980s or 1990s might not hold up today. Sometimes those graphics are so primitive that you cannot see past them.

Other times, the game mechanics themselves are primitive in a way that just doesn’t cut it today. It’s like watching old movies with their wooden dialog or old TV shows with basic plots and story arcs. We’re just used to something more sophisticated today, whether or not it’s actually better. 

But a show like The Wire not only stands up today but is still better than most current TV shows. There are games like that, too. 

Perhaps the best vintage game is Nintendo’s Super Mario World. Its pixelated 16-bit hasn’t dated, partly because it has become the inspiration for many contemporary games that mimic its look, but mostly because it was so well designed. And the game is still an utter joy to play, as addicting, fun, and rewarding as any contemporary game. 

In fact, if you already own a Switch, then save the money you would spend on the Evercade VS and grab some extra Switch controllers for visitors. You’ve already got access to some of the best games ever made, right there in the $20-per-year Nintendo Switch Online subscription. 

The Evercade

The Evercade is a white, USB-powered plastic box with HDMI out, four USB ports for controllers, and a slot that accepts the same cartridges as the handheld version. The UK-based company behind the machine has partnered with games publishers to offer genuine titles.

The British pedigree shows up in many excellent home-grown games from developers like England’s Codemasters and The Bitmap Brothers, but there are also international classics from Atari, Namco, and many others. The games come in collections, so each cartridge has several titles. Who can forget Ninja Golf or a game so minimal it is simply named Adventure?

There’s one thing to watch out for with vintage gaming, especially where the family is concerned: Some of these games are absurdly, almost impossibly hard. But not all of them. Nintendo’s original Super Mario Kart is way harder than the current Switch version, but Super Mario World is pitched perfectly. Fortunately, as the gamer in the family, this will give you an excuse to run through every title to find out which ones are most suitable for family fun.

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