For what we're sure are obvious reasons, most game console makers are not fans of emulation. With an emulator in hand, you have the ability to download game ROMs ripped from the original source, which means you are playing a game you (might not have) paid for, potentially taking away profits from the original developer or publisher. That is, at least, if they happen to still sell the game in some capacity.
There are a number of reasons why emulators are great though, as well. Even if you own the original games, being able to play them through an emulator is done for the sake of convenience, or perhaps even the sake of running the games at less eye-bleedy resolutions. Whatever your thoughts on emulation are, there's one thing we're sure most people could agree on: we didn't expect SEGA to utter the word "emulation" in a positive light.
On its blog, the company announced a new release on Steam called "Mega Drive Classics Hub", and it's in effect an emulator user interface for playing your classic Mega Drive (Genesis) games. Of course, SEGA isn't releasing an emulator that we can download free ROMs for; instead, it's crafted this emulator to let us pick and choose which of the 50 titles it currently sells on Steam, which are:
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Alien Soldier, Alien Storm, Altered Beast, Beyond Oasis, Bio-Hazard Battle, Bonanza Bros., Columns, Columns III, Comix Zone, Crack Down, Decap Attack, Dynamite Headdy, Ecco the Dolphin, Ecco Jr., Ecco: The Tides of Time, ESWAT: City Under Siege, Eternal Champions, Fatal Labyrinth, Flicky, Gain Ground, Galaxy Force II, Golden Axe III, Golden Axe, Golden Axe II, Gunstar Heroes, Kid Chameleon, Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole, Light Crusader, Phantasy Star II, Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom, Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium, Revenge of the Shinobi, Ristar, Shadow Dancer, Shining Force, Shining Force II, Shining in the Darkness, Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master, Space Harrier II, Streets of Rage, Streets of Rage 2, Streets of Rage 3, Super Thunder Blade, Sword of Vermilion, Vectorman 2, Vectorman, Virtua Fighter 2, Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair, and Wonder Boy in Monster World.
It's well worth checking out the video above to see what this "Hub" is all about. It puts you in a 1990s-esque bedroom, which you can walk around and manipulate to some degree. If you want your games on the shelf displayed in a special order, you can do that.
Ultimately, you'll want to grab a game and put it into the console, at which point the emulation kicks in and you get to play your games and feel like you're a kid on a Saturday morning all over again. Just don't forget to queue up some Saved By The Bell to listen to on the side.You'll even be able to apply various graphics filters, and play co-op locally. If you don't have a controller; don't fret: a keyboard will work just fine.
As cool as the Sega Mega Drive Hub is, one thing that makes it even cooler is the fact that SEGA is giving it away for free. All you need to get it is to purchase a single one of the supported games, at which point the Hub will become unlocked in Steam. Well, at least as of April 28, which is the official release date for the totally tubular app.