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Play 16-bit and 8-bit Sega games on Windows Phone 8 with EmiGens Plus

Back in August, we regretfully announced that popular emulator developer M.k would be retiring from Windows Phone development and allowing his apps to disappear from the Store. M.k’s apps are still around for the time being, but the emulation torch has essentially been passed on. And who came forward to pick it up and create new emulators? Andre Botelho, that’s who.

Andre has two emulators on the Store (EmiGens Plus and EmiNES) and a third (EmiPSX) in development. EmiGens Plus is the first Sega Genesis/Sega Mega Drive emulator for Windows Phone. It also happens to run Sega Master System and Game Gear games, making it a great value for classic gaming fans.

Check out our hands on video, impressions, and game recommendations after the break!

Blast processing comes to your phone

Emulators often include a disposable homebrew ROM (a playable game file) to test the app with. EmiGens Plus doesn’t come with any ROMs, so you’ll need to find some of your own in order to use it. Don’t ask us where to get them; that’s up to you and your browser’s search engine.

To get your ROMs into the emulator, you can use SkyDrive, email them as attachments, or load from an SD card. Yes, EmiGens Plus directly supports SD cards, which is pretty cool. That said, you’ll have to select either SD or internal storage each and every time you browse your ROM list from within the app. It would be nice if the list combined both sources or at least remembered the user’s selection.

User interface and features

EmiGens Plus supports both portrait and landscape configurations. As you’d expect, landscape is far more ideal because of the larger view it offers. One very cool feature unique to this app is that users can reposition every single button anywhere on-screen in either orientation. That should make it easy to get them in a comfortable spot. Users can also toggle between 6-button and 3-button style controls in the settings menu.

Control configuration is great, but I still think the controls could be better. The d-pad itself doesn’t exactly match up with that of the actual Sega 16-bit controllers. And it would be great if the directions continued to work even if you slide your thumb off the edge of the virtual pad. It’s too easy to slide your thumb off the pad and stop moving by mistake. On the plus side, I hear MOGA Pro Controller support may be in this emulator's future.

The app supports save states, allowing users to save and load their progress at any time. But it doesn’t support taking screenshots. Sure, you can do that with the Windows Phone hardware buttons, but most emulators also let users take pictures using menu controls. And it’d be nice to see each game’s screenshot when browsing ROMs as well.

Sega CD check, 32X MIA

Double Dragon: Sega Genesis version (left) and Sega Master System version

The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive supported a CD-ROM peripheral called the Sega CD/Mega CD. The device never really took off, but it still had some great games like Final Fight CD and Shining Force CD. Also, the interactive movie Night Trap was great – at getting the games industry criticized by boneheaded politicians.

In order to run Sega CD games through EmiGens Plus, you’ll need a Sega CD BIOS file. That file can’t be legally distributed with the emulator, so users will have to procure it on their own. Once you import it, it shows up in your ROMs list, which seems kind of inefficient to me.

EmiGens Plus for Windows Phone 8 Castle of Illusion

Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse - the original!

Sega CD ISOs are hundreds of megabytes large, so you probably won’t want to install too many of them. Unfortunately, I had trouble with installation. Each time I tried to import a CD game, the emulator crashed during the download process. My phone is kind of low on free space, so maybe that caused the failure. The emulator also crashes occasionally during normal use, though.

Sega also released the 32X, a 32-bit cartridge-based peripheral in 1994. It allowed the Genny/Mega Drive to play 32-bit games that looked a lot like 16-bit games but with some occasional scaling and 3D effects. The 32X tanked at retail and hardly received any games as a result.

EmiGens Plus does not support 32X games at present; it won't even detect 32X ROMs. I know nobody is clamoring for it, but I still hope the developer adds 32X support in the future. Update: EmiGens Plus is a port of Genesis Plus GX for Wii and GameCube, which does not support 32X. As a result of that and other technical issues, this app can't support it either.

Games to get

It’s perfectly legal to create your own ROM images from original game cartridges and then play them with emulators like EmiGens Plus. I’m not going to worry about how you get your games; I’m just here to make a few quick 16-bit software recommendations:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog series: Sega’s mascot Sonic got his start on the Genesis in 1991. The three main Sonic games (four if we count Sonic & Knuckles) are still great platformers even now. Sonic games also work better than other platformers on touch screen devices since they only use one action button. The overhead-view Sonic 3D Blast is also surprisingly fun in its own right.
  • RPGs: The role-playing genre is perfect for touch screens because RPGs typically don’t rely on rapid button inputs. The Genesis didn’t exactly overflow with RPGs compared to its rival the Super NES, but it still has several memorable offerings.

    Phantasy Star II-IV debuted on Sega’s 16-bit console. II and IV are especially beloved for their interconnected storylines – they take place in the same solar system, but many years apart. Sega’s Shining Force games blend role-playing with strategy to an addictive degree. And cyberpunk fans  should check out Shadowrun, based on the pen-and-paper RPG series.
  • Beat-em-ups: Though it didn’t continue past the 16-bit era, Sega’s Streets of Rage series made a lasting mark on the Genesis. Streets of Rage 2 and 3 are particularly good brawlers, with large, detailed characters and memorable settings. Sega also produced three fantasy beat-em-ups in the Golden Axe series which still have their fans today.

    Konami produced an original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brawler called The Hyperstone Heist exclusively for the Genesis. Finally, the system was home to a faithful port of the original Double Dragon.

Genesis does!

Strider - Genesis game to reach one megabyte in size

EmiGens needs a little refinement in controls and UI, but it’s still a great emulator. Most of the 16-bit games I tried ran perfectly, as you can see in our hands-on video. A few games seemed a bit sluggish, but it could be that those titles were always on the slow side.

It’s great that we finally have a 16-bit Sega emulator on our platform. And it even plays 8-bit games to boot! Hopefully EmiGens Plus comes to Windows 8 and RT eventually as well. Tablet gamers need some Sega gaming love.

Interestingly, the free trial of EmiGens Plus has 100 percent of the functionality of the paid version. Buying the full version is just a way to support the developer. Users who prefer not to pay can enjoy the trial with no limitations or restrictions. But you know, it’s always good to throw a little change towards the people who make games and apps we like. That way they can afford to bring more apps to the platform in the future.

  • EmiGens Plus – Windows Phone 8 – 4 MB - $1.29 – Store Link

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • Oh my
  • Niiiccceeee
  • any news about bbm on wp8? and d emu is,paid..we need free emu plss
  • You shouldn't be so cheap. BUT read the article and I'm sure you'll be happy.
  • just saying android and ios have free emus...ya just read the last part..thats good to hear..any news about bbm?
  • Actually, iOS doesn't allow emulators in the app store. Some might slip in accidentally, but they always get removed.
  • It's actually free. The 'buy' there is to help the devs, it's more of donation.
  • i commented den ik thnx
  • You are not a very quick ninja.
  • No BBM for WP, actually BlackBerry announced that they have postponed BBM for iPhone & Android.
  • There already SO many freebies, it almost isn't fair, especially when these apps are virtually a penny in our everyday...the only valid reason is if you regularly donate to charity and you reserve your funds for this purpose. #conscientious =P
  • stop your "bbm" crap... if you want BBM so bad, get a BB device... seriously. get a cheap old one, you dont even have to charge it much. there is no BBM still in iOS and android, and you expect them to say "oh yeah we will go WP that has no marketshare" (you know the excuse they say always).
    i wont comment in the "and D emu is paid" and your "android and iOS have free emus" well you already read the article but even if it was paid... you can always get android and iOS if it bothers you much to pay $1, $2 or $5 for an app. Im sure you are paying alot more for your internet just to comment these nonsmartest things.   
  • LOL
  • +1000, That is a Troll account, just read his other comments, all Bullshit comments from that account.
  • I'll keep an eye on him. Some people just don't have great communication skills, so it's hard to say.
  • more like trollmmunication skills....
  • BBQ > BBW> BBM
  • Say it, saaayyy it. SEGA!
  • Lol major fail > rcasey comment
  • And yes i see what u did there with "sega!" comment :p
  • Great Emulator for SEGA!
  • So I know it's probably impossible right now but will we ever see a psp emulator? Does anyone know anything about that?
  • I wish
  • I don't :p
  • Dual joysticks + multiple buttons = fail on touch screen.
  • I know it would be bad but it was the only handheld console that I liked.
  • I already contacted the devs for the psp emulator called ppsspp for android and IOS and windows desktop and Symbian they said no there won't be
  • Well that's too bad. Maybe not in this generation but along the way, I think someone will try it.
  • If you have been following the development of Andre's newest project, EmiPSX you would know that contrary to what the PSPPP authors say, it should be possible to make a PSP emulator that runs on Windows Phone.
    It would require a lot more work to port than any other platform (the core must be converted from dynarec to a threaded interpretter) and wouldn't be quite as fast as on the equivalent Android hardware but Andre has proved that 5th gen consoles can be emulated on WP8.
  • Now to find a shadowrun rom!
  • You will have to download it on your computer and put it on SkyDrive then load your SkyDrive to the app
  • Or download it with UC Browser and use the option that uploads to SkyDrive
  • What's that
  • A 3rd party web browser.
  • How do I pay the developers of the old games I haxxor onto my phone? Somebody give me an address to send a check to.
  • Lol
  • Yup IV had this for over a month its very good
  • If I remember correctly, the fighting force series was a beat em up that was outside of the 16 bit era. Tekken 3 on the PSone also had a beat em up mode.
  • Fighting force was for Ps1 you pick from 3 characters big guy ,girl or regular guy it was fun its on psnetwork for ps3
  • Yeah, they still make beat-em-ups today. I meant that there hasn't been a new Streets of Rage since SOR3. There is a nice collection for XBLA though.
  • Now I can play Shaq Fu!
  • Lol fck you too buddy :p
  • Now I can play Sonic, fu too!
  • Phantsy star for the sega master system, last emulator we had I grabbed it and went through the entire game....Pretty epic game for a 8 bit game...
    It's in my top 15 game as all time favorates...
  • Cool, can't wait for the NES kits =P
  • For NES games, you can download the Vneslight app: Free with Ad-supported link: Paid link:
  • OR you could get Andre's superior EmiNes emulator which is a native code port, so offers better compatibility and performance.
  • Vneslight supports both WP7 and WP8, so its good that we both posted the best NES emulators covering the entire WP range :)
  • Looking forward to getting this once I actually have a working phone..
  • This is why I collect old consoles. I'll play Sonic or Shining Force in my Genesis before playing a game with touch buttons. I game on my Lumia but games that were built specifically to be played with touch controls. Maybe if there was a game pad attachment?
  • Sonic and gamepad. +1020.
  • There is an attachment. And the article mentions this emulator will probably support it soon.
  • Touch screen are crap for controlling games designed for gamepads.
  • They're fine for RPGs and other games low on action, as I enjoy reminding everybody.
  • I'd be more interested in emulation on Windows Phone if there was an nVidia Shield -ish device. Or if it was possible to utilize a Wii remote (Bluetooth).
  • Sega has the worst games ever... the ports to their systems were always dumb. so I will not probably even try this emulator, the others seem good though, or better.
    but sega games? the stupid blue guy running around like an idiot and collecting rings... and they keep making more and more stupid version of sonic... stupid sega company, I wish it would disappear forever.... and of course stop porting their old crap to new systems. I hope to see more emus in WP8 soon! with better games, like mame or something nice.
    and this Emulators are called "Emi" stop it developer, just stop it!
  • Your name is Emi
    How ironic
  • And a plumber collecting coins is obviously so much better ;).
  • Bayonetta and Phantasy Star Online are winners in ny book.
  • You obviously never played the Sega port of the Aladdin game. Trounced the SNES version easily.
  • You're dead to me. :'(
  • Where is the Windows Store version, any word?  Would be nice one new Surface 2!
  • Now that's what im talking about more awesome apps!
  • Great emulation. Top job.
  • Id rather just have phantasy star and shining force. Id pay for them, landstalker too. Need achievements
  • Been using this since the summer and love it. One word "Aladdin". Hope for 32X support want to play Knuckles' Chaotix.
  • Andre has confirmed 32X support will not be coming to the emulator, the cross platform emulator this is based on (Genesis Pus GX) doesn't include support either. Basically because there is no open source core for the 32X's SH2 processors and it would use dynarec if it was available so wouldn't be directly compatible with Windows Phone (it would need to be rewritten to a threaded interpretter).
  • I just wish that people would get better at making better Tiles too... I mean... it cant be that hard.
  • I agree. Its a great app but that tile looks like crap. Ruins the homescreen.
  • If it does ruin the homescreen, you can just Unpin it to keep your screen clean. :')
  • What we really need is a Nintendo DS emulator...
  • No, what we need is more Windows Phone games. Not this shady crap.
  • Maybe because you don't play this kind of games? -_- kinda selfish , you know.
  • Megadrive
  • Turbografx
  • The good ol days hey Paul, simpler times
  • Nintendo 46
  • You know I am with you on this one Paul.  Magic Engine was a great emulator.  I with we had that on Winows Phone to I can emulate my old TurboExpress.  nothing like playing my old Turbo Chips on the go.  Especially back in the day playing Street Fighter 2with my purple converter. 
  • Oh yeah, SF2 CE was great on the PC Engine. I use Ootake to emulate the Turbo consoles on PC nowadays. Shame the Magic Engine dev never updates his emulator any more.
  • My life is now complete... I can toss my Sega nomad to the side.
  • Now I Can play my old time favorite RPGs :') Thank you Dev.
  • You know I did an experiment when this emulator first came out. I tipped both WPCentral and WMPoweruser, I gave WPC a one day head start. WMPU took one day to post, WPC has taken 95 days to post any mention of this app.
  • Maybe we were busy when the tip came in? Obviously covering things sooner is better, but our article is also about 100 times more interesting and informative than the other one. We get a lot of tips at any given time, and sometimes things fall through the cracks. You can always tip me directly via Twitter or email if you'd like to see us cover something related to games.
  • I agree with all your points, I just thought I'd point it out. I'll bear it in mind for the future when I stumble upon anything else.
    But I would also note that all of this was announced in the WPCentral forums over a course of weeks and the forums are still the best place to stay abreast of EmiPSX's development. Which reminds me I haven't seen many of those "from the forums" articles recently?
  • I believe Rich usually does the "from the forums" posts and he was out of town for a little bit there. Don't know if he plans to start back up on them or not. We do have a story on EmiPSX coming up at some point (likely before its wide release). Me, I prefer to do fewer but longer stories, so sometimes t's a matter of waiting until there's enough information for a meaty article, or just until I have enough time to slice out to do the subject justice. Other times I just get behind, doh. Appreciate your support and patience, man. :)
  • Good the hear you've got your eye on EmiPSX. Are you in on the beta test? It really is pretty ground breaking given the technical challenges being faced, while the previous WP8 emulators have all been relatively straight forward ports, EmiPSX is having to be heavily adapted to work on Windows Phone.
    In fact most emulator developers said it would never be practical, so I'm hoping EmiPSX can prove a point and maybe attract some who were holding back.
  • Yeah, I'm in the beta but haven't actually tried it out yet. I'm defintitely excited for it though.
  • OMG, Double Dragon! I had this game in 1989.
  • Good app, but it does not find ROMs (zip files) on my SD Card, but if I put the same files on skydrive it is able to find.
    PS.: The SD Card is working fine, it has fotos, musics, etc...
  • ....