Forget Phill Collins and Genesis’ greatest hits; we’re only interested in the best Sega Genesis emulators today!
I’ve got a lot of love for the Master System and the Game Gear, but the Genesis is the best console that Sega ever produced.
That statement might have already caused controversy, but it’s the truth. This beast had some of the best classic titles ever.
From Streets of Rage to Comix Zone, Golden Axe to Columns, the Genesis was the go-to console for every type of game imaginable and thankfully propelled Sega into the halls of fame forever.
If only it had known that they’d explode from within in the Saturn/Dreamcast years; perhaps it’s a good job that it didn’t!
As one of the most influential home consoles ever made, there’s no surprise that people are wanting to play their favourite games on the go or on their PC with updated graphics.
After all, Playing Alex Kidd is always preferable to filling in spread sheets any day of the week.
But how does one go about playing ripped game files from their existing carts on a mobile, handheld device, or PC?
Fear not, intrepid Retronaut; we’ve got all the answers right here!
**PLEASE READ – Like throwing a HADOUKEN into an unsuspecting passer by,**
sharing ROMs is very illegal. Retro Dodo can’t upload articles from jail, so please remember that we’ll hundred-hand-slap you around the face if you do anything illegal on the internet. We created this article for you to find out more about the best Sega Genesis emulators and it should be thought of as Robotnik’s lost memoirs, a Zelda guidebook from 1998, or Gandalf’s shopping list. Please check the legality of ROM downloading in your region and always follow government guidelines on both internet safety and copyright laws.
1. Kega Fusion
- Windows, Linux, MacOSX
Kega Fusion is the best Sega Genesis emulator of all time!
Instead of claiming to be the fastest emulator on the market and only boasting three or four working games, Kega holds accuracy and compatibility over all the other bells and whistles that some emulators shout about
Running at 60fps, Kega can handle all of the greats from Earthworm Jim to ToeJam and Earl. As well as all the best Sega Genesis games, it can also handle the best 32X games and more besides.
While no longer being updated, Kega is still one of the most reliable emulators on the net for all-round Sega emulation. It’s a simple to use, no nonsense program for gamers that just want to get on with playing instead of fiddling with sped running settings or filming their progress for a YouTube channel.
- Open Source
- Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi, FreeBSD
RetroArch is a regular feature in our lists of the best emulators. As well as being one of the best Sega Genesis emulators, it’s also the go-to emulator for the N64, Snes, Nintendo 3DS, Dreamcast, and pretty much every other console in existence.
For anyone wanting to play the best Sega Mega Drive games and their favourite titles on other consoles besides, then RetroArch can deliver. It pulls of this incredible feat by using cores to replicate the inner workings of dozens of consoles instead of just focusing on one.
Think of it as the mother of all emulators… maybe they should use that as their tagline!
The Sega Genesis core is called ‘Sega Genesis Plus GX’ and works a treat on pretty much every system. It doesn’t need a super-fancy computer to run and has a great game compatibility list.
Plus, it also uses swish layouts to make your screen look like your chosen console!
ClassicBoyGold is one of the most popular Android apps for retro gaming. As well as covering the N64, Nes, Gameboy, and countless other Sega consoles, it’s also one of the best Sega Genesis emulators around too.
The app itself is free to download, but certain features such as loading save states can only be achieved by paying $5.99. That might seem like a rip-off to some, but this emulator does work nicely and is continuously being updated, so I guess it’s a small price to pay.
What separates ClassicBoyGold from the other programs in this list of the best Sega Genesis emulators? Well, as it’s a smartphone app, swiping actions and mappable buttons are easy to program and use. It comes with gesture and sensor controllers (full version) and has support for bluetooth controllers (also full version).
All of the classic games work fine on this emulator and it’s a solid choice for mobile gamers looking to play classic games from their past.
If you’re rocking an Android phone that’s 10 years old, then you might struggle with this one. Newer, more powerful phones will provide the bet results by far, so keep that in mind before upgrading.
- Open Source
- MacOS, Windows, Android
OpenEMU is hands down one of the best Sega Genesis emulators for Mac users. It’s the best looking program on the internet and an absolute joy to use.
If you’re a sucker for a well-organised list like me, then this will feel like stepping into Valhalla. It’s essentially the retro gaming version of iTunes and lists all your consoles and ROMs using a great interface.
We’re talking wooden-effect backgrounds with easy to use controller mapping, slick lists showing the pics of your games, and everything accessible at the touch of a button. Just drop your ROMs in and let the program do the rest.
Like RetroArch, OpenEMU uses cores to fulfil your emulation needs. The core in question this time is also ‘Sega Genesis Plus GX’, so I guess it’s up to you which one of the two ‘all purpose emulators’ you go for.
I’d go OpenEMU every time just for how easy it is to use, but we’re not pushing our decision on you… (just download it already!)
- Open Source
- Windows, Linux
Finally, Gens finishes off this list of the best Sega Genesis emulators of all time! This is another reliable emulator that produces great results with little to no effort. It’s one of those programs that does exactly what it says on the tin and works on both Windows and Linux.
Gens is like a fancier version of Kega Fusion. It allows game cheats to be inputted and has some slow-down functions for speed runners to blast through their favourite games. Still, it’s not aimed at pro users and is simple for newbies to get their heads around too.
As well as playing Genesis games, it can also handle 32X and Mega CD games as well. So, if you fancy playing a little Knuckles Chaotix after a few rounds of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, then you don’t have to mess around changing emulators!
With a game compatibility percentage of 92%, Gens can comfortably play all the classics. If you don’t like the look of any of the other emulators in the list above, then give this old-faithful a try!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.