Master System emulators

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Revision as of 19:32, 21 September 2023 by (talk) (Accessories)
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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, the Master System and Mark III differ a bit due to the original Japanese release having more features, such as card functionality and backward compatibility with SG-1000, which the 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 8 KBs of RAM and 16 KBs 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 8 KBs of RAM and 16 KBs of 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 System
libretro Retro
Accuracy Netplay FLOSS Active Recommended
PC / x86
Genesis Plus GX* Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD libretro core Very high NC
MAME Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.267
libretro core
ares Windows Linux macOS v139 High
Emulicious Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 2024-06-30 Very high
BizHawk Windows Linux Dev builds
[2] Very high ~
Cega Windows Linux macOS git Cycle TBD
FinalBurn Neo Windows Linux macOS libretro core
WIP builds
? ? NC TBD
Snepulator Windows Linux git TBD
Mednafen Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 1.32.1 ?
Phoenix Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 2.8.JAG Very high
higan Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD v110 High
TwoMbit Windows Linux macOS 1.0.5 Very high
CLK Linux macOS FreeBSD 2024-06-03 Very high
Gearsystem Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 3.5.0 High
MasterGear Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 4.9.3 High
Pantheon Windows 14.062 High
Kega Fusion Windows Linux macOS 3.64 Mid
PicoDrive Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD libretro core
[3] Mid NC
FreezeSMS Windows 4.6 Very high
DarcNES Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 9b0401/9b0313 Low
MEKA Windows Linux macOS MS-DOS 0.8-alpha (2023-08-26) ?
SMS Plus Windows Linux macOS git ? ? NC
Osmose Linux 1.6 ?
HiSMS Windows 0.01 beta * ?
nemulator Windows 4.4 ?
Essgee Windows git ?
Mobile / ARM
Genesis Plus GX* Android iOS Linux Pandora libretro core Very high NC
Snepulator MS Android v23.04-1git ?
FinalBurn Neo Android iOS libretro core ? ? NC
MasterGear Android 4.9.3 High ~
MasterEmu Android 4.0.1
High ~
MD.emu Android Dragonbox Pyra 1.5.77 (Android) (Pyra)
High ~
WonderDroid Ultra Android 5.3git ~
PicoDrive Android iOS Linux Pandora libretro core [3] Mid NC ~
GearMasterPlayer Android 1.0.5 High ~
PicoDrive Nintendo 3DS Switch
PlayStation 2
PlayStation 3
libretro core
? Mid NC
Genesis Plus GX GameCube Wii Switch
Nintendo 3DS
PlayStation 3
Vita Xbox
libretro core
1.7.5 RC1
? Mid NC
SMS Plus GX PlayStation 2
PSP GameCube
Wii Xbox
libretro core
Mid ? NC
(Libretro Core)
PSMS alt+ PlayStation 2 1.2 High ?
MasterBoy PSP 2.10 Mid
Virtual Console Wii Nintendo 3DS N/A Mid
ApprenticeminusDS Nintendo DS 0.4.0 Mid
SMS Plus DC Dreamcast 0.2b Mid NC
DrSMS GameBoy Advance 6.0 Mid ~
UltraSMS Nintendo 64 2000 Low ~ ✓ (GG only)
MasterGear PlayStation 0.2 Low ~
  1. Game Gear achievements, Master System achievements
  2. Possible with BizHawk's MAME core
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Game Gear emulation doesn't work.


Name Genesis Plus GX Kega Fusion Snepulator MEKA BlastEm PicoDrive
FM Sound Unit ? ? ? ? ?
Light Phaser ? WIP ?
Paddle Control ? ? ?
Sports Pad ? WIP ? ?
Sega Graphic Board ? ? ?
Keyboard ? ? ? ? ?
Furrtek's Master Tap ? ? ? ? ?
Floppy Disk Drive ? ? ? ? ? ?
System Converter ? ? ? ? ~
3-D Glasses ? ? ? ? ?
Game Genie ? ? ? ? ? ?
Action Replay ? ? ? ? ? ?
Gear-to-Gear Cable & VS Cable
Bike Handle

FM Sound Unit

Optional soundboard released for Sega Mark III. Was included by default in Japanese models of the Sega Master System. Features a Yamaha YM2413, which was been used in many MSX games. Some games with FM Sound Unit support were not released in Japan, while others had FM Sound Unit support unused or incomplete, which, for the former. must be activated with manipulation in the system's RAM (e.g.: Pro Action Replay).

Most known emulators such as Kega Fusion, MEKA, MAME, and Genesis Plus GX do support this add-on. Unfortunately, this soundboard was not carried to the Sega Genesis by any means and must be modded by the owner or through flash carts such as Mega Everdrive X7.

Light Phaser

A light gun that was released pretty much everywhere outside Japan. Some games such as Safari Hunt require this accessory to be played.

Kega Fusion, MEKA, MAME, and Genesis Plus GX support Light Phaser controls through Mouse input.

Paddle Control

A dial controller that was released only in Japan. It functions similarly to Taito's Arkanoid / Vaus controller for NES and MSX. Most games that support this controller actually require it.

Kega Fusion, MEKA, MAME, and Genesis Plus GX support Light Phaser controls through Mouse input. Some games are patched to be playable with a Control Pad or even with Sega Genesis Control Pads.

Sega Sports Pad

A trackball controller that was released only in North America and Japan. The American version is more complete, as it is bigger and has switches that allow it to be used as a Control Pad, while the Japanese version lacks this switch and is smaller. It is only used in Sports Pad Football (also known as Great Football, without Sports Pad support), Sports Pad Soccer (also known as Great Soccer [Cart version], World Soccer and Super Futebol, all of them without Sports Pad support) and Great Ice Hockey.

MEKA, MAME, and Genesis Plus GX support Light Phaser controls through Mouse input.

Sega Graphic Board

Also known as Terebi Oekaki. Includes a graphic board attached to a cartridge. Can be used on SG-1000, SC-3000, Sega Mark III, and Japanese / Korean models of Master System. Another version made for the International Master System models was planned to be released and even advertised but was canceled (both ROMs are dumped).

MEKA supports both variants of the Graphic Boards.


Named Sega Keyboard SK-1100. It essentially adds some of the missing features of the SC-3000 to an SG-1000 or Sega Mark III. It is not compatible with the Japanese / Korean models of Master System due to pinout differences in their respective expansion ports.

Kega Fusion, Meka, and MAME support this keyboard.

3-D Glasses

Known as SegaScope 3-D Glasses, it is a 3D glasses set to be used within the Card port (or with a headphone jack in Japanese models of SMS). It works similar, but way better, than Famicom 3D System games.

MEKA and MAME support 3D visuals of all games. Re-releases of Maze Hunter 3D by Sega also support the 3D effects from this game as well. Some games received patches to remove the required 3D glasses support.

Game Genie

Cheating device that was released by Galoob in North America and (also developed) by Codemasters in Europe. It was released as an official device licensed by Sega, alongside the Sega Genesis version.

Many emulators such as Kega Fusion, Genesis Plus GX, MAME, and MEKA support Game Genie codes as an in-emulator feature, but none of them supports Game Genie as a Lock-On method due to the Game Gear version's ROM being undumped for years.

Pro Action Replay

Cheating device that was released by Datel in Europe. Unlike Game Genie, it manipulates with both systems' RAM and is not licensed by Sega.

Many emulators such as Kega Fusion, Genesis Plus GX, MAME, and MEKA support Pro Action Replay codes as an in-emulator feature, but none of them supports Game Genie as a Lock-On method due to both Master System and Game Gear versions' respective ROMs being undumped for years.

Gear-to-Gear Cable

Released for the Game Gear, is a cable that allows two players to compete with each other in several games.

The 3DS Virtual Console emulator, m2engage, allows Gear-to-Gear Cable emulation through Local Play. Alternatively, the Game Gear emulator used in Sonic Origins Plus also allows several Sonic games to be used in their respective Versus modes.


Several Master System-based Arcade boards, mainly produced by Sega themselves, do exist:

  • Sega System E (actual improvements on sound)
  • Sega Shooting Zone
  • Sega Mega-Tech (runs converted Master System games through the backward compatibility inherited from Genesis)
  • Sega Mega Play (does not run Master System games, but the BIOS itself runs in this mode, again, through the backward compatibility inherited from Genesis)

Additionally, several bootleg arcade/hotel boxes such as Super Game were been reported to be sold in South Korea and Japan, without being licensed by Sega. Some of these also include SG-1000 games or even MSX1 conversions built-in.

Dreamcast logo.png
Consoles: SG-1000Master SystemGenesis / Mega DriveCD32XPicoSaturnDreamcast
Handhelds: Game GearVMU / VMS
Arcade: System seriesModel 1Model 2Model 3NAOMI