Pokemon ROM Patches: Top Recommendations and Fresh Picks to Try


If playing all the Pokémon core video games, remakes, and spin-off games has only left you wanting more, it’s time to set your sights on Pokémon ROM patches. These fan-made games breathe fresh life into the Pokémon universe, offering everything from revamped visuals and unique storylines to new regions to explore and even completely new Pokémon to catch. Never played a Pokémon ROM mod before? Read on for a beginner-friendly guide to playing them on the PC and our list of recommended patches hacks to try.  

What Are Pokémon ROM Hacks? 

Imagine taking your favorite Pokémon game and injecting it with a dose of creativity, novelty, and sometimes even a bit of mischief. That’s what devs do when creating modified versions of official Pokémon video games, widely known as “Pokémon ROM hacks” in the gaming community. These are built on the base code of existing games and feature modifications ranging from simple tweaks to complete overhauls. Some ways to categorize Pokémon mods are by base game, difficulty level, setting and storyline, or development status (whether complete or in-progress). 

How to Play Pokémon ROM Mods on the PC 

Playing Pokémon mods on the PC involves two main parts: emulation and patching. For the uninitiated, emulators are programs that mimic a gaming console, and you’ll need one to play a ROM mod on your PC. Popular emulators for Pokémon games include VisualBoyAdvance (for Game Boy Advance games) or DeSmuME (for Nintendo DS games). 

ROM mods are usually patches applied to a base game ROM. Here are the general steps to follow before you can play a Pokémon ROM patch on the PC: 

  1. Find a ROM file of the original Pokémon game that the ROM mod is based on. You can typically find this online, but it’s important to ensure that you’re obtaining ROMs legally, either by ripping them from your own game cartridges or downloading them from authorized sources. 
  2. Download the patch file (.ips or .ups) for the specific ROM mod you want to play. This file contains the changes and modifications made to the original game. The PokéCommunity forum is a great starting point for finding ROM patches and discussing them with other players. 
  3. Patch the ROM. Use a patching tool like Lunar IPS (for .ips files) or Tsukuyomi UPS (for .ups files) to apply the patch to the original ROM file. Open the patching tool, select the ROM file and the patch file, then apply the patch. 
  4. Launch the emulator software on your PC. Then, open the patched ROM file from within the emulator. You should now be able to start playing the Pokémon ROM mod on your PC. 

Be sure to play your favorite Pokémon ROM patches on a robust gaming PC, such as the Acer Nitro V 15 Gaming Laptop, with the power, speed, and connectivity to ensure uninterrupted Pokémon-catching adventures. 

The Best Pokémon ROM Patches for Beginners 

These are our must-play picks for ROM patch newbies. They’re among the most popular mods in the Pokémon community, but be warned that starting with any of these beloved mods will likely raise your standards for all other games! 

Pokémon Unbound   

Set in the expansive, fan-created Borrius region, this FireRed mod offers an open-world experience with non-linear gameplay. It includes regional forms, four difficulty modes, and a ton of missions and mini-games. Pokémon Unbound gives players the freedom to explore and discover new content at their own pace. Its inclusion of Mega Evolution and other modern Pokémon mechanics appeals to fans looking for a more contemporary Pokémon experience. 

Pokémon Prism 

This Pokémon Crystal ROM patch weaves a grittier storyline set in the Naljo region, but it’s the innovative gameplay that has captured and sustained players’ interest throughout the game’s history. (A cease-and-desist order from Nintendo halted the game’s development in 2016, but a new dev team has picked up the project following a leaked build.) There are six different worlds to explore in Prism, and its engaging gameplay includes the ability to play as a Pokémon and to customize trainer sprites. Overall, players love Prism’s difficulty boost and unique mechanics. 

Pokémon Rocket Edition 

Offering an inventive take on the Pokémon formula, this game lets fans play as a Team Rocket member and explore familiar regions through a new lens. In the unique storyline that’s concurrent with the events of its base game, FireRed, players embark on nefarious missions and engage in battles against traditional protagonists. Rocket Edition’s intriguing premise and morally ambiguous world appeal to fans interested in darker and more unconventional narratives. 

Pokémon Gaia  

Another Pokémon Fire Red ROM mod, Pokémon Gaia takes players on a captivating journey through the Orbtus region. It offers a polished experience with a rich storyline and engaging gameplay. Gaia’s popularity stems from its originality and the depth of its world-building, as well as its high-quality design and attention to detail. It’s often described as feeling like an official Pokémon installment. 

Fresh Picks: Pokémon ROM Mods to Try in 2024 

Here are some newer releases that have gained traction among Pokémon ROM patch fans: 

Pokémon Emerald Rogue  

Drawing inspiration from the “roguelike” genre, this Pokémon Emerald ROM mod has randomized elements that guarantee a distinct experience each time you play. The 2022 release removes elements that some players find tedious, like grinding or repetitive dialogue. Instead, it focuses on the core gameplay loop of catching, training, and battling Pokémon, making it a more streamlined and engaging experience. Emerald Rogue’s appeal lies in its concept and replayability. Many players have described it as addictive and great fun.  

Pokémon Orange: Island Walker   

After the code base of Pokémon Orange got too old for updates, the Crystal mod’s dev has decided to rebuild the ROM patch from the ground up and switch up the story. Released in 2023, the Island Walker edition is set in the Orange Archipelago. There’s a “berrypedia” to complete (and 81 berries to collect and use) and an “Altering Cave” where you can encounter different Pokémon daily. Orange was beloved for capturing the feeling of an official Pokémon game and Island Walker promises to offer a similarly polished experience, if not better. 

Pokémon TCG: Neo 

For a nostalgia trip, try this 2023 ROM mod of the spin-off title Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG). Pokémon TCG: Neo’s enticing features include the extensive range of new cards, many of which have been altered and balanced for a fresh take on the battling gameplay. The vibrant art alone makes this worth downloading. Drawn by the dev, the cards are a visual spectacle and make every Pokémon stand out. As a newer ROM patch, TCG: Neo is still rather buggy, but many players have also reported enjoying the game. 

There are always Pokémon ROM mods in development and even decades-old titles are still getting updated. These fan creations not only honor the legacy of the franchise but also push its boundaries, continuously rekindling our love for the Pokémon world in exciting and unexpected ways. 

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About Micah Sulit: Micah is a writer and editor with a focus on lifestyle topics like tech, wellness, and travel. She loves writing while sipping an iced mocha in a cafe, preferably one in a foreign city. She's based in Manila, Philippines. 



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