Gensoid Sega Mega Drive Emulator Review
We take a look at Gensoid, an Android app focused on recreating the 16-bit glory days of the Sega Mega Drive games console
Verdict: Gensoid offers near-perfect emulation of Sega's classic console, but it's not quite perfect yet
Pros: Impressive emulation, good range of control options, ability to search for ROMs within the app is nice
Cons: It's not 100% perfect yet and the overall performance depends on which Android phone you own
Price: $2.99 (Lite version also available)
More Info: Gensoid site
For those of you that have never heard of the Sega Mega Drive before, allows us to deliver a quick history lesson.
Launched in the late ‘80s this 16-bit home console was home to wide range of classic titles such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage and Shining Force. It was the machine which finally challenged Nintendo’s near-dominance of the video game industry and is arguably responsible for turning many 30+ players into the people they are today.
In short, it rocked.
Now you can experience the joy of this retro classic with the Gensoid emulator for Android. As you might expect this ingenious app essentially allows your phone to pretend to be Sega’s illustrious 16-bit legend. Once you have your hands on the necessary files – known as ROMs – you can relive the past from the comfort of your own armchair.
Getting hold of the games is the tricky part, for two reasons. Firstly, you have to manually search for the games because Gensoid doesn’t come with any. Secondly (and this point is very much linked to the first) actually downloading and using these ROMs is technically illegal unless you happen to own the original game in cartridge format.
Retro emulation is very much a grey area at present, with many passionate debates raging for and against the distribution of vintage titles. Assuming you’re willing to take the chance, Gensoid is a treasure-trove of classic gaming action.
There are plenty of sites online which offer Mega Drive ROMs for download but Gensoid also comes with a handy built-in search box which links directly to your web browser and points you in the direction of several notable emulation sites.
Once you’ve actually got the game you want to play you can tinker with Gensoid’s settings to ensure you get the experience you crave. This fine-tuning will be determined by which Android handset you actually own.
Those of you lucky enough to have a phone with a physical keyboard will be able to assign button commands to certain keys; this is without a shadow of a doubt the best way to play Gensoid. Those of you with touchscreen-only handsets – such as the HTC Hero and Google Nexus One – are sadly lumbered with on-screen virtual controls.
While this is definitely the less appealing option of the two it’s not a total wash-out; you can alter the layout of the D-pad and buttons to suit your tastes and on the whole it grants a decent level of control. Nothing can beat a physical interface but with more and more Android phones adopting the keyboard-less form factor, this is likely to be the way most people will interact with the app.
Gensoid runs like a dream on newer Android phones such as the Droid and Nexus One thanks to their powerful CPUs and increased RAM capacity but on older models you’ll notice issues such as skipping-music and jerky animation. It’s possible to lessen the impact of these problems by increasing the frame skip (which basically allows the emulator to miss-out certain frames of action in order to speed up performance) or turning off the sound. Naturally you’ll want to experiment to get the ideal setup, and this takes time.
Gensoid also allows you to save your in-game progress at any time, which proves handy for those moments when you quickly have to end your game but don’t want to lose all your progress. You can even taken screenshots and email them to your friends to remind them of the good old days.
While the quality of the emulation isn’t 100% perfect yet and some titles refuse to even run, Gensoid remains an astonishing achievement and a highly recommended purchase for those of you that remember the days when Sonic and Mario were bitter enemies.
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On-screen virtual controls are available for those of you with keyboard-less phones
Loads of options are available to tailor the experience to your particular phone
Save-states allow you to pick up where you left off