Ah, Pokemon. One of the most storied franchises on the planet. It has games, movies, TV shows, anime, more merch than you can shake ten sticks at, and probably a novel somewhere in the lineup. To say it’s famous is a bit like saying the Earth is round, it’s an obvious fact to anyone with a pair of eyes.
But, with this massive fanbase that defies expectations, there are many creatives out there who want to try their hand at making their own Pokemon games. Some use their engine. Other, however, edit the already existing framework, creating ROMs.
According to Bulbagarden, a “ROM hacks, also known as hack games or ROM patches, are video games that have been edited or altered by enthusiasts. The hackers achieve this by changing the code of the Read-Only Memory of a published video game to create something new.”
And with these hacks, players have created their versions of Pokemon, which we will be covering below!
10. Team Rocket
Starting this list is a blast from Kanto’s past. Team Rocket ROM hack has the player take the role of the titular Team Rocket. In a hack of Pokemon Red, the player has to lie, cheat, and steal their way through the game! It also has a storyline that delves into the backstory of Team Rocket (the company, not Jesse and James from the anime). It also lets the player see familiar characters, but this time from the perspective of the bad guys.
9. Pokemon AshGrey
For a staggering number of people, the Pokemon anime was the first they ever heard about the franchise. Starring the Pokemon Trainer Ash Ketchem and his loyal Pikachu, the two traveled around the Pokemon world. Journeying far and wide, to catch them all was his real test, to train them was his cause. Ever since it started way back in the 1990s, the adventures of Ash have been ingrained in many hearts. At least, until his adventures ended with Pokemon Journeys, where he became the World Champion and became the strongest trainer in the world.
But, for those who grew up with the early seasons, many fans were shocked to discover that you didn’t play as Ash, and that many of the characters found in the show were gym leaders, or non-existent. Pokemon Ashgrey, however, is a ROM hack of FireRed that lets the player fill the shoes of Ash Ketchem.
8. Pokemon Radical Red
Many ROMS offer new content, new storylines, and new ways to play the game. Radical Red, on the other hand, takes Pokemon FireRed and decides to up the ante of the base game and make things a bit more interesting. Unlike other games, you can’t just expect the usual strategies to work. The game is much harder now, and as such, you have to plan accordingly.
7. Pokemon Brown
A hack of the original Pokemon Red, it gives the player the Rijon region to explore, along with 73 new “Fakemon” (as they are fan-created Pokemon). What’s more, this one has a bit of history behind it. Pokemon Brown is one of the first ever Pokemon ROM hacks, and as such, playing it is a rite of passage for many ROM players.
6. Pokemon Emerald Rouge
Standing out from the crowd in its unique way, Emerald Rogue is unlike other titles in one special way, and it’s right there in the title. Pokemon Emerald Rogue is, well, a roguelike. Like famous titles Hades and Dead Cells, the objective of a roguelike is to make it to the end through procedurally generated levels,
This means that no two runs are the same, and that the usual idea of planning has been thrown out of the Pokedex. And much unlike the other games, Pokemon Emerald Rogue doesn’t have the player go from town to town, instead, they must catch Pokemon in a central hub.
5. Pokemon Glazed
One of the most legendary ROM hacks out there, Pokemon Glazed starts like the usual adventure. Wake up on your 12th birthday, and then go to the local Professor’s home to choose your starter. However, that’s where things take a turn, as instead of 3, you get to pick from five, and things only change from there on out.
From Kanto to Sinnoh, the player is free to catch as many Pokemon as they can across those three regions, but this time around, there are also “Dream” Pokemon, which are a major part of the ROM’s storyline.
4. Pokemon Prism.
A sequel to the Rom Hack, Pokemon Brown. Pokemon Prism takes the player through the new region of Naljo (which is reported to be bigger than the Johto region). What’s more, you play as Lance’s child (Yes, the guy with the dragon-type critters who shows up in the remakes). After playing with your uncle’s minecart and taking a tumble out of it (ouch), players winds up in the Naljo region.
There, the player finds a lost Larvitar, and the player sets out to collect 20 gym badges. But all is not well in the Naljo region. As there are corrupt forces at work, and it’s up to the player to restore the region to its rightful state.
With 28 new critters to the roster, Pokemon Prism has withstood the test of time for Rom hacks. And it has one last feature that many fans of Pokemon Brown will enjoy.
3. Dark Cry
While many Pokemon games have a serviceable story, many of them follow the same plot beats across the franchise. You are usually a small child about to take their first steps into the world. Aiming to be a master of Pokemon while stopping an evil team of criminals along the way.
Pokemon Dark Cry is a fair bit more complicated than that. To begin, you do not wake up in the comfort of your own home. Instead, you wake up in a spooky cavern, where unnatural events play out. Soon enough, you do realize that it’s all a dream…
But this dream is becoming a reality, like it or not. The player explores the Trion region, and a variety of choices await the player in the future! It’s also notable for featuring Team Rocket from the show!
2. Pokemon Unbound
Sometimes creators like to mix the old and new schools. Being a Rom Hack of FireRed, Pokemon Unbound features many things that players have come to known and love. But, with this hack, there are more twists: Mega Evolutions and Z moves!
It is set in the region of Borrius where the criminal organization The Shadows is afoot. They seek to revive a sleeping force in the war against Kalos. This, plus a variety of missions and side quests the player can undertake, leaves this Rom hack one to remember. Unlike many other Roms and mainline Pokemon games, Pokemon Unbound gives the player the option to choose their difficulty setting. With this, players are free to set the level of challenge they want.
And last but not least, it also gives the player something missing in many games. Customizations that go beyond just selecting a player character. In Pokemon Unbound, you can change clothes, skin tone, and changes the color of your outfit. All in all, pretty fun!
1. Pokemon Gaia
Another FireRed Rom Hack (it’s a modular game). It is often listed as one of the best Rom Hacks in the community. Much like Dark Cry, there is a bit of a twist with the plot. Instead of being an aspiring Pokemon Master who picks their starter on their first day, you are called upon by Professor Redwood to investigate the increase in seismic activity around the area.
Featuring creatures from six different regions, and updates to all of FireRed’s sprites and animations, Pokemon Gaia is a Rom like never before.