The ONLY REAL guide to Sega Genesis / MegaDrive emulation on WM

The desktop gaming console Sega Genesis / Sega Mega Drive (from now on: MD) was pretty famous in the late eighties and early nineties and has received many quality titles, most importantly, the Sonic series, which are still way better than any native Windows Mobile platformers (except for, maybe, BoneyBoy). Now that, just as with NeoGeo / CPS (see article HERE), some REALLY excellent and almost flawless emulators have been released in the last few months, I found it necessary to devote an entire article to playing MD games under Windows Mobile. (Needless to say, there are no other REAL and up-to-date articles on this subject.)

Should you bother?

The answer is Yes! While the Genesis is definitely old hardware, it has some really excellent titles not quite matched by any ntive (non-emulated) Windows Mobile titles: for example, the above-mentioned Sonic series is REALLY good. In addition, you WILL want to give a try to other titles like Xenon 2 (remember to enable the in-game music – it’s disabled by default) and Risky Woods. The latter two also had PC ports – you may well know these titles already. (I loved them back in 1990-1992 and have spent a lot of time playing them. I’ve even bought the Gameboy version of Xenon 2!)

Now that there are some excellent and, what is more, FREE emulators for Windows Mobile, it’s no longer impossible to play these games full screen, with enabled sound, decent controls and with speed no worse than with the original console. Give these emulators and games a try – I’m absolutely sure you’ll love them!

Again and again, the emulators are free; so are the games. You should, however, own the original cartridges so that you can (legally) download the ROM game images off the Web.

First and foremost, you must know of two major emulators, Masterall's PicoDrive (current version: 0.052) and n0p’s Genesis Plus (current version: 1.06). These two emulators will be all you need for playing any games on your mobile device.

PicoDrive

First, let’s take a look at the BEST MD emulator available today, PicoDrive. It’s available for download HERE, at the bottom of the first post. (You’ll need to register yourself in the Modaco forum to be able to download the file.) Note that the FinalBurn homepage has an old and almost useless version (0.030).

It’s developed by Masterall, the author of the Windows Mobile port of the excellent, high-quality NeoGeo and CPS emulator FinalBurn Alpha introduced and explained HERE. As the user interface (UI) is very similar to that of FinalBurn Alpha, I don’t explain it here: once you get known to FinalBurn Alpha, you’ll also find the UI of PicoDrive familiar. There are very few differences; the most important of them is the lack of invisible screen controls. Hope this will be fixed in a subsequent release.

Please also consult the comparison / feature chart of the article for usage tips and tricks.

Genesis Plus

Genesis Plus is another, slightly slower but somewhat better thought-out (for example, its active screen tap areas don’t take up any screen estate, unlike with PicoDrive) emulator.

It’s very simple to use: you just download the GenPP.v1.06.7z archive file from HERE, uncompress all the files and transfer them to your mobile device and start genpp.exe. As you may run into download problems (or, you will want to decompress the file with the built-in ZIP support of Windows Mobile 5+ or Resco File Explorer), I’ve also made the archive available as a standard ZIP file on my database back end HERE.

After starting genpp.exe, you’ll be prompted to select a ROM file to load. (It, as with PicoDrive, supports compressed ROM images too. Note that PicoDrive even supports RAR’ed images – using RAR results in an even less storage memory need than with ZIP.) Select it and, then, just start playing. At the bottom of the screen, you will have access to some functionality; of course, the hardware buttons can also be used to control games (Action being mapped to Start by default).

Unlike with all the other emulators, it can’t be configured at all (except for setting the frame drop parameters and disabling the Z80 emulation; you most probably won’t want to do either) in the GUI as can be seen in this menu screenshot. However, upon the first run, it’ll create a file named genpp.cfg. If you directly edit it, you can fine-tune a lot of parameters, including hardware button assignment; see the comparison / feature chart for more info.

Not recommended emulators

MorphGear 2.4.0.9

(Main page HERE; while the emulator has commercial modules, the Genesis emulation is free; its (separate) homepage is HERE. Download the main MG CAB HERE and the Genesis CAB HERE. Install both.)

This emulator, as usual, is pretty useless and long superseded by the two above-introduced emulators in every respects. There is absolutely no point in bothering with it.

Mobile Drive 1.1a

(alternative download HERE and HERE for the two versions)

This emulator is not recommended either. It has two versions: the Cyclone-based is faster but less compatible, the Musashi-based is even slower but more compatible. As both PicoDrive and Genesis Plus are FAR more compatible with existing titles, FAR faster and FAR better, there is absolutely no point in bothering with these two titles.

PocketGenesis v1.0 (Beta 2)

This is a long-forgotten & abandoned project; its old homepage no longer exists, only an archive here with the 1.01 ARM / MIPS versions. Version 1.0b2 is ONLY available HERE, in Michu’s archive. It wasn’t able to run any of the ROM I’ve thrown it at.

Finally,

darcNESCE

This project has been discontinued too (for example, its homepage no longer exists either). It seems to be entirely incompatible with the better games.

The feature / comparison / compatibility chart

It’s available HERE. Don’t forget to check it out for

  1. some usage tips (how some things should be configured / accessed; make sure you follow the screenshot links to see them)
  2. real-world, dependable compatibility reports

The rows are pretty easy to understand (particularly if you’ve already read my other emulation-related articles); therefore, I won’t elaborate on them in here. Let me know (post a public message / request) if you REALLY don’t understand something.

UPDATE (05/08/2007): The HowardForums, AximSite discussions are worth checking out

Sorry, I may not give you direct links to ROM sites.

Fire up Google and enter what you deem the most appropriate to downloading Genesis ROM's. It's about 3 words and is pretty similar to the latter part of my previous sentence. Then, in the first 10 hits, you'll see 2-3 reliable ROM download sites.

Go there, select a game to download, download it and you're set :)

I'm afraid it's impossible to use any of these emulators on square-screen devices.

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