Monday 21 March 2022

Codemasters Collection 1 Review (Evercade)

The Oliver Twins collection was one of our favourite Evercade releases as It encapsulated the feel of the multi-game collections that were so prevalent during the days of microcomputers. The Codemasters collection is another release which again captures the fun, variety and nostalgia of the budget release and is packed with a solid seventeen games spread across the NES and Megadrive.

A lot of the games here were originally on a selection of multi-game budget carts that were released on the NES and they work well without overstaying their welcome. Boomerang Kid and CJ’s Elephant Antics aren’t really anything amazing but in this context, they are breezy distractions that are fun enough platformers to keep you playing for their short duration.

Boomerang Kid is sort of like a semi-bad take on Manic Miner while CJ is a bright but average platform game. Linus Spacehead would be pretty bad on its own but if treated like a short mini game style distraction it is much more palatable with each of its short stages requiring a different sort of platforming. It’s quite varied with one stage having you jump across bubbles, while the next has you avoiding boulders. It’s incredibly frustrating though so thank heavens for the save states.

Two more NES games round out the 8-bit platform section of the cart with both of the Big Nose the Caveman games included. These are much more polished and substantial titles. Again, they aren’t anything revolutionary but both games are enjoyable and fun and well worth spending a chunk of time with. For a bit of variety puzzle/driving game stunt buggies is another of the short and sweet games here with players needing to drive around a maze avoiding obstacles while picking up bombs. It's a good spin on the Pac Man format that is great for quick sessions of play.

Three shooters are also included and each of them has its merits. Bee 52 is a side scrolling blaster with the twist that you are playing as a Bee trying to bring nectar back to it’s hive. It can be frustrating but it’s an original and inventive game that works well. It has perhaps a few too many levels which means things start to get a bit repetitive but it’s well worth a look.

F-16- Renegade and MiG 29: Soviet Fighter are similar games, but both are decent. They are vertically scrolling shooters that also have levels which turn into Afterburner style 3D sections. There are a decent amount of power ups available, and the action is responsive and solid. The level variety helps to keep them fresh, and both proved to be real surprises to us.

By far the best of the NES titles is The Ultimate Stuntman which is quite difficult to get hold of on original hardware now. This uses the classic trope of the day by having each level broken into a different type of game. You start out racing against the clock in a top-down driving section, only to move onto a side scrolling action platformer, a flying level, a wall climbing section and so on. It’s tough but fun and certainly one of the highlights of cart. This really does qualify as one of the ‘hidden gems’ that the Evercade is so keen to unearth.

If the majority of the NES contingent could be seen as the ‘budget’ games, the same cannot be levelled at the Megadrive selection. Ok, so Super Skidmarks is a shambles when compared to the Amiga version but there are genuine all-time classics included here as well.

Perhaps the highest profile of these is Cannon Fodder. This mix of action and strategy has long been fondly remembered across a number of formats. The Megadrive version is a perfectly good port of the game, and it remains as chaotic and fun as it always has as your little squad goes blasting it’s way through a variety of environments.

Another stone cold classic included is Sensible Soccer. The Evercade is lacking is decent football games so this not only helps the collection gain even greater variety but also bolsters the machines line-up considerably. The game remains as fun and playable as always, with the simple controls and high-speed gameplay proving the perfect match for the system both on the VS and via the handheld. There’s a ton of different cups and competitions to play as well so if the bug bites you, you’ll be playing this for hours.

Mega-Lo-Mania is a great fun take on the God sim game. It seems easy at first, but you’ll soon find that assigning your dudes to research and attack takes an awful lot more thought and planning than it seems. It’s likely to eat away many hours of your life as you conquer your way to galactic dominance.

Of course, an Evercade collection wouldn’t be complete without another hidden gem and the 16-bit one on this cart is Cosmic Spacehead. Not to be confused with its NES budget cousin this game is a mix of point and click adventuring, platforming and puzzles. It’s a quirky fun adventure that manages its hybrid format very well. The story follows Cosmic who has crashed his spaceship. He needs to traverse the alien landscape to find the parts to fix it then blast off back home.

Codemasters has also included a previously unreleased game which will enhance its appeal to completionists. Tennis All Stars is difficult to get to grips with but when you do master the tricky controls it does play a solid game. Psycho Pinball rounds out the collection for high score chasers which proves to be a steady, if not amazing, take on the digital pinball format.

Overall, this is one of the best value and most fun carts that you can currently get on the Evercade. There’s a host of different genres and styles to play around with and while many of the games are of the solid to average standard, when put together on one collection is all sort of works. There’s also a good selection of genuinely excellent and iconic games here which makes this an utterly essential purchase and borderline system seller.


Overall –

NES Games

Bee 52                                             3/5

Big Nose Freaks Out                      3/5

Big Nose the Caveman                 3/5

Boomerang Kid                              2/5

Cj’S Elephant Antics                      3/5

F-16 Renegade                               3/5

Linus Spacehead                            2/5

MiG 29: Soviet Fighter                  4/5

Stunt Buggies                                 3/5

The Ultimate Stuntman                4/5

Megadrive Games

Cosmic Spacehead                        4/5

Mega-Lo-Mania                             4/5

Cannon Fodder                              5/5

Psycho Pinball                                3/5

Sensible Soccer                              5/5

Super Skidmarks                            2/5

Tennis All Stars                              3/5

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