Technos Arcade 1 for Evercade is a fine collection of Japanese hits

Blaze’s Evercade retro gaming platform has been going from strength to strength since its impressive mid-pandemic launch last year. And with the arrival of the Evercade VS, the home console version of the platform, things are only getting better — particularly because the new system brings with it a series of cartridges featuring arcade rather than console games.

The first of these is Technos Arcade 1, which is a cartridge that contains 8 arcade games. It comes bundled with all new Evercade VS systems, and is also available for purchase separately. It runs just fine on the Evercade handheld as well as the VS — though you might want to apply the shiny new 2.0 firmware first just to make sure you get the best experience and bring the handheld in line with the VS in terms of functionality.

So let’s take a look at all the games on offer in this brand new compilation — so you can kick off an all-new “purple” collection of Evercade carts on your shelf!

Battle Lane! vol. 5

Technos Arcade 1: Battle Lane! vol. 5

Why vol. 5? No idea, since there certainly aren’t four other Battle Lane! games out there. Regardless, this is a vertically scrolling combat racer vaguely in the Spy Hunter mould, although there’s less emphasis on traversing a perilous road and more on taking out enemies while avoiding hails of bullets and rockets.

You ride a motorcycle, and can attack enemies with an infinite-ammo machine gun or a rocket launcher that you have several opportunities to acquire throughout the stage. There’s a nice level of detail on the combat — when fighting vehicles with multiple occupants, for example, you can shoot the driver to cause it to careen off the road, or shoot the gunner to stop it firing at you. Or just blow the whole thing up with a rocket for a big point bonus.

At the end of each stage, you’re challenged to blast a hole in a gate with your rocket launcher while hordes of enemies converge on your position. It’s very, very tough, and you can expect your first few sessions with this one to be over in a matter of seconds. But fortunately, since you’re playing this on the Evercade and not in the arcade, you can just try again without having to reach for the pocket change.

Once you start to get a feel for the overall rhythm of the game, Battle Lane! vol. 5 is one of the more addictive “quick hit” arcade games on Technos Arcade 1 for Evercade. Definitely one to spend a bit of time with — just don’t get discouraged if it kicks your ass repeatedly for your first few attempts!

Block Out

Technos Arcade 1: Block Out

This unusual puzzler is similar in concept to Tetris, but if the game was viewed from above rather than the side. Looking down on a pit, you need to create “faces” — complete layers of blocks — by rotating and dropping various shaped pieces into position. And because the perspective is three-dimensional, you can rotate the pieces around three different axes using three different buttons.

Block Out has a bit of a tough learning curve as you get to grips with how each of the three “rotate” buttons manipulates the block you’re currently holding — particularly when you’re dealing with more complex shapes such as “T” and “S” shaped pieces. Once you get the hang of it, though, this is a really satisfying and rewarding puzzler with a pleasant cyberpunk aesthetic, a moody and atmospheric FM synth soundtrack and plenty of varied levels to challenge.

It’s not just the same thing over and over, either — each new stage changes the dimensions of the pit and the number of faces you need to create in order to progress. Definitely a great puzzler — and proof that Technos Arcade 1 maintains the Evercade tradition of including at least one obscure yet highly enjoyable game that relatively few people will have heard of!

Double Dragon II: The Revenge

Technos Arcade 1: Double Dragon II - The Revenge

Probably the most well-known and well-loved game on the Technos Arcade 1 cartridge, Double Dragon II: The Revenge is a genre-defining beat ’em up for one or two players that still plays extraordinarily well today. While genre veterans might miss some later innovations such as the ability to run and a wider variety of moves, the purity of the Double Dragon II experience is a solid reminder that beat ’em ups are about far more than just button-mashing.

Demanding a strong understanding of your various attacks’ reaches and an ability to manage space, Double Dragon II is a challenging but rewarding game — and a ton of fun if you bring a friend to play with you on the Evercade VS. It’s also really interesting to compare quite how different the arcade original is from the NES port on the Evercade’s Technos Collection 1 cartridge — both are brilliant games, but each has its own distinct appeal.

Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone

Technos Arcade 1: Double Dragon 3

Notorious for being farmed out to an external developer rather than developed in-house, Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone was always a bit of a controversial installment in the series, and it’s not hard to see why. While the static visuals are extremely good-looking, the jerky sprite animation and clunky combat is a far cry from the satisfying brawling of its predecessor — but spend a bit of time with it and you’ll find it’s perhaps not quite as bad as its first impression might suggest.

It’s notable from a historical perspective as one of the first “pay to win” games that actually incorporated microtransactions. Yes, when playing in the arcade you could wander into a weapon shop and then buy yourself power-ups by inserting more coins into the machine. Thankfully when playing on the Technos Arcade 1 cart, “inserting a coin” is a simple matter of tapping the Select button, so you can instead use this mechanic as a means of customising the game’s overall difficulty level without having to spend any extra money.

Interestingly, this actually makes the Technos Arcade 1 cart experience of playing Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone considerably superior to the arcade original, because it allows you to impose your own challenges on yourself. How many power-ups do you need to buy to get a one-credit clear? Can you clear the game with no power-ups whatsoever — or only purchasing one particular type of item? There are plenty of possibilities here, and the fact that no real money needs to change hands makes this system rather less obnoxious than it was on its original release!

Mania Challenge

Technos Arcade 1: Mania Challenge

This early wrestling game is regarded as one of the first times that video games got wrestling “right” — though it can still feel like a bit of a button-masher at times. It has some entertaining animations, though, and is fun with a friend.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a bit of a bug in this one where if you get knocked out of the ring it’s sometimes difficult to get back in again. The Evercade team are aware of this and, at the time of writing, are working on a fix that will be automatically applied to the Technos Arcade 1 cartridge following a system update. In the meantime, be aware of the issue when playing this one!

Minky Monkey

Technos Arcade 1: Minky Monkey

Technos’ first game initially appears to be strongly reminiscent of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong Jr., which came out the same year. It doesn’t take long for it to distinguish itself, however; rather than being a simple platformer that requires you to get from one end of the level to the other, Minky Monkey is instead a game of quick reactions and responding to commands.

In each level, you’ll get instructions at the top of the screen, requiring you to collect fruit from various hanging ropes and either bring them up to the top of a rope or down to the bottom. Successfully following a complete instruction awards you a “success”, while failing — usually by the eponymous ape getting to the fruit first — awards you a “failure”. Five successes takes you to the next level with a generous score bonus based on your time; five failures causes you to lose a life. You also lose a life if you get touched by Minky Monkey or any of the other hazardous creatures in a stage, or if you touch the “floor” of the level.

Minky Monkey is very challenging and features one of the most singularly unappealing protagonist characters I think I’ve ever seen — this aside, it’s an enjoyable early ’80s-style arcade game that you’ll find yourself coming back to quite frequently.

Mysterious Stones: Dr John’s Adventure

Technos Arcade 1: Mysterious Stones

Another relatively little-known Technos title, Mysterious Stones: Dr. John’s Adventure is a game that feels like it would have been more at home on consoles than in the arcade; well, now it is on console, so you can enjoy it to your heart’s content.

In Mysterious Stones, you take control of our archaeologist hero as he infiltrates a series of ruins in search of treasure. You’ll need to kick stones and other containers around the rooms to reveal the shinies within, while fending off enemies by either knocking stones into them or shooting them with your pistol. And in true Indiana Jones tradition, the rooms you explore have a habit of erupting with rivers of lava, being full of ghosts and otherwise making Dr. John’s life a bit of a misery — so you’ll not only need to satisfy your own greed, you’ll need to work out how to deal with these hazards, too.

Mysterious Stones’ inclusion on the Technos Arcade 1 cart is another great example of how the Evercade team is serious about preserving a wide variety of retro games — not just the ones everyone has heard of, but the lesser-known, intriguing ones too. This is definitely one of the most interesting games on the Technos Arcade 1 cart — just be ready for a pretty stiff challenge!

The Combatribes

Technos Arcade 1: The Combatribes

The Combatribes is arguably the game Double Dragon 3 should have been — though in execution it’s somewhat closer to Double Dragon’s spiritual precursor and first entry in the Kunio-kun series, Renegade.

The Combatribes is best described as an arena brawler; rather than progressing through side-scrolling stages, you instead battle an incoming group of enemies in an enclosed (albeit still scrolling) space. Take out all the grunts and a boss will appear; beat the boss and you move on to the next stage. It’s a simple concept, but rather fun given the variety of contextual moves on offer such as banging foes’ heads together — and the fact it supports up to three simultaneous players can make for some enjoyably chaotic fun.

It’s also one of Technos’ more graphically impressive games, with some absolutely beautiful backgrounds and spritework on display — a fine demonstration of what the “arcade” experience brings to the Technos Arcade 1 cart!

All in all, this is a fun collection of games encompassing a varied range of experiences. Pretty much every player will find at least one thing to enjoy on the Technos Arcade 1 cartridge — and you may well find yourself discovering some new favourites with the endearing obscurities on offer, too.

Plus it’s a great accompaniment to the new VS system and its multiple controller ports — grab a friend or two and boot up the Double Dragon games or Combatribes and you’ve got a fun evening ahead of you, for sure. Just remember you’re supposed to punch the enemies, not each other.

Technos Arcade 1 is available for Evercade now.

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Pete Davison
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