10 Best Pokemon GBA ROM Hacks

Bored with Pokemon and want something new? Give these ROM Hacks a try!

by Shaun Cichacki

The Game Boy Advance still holds quite the place in our hearts here, pivoting the handheld market into a new generation. Alongside better graphics, the Game Boy Advance also happens to have one of the best libraries of all time, even if it may have just been a handheld system. Alongside plenty of official Pokemon titles, fans have spent countless hours making new versions based on their favorite RPG franchise.

Even if some of the locations are completely the same, there are parts of these Game Boy Advance ROM Hacks that completely flip the script on everything Pokemon fans know and love. Be it the chance to play as the beloved, yet incompetent Team Rocket, or completely swap out Pokemon for Anime Characters, here are 10 of the best GBA Pokemon ROM hacks available on the market!

Best GBA ROM Hacks For Pokemon Fans

The majority of these ROM Hacks are also playable on authentic Game Boy hardware, either through the purchase of a cart by sellers on sites like Etsy or eBay or by using a Flash Cart, such as an Everdrive to give gamers the chance to play them on their original hardware.

10. Pokemon FireRed: Rocket Edition

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This ROM Hack gives players the chance to step foot into the shoes of their sworn enemy, Team Rocket. Rather than working their way through the ranks to become the champion of the Kanto region, players will work for the shadowy Team Rocket and try their best to steal as many Pokemon as possible from other NPCs on the map.

An interesting take on the classic formula, especially since Team Rocket is one of the more beloved enemy factions in the history of the franchise. Players will still see many familiar faces throughout their adventure, and this tale comes to an end with a very exciting battle against a particularly well-known Trainer.

9. Moemon Mega FireRed

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What if all of your favorite Pokemon got replaced with Anime Waifus? That’s what Moemon aims to do, with a complete sprite replacement being the main subject of this particular ROM Hack. Gameplay is still exactly what Pokemon fans have grown to love over the years, but now adorable Anime characters are the center of attention this time around.

Countless Moemon ROM Hacks are floating around the internet, but one of the most well-known would have to be the Mega FireRed edition, which seems to be one of the most well-polished versions of these particular games. While there isn’t much changed in the gameplay aspect, those hoping to capture Anime characters instead of monsters will need to check this out as soon as possible.

8. Pokemon GAIA Edition

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Another take on the familiar FireRed formula, the Pokemon GAIA Version looks to modernize the old-schoolness of these particular entries and adds in an overwhelming amount of new content. Adding new Pokemon from multiple different regions, plus the ability to Mega Evolve and climb up walls, nothing can stop the player on their conquest to become the very best.

What makes this particular ROM Hack special is the fact that it’s an original story, compared to a rehash of the familiar Pokemon tried and true story beats. Plus, the enhanced movement scheme that lets players scale walls and visit different types of landscapes helps the exploration feel much grander than it should for a 2D Pokemon title.

6. Pokemon: Orange Islands

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While this may be one of the shorter ROM hacks on this list, it’s one of the most fun to play overall. Those that were big fans of the Pokemon Anime will instantly recognize the Orange Island arc, and this gives players the perfect chance to finally play through this particular part of their favorite show. It isn’t as expansive overall as some of the other titles on the list, but the gorgeous vistas and exciting battles make it worth a download.

For those hoping to sink an unending amount of hours into their favorite Pokemon Arc, this may not suffice, as it can be completed rather quickly. However, the time spent in this world is well-polished and brings this particular anime arc to the small screen in an almost flawless way. Overall, well worth the download and playthrough, especially for those that grew up watching Ash try to become a World Champion.

5. Pokemon Radical Red

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Trainers hoping to showcase their battle skills should flock to their nearest browser and give Pokemon Radical Red a try as soon as humanly possible. This is going to be for the most extreme Pokemon Fantics, as it crams so much content into a single ROM hack, but also provides one of the most challenging games in the series. This is not an entry for the faint of heart or for those that are not willing to min/max their teams to their full potential.

That’s what holds it back in the long run. This could easily be the number one ROM Hack for those that are hoping to not hold back any power. Radical Red is one of the most difficult Pokemon games around, and that’s what makes it special to those that love these types of games. For those hoping to breeze through this adventure, look elsewhere, as you will find yourself challenged from the start.

4. Pokemon Unbound

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Pokemon Unbound is one of the best Pokemon ROM hacks on the market for those hoping to lose themselves in an engrossing plot. While there may not be many changes from the overall Pokemon scheme, this could be the best for those looking for an interesting story in a new Pokemon world. Starting with a Legendary Monster to take into battle is exciting, even if they are weak at the start.

It is also one of the most balanced hacks on the market and feels like it could almost be an official product from the Pokemon Company. There are a few small issues that hold this one back from being the greatest of all time, but it still stands comfortably on its own two feet.

3. Pokemon Flora Sky

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Bringing new Pokemon to an older console isn’t always executed in the best way possible, but Pokemon Flora Sky does it with ease. Seeing Dialga and Palkia battling in the classic 32-bit art style that the series is known for is exciting, and the ability to see them on the GBA engine is rather cool. Alongside the ability to capture plenty of new Pokemon, Flora Sky happens to be one of the best-looking ROM Hacks currently available.

Beautiful environments crafted with care, and plenty of Pokemon to find in the world will give gamers plenty to look forward to during their adventures in this new world. Yes, it may be a little too easy at times, but it’s a great game to jump into and could be the ultimate version to showcase the world of ROM hacks to someone a little hesitant to try them out.

2. Pokemon Dark Rising

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Another Pokemon ROM Hack that seems to take a bit of inspiration from Radical Red, Pokemon Dark Rising is difficult, but a bit more exciting overall due to a completely original storyline, alongside a completely revamped battle screen that gives players some excitement during their journey. Rather than leaving on a quest to become the best, players are visited in their dreams by a mysterious Pokemon and need to solve the mystery laid out before them.

Yes, Dark Rising can be quite difficult at times, but it is at least a bit more forgiving than Radical Red in the overall scheme of things. But, it gains extra points in the working of its sprites and the overall improvements to the momentum that keeps this game rolling and exciting. A must-play for anyone hoping to experience something new in a classic form.

1. Pokemon GS Chronicles

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Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver are still regarded as some of the best Pokemon games to ever exist, so the ability to play an almost identical version of these on a GBA engine sounds like a dream come true. But what if they were even better in some aspects? That’s what Pokemon GS Chronicles aims to accomplish, and does an excellent job of making that happen.

Not only will players get the chance to experience Gold and Silver in a new light, but there are also plenty of new features added on here that make the journey more exciting, such as Mega Evolutions and constant updates to provide fresh content and bug fixes to this beloved game.

There are so many Pokemon ROM hacks available online, but there are only a fair few of them that are worth the time and effort to play. With storyline changes, gameplay changes, and more, fans that may find themselves tired of the familiar storylines and gameplay of the mainline entries have plenty to look forward to with these special hacks.

- This article was updated on January 27th, 2023