Sega is bringing a collection of its best retro video games to iOS and Android devices through a new service called Sega Forever. Unlike previous mobile releases, including Sonic the hedgehog and Football Manager mobile— Sega Forever’s entire lineup is free to play and ad-supported. Players can optionally remove the ads via an in-app purchase for £2 (~$2.50).
There are five games in Sega Forever’s launch lineup, consisting of the original Sonic the hedgehogRPG Fantasy Star IIbeat them up comix zoneplatform game Kid Chameleonand the original Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) pack-in game Changed Beast. An iOS and Android version of the classic Dreamcast game crazy taxi launched in May, which is also free to play. Additional games are promised to be released every two weeks.
While the launch lineup consists solely of Mega Drive games, the Sega Forever Twitter Feed has teased shots from other consoles, including the SG 1000, Dreamcast, and Saturn. How Sega tackles the Saturn will be particularly interesting given the difficulty developers have had in making a working emulator for the console’s classically esoteric hardware.
While some Sega Forever games have been released on mobile before, Sega has promised to update all of them with modern features, including cloud storage, controller support, and leaderboards. All games can also be played offline regardless of whether users are playing the ad-free or ad-supported version. iOS players will receive a free iMessage sticker pack alongside each game.
Sega’s previous retro catalog was largely well received on mobile, but some games suffered from performance issues. This is largely due to the use of emulators — which mimic original hardware and play Mega Drive ROMs — rather than ports made specifically for Android and iOS devices. For example, an early emulated version of Sonic the hedgehog was replaced in 2013 by a superior port next to a port of Sonic CD. Christian Whitehead, the fangame developer behind the gates, has since moved in at Sega and is developing the upcoming Sonic Mania for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
Update: Sega Forever “will include both official emulations and ported games spanning all eras of the Sega console.” Sega has confirmed to Ars Technica that SG-1000, Master System, and Mega Drive/Genesis games will run through an emulator, while Saturn and Dreamcast games will be direct ports.
The first set of Sega Forever games will be launched soon for iOS and Android. New games are launched every two weeks.
List image by Sega