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Sega Genesis ROM hacks hit Steam, with bizarre results

Sega has opened the floodgates on a new wave of bizarre and unconventional fan mods. Thanks to a recent Sega Genesis emulator frontend update, users can drastically modify and distribute hacked copies of many 16-bit classics via Steam Workshop.

Players who own any of the dozens of emulated Sega Genesis games on Steam can now access their library via the recently launched Sega Genesis & Mega Drive Classics hub, which also grants access to a growing collection of fan-made ROM hacks.

Related: Sega evokes 16-bit nostalgia with Mega Drive Classics Hub on Steam

Recent additions to the Mega Drive Classics Steam Workshop page include impressive user-made mods like Sonic 3 Complete and Big’s Fishing Derby, which transforms the original Sonic the Hedgehog into a unique fishing-themed minigame featuring Sonic Adventure co-star Big the Cat.

Many mods focus on humor and satire, including a Sonic the Hedgehog hack that inserts intentionally annoying dialogue ripped from the Wii U flop Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. One of the most popular Sega Genesis mods on Steam at the moment is the self-descriptive Streets of Rage 2 Except It Makes That Weird Tim Allen Noise When People Die.

The Sega Genesis & Mega Drive Classics hub additionally hosts a number of hacks that fix or improve elements from featured Sega Genesis games like Comix Zone, Gunstar Heroes, and Shinobi III. Other mods restore data from pre-release prototype versions of commercially released games.

Some mods replace original game content with new ROM data entirely, giving Sega Genesis & Mega Drive Classics hub users access to infamous unlicensed titles like CrazyBus and Squirrel King. One such release, titled Sonic Jam 6, places Sega’s mascot character in levels ripped from Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros.

Data-swapped ROM files featuring commercially released Sega Genesis games like Contra: Hard Corps have also surfaced on Steam Workshop, presumably without the permission of their original publishers. While this puts the Sega Genesis & Mega Drive Classics hub on shaky legal ground, Sega has yet to step in to moderate the incoming rush of user-submitted ROM hacks.