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Kega Fusion is a multi-console emulator created by Steve Snake and supporting most of the Sega consoles, including the GameGear, Genesis/Mega Drive, Master System, Sega 32X, Sega CD, Sega Pico, SG-1000 and its variants SC-3000 and SF-7000.
Kega Fusion is based on the earlier Kega emulator and its successor Kega Lazarus, both of which have been discontinued.
KGen was Steve Snake's original attempt at a Genesis emulator, written because at the time the only existing emulator, Genem, ran slowly and had poor sound quality. This was the first Mega Drive emulator to feature accurate digital YM2612 emulation as opposed to other efforts which attempted to approximate Genesis sound and music via the then popular OPL3 chips of AdLib and Sound Blaster-compatible cards. Another emulator called Genecyst was released around the same time by Bloodlust Software and a friendly rivalry began. This was a DOS based emulator and ran on high end 486 or faster hardware, but required at least a Pentium for full speed.
KGen-X was an aborted rewrite of KGen which was never released to the public.
KGen98 was a new version of KGen rewritten from scratch, with better compatibility, more features and higher quality stereo sound. Still DOS based, its CPU requirements were about the same as its predecessor but slightly higher for the high quality sound mode and 16-bit video with raster effects and shadow/highlight modes enabled. Afterwards, Steve Snake was officially commissioned by Sega to create a Windows-compatible version which was marketed by Sega with some classic games as the "Sega Smash Pack".
After a long break from the emulation scene, Steve Snake surprised many fans with the sudden release of Kega, an all new Windows/DirectX based emulator. It included many new features, such as Sega Master System and Mega-CD emulation. To run full speed, it required at least a 500 MHz Celeron based computer. It followed the release of the very popular Gens, another Windows based Genesis emulator with good speed and compatibility released by Stef D in 1999. Snake originally started Kega because he was trying to help Stef fix some incompatibility issues.
Kega Lazarus (2003)
Kega Lazarus was so named because it was an attempt to get the emulator up to date after a hard disk crash caused Steve Snake to lose all his Kega sources since 0.02b (0.04b being the final release of Kega). A notable feature during the development of Lazarus was the addition of 32X support - although incomplete.
Kega Fusion (2004)
The final (and current) version of Kega is named "Fusion", because it is in spirit a fusion of Kega and Kega Lazarus with even more features and compatibility. It was the first version to support hardware accelerated blitters via Direct3D, as well as vastly improved 32X support.
Previously, Kega Fusion used version number 0.1 with a letter and "beta" suffix, with the last revision being 0.1e. The next release was labeled Kega Fusion 3.0 beta, as Snake explained that the low version number made some people shy away; sub-1.0 version software is commonly believed to be incomplete and unstable (most freeware and open source programs are indefinitely in a beta-like state as there is no need to go gold). The logic in starting at 3.0 is that Kega Fusion is actually the third major revision of the Kega heritage, in the order of Kega, Kega Lazarus and Kega Fusion. The "beta" moniker was dropped after version 3.2 for the same reason.
The majority of the emulator is written in 32-bit x86 assembly language. On a Pentium III-class CPU, Kega Fusion can run Mega Drive / Genesis ROM images at 50 or 60 frames per second, though with the classic 2xSaI graphics filter plugin the processing power needed to achieve the full 50/60 frames per second is higher, and more complicated hardware such as the Sega 32X requires a correspondingly faster CPU. Graphical filters available for Kega Fusion use the file extension .RPI and function as 32-bit Windows .DLL files Graphical filters for Mac OS X and Linux use a different format. Kega Fusion .RPI graphical filters are also supported by VisualBoyAdvance-M, an emulator for Game Boy Advance as well as Game Boy and Game Boy Color. The popular xBR family of scaling algorithms were originally developed as .RPI graphical filters for Kega Fusion and VisualBoyAdvance-M and they require greater processing power than older graphics filters such as 2xSaI.
The emphasis on accuracy is demonstrated by Fusion's emulation of the Yamaha YM2612 chip, which developer Steve Snake claimed was almost perfect — many other emulators, such as Gens, suffer from imperfections in emulation of this chip (as demonstrated by the title screen theme for Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic & Knuckles). Compatibility is very high with Kega Fusion, even for the Sega 32X - every 32X game, including the 6 existing SegaCD+32X games, many of which are unplayable on other emulators. Since the Sega 32X BIOS routines have been more thoroughly reverse engineered than those for the Mega-CD, as of version 3.3 Kega Fusion can run with or without the Sega 32X BIOS images. Kega Fusion can emulate all known Sega home video game consoles released before the Sega Saturn. Game compatibility is not comparable to Genesis Plus GX, but Kega Fusion can run 32X games, unlike Genesis Plus GX.
Along with being able to emulate most Sega home console systems Kega Fusion also supports recording audio to a WAV file or the successor to GYM format, VGM. It also has support for the YM2413, a synthesizer found on the Sega Mark III (the Japanese equivalent of the Master System), which the GYM format does not.
As of version 3.5, Kega Fusion supports netplay over the Internet or LAN, and Kega Fusion 3.51 made multiplayer more stable. Since the release of version 3.6 in 2008, Kega Fusion supports emulation of the Sega Virtua Processor, along with AVI movie recording support through the included custom Kega Game Video 1 lossless codec. Preliminary Sega Pico support was also added. With the release of version 3.64 for Windows, SF-7000 emulation was also added.
It is highly recommended to enable the "Perfect Sync" option when playing Mega-CD games, as Kega Fusion will not be able to run some of them (such as Popful Mail) properly with this setting disabled. In version 3.64, the Game Gear game Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe is has no sprites, making it unplayable, and the Game Gear game Kaitou Saint Tail has graphical artifacts such as when powerups are used, so using version 3.63 for those 2 Game Gear games is recommended to avoid these problems.
On Windows 8 and later, the frame rate is low in full-screen mode unless a workaround is used. There is a low frame rate fix, but it disables the right-click context menu in full-screen mode, so if that fix is used, changes done using the right-click context menu need to be done while in windowed mode and not in full-screen mode.
Kega Fusion for Macs works on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard thru Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan. Users of macOS 10.12 Sierra or later are out of luck as far as using Kega Fusion, but thankfully they can use OpenEmu or RetroArch to emulate almost everything that Kega Fusion can emulate (done via the Genesis Plus GX and PicoDrive libretro cores). For games like Night Trap, Corpse Killer, and Fahrenheit that use both the 32X and Sega CD at the same time, OpenEmu doesn't work so RetroArch is the only emulator that can play them on macOS Sierra and later.
On Linux systems, there are various issues involving sound and compatibility with 32-bit software on 64-bit systems which can be fixed by following the directions in the FAQ on the Kega Fusion website Carpe Ludum.
Brendon Hesse of Digital Trends considers Kega Fusion the premiere emulator for all Sega consoles prior to the Saturn and Dreamcast and describes it as "rock-solid" because of its accuracy, wide compatibility, and features such as multiple advanced features including save states, cheat support, audio and video capture, online play, various gamepad support, full-screen mode, upscaling, various rendering filters, and ports for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
Alex Garnett of PC World calls Kega Fusion "by far your best bet for emulating any pre-Saturn Sega console", noting that it "contains a Master System, Genesis, Sega CD, and 32X emulator all in one".
- "GENS - OFFICIAL HOME PAGE - History". Gens. http://gens.consolemul.com/history.shtml.
- "Kega Fusion". CNET. https://download.cnet.com/Kega-Fusion/3000-2121_4-77507763.html. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
- "Low frame rate fix for Windows 8 and later". https://segaretro.org/File:Kega_Fusion_low_frame_rate_fix.zip. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
- Snake, Steve. "Kega Fusion FAQ". https://www.carpeludum.com/kegafusionfaq/. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
- Hollan; Rebecca Scudder (October 25, 2009). "Kega Fusion Review: A Sega Genesis, Sega CD and 32X Emulator for Mac". https://www.brighthub.com/computing/mac-platform/reviews/53447.aspx. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
- Garnett, Alex (September 1, 2011). "How to Emulate the Sega Master System and Genesis on Your PC". https://www.pcworld.com/article/239152/how_to_emulate_the_sega_master_system_and_genesis_on_your_pc.html. Retrieved 16 August 2018.