Monday, 25 January 2021

Data East Collection 1 (Evercade Review)

A mainstay of the arcade, 8 and 16-bit generations Data East have an absolute wealth of games to draw upon for a system like the Evercade. It was only a matter of time before a collection was collated and what we have ended up with is a fairly varied mix of ten arcade to home conversions across the NES, SNES and Mega Drive.

The NES games take in some of the publisher’s best known work. Burger time is a solid version of the arcade platformer where you need to avoid enemies and drop ingredients to the bottom of the screen by walking over it. Karate Champ is one of the first games to put forward the one on one fighting concepts also seen in IK+ and Way of the Exploding Fist and If we’re honest both those games do it better.

Bad Dudes Vs. The Dragon Ninja puts forward a passable imitation of its arcade counterpart but the graphics are much smaller and it runs a fair bit slower as well. That said, this holds a fair about of nostalgic appeal for us as it arrived with our NES one Christmas morning. It has a different rhythm but when you get used to it there is a fair amount of fun to be had.

The final NES game is the excellent Burnin’ Rubber or Bump and Jump as it is otherwise known. Here you drive a car ever upwards while collecting fuel and avoiding other cars. The gimmick comes that you need to jump your car over obstacles and on to the enemy vehicles for points. It’s great fun and holds up really well. It stands as proof of how the clear execution of a core gameplay dynamic stands the test of time when implemented properly.

Two Crude Dudes and Midnight Resistance make up the Mega Drive elements of the collection and both are fun versions of their arcade counterparts. Two Crude Dudes was always a bit of a slocky brawler in the first place but is a decent version of the original and if you have fond memories of that you’ll find much to enjoy here. The main gimmick of picking up objects and enemies and lobbing them around is as much silly fun as it always was.

Midnight Resistance remains a bit of a cult action classic with a slightly iffy control scheme. It also has some serious flickering going on at times but remains on the right side of fun with intense action and a host of chunky power ups and toys to play with. If anything its arcade origins let it down a bit as you can race through the thing in just over 20 minutes. It’s the sort of game you’ll likely return to though and we are pleased it made the cut.

The SNES selection is somewhat varied. The fighting game genre is represented by the highly forgettable, but solid, Fighters History. Puzzle games get a shout with Magical Drop 2 and the action platformer Jo and Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics (actually Jo and Mac 3) is also here. Pool simulator Side Pocket is the last game to make it.

Magical Drop is a charming colour based match three game (which even way back here has the sense to add symbols for colour blind players), where players grab coloured balls from the top of the screen before throwing them back up onto other matching colours. It has a wealth of modes and the only real criticism we can lay at it is that the story mode is insanely tough towards the end and that it’s not Magical Drop 3 which is where the series peaked.

Jo and Mac 2 is a fun action platformer much in the same vein as the first game where your cavemen run around bashing dinosaurs on the head. While undoubtedly good fun, it’s not as strong as the first game and also quite short. It seems strange the original wasn’t included here, perhaps the plan is to release the arcade version further down the line? That said, Jo and Mac 2 can be hard to get hold of so from a collectors point of view it’s very welcome.

Side Pocket is the wild card of the collection. An excellent arcade Pool game it has a number of modes – including a trick shot section which acts like a puzzle game. The main single player component has players beating set scores on each table with a limited number of shots before moving on to the next location. You start with sixteen shots and every time a ball isn’t potted you lose one. You keep the amount of shots for the whole game so being careful early on is key to success.

Overall, the first Data East collection is a good mix of games that are all of a solid standard. Each one has something to offer and the variety of the titles on show means there will be something here that everyone can get into. It lacks any one stand out title, instead having a host of fun and solid games likely to trigger nostalgia in a way a lot of the other carts probably won’t. It may not reach ‘system seller’ status but it certainly is a worthy addition to the Evercade line up and one of the most well rounded of the collections on offer.

Game Ratings

Burger Time                                                      3/5

Bad Dudes                                                         3/5

Burnin’ Rubber (Bump & Jump)                      4/5

Karate Champ                                                   3/5

Fighter's History                                               3/5

Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics                     4/5

Side Pocket                                                       4/5

Magical Drop 2                                                4/5

Two Crude Dudes                                            3/5

Midnight Resistance                                        3/5

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