10 Best Pokemon ROM Mods

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April 22, 2022 saw the start of the Pokemon European International Championships in Germany. The event featured a slew of attractions for fans of the card game, Pokémon-GO mobile games, and most importantly, the video games the franchise has built its name on. Such is the obsession that many fans have created their own versions of the legendary 8-bit escapades – based on the originals – with special twists, different stories and of course a huge variety of Pokemon.

These user-generated game files (or ROM mods/hacks) are (arguably) even more fun than the original games, with hours of never-before-seen gameplay. These April events are a great opportunity to reflect on some of the best community-created wonders, paying close attention to their story, gameplay options, and variety of Pokémon they feature.

Pokemon Gaia

Regigigas on Pokemon Gaia title screen

Gaia is one of the most popular ROM mods – with a unique story and gameplay. Set in the new region of Orbutus, the game offers a unique experience that goes off the beaten path: with its own music and many unique features; wonderful for people familiar with the original games.

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Which makes Gaia so entertaining is how fresh the story is in familiar settings (ie: including Generations 1-6 of Pokemon, with the ability to Mega Evolve). This marriage of old and new helps the game breathe new life into time-tested titles; make changes that also allow players to speed up the execution of this Pokemon game, unlocking even more features.

Pokémon Cry of Darkness

Fake cover for the modified Pokémon game Dark-Cry.

Dark Cry takes a darker approach to Pokemon – with the use of profanity being a notable example. Based on Red fire Game, Dark Cry introduces Pokemon from Generations 1-6 and realizes that Team Rocket is a true evil antagonist. Further adding “Fakemon” and mega-evolutions, the game is widely enjoyed by Pokemon community.

Basic supplements Red fire the gameplay makes for an interesting experience – but it’s the eerie and dark new tones of the story that make this ROM so worth playing. Almost like an R-rated version of the original series, the game is dramatic and compelling; however, smaller issues with the game file (i.e.: random type changes after evolutions) may deter many from enjoying it.

Pokémon Gold-Silver Chronicles

Title card for Pokémon Gold-Silver Chronicles.

Gold Silver is an update of the original Gold and Money games, bringing mega-evolutions, additional story, and new map areas to base ROMs. Most notably, however, there are no Pokémon Gyms in this version of the game, with an unconventional twist replacing them with Battle Tournaments.

All of the above changes are relevant additions that make Gold Silver a ROM worth considering – however, arguably the most compelling aspect of this mod is the mystery instilled into the story from the start: Pokemon inexplicably go wild again. Blowing fresh air and updated graphics for the first two generations of pocket monsters, this is a great ROM mod for new and vivid gameplay.

Digimon Nova-Red

Title card for Digimon Nova-Red.

Perhaps the strangest example of a user-generated mod is Digimon Nova-Red. This ROM is based on the Red fire game, adding several new gameplay features and map areas – strikingly replacing all Pokémon with Digimon! Over 200 make up the full roster of playable creatures, making it a crazy journey to mix and match the right fighters in teams and battles.

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What obviously makes this ROM so interesting is the crossover between two beloved franchises, bringing Digimon into the Poké world. Although they basically function like regular Pokemon (each of the “Fakemon” even gets a type and ability), this regular gameplay change – in addition to a rich aftergame and increased game difficulty – in makes a fun and fresh mod perfect for those familiar with the original games.

Pokémon Rocket Edition

Title card for Pokémon Rocket Edition.

Rocket Edition is one of the most interesting mods. Players spend the entirety of this unique story as the grunt of Team Rocket, continually working for the organization’s nefarious motives. Based on Fire Red / Leaf Green games, players will even notice continued run-ins with the traditional story “protagonist” as they go.

The unique plot, coupled with the corresponding gameplay changes (gaining the ability to steal Pokémon and capturing them traditionally, for example), makes this mod a very fun and innovative take on the game. Pokemon universe. Tied to darker themes, mega-evolutions, and a new morality system (plus updated graphics and TM/HMs), Rocket Edition is a very fun spin-off that is very well received by fans.

Pokemon Ash Gray

Cover for the Pokémon AshGray MOD.

What’s better than to sit back, relax and watch choice episodes of the 1997 original Pokemon TV show? By playing, of course! This is the philosophy that runs through Pokémon Ash gray. Based on the TV series, players have the ability to play through the entire story (modified out of Red fire game) as Ash, completing the plot as he did in the 90s anime.

It’s the ultimate game for those who grew up watching Ash’s escapades on the way to the Indigo League. By adding in-game prompts that the mod offers by following the anime’s storyline, this ROM can induce some serious nostalgia. Also, with tools that replace TMs, updated graphics, and the ability to build your own story from the anime world, Ash gray is sure to put a smile on the face of many 90s kids.

Pokémon Light-Platinum

Screenshot from Pokemon Light Platinum fan game.

Light-Platinum was one of the first completed ROM hacks, using Ruby as its basis. From there, however, the game explodes with a host of different options, including the addition of mega-evolutions, new items and tools, updated graphics, and an original story featuring Arceus, the god Pokemon. Accompanied by two novels Pokemon regions and interdimensional travel, Light-Platinum is a trip and a half.

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Just for the number of options, Light-Platinum is a winner, giving players new freedoms and abilities with characters from the 2nd and 3rd generations of the franchise. The inclusion of new mechanics, mini-games, and an original plot, along with unique territories to explore, makes this ROM feel less like a hack or mod, and more like a sequel to one of original games, with its own themes, mechanics and quirks.

Mega Power Pokemon

Title screen of the Pokemon Mega-Power fan game.

Based on the popular emerald version, Mega Power is a weird and quirky ROM hack that attracts gamers with a unique story. Centered around a scientist main character, the game delves into the origin of Mega-Evolution, seeking to uncover a mystery surrounding the most powerful versions of Pokémon in two different regions.

Featuring an expansive, multi-character storyline filled with Generations 1-7 of Pokémon and two completely new regions, Mega Power offers players a ton of new narrative and gameplay features that feel like a spin-off set in a beloved fictional world. The extra difficulty, Pokemon, gameplay and options make up for some weird dialogue (likely from direct translations) and sometimes flawed gameplay details – to deliver a ROM that’s worth anything thrust– fan time.

unbound pokemon

Logo for the Pokémon Unbound MOD.

A more recent module, Unbound is a versatile ROM based on the Red fire Gameplay. With updated graphics, new locations, regional Pokemon forms, z-moves, and mega-evolutions, this hack pushes the game even further. In the new Borrius region, the game features Gen 1-7 and Gen 8 gameplay mechanics; in addition to a new mission system and max-raid battles.

Unbound is packed with features, perhaps offering the best of all ROMs. The sheer number of options players have (in and out of battle) will keep fans busy for weeks. Along with a graphical update and darker tones in its story, the game is long and entertaining. Unbound is a slick new tale in the Pokemon universe made for casual and fanatical players.

Pokémon Adventure Red-Chapter

Cover of the Pokémon Adventure Red-Chapter fan game.

Yet another game based on the popular Red fire out of the game, Red-Chapter Adventure is a mod that adds a lot to its beloved base ROM, following the storyline of the Pokemon Adventures Manga and let players take control of the infamous Red – placing them in NINE regions! It further features a wide range of Pokémon (and Pokémon variants), additional moves, character customization, and much more.

Obviously, the game offers a plethora of stories and gameplay. Additionally, along with the alternatives that the game presents (i.e.: various types of Pokemon evolutions, a 255 level cap, and multiple subplots), new game types are also available to players. Borrowing the story from the manga creates its own unique experience, and with the amount of fidelity offered in Red-Chapter Adventurefans are ready for an immersive treat that’s sure to fire up even the sleepiest Poké-fandom.

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