“What are Pokémon ROM Hacks?” you might ask. Simply put, Pokémon ROM hacks are modified versions of original Pokémon games, tailored to offer new stories, challenges, and sometimes entirely new worlds. Created by dedicated fans, these hacks provide a fresh twist on the classic Pokémon adventures we know and love. In this guide, we’ll explore the intricacies of these hacks, their history, and why they’ve captured the hearts of so many Pokémon enthusiasts around the globe.
Discovering the new and thrilling side of Pokémon with ROM Hacks really feeds my nostalgia-ridden addiction to old games. Let’s see what else they can do!
History of Pokémon ROM Hacks
Pokémon ROM hacks date back to the late 1990s and early 2000s when the internet was in its unruly infancy. Those years were also the time period when people garnered a lot more info about Gameboy Advance emulation. Thanks to the ability to share information globally, many enthusiasts became more knowledgeable about the practice, inspiring many bright-minded folks.
The ROM hacking scene was quite different compared to today’s standards, though. Back then, people knew these hacks to be crude in nature because of the limited knowledge surrounding the topic. Many of them only replaced sprites or dialogue, as these changes were easy to pull off compared to changing game mechanics.
According to Bulbapedia, a massive turning point for these Pokémon hacks in history was the release of Pokémon Brown. According to them, it was the first game to change major aspects like a new plot and region. Then, many games followed suit by doing the same, plus a few extra steps like adding in Pokémon from previous generations. Since then, the hacking community exponentially grew.
How to play Pokémon ROM hacks
Playing Pokémon ROM hacks sounds fun, right? You need to do it correctly; do not download from suspicious sites because you do not want viruses to meddle with your files. I will not provide specific links for these games, but I will provide parent links for you to follow. Below is a general step-by-step guide on how to play Pokémon ROM hacks.
- Download a Gameboy Advance Emulator: If you are on a PC, I recommend downloading Visual Boy Advance M. You can find results by searching it on Google. If you are on Android, I recommend My Boy.
- Download the GBA or UPS file of your ROM hack: When it comes to Pokémon ROM hacks, the two common methods of playing it are through either a GBA or UPS file. If the hack is a GBA file, the developer has already applied the alterations directly to the game. If the hack is a UPS file, you need to patch it to the original game.
- If the ROM hack is a GBA file, proceed directly to step 7: In other words, do not go through steps four to six.
- If the ROM hack is a UPS file, download a UPS patcher: I would recommend downloading the NUPS tool, which you can get through romhacking.net.
- Download the original game the hack is based on: For example, if you are trying to play Pokémon Snakewood, you need to download Pokémon Ruby since it is the game that the ROM hack is based on. There are plenty of sites that host these GBA files, like emuparadise.me.
- Open the UPS patcher and apply the UPS patch to the original game: If you are using NUPS, you can open NUPS.exe and click on “Apply a UPS patch to a file.” Then, choose the GBA file of the original game as the “File to patch” and choose the UPS file of the ROM hack as the “UPS patch.” Click “Patch,” and it will transform your GBA file to the ROM hack.
- Open the GBA file using your Gameboy Advance Emulator: If you are using Visual Boy Advance M on PC, simply go to “File” followed by “Open….” Choose the GBA file, and the emulator will start playing the game. If you are using My Boy on Android, open the app and navigate to your GBA file. Tapping on it will open the game.
I would like to reiterate that this step-by-step guide is a general process; some ROM hacks may work differently than what I listed here. If you are looking for ROM hacks, I would suggest going to pokecommunity.com, as they are the forum boards that host the original files. The Pokémon ROM hack subreddit has a handy tool for searching ROM hacks along with its download links and Discord servers.
The Allure of Pokémon ROM Hacks and Their Creators
Pokémon ROM hacks have surged in popularity for a variety of reasons:
- Fresh Adventures: While the core Pokémon games follow a relatively standard storyline, ROM hacks offer entirely new plots, challenges, and characters. This fresh narrative approach keeps the gameplay intriguing for seasoned players.
- New Features: Many ROM hacks introduce features that aren’t present in the original games, such as new battle mechanics, Pokémon from different generations, or even entirely new Pokémon species.
- Nostalgia with a Twist: For long-time Pokémon fans, ROM hacks provide a dose of nostalgia by using the familiar setting of older games but with unexpected twists, ensuring a unique experience.
- Community Engagement: ROM hacks often come with active communities. Players can engage in discussions, share experiences, and even suggest features, creating a sense of camaraderie.
So, who’s behind these innovative game modifications?
The passionate Pokémon community. These hacks are typically created by dedicated fans with a deep love for the Pokémon universe. Armed with technical skills in game design and programming, these creators spend countless hours tweaking game files, designing new graphics, and crafting new storylines.
Their primary motivation? A shared passion for Pokémon and a desire to offer fellow fans a fresh and exciting gaming experience.
The Risks of Pokémon ROM Hacks
While Pokémon ROM hacks offer a fresh and exciting take on the classic Pokémon experience, players should be aware of potential risks and exercise caution:
- Legal Concerns: Distributing or downloading copyrighted game files without permission is illegal in many jurisdictions. Always ensure you’re accessing and using ROMs ethically and legally.
- Malware Threats: Downloading ROM hacks from unverified sources can expose your device to malware, viruses, and other security threats. Always download from reputable sources and consider running a virus scan on any downloaded files.
- Game Stability: As ROM hacks are fan-made modifications, they might not be as stable as official releases. Players might encounter bugs, crashes, or other gameplay disruptions.
- Unfinished Content: Some ROM hacks might be works in progress. This means players might come across incomplete areas, placeholder graphics, or abrupt endings.
- Ethical Considerations: While many ROM hack creators work out of passion and for the community’s enjoyment, it’s essential to respect their wishes. Some creators might request not to distribute their ROM hacks or to avoid monetizing gameplay videos.
- Hardware Compatibility: Not all ROM hacks are compatible with every emulator or device. Ensure that the ROM hack you’re interested in is compatible with your chosen platform.
What Are the Best Pokémon ROM Hacks?
There are many Pokémon ROM hacks on the internet, thanks to the talented geniuses who spend their time making them with love and passion. However, some of these games clearly stand out from the rest, may it be due to the storytelling, innovative game mechanics, character development, and the like. Below is a short list of Pokémon ROM hacks that I consider to be iconic or the cream of the crop.
We also have an up-to-date Guide on Pokémon ROM Hacks that you need to read!
- Pokémon Glazed
- Pokémon Flora Sky
- Pokémon Gaia
- Pokémon Snakewood
- Pokémon Ash Gray
- Pokémon Light Platinum
- Pokémon Liquid Crystal
- Pokémon Unbound
- Pokémon Radical Red
- Pokémon Clover
- Pokémon Moemon
- Pokémon Dark Violet
A sign of a good Pokémon ROM hack is its freshness and innovativeness; when I play the games listed here, I am not reminded of their original game. Pokémon Glazed is an entirely different experience compared to Pokémon Emerald.
What separates these games from the rest is their state; you can barely see any bugs or glitches in them. I remember playing a Pokémon ROM hack when I was a kid known as Pokémon Chaos Black. At the time, I did not know it was a ROM hack, so you could say I got ripped off because I bought it as a physical cartridge.
Pokémon ROM hacks offer fans a unique way to revisit beloved games with new twists and challenges. Whether you’re looking for a nostalgic trip down memory lane or seeking a brand-new Pokémon adventure, there’s likely a ROM hack out there for you. Always remember to play and download responsibly.
Question: What is the easiest Pokémon ROM hack?
Answer: If you want a high-quality Pokémon ROM hack that can be easy, I would suggest Pokémon Unbound because you can adjust the difficulty. You can change it to “Easy” if you want to enjoy the game without breaking a sweat.
Question: Which Pokémon ROM hack has the most regions?
Answer: High-quality Pokémon ROM hacks like the games in this list have an average of two to three regions. I would suggest picking up Pokémon Glazed, as it has three regions you can get into. Pokémon Liquid Crystal also has three regions since it is a remake of Pokémon Crystal using the Pokémon Fire Red engine. The three regions of Pokémon Liquid Crystal are Johto, Kanto, and the Orange Islands.
Question: Are Pokémon ROM hacks legal?
Answer: If you own the ROM, it is legal to do whatever you want with it. However, Pokémon ROM hacks are in a gray area wherein they can get taken down due to the original game being a property of the Pokémon Company. For example, DMCA takedowns were issued against Pokémon Glazed and Flora Sky, among others. The makers can contest its legality, but they prefer to err on the safe side.