Master System emulators

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Sega Master System
Top: Sega Master System.
Bottom: Sega Game Gear.
Developer Sega
Type Home video game console
Generation Third generation
Release date 1985
Discontinued 1996
Predecessor SG-1000
Successor Genesis / Mega Drive

The Sega Master System (SMS) is an 8-bit console released by Sega on October 20, 1985 in Japan (as "Mark III". In all actuality Master System and Mark III differ a bit due to the original Japanese release having more features, such as card functionality, and backwards compatibility with SG-1000, which Master System lacks) and in September of 1986 in the US. It was retailed for $199.99. It had a Zilog Z80A at 4 MHz with 8KB of RAM and 16KB of VRAM. It had a Yamaha YM2602B VDP GPU. It was designed to be a direct competitor to the Nintendo Entertainment System and was technically superior to it in some ways. The Sega Game Gear was released in April of 1991 and was a competitor for the Game Boy. It had a backlit screen, color, and a nice-looking design. It retailed for $149.99. It had a Zilog Z80 CPU at 3.5 MHz with 8KB of RAM and 16KB VRAM.

There are a lot of hardware similarities between the SMS and the Game Gear (GG). Notably, SMS game cartridges can actually be played on the Game Gear via an adapter. For this reason, most SMS emulators can also run GG games.

Internally the Master System extends Sega's older SG-1000 by adding more RAM and a single new video mode; since the SG-1000 was built from the same CPU, video and audio chips as the ColecoVision many Master System emulators also run ColecoVision games.


Name Platform(s) Latest Version GG libretro Accuracy FLOSS Active Recommended
PC / x86
Genesis Plus GX[1] Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD libretro core Very high
MAME Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.250 High
ares Windows Linux macOS v130.1 High ~
Emulicious Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 2022-10-31 Very high ~
BizHawk Windows 2.8 Very high ~
Phoenix Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 2.8.JAG Very high ~
Cega Windows Linux macOS git Cycle ?
higan Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD v110 High
TwoMbit Windows Linux macOS 1.0.5 Very high
CLK Linux macOS FreeBSD 2022-11-25 Very high
Gearsystem Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 3.4.1 High
MasterGear Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 4.9.3 High
Pantheon Windows 12.000 High
Kega Fusion Windows Linux macOS 3.64 Mid
PicoDrive Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 1.93 [2] Mid
FreezeSMS Windows 4.6 Very high
DarcNES Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 9b0401/9b0313 Low
MEKA Windows Linux macOS 0.8-alpha (2022-03-27) ?
SMS Plus Windows Linux macOS git ?
Osmose Linux 1.4 ?
HiSMS Windows 0.01 beta ?
nemulator Windows 4.4 ?
Essgee Windows git ?
Mobile / ARM
Genesis Plus GX[1] Android iOS Linux Pandora 1.7.5 RC1 Very high
MasterGear Android 4.9.3 High
MasterEmu Android 4.0.1
MD.emu Android Dragonbox Pyra 1.5.65 (Android) (Pyra)
PicoDrive Android iOS Linux Pandora 1.93 [2] Mid
GearMasterPlayer Android 1.0.5 High
PicoDrive PSP 1.93 [2] Mid
Genesis Plus GX GameCube Wii 1.7.5 RC1 ?
MasterBoy PSP 2.10 ?
Virtual Console Wii Nintendo 3DS N/A ?
  1. 1.0 1.1 Only available on PC and mobile as a libretro core (e.g. RetroArch).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Game Gear emulation doesn't work.
Dreamcast logo.png
Consoles: SG-1000Master SystemGenesis / Mega DriveCD32XPicoSaturnDreamcast
Handhelds: Game GearVMU / VMS
Arcade: System seriesModel 1Model 2Model 3Naomi