Whether on download sites or official Wiki pages, the best Pokemon ROM hacks have been all over the internet for many years. In particular, GBA Pokemon ROM hacks are easily the most popular, editing the easily malleable code from the base games Pokemon Emerald and Pokemon FireRed and changing them into something a little more updated with the times. Quality of life fixes, difficulty settings, and region replayability make their shining placement among different hacks, setting them apart from the hundreds across the internet.

It’s easy to make a ROM hack of a GBA Pokemon game, especially now. With more hacking resources and inspiration from modern games, ROM hacking is better now than ever when it first emerged as a practice in the early 2000s. Some hacks we’ll list here are new, while some have been around since the veteran early days of ROM hacking for Pokemon. In this article, we have some of the top 10 best Pokemon ROM hacks you can find out there, ranked in order of quality from least to greatest. Make no mistake, though, every single one of these names is worth a download.

10. Pokemon Quetzal

Pokemon Quetzal is an English ROM hack developed by TennmaRH, made by using assets from Pokemon Emerald. If you’ve ever wanted to play with new Pokemon generations in an old style, now’s your chance to play this retro title with a different spin. Pokemon Quetzal offers one of the most customizable experiences out there. When you start the game, you can choose between multiple playable characters instead of just moving forward with the default sprite. This includes overworld sprites like Brendan, Gold, Red, May, Gloria, and many more. Pokemon Quetzal allows you to play with others to enjoy your adventure alone or with a friendly rival or two.

Like Pokemon Soul Silver and Heart Gold, this game features Pokemon that can sprint alongside you in the overworld. You can also pick any starter you want, whether from Gen 1 or Gen 9. Concerning the Pokemon you can adventure with, this game features not only roaming overworld Pokemon but the entire Pokedex from Generations 1-3. Outside those generations, special Pokemon, such as the Hisuian forms and starters from Gen 8 and 9, also appear in the Pokedex. Whether you want to play with friends or rivals, Pokemon Quetzal is a great place to start as one of the best Pokemon ROM hacks out there.

9. Pokemon Unbound

Pokemon Unbound is a FireRed hack by Skeli, with many custom features and a fully custom engine. Pokemon Unbound is true to its name, being without restrictions concerning what Pokemon you can catch. Catch Pokemon from Generations 1-8 to create your dream team within an all-new region. Tons of quality features accompany this game, from Auto-Run to having unlimited bag space. The new HM system within Unbound allows you to use HM as you acquire them easily. No more carrying around a Bidoof as an HM slave!

Each Pokemon has custom sprite work to fit the tone of the game, but the overall sprite work has been updated to support Gen 4 demands. With a new AI system that overhauls the original one from FireRed, you can play Pokemon Unbound in any difficulty mode you like. Whether you just want a casual experience during Easy mode, or to have your rear kicked firmly with Insane, Pokemon Unbound has everything required for a great time. The game also comes equipped with an overhauled mission system, adding some extra content around the region so you can earn money while enjoying the Pokemon journey.

8. Pokemon Infinite Fusion

Pokemon Infinite Fusion is one of the latest and greatest splashes in the ROM hacking zone. Stemming from an idea long in the making for the Pokemon community, Pokemon Infinite Fusion adopts the idea of two Pokemon being able to fuse and places it inside a copy of Pokemon FireRed. Legendaries, starters, Rattatas, you name it; if you can catch it, you can certainly fuse it. Other than the fusions present in the game, the overall story and gameplay for Pokemon Infinite Fusion is standard. It’s FireRed, but with an awesome and captivating twist that any Pokemon fan will at least be curious to try out.

Have you ever wondered what a Water-type Charmander would look like? If you are, try fusing a Squirtle and Charmander together. The Pokemon community has had loads of fun creating unique, beautiful, or even cursed fusions. What makes Pokemon Infinite Fusion even more special is the fact that the community surrounding the game has created custom sprites that anyone can use. This makes the thousands of combinations of Pokemon available in-game that much more incredible to play around with throughout your playthrough. With over 10,000 custom Pokemon to collect, you certainly can’t catch ’em all, but you can explore to your heart’s content to find the best Pokemon for your wild team.

7. Pokemon Radical Red

Pokemon Radical Red is one of the oldest, but best Pokemon ROM hacks out there to this day. Created by a Pokemon ROM superfan known as soupercell, this Pokemon ROM hack focuses on old-school difficulty while adding the quality-of-life fixes that make modern Pokemon great. With advanced ROM hacking of the modern day but with the mindset that made ROM hacking popular in the first place, Radical Red is one of the hacking community’s mainstays that anyone should try when getting into ROM hacks for Pokemon. Balance hacks to make the game more playable and fair come right out of the box with this one, so you won’t need to worry about Physical and Special splits bugging you for the entire game while you fight through this difficult ROM hack.

In Radical Red, bosses have optimized Pokemon built specifically to be a challenge. With the updated AI, enemies are smarter and understand when to heal, switch out, and give you a run for your money and Gym Badge. If you want to optimize your own team, not to worry. With DexNav, you can hunt down Pokemon with Hidden Abilities, just like in modern games. With Mega Evolution, updated sprites, moves, and Abilities up to Gen 8, and more modern features, it’s like you’re playing a game transplanted from the future into past software. If you like the retro look without the inconveniences, Radical Red is one of the best hacks.

6. Pokemon Gaia Version

Pokemon Gaia is a substantially sized ROM hack in the community that’s been around for many years (since 2014). Over time it’s developed to be one of the first ROM hacks out there to include as many Pokemon as possible, with custom sprite work, Pokemon from every Gen up to 6, and updated move sets for each Pokemon. The game also includes a Mega Evolution, as well as stones that you can gather throughout the game to evolve your Pokemon during battle. Modern abilities are also an important factor of the game, designed so that you can create your team with a modern playstyle in mind. Some extra side quest events also make a return, such as the Bug Catching Contest from Gen 2 and the Battle Mansion equivalent for this game, called the Battle Marsh.

With the new type chart included for this game, the developers have also added the Fairy typing to the mix. On top of all the quality-of-life fixes, Pokemon Gaia also has a brand-new region, story, and map. With an entire custom region to explore and all the Pokemon you could want, Gaia is a great adventure to go on if you’re looking for something new. Both Trainer and already existing Pokemon sprites are refreshed and look new, giving the game a consistent style despite the fact that it’s almost as old as the ROM hacking community itself.

5. Pokemon Renegade Platinum

Drayano, a formidable name in the Pokemon ROM hacking community, is responsible for the development of multiple Pokemon difficulty hacks. Inspired by titles like Pokemon Blue Kaizo and others, Drayano sought to create a difficulty hack for every Pokemon game out there to date. He has made difficulty hacks for every game, from FireRed to Platnium, to Black and White, as well as their sequels. Because every hack of Drayano’s follows the same themes and changes from one game to the next, we’ll only cover one of them in our list.

Pokemon Renegade Platinum is an enhancement hack of Platnium. It has the same story as the base game but with a few minor twists. For example, you can fight a few gym leaders early, and there are a few minor side cutscenes, lines, and tidbits that keep the game fresh for those who have played through Platinum already. It keeps the same flow of the game, with the addition that you can access all 493 Pokemon in their natural areas. Every Trainer, Gym Member, and Gym Leader has been revamped to have a much harder difficulty curve, so be prepared to employ some strategy if you want to beat this very satisfying hack. And if you like what you see with Drayano’s work, you can try out his other difficulty hacks as well!

4. Pokemon Blue Kaizo

Pokemon Blue Kaizo is a relatively infamous difficulty hack developed in the earliest days of ROM hacking. It’s certainly not for everyone, however. While a Drayano hack like Renegade Platinum may be fair and balanced but still difficult, a hack like Blue Kaizo is meant to be as hard as possible, even if it’s unfair. Kaizo, as a term, is the general umbrella label for a game that is as hard as the developer can make it. Those who have completed Blue Kaizo are few and far between, so if you’re in the mood for a bad time, consider this hack to be just what you need.

3. Pokemon Emerald Kaizo

Pokemon Emerald Kaizo is Blue Kaizo but with a few extra spikes. Concerning GBA Pokemon ROM hacks in general, Emerald Kaizo is definitely required reading for the ROM inexperienced. Considering the fact that Emerald itself is already a little difficult, stacking the Kaizo formula of being as abrasive as possible makes this game a force to be reckoned with. The difficulty curve for this game is massive, giving you little time to adjust.

If you enjoy grinding your Pokemon as much as possible, getting everything to level 100, and fighting tooth and nail for every Gym badge, this game is for you. Kaizo Emerald offers more than just unfair levels of difficulty but also some balance to the equation. The game comes complete with a more accessible dex, as well as revamped stats, moves, and sprites to give everything a fresh feel while you’re being firmly faceplanted into the Gym concrete.

2. Pokemon Prism

Pokemon Prism is another mainstay of the Pokemon ROM hack scene. Created early in the 2000s, Pokemon Prism is a hack of Crystal that allows you to customize your experience right down to the sprite work. You can explore the brand-new region, collect over 700 Pokemon in the continuously updated roster, and battle all new trainers. One of the unique features that Prism offers ahead of everyone else is the decision at the very beginning of the game. You can have your trainer choose from two different paths after graduating from the PokeCademy: become a regular trainer or join the PIA. While both options allow you to explore the region normally, joining the PIA will enable you to take on more aspects of the story. The game is replayable, with two stories to choose from.

The open-world design is another aspect of Pokemon Prism that makes it stand out. There are no roadblocks in this game, and the levels scale as you complete each Gym. Tackle any Gym in any way you want to. If you want to do the Gym challenge backward, you certainly can. The game contains all kinds of side missions and extra content. These include Secret Encounters, the Fists of Steel Challenge, the Battle Circut, and new evolutions, as well as legendaries. You can purchase a house, participate in the Battle Frontier, and travel all over the new regions with your partner Pokemon behind you. (That’s right, this game has following Pokemon too.)

1. Pokemon Glazed

Pokemon Glazed is a Pokemon ROM hack that has existed since the beginning. First emerging in 2005, when ROM hacking was new and unusual, this hack made huge waves in the Pokemon community. It features multiple starters, five instead of three, Dream World Pokemon, and two custom regions to explore alongside Johto. It also contains full catchability for the complete dex, as well as rematches with all trainers (including Gym Leaders). On top of that, Glazed has a treasure trove of quality-of-life features. It’s a fantastic hack for something that was initially released in 2005. This ROM hack competes with some of the best modern names out there, ROM or not. For any fan of Pokemon, this game is an absolute must-play if you are at all interested in ROM hacks.

What do you think of these ROM hacks? Do any of them sound fun to you? Do you have a favorite that you wish we mentioned? If so, we’d love to hear more about it in the comment section below this article. We love hearing from our viewers!