We may earn commission from links featured in this post. Read more.
The Sega Mega Drive (Genesis in USA) was launched in 1990 in the UK to great fanfare and probably one of the first if not favourite consoles of parents these days. Now well over 20 years old there is still plenty of interest in it either because of nostalgia for the parents to show their children what their video games used to play and feel like.
There are great ways to set up a Mega Drive for kids whilst still using modern TVs (Mega Drives were made for CRTs and can look awful on HDTVs if not set up optimally).
First, we’ll start with how to set up a Mega Drive for kids
Setting up a Mega Drive for your kids to enjoy
Playing Mega Drive with original hardware can still be easily done with modern TVs, through the use of the RF (TV aerial) or a composite (RCA/AV) cable. As long as your Mega Drive works there won’t be an issue but you might (probably) find the picture is stretched and not looking ‘like it used to’. Will your children mind? I doubt it, they won’t know what it should look like optimally and probably won’t care.
The only drawbacks are having to use a wired controller and the obvious 16:9 resolution. However, most TVs can change the picture to 4:3 to make it look better.
To enhance the picture you can always try a HD upscale which turns the AV signal into 1080p, but you can often get mixed results which your kids may not be bothered about.
Many of Sega’s classic games have been ported over to every generation of consoles since the original Mega Drive. Games such as Sega Genesis Collection, Sega Mega Drive classics and so on can make it easy to access the most popular MD games on modern consoles. They work fine and look great and are relatively cheap.
The downside is that they tend to only include the mainstream games such as Sonic 2, Streets of Rage 2, Revenge of Shinobi and Golden Axe. Rarely do obscure classics such as Shinobi III, Sensible Soccer, General Chaos and Desert Strike.
However, this is arguable the cheapest and best way to just show kids what the Mega Drive was like from a casual point of view.
Emulators are widely available and easy to download with practically every Mega Drive game ever made available somewhere as a ROM file. The emulators aren’t perfect but and have to be run on a PC but can make playing Mega Drive easy. However, you’ll have to use either a keyboard or a controller made by another brand to play it as Mega Drive controllers can’t be plugged in to the PC.
Mini consoles such as the Mega Drive Classic are essentially an emulator inside with built in games. There’s no original hardware but it plugs and plays into a HDTV easily and you can get going in minutes. The downside is that the games available are more or less the same as the Classics Collections. You can get some models such as AtGames which have a cartridge slot for original cartridges.
This is perhaps a great way to introduce the Mega Drive to kids as young as six to play with little fuss or tinkering.
The final option is FPGA such as the Mega SG. This machine has been designed to work exactly like original hardware, without being original hardware. This leads to an output both visually and audibly which is as close to original hardware can get all while being in 100% laugh free HD. They accept original cartridges and controllers as well as the Sega CD extension.
This is an expensive choice and one for those who are passionate about retro but don’t want to get a CRT. If your kids are perhaps older and are very into their Mega Drives then this is the best choice in our opinion.
Best Mega Drive Games for Kids
The Mega Drive was advertised as a more mature console compared to Nintendo’s Super NES. However, the Mega Drive still boasts a large amount of games which are child friendly… although some of them are quite hard! Due to the fact that many publishers didn’t want games to be so easy to complete in a rental period, back when the likes of Blockbuster were around. Here’s what we recommend as a starting point.
We’re going to look at two things for these games – child safe themes and how easy they are. Even the most child friendly games on the Mega Drive that they are really hard to finish!
- James Pond + James Pond 2
- Castle of Illusion
- Mickey Mania
- Cool Spot
- Jungle Book
- Lion King (a bit hard)
- Chuck Rock + Chuck Rock 2
- Sonic the Hedgehog (easiest of the three)
- Sonic 2
- Sonic 3 + Knuckles (the best of the three)
- Tiny Toon Adventures (can be a bit challenging)
- Sensible Soccer (great football game)
- Lemmings (older kids)
- The Adventures of Batman and Robin
- Taz + Escape From Mars
- Micro Machines
- Speed Racer
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Super Hang-On
- NBA Jam (seriously fun)
- Crystal’s Pony Tale
- Barney’s Hide and Seek
- Ecco Jr.
- Sesame Street: Counting Cafe
- Beauty and the Beast
- Art Alive
- Math Blaster
- Virtua Racer
- ToeJam and Earl