5 Best Sega Mega Drive Emulators Of 2024

Sega Mega Drive 2 console with operating system icons

Take a trip back to 1988 as we take a look at the best Sega Mega Drive emulators of all time!

Yes, folks; in this article we’re going to tell you all about the best programs for playing your beloved Sega games on your laptop, phone, or PC. They’re called emulators, and these are 5 of the very best.

The Mega Drive was one of the most exciting consoles of my early childhood. Playing Sonic the Hedgehog with my uncle, experiencing Alex Kidd for the very first time. Those are memories that stick with you, and now you can relive them everywhere with the best Sega Mega Drive emulators

Because what could be better than playing Golden Axe on the toilet or Altered Beast in the morning meeting!

Get all the action from the best retro handhelds on your smartphone or tablet and enhance your favourite games with some slick new features. Find out what cores are, and learn what the heck Mednafen actually stands for anyway.

Hey, this has become an educational article without me even realising it!

**READER; READ THIS! – Like E. Honda hundred-hand-slapping a puppy or**
Dhalsim stting fire to your mum’s hair, sharing ROMs is very illegal. Retro Dodo can’t test gear or make new articles in the slammer, so remember that we’ll HADOUKEN you into next week if you do anything illegal on the internet. 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

Best Sega Mega Drive Emulators
  • Freeware
  • Windows, Linux, MacOSX

Kega Fusion is the best Sega Mega Drive emulator of all time!

While some emulators try to draw us in by being the fastest or having the slickest interface, Kega Fusion sees game compatibility and accurate gameplay as the two most important features.

Still, it’s pretty fast as it is, with games running at 60FPS. It’s perfect for glitch-free gameplay of all the best Sega Mega Drive games as well as the best Master System games and a whole host of other Sega consoles.

Basically, it’s your one stop Sega shop!

Unlike some of the other emulators on the internet, Kega Fusion doesn’t receive regular updates anymore. Still, the original build was that good that it remains one of the most dependable programs on the web today.

If you don’t care about recording your game or speedrunning settings, then this is the program for you. It plays Mega Drive games perfectly; what more do you need to know?

2. RetroArch

RetroArch - Best Sege Mega Drive emulators
  • Open Source
  • Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi, FreeBSD

I have a feeling some of you were expecting RetroArch to appear in this list of the best Sega Mega Drive Emulators. It’s a regular feature in our emulation lists and a solid choice for pretty much every operating system.

Why is RetroArch so good? Well, not only does it emulate all of the best Genesis games and Mega Drive titles, but it also emulates the N64, PS1, 3DS, and many more consoles!

And no, it’s not magic. It does all of this and more by acting as a sort of ‘world hub’ for things called ‘cores’. These cores virtually replicate the internal wires, chips, and other sciency bits inside your old consoles.

In some ways, RetroArch is the Lord of the Emulators. Maybe Peter Jackson could do a movie about it!

The core you’ll need to find for the Mega Drive is ‘Sega Genesis Plus GX’. I know you’re looking for Mega Drive games, but the Genesis is just the name that Sega gave the console in America; it’ll do the same job.

The Sega Genesis Plus GX core provides compatibility for all of your favourite games. And the best bit about Retro Arch is that works on old computers as well as new systems. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

3. Mednafen

  • Open Source
  • Windows, MacOSX Linux, FreeBSD

Mednafen deserves to be in this list of the best Sega Mega Drive emulators for two reasons. Not only is it a reliable emulator that behaves very similarly to RetroArch, but it also has one of the best program names of all time.

Mednafen stands for MEmulator Doesn’t Need A Frickin’ Excellent Name, which I think it’s safe to say could well be the greatest piece of word play ever.

Like RetroArch, Mednafen is capable of loading different cores for various consoles. It’s great for bkasting through Mega Drive titles such as ToeJam & Earl and Virtua Fighter, but it’s also a go to console for Sega Saturn users too.

Yes, thanks to the inclusion of the original Sega Saturn core, players can experience the best Sega Saturn RPGs as if they had the console right in front of them!

Where Mednafen falls down in comparison to RetroArch is that it’s a little bit ‘dodgy’ at times. The latest build has a few problems that, while a little annoying, can easily be rectified with a few adjustments if you have the time and will.

Users aldo need BIOS files if they want to play games on Mednafen, which might put it out of reach of newbies heading to the emulation scene for the first time.

If you’re looking for an alternative to RetroArch and understand the deepest secrets of string theory, however, then give Mednafen a go and see how you get on!

4. OpenEMU

  • Open Source
  • MacOS, Windows, Android

It might be sitting at Number 4, but OpenEMU is one of the best looking programs in our list of the best Sega Mega Drive emulators. I mean, just look at it! It’s like the iTunes of emulation, for crying out loud.

If, like me, you have most of your books in alphabetical order and love a well-organised record collection, then the auto-compiled ROM list will make you feel as though you’re in heaven.

Simply drag the ripped files from your pre-existing games into the program, and let OpenEmu sort them, file them, and make them ready for play!

This is also one of the easiest programs I’ve ever used to map a controller too. It’s super simple to figure out and makes hooking a USB controller up to your laptop or PC an absolute breeze.

OpenEmu is basically a better-looking, less well known version of RetroArch. It uses the same Sega Genesis Plus GX core as RA and does pretty much the same thing.

I’ll put myself out there and say that this is the best emulator for Mac users as it feels most like other native programs on the operating system.

5. Gens

  • Open Source
  • Windows, Linux

Gens is the last program in our list of the best Sega Mega Drive Emulators of the year. Yet again, we find ourselves looking at another epic program that is easy to work and a joy to use.

If you like the idea of Kega Fusion but wish it did a little bit more, then Gens will be right up your street.

It’s got everything pro gamers could ever need; speedrunning functions such as ‘slow-down’ settings, cheat codes, and settings to take your gameplay to the next level.

Dont worry if you’re just after solid gameplay; Gens is newbie friendly too and boasts menus that are easy to navigate.

It’s also a go-to 32X emulator for many games too, and with a compatibility rating of 92%, there’s bound to be a whole tonne of games on there for you to sink your teeth into!

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