5 Best Sega Master System Emulators Of 2024

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Get ready to take a trip back to 1986 as we uncover the name of the best Sega Master System emulator on the internet…

… although, you don’t have far to scroll; it’s listed about eleven lines down!

Emulators often get a bad wrap, but they provide a very important service.

Just like online libraries and databases keep backups of important historical findings, emulators offer a means of securing video gaming past should old tech cease to exist.

In other words, they allow younger generations to play old games, and people who come across Master system titles a means of playing them on their phone or laptop.

The Master System is, I think we can all agree, one of the best consoles ever made. It’s still the best selling console in Brazil today, mainly because it’s still on sale and everyone loves it!

Who needs the best PS5 games when you have a Master System, right?

So, let’s check out the best Sega Master System emulator and find out which other programs made the cut!

PLEASE NOTE – This article is purely for educational, scientific, and knowledge-enhancing
purposes only and should be treated in the same way as a highly exciting thesis or dissertation. Retro Dodo does not condone illegal downloading or any other shady activities that might get anyone (namely us) into trouble. Please check the legality of ROM downloading in your area and always follow government guidelines on internet safety and copyright laws.

1. GearSystem

best Sega Master System emulators -  GearSystem emulator gameplay showing Sonic
  • Open Source
  • Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, iOS and Raspberry Pi

GearSystem is the best Sega Master System emulator of all time. It still receives updates, the last being February 2021, and is so simple to use that even a baby could work it.

Created by DrHelius, this open source program does exactly what it says on the tin. Not only does it provide users with a seamless Master System gaming experience, but it also has the ability to play Game Gear and SG-1000 titles too.

Ok, I’ve mainly listed this as the best Sega Master System emulator because it was updated recently, but that’s the kind of thing I look for in my emulators.

Plus, the actual creator can be contacted via Twitter if you need any advice, which always helps.

2. BizHawk

best Sega Master System emulators - BizHawk emulator gameplay showing Alex Kidd
  • Open Source
  • Windows

Like many of the big players in the emulation world, BizHawk is a go-to-hub for multiple console emulation.

Not only is it one of the best Sega Master System emulator programs on the net, but it’s also great for other Sega consoles too.

And, as it’s an open source emulator, other users can grab the source code and mess around it with it to their hearts content.

That’s how some of the best emulators are born, after all.

BizHawk is a great choice for speed runners. That’s the word for people who try to finish games in the shortest amount of time possible… though I still can’t see the enjoyment in that!

Make use of advanced settings and parameters for your game speed, controller, and frames, or just play the old fashioned way if you’re new to emulation!

3. RetroArch

best Sega Master System emulators - RetroArch emulator gameplay with Sega Master System overlay showing a free room with a treasure chest.
  • Open Source
  • Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi, FreeBSD

I think RetroArch has appeared in every ‘best emulator’ list that we’ve made so far. So, there’s no surprises that many people consider it to be the best Sega Master system emulator too.

How has it won the hearts and minds of so many gamers?

Well, not only does it emulate the best Master System games and the best Sega Genesis games, but it also emulates the DS, N64, PS1, and many more classic consoles!

No, it’s not a horcrux or one of Dumbledore’s magic tricks. It does this by using cores.

Cores are basically virtual versions of what makes your old (and new) consoles tick. RetroArch is an emulator for these cores, which I guess makes it an emulator emulator… if that makes sense…

The best core for Master System emulation is ‘Sega Genesis Plus GX’. It boasts a wide compatibility rate for pretty much every single Sega game on every console and works on any computer.

It doesn’t matter if you’re still using an old Thinkpad or a brand new Mac; RetroArch will get you up and running in no time!

4. Kega Fusion

Kega Fusion emulator gameplay showing Alex Kidd
  • Freeware
  • Windows, Linux, MacOSX

Next up in our list of the best Sega Master System emulator programs is Kega Fusion, a slick little program that we first wrote about while covering the best Sega Mega Drive emulators.

Kega Fusion isn’t known for being a fancy emulator. It’s known for championing accurate gameplay and compatibility, which are the only two things that really matter when it comes to picking a good emulator.

Still, despite not looking super slick, it’s one of the fastest emulators around. It’s capable of running games up to 60FPS and works with a whole host of Sega consoles too.

In other words, it’s a Sega fan-boy through and through!

Unlike Gearsystem, Kega doesn’t get updated all that regularly. It suppose we can forgive this though, as the initial build was made so perfectly that it doesn’t really need any other work doing to it!

If you’re looking for something to use in competitions, then head back up to BizHawk. But, if you want a change from GearSystem and wouldn’t mind having perfect gameplay, then give Kega Fusion a go.

5. MasterGear

best Sega Master System emulators - MasterGear emulator gameplay showing a public domain game from SMSpower.org
Image shows a public domain game from SMSpower.org
  • Closed Source
  • Windows, Linux, Anrdoid

Finally, we end on MasterGear, one of the best Sega Master System emulator apps for Android.

It’s also available to use on Windows and Linux too!

MasterGear is closed source, which means the code isn’t available to mess around with. However, contacting the developer might lead to an exchange of code if he likes your project.

There have been examples of this emulator running on everything from a DVD player to a digital camera. It’s very malleable, and while the three operating system choices above are the only ones widely available, it would be possible to put MasterGear on Mac, iOS, and even some of the best retro handhelds!

The android version provides regular save states, link up play, and the chance to share your game progress with other users. As well as the Master System, it plays a whole host of Sega consoles and is compatible with Bluetooth controllers too.

Android users; this is the one for you!

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