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]         1.7.5 RC1 Very high
MAME         0.247 High
Emulicious         2022-08-31 Very high ~
BizHawk   2.8 Very high ~
higan         v110 High ~
ares       v129 High ?
Cega       git Cycle ?
Phoenix         2.8.JAG Very high ~
TwoMbit       1.0.5 Very high
CLK       2022-09-16 Very high
Gearsystem         3.4.1 High
MasterGear         4.9.3 High
Pantheon   11.874 High
Kega Fusion       3.64 Mid
PicoDrive         1.93 [2] Mid
FreezeSMS   4.6 Very high
DarcNES         9b0401/9b0313 Low
MEKA       0.8-alpha (2022-03-27) ?
SMS Plus       git ?
Osmose   1.4 ?
HiSMS   0.01 beta ?
nemulator   4.4 ?
Essgee   git ?
Mobile / ARM
Genesis Plus GX[1]         1.7.5 RC1 Very high
MasterGear   4.9.3 High ?
MD.emu     1.5.65 (Android) (Pyra)
High ?
PicoDrive         1.93 [2] Mid
GearMasterPlayer   1.0.5 ? ?
PicoDrive   1.93 [2] Mid
Genesis Plus GX     1.7.5 RC1 ?
MasterBoy   2.10 ?
Virtual Console     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.
Consoles: SG-1000Master SystemGenesis / Mega DriveCD32XPicoSaturnDreamcast
Handhelds: Game GearVMU / VMS
Arcade: System seriesModel 1Model 2Model 3Naomi