There are so many Pokémon ROM hacks out there that you’ll never get bored of the variety and options you have. Obviously, one of the more popular Pokémon ROM hacks is Radical Red, a game created by Eric “Soupacell” Huang that defies everything you’ve come to know about traditional Pokémon games. There’s a steep learning curve and there’s a lot of work that goes behind reimagining what Pokémon should be able to do, from new move sets to new abilities, Pokémon in this game are given a second chance at life.
Do you want to expand your roster of Pokémon ROM hacks and play other challenging games? Then look no further than this list, which will give an overview of six great ROM hacks you should play to challenge your Pokémon battle skills.
This ROM hack created by Skeli takes players on a journey to the Borrius region where you must save it from ultimate destruction through epic and, quite frankly, difficult battles. From the start, players can choose from easy mode all the way up to an insane mode that tests your knowledge of what it means to be the best at Pokémon.
What makes this hack great is all the truly fun features available to you from the start. You’ll find optimized Generation 4 graphics, Generation 1 through 7 Pokémon available to you, updated movesets you can use from Gen 1 through 7 and much more. From the numerous ROM hacks out there, this one gives you everything you’ll ever need, including a postgame full of compelling missions, battle facility challenges and additional Pokémon catching. A lot of hacks don’t have postgame content, but this one does, making it one of the best ROM hacks out there.
Fire Red Omega
There is quite a bit to talk about with this ROM hack. To start, it is one of the older ones on this list, but it is still one of the best out there. It started as one of Drayano’s first ROM hacks, and builds on the original FireRed game.
There’s nothing too out there because it still feels like an original Pokémon game. It’s great for people who never played the original FireRed in that you get to experience so many Pokémon across all of the other previous generations. Players start with a national dex doubling the Pokemon available to you, and while this is something many ROM hacks do now, it was a huge thing back when this game was released. This made it easy to have a diverse starting team. This game is all about streamlining your experience on a nostalgic game.
Inside the world of Pokémon Vega is a new region called Tohoak, where there are over 100 new Pokémon (fake ones by the way) and new moves along with a lively custom soundtrack that makes the gameplay fun. There is postgame content to keep you challenged, and from the beginning, you’ll find that from the first gym onward, there is a bit of a learning curve for anyone new to Pokemon ROM hacks.
Given that you don’t have access to revives during the main gameplay, that should be enough to signal how challenging this game is, especially if you’re a newbie. Despite its challenges, it's still worth a shot.
Pokemon Theta Emerald Ex
Another one of the older ROM hacks out there, this one allows players to collect 721 Pokémon with a large number of abilities up to Generation 6. Based on its name, it’s clear that its base game is made from Pokémon Emerald. But it is much more than that. Some of the more interesting features of this hack are the level system up to 250 and exp from capturing Pokémon. There is also the ability to reuse TMs. What’s great is that when you’re battling against other trainers in the game, they can truly have any Pokemon from the previous generations, making strategizing very important for every match. You’ll also find the physical/special split, fairy-type Pokémon, and there are mega evolutions, which a lot of newer ROM hacks have as well.
Although it’s not an extremely difficult game in comparison to others, it is a great option for people who are looking for a medium-difficulty hack that pushed the envelope when it first hit the scene.
Pokemon Emerald Kaizo
Other than Pokémon Radical Red and Pokémon Unbound, Pokémon Emerald Kaizo is probably one of the most recognizable and widely played difficult ROM hacks out there. This is why it is still played to this day. It offers the ability to obtain all 386 Pokemon with many of the legendaries put in the postgame.
What makes this game balanced is that although it is obviously hard, it gets progressively harder over time rather than stopping you in your tracks in the beginning. There are no revives or any valuable items available to you during battle, so you’ll need to rely on held items, strategy or luck to win. And really, sometimes it comes down to luck when you learn that movesets and bosses have been upgraded. There really isn’t a way to get around becoming a better player. Even if you grind to level up, the level advantage won’t mean much when you get to tougher opponents.
Pokémon Renegade Platinum
Same flow and same story with a recognizable upgrade on mechanics, Pokémon Renegade Platinum gives you the ability to obtain every Pokémon from all generations up to Platinum. It makes battles harder because Pokémon now have high IVs with different movesets from what you would be used to from the original game.
This ROM hack is not as difficult as the other ones on this list. The beautiful thing about this game is that things like TMs are reusable, the game speed is improved and there are tons of smaller events added to the game to make it more enjoyable.
Lead image credit: Chizzy / YouTube