ROM hacks

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ROM hacks, also known as fangames or bootlegs depending on the circumstances, are video games that have been edited or altered. While many honest fans distribute hacks of Pokémon games for free over the internet, some unscrupulous people have been known to sell them in the guise of legitimate games. Some of these games are hacked onto the actual game cartridges and sold over the internet on sites such as eBay. There are an uncountable number of hacks available on the Internet (a search on YouTube will easily reveal at least a dozen), so this article will limit itself to only the most notable ones.

GBC Sapphire

A copy of Pokémon Sapphire was released for the Game Boy Color. It is very different from the legitimate Pokémon Sapphire, but has quality graphics and minor spelling mistakes.


151 Moemon

Moemon (short for "Moekko Monsters") is another hack of Pokémon FireRed that changes all characters into cosplayers in Pokémon outfits. It is a simple change of FireRed, but with additions such as the ability to catch the three starters, Eevee, and a mix of both LeafGreen and FireRed Pokémon (thus making it simpler to obtain all Pokémon).

Moemon received a short burst of fame when it was posted to gaming site Kotaku in late 2007.[1]

Pokémon Adventure

Screenshot from "Pokémon Adventure"

Pokémon Adventure is a hack of Sonic Blast, a game for the Sega Game Gear. It has five levels, and the intro sequence consists of a few Japanese Pokédex screenshots from Gold and Silver. The game was released with no changes to enemies, although the main character Sonic the Hedgehog was replaced by Pikachu and all rings were changed to Poké Balls.

Pokémon Chaos Black

Start screen from Pokémon Chaos Black.

Another famous hack is Pokémon Chaos Black, which is a modification of Pokémon FireRed. It was released for the Game Boy Advance. This game contain a lot of Fake Pokémon. Although it has a reputation as a bootleg cartridge sold illegally, the original creator of the hack released the patch for it onto the Internet. This game even includes swearing inside the Pokémon's names and it has some bugs that make it impossible to advance in the game progress.

The description on the back of some boxes is a dead giveaway that it is a bootleg, as there is a missing accent on the "e" in "Pokémon". Despite of that, it does have a forged Official Nintendo Seal. Another giveaway is that on the cover and title screen is Chaos from Sonic the Hedgehog games. The description on the box reads as follows:

Pokémon Chaos Black Version is the final game presented by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance in the third generation of games for this series. Being touted for adding additional features absent from other Pokemon games in the past, this game begins in Hoenn on a mission too keep Team Magma and Team Aqua from unbalancing Groudon (ground) and Kyogre. Trainers will want to call on their best strategies ever due to the fact that this is one of the most challenging battlefields delivered in a Pokémon game. Pokémon fans are sure to have no problem meeting this challenge and showing off their skills while doing so.

Pokémon Diamond and Jade

The start screen of "Pokémon Diamond".

Possibly the most well-known bootleg "Pokémon" games are the notorious Pokémon Diamond and Jade (not to be confused with the official Generation IV games Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl). In truth, these games were poorly translated versions of a Japanese game known as Keitai Denjū Telefang. Pokémon Jade was sometimes released on the Game Boy Color on the same cartridge as Pokémon Crystal, but could also be found as a standalone cartridge. The hacks had numerous glitches that the original game did not have, such as the inability to load a save properly. The game also contains profanity and swearing, which is absent from all official Pokémon games licensed by Nintendo.

Pokémon Naranja/Orange

Pokémon Naranja is a hack of Pokémon Ruby in which the player plays as either Ash or Misty and goes around the Orange Archipelago. Naranja is a Spanish word which means Orange. Celebi appears on the box art and title screen.

This game is based on the Orange Saga in the anime. The game starts after the player had won the Indigo League. Though strangely enough, Professor Oak claimed that the player has a Muk, but the player only has a Lv. 5 Pikachu to start with, despite winning the Indigo League. Many characters, plots and events in the Orange Saga are included in the game, such as the GS Ball, the Lapras, the Orange Crew, the Crystal Onix, the Golduck and the Snorlax.

This game also include a special feature, the player can also talk, though the words is not by the player himself, the words are written by the game maker.

The game maker originally planned to release Beta 3 Version before Christmas in 2005; this was canceled for unknown reasons, and therefore the game is incomplete.

Pokémon Prism

Screenshot of Naljo, Pokémon Prism's Region

Pokémon Prism is a hack of Pokémon Gold. This hack completely overhauls the original game, and also won Pokécommunity's Hack of the Year award in 2007. [2] It takes place in a new region called Naljo, with new music, new Pokémon types, and more. One feature is to replace the player's sprite with another at a special shop. The game also has crafting systems (not fully implemented as of the second beta release) and the ability to send a Pokémon out of its Poké Ball outside of battle. Like many other hacks, Prism is still in progress, with periodic updates being released to the public.

Pokémon Quartz

Another hack of Pokémon Ruby, released by the author as a patch file intended to be played by VBA users who already owned the Ruby cartridge and had a copy of its ROM image. The bootleg version's box art features a Gyarados. The game has a great number of spelling and grammatical errors, which result from the hack being translated from Spanish. The game also contains profanity and adult themes, which are absent from all official Pokémon games. Pokémon Quartz replaced all names and graphics of traditional Pokémon with new, made-up Pokémon, although a majority of the changes were only cosmetic and did not change learnsets or types. The game takes place in a region known as "Corna", a heavily edited version of Hoenn, and requires the player to navigate a very different series of paths during gameplay.

While the best-known bootleg cartridge as played on the actual GBA contains serious glitches and errors, the current patch file release works well with VBA when the patch is applied to a clean image of an actual Ruby cartridge.

Let's Play did a complete playthrough of the game.

Pokémon Shiny Gold

Screenshot from ShinyGold

Pokémon Shiny Gold is a total conversion of Pokémon FireRed that turns the game into a Gold and Silver remake, much like how FireRed is a remake of Pokémon Red. It is considered by many to be among the best and one of the highest-quality hacked games, and was runner-up in the Hack of the Year 2007 contest at the PokéCommunity. Although the game has been released to the ROM community as a patch, some pirates have copied the hack (as with many others) to Game Boy Advance cartridges to illegally sell. In response to this, Zel (the creator of the hack) placed a note at the beginning of the game saying that the game should be returned if the player paid for it. The game features changes to allow Pokémon that normally evolve via time-based events or trade to evolve by other methods that are more easily available to the player. For example, Scyther evolves into Scizor with a Moon Stone rather than by its normal method, trading while holding a Metal Coat. The game also features many events which were not available in the original game, as well as many Generation III Pokémon being found in some areas.

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