10 Best Pokemon ROM hacks and fan-made games

Pokemon ROMsNintendo

Pokemon ROMs are as old as the internet itself and while official spin-off titles of the mainline games exist, sometimes the best Pokemon games are those made by the fans. 

While trainers from around the world are currently busy taking photos of their favorite ‘mon in New Pokemon Snap, there are plenty of other games to sink your teeth into. Whether you’re tired of Pokemon Sword and Shield or just looking to go on a new adventure, you’ll want to download a Pokemon ROM. Not only do these fan-made games enable you to catch unseen creatures, they even give you the opportunities to visit entirely new regions. 

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From Pokemon MMOs to competitive online battlers, there are plenty of fan games to choose from. With Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl releasing later this year, many Pokemon trainers will be looking for something to play. Fortunately, we’ve scoured the depths of the internet and picked out 10 of the best Pokemon ROMs you can play right now. 

Pokemon Gaia

Pokemon GaiaNintendo / Spherical Ice
Will you be able to uncover the Orbtus region’s mystery?

The world of Pokemon is filled with mystery and hidden secrets. From long-forgotten ruins to ultra-rare Legendary Pokemon, there is always something for trainers to uncover. Pokemon Gaia whisks players away to the Orbtus region, an ancient land that was once home to a prosperous civilization. 

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However, a series of cataclysmic earthquakes brought an end to this civilization. No one knows what caused this fateful disaster, but Professor Redwood now fears that history will repeat itself. In order to solve this ancient mystery, trainers must go on a quest to stop tragedy from befalling the Orbutus region once again. This story-heavy Pokemon ROM is one you won’t want to miss. 

Pokemon Insurgence

Pokemon Insurgence Nintendo / 1ofthe4rocketbros
Pokemon Insurgence isn’t afraid to tackle the darker side of Pokemon.

The Pokemon series has always had dark themes and controversial moments – in fact, you only need to look at the creepiest Pokedex entries to see that the world of Pokemon isn’t as charming as it seems. Pokemon Insurgence takes a more mature look into the world of Pokemon and features everything from evil cults, onscreen deaths, and cruel experiments. This is one Pokemon ROM that isn’t for the faint of heart.  

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Pokemon Phoenix Rising

Pokemon Phoenix Rising Nintendo / Phoenix Rising Team
Pokemon Phoenix Rising’s choice-based gameplay helps add a lot of depth to the story.

Phoenix Rising is an episodic RPG that is set in a new region known as Hawthorne, a war-torn region that was once ruled by a tyrannical king. Despite enjoying peace for hundreds of years, there are a number of shady figures that wish to plunge Hawthorne back into chaos. 

Unlike the other ROMs on our list, Pokemon Phoenix Rising includes choice-determined gameplay, skill trees, sidequests, and new Relic Form and Mega Evolution Pokemon. Not only do both the new Relic Form Pokemon and Mega Evolutions feature their own unique designs, they also boast some incredibly powerful attacks. We always thought Arcanine deserved its own Mega Evolution and now we finally have one!

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Pokemon Revolution Online

Pokemon Revolution OnlineNintendo / Pokémon Revolution Online team
Pokemon Evolution Online is the Pokemon MMO fans have been looking for.

Pokemon Revolution Online is an MMO that enables players from around the world to battle, catch, and obtain gym badges in order to become regional Champion. While this may not sound that different from Game Freak’s official titles, Pokemon Revolution Online enables players to interact with thousands of other trainers. Featuring four regions, competitive battles, guilds, deep customization options, and in-game events, Pokemon Revolution is the place to go if you’re looking for that next adventure. 

Pokemon Renegade Platinum

Pokemon Renegade PlatinumNintendo / @Drayano60
Renegade Platinum is currently the definitive way to play through Gen 4.

Those of you waiting for the Diamond and Pearl remakes will definitely want to check out Pokemon Renegade Platinum. While it may not feature any major changes to the existing game’s story, it does feature numerous quality of life features that make it the best way to play through Gen 4. 

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Players have access to all 493 Pokémon in the game, revamped Trainer battles and boss fights, tweaks to weaker Pokemon, and the complete removal of trade only evolutions. This enhancement of Platinum is a must for any Gen 4 fan. 

Pokemon Prism

Pokemon PrismNintendo / Koolboyman
Pokemon Prism’s oldschool sprites and new gameplay features will make many fans happy.

This Pokemon ROM sees you take on the role of Lance’s son/daughter, Prism. After playing in their uncle’s minecart, the child is mysteriously transported to Naljo, a developing region “bent on the dream of purist industrialization.” During your adventure, you’ll secure eight new gym badges, take part in mini-games, catch a variety of Pokemon from across four generations, and ultimately fix the region’s problems. 

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Pokemon Prism also features Gas and Sound-type Pokemon to the mix, which greatly changes the way you approach battles. There’s also the addition of Pokemon-only areas – sections where you must use your ‘mon in order to reach inaccessible locations. As the game takes place in an industrialized region, players can also mine, smelt, craft, climb walls, and jump over rocky chasms. 

Pokemon Glazed

Pokemon GlazedNintendo / Lucbui
Pokemon Glazed has some pretty interesting battle changes.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the Pokemon world merged with the real world? If the answer is yes, then Pokemon Glazed is the ROM for you. Unlike official Pokemon games, Glazed enables players to choose from five starters and features Physical/Special Split attacks. 

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This essentially means Pokemon moves either do Physical or Special damage depending on the attack, not the type. During your adventure, you’ll be able to explore Tunod, Johto, and Rankor regions in search of the mysterious power that is disrupting the Pokemon world and the real world. 

Pokemon Ash Gray

Pokemon Ash Gray Nintendo / Metapod23
Pokemon Ash Gray allows you to take on the role of the anime’s iconic protagonist.

Pokemon Ash Gray is a special game in that it chronicles the journey of Ash Ketchum, the protagonist of the ever-popular anime series. Whether you’re a fan of the original show or just want to playthrough the Fire Red/Leaf Green from a totally new perspective, then Ash Gray will enable you to do just that. 

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Everything from “Pokemon I Choose You” to events from “Pokémon the Movie 2000: The Power of One”  have been covered. This ROM has painstakingly overhauled areas of Leaf Green/Fire Red and changed the events, so that they line up with Ash’s own journey. However, unlike Ash, you will be able to evolve your Pokemon. 

Pokemon Light Platinum

Pokemon Light Platinum Nintendo / Wesley FG
Pokemon Light Platinum may be old, but it’s still a great choice.

No best Pokemon ROM list would be complete without featuring Light Platinum. Pokemon Light Platinum is regarded as one of the best ROM hacks of all time, and while it may be a little old, it’s still worth playing today. The game takes place across two new regions – Zhery and Lauren. During your journey through these locations, you encounter creatures from Johto, Kanto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and Unova. 

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The sprites and tiles stay true to the original GBA games, while the new gym leaders and rivals help keep things fresh for even the most hardcore Pokemon fans. The end-game World Championship is still one of the coolest things we’ve seen from a ROM hack to date. If Sword and Shield’s easy difficulty has got you down, then Pokemon Light Platinum will provide you with plenty of challenging content. 

Pokemon Adventure Red Chapter

Pokemon Adventure RedNintendo / Aethestode
Red has always been a popular character in the Pokemon game series.

The Pokemon Adventures manga is known for its darker themes and more realistic approach to Pokemon battles. Pokemon Adventure Red Chapter follows the journey of Red and his escapades from the popular manga series. This ROM features multiple regions, Mega Evolutions, higher level caps, character customization, and unique Fusion Pokemon. 

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Not only does this game feature plenty of great moments from Red’s past, but it also won the PokeCommunity Hack of the Year contest in 2013, 2014, and 2015. It’s certainly not hard to see why this ROM continues to prove popular amongst Pokemon enthusiasts. 

There you have it, 10 of the best Pokemon ROMs you can download and play right now. Make sure you check out our Pokemon hub for all the latest news and updates.

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