Best Gen I ROM Hacks For Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow

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ROM hacks are among the coolest forms of video game mods. And there are some crazy hacks that remains very relevant to this day thanks to the retroactive popularity of games like Pokémon.

Modders have been hard at work ever since the games came out, slowly developing the tools needed to better do their transformative work.

Nowadays the variety of ROM hacks for games like Pokémon Red & Blue is stunning. Same goes for the iconic Yellow edition.

Some hacks add massive improvements, while others are just funny, and some are simply… different.

They keep these games alive by opening up the landscape and creating replayability with brand new challenges.

So if you’re looking for more Kanto fun, or maybe a hard nuzlocke run, or if you simply want to re-live that classic experience with a twist, this list of our favorite gen 1 hacks is sure to help you find a few to get started.

10. Red Gen VI Typing

Pkmn Red w/ Gen6 typing rom

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We start off with a small change meant to make the game feel more familiar for anyone who’s played anything after Pokémon X/Y.

Creator Dewhi100 adds the Dark, Steel and Fairy-types that didn’t exist in the first generation of games.

The hack also changes all Pokémon and their moves to match their current typing. For example the Gust move is now flying, and Clefairy is… well, a fairy type.

Of course, the interactions between types have also been updated. It’s a small change but definitely fun to go through.


9. Pokémon Red/Blue Gender Selection

Pokémon Red/Blue Gender Selection rom

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Some of the most needed changes are often small and easy to achieve.

That said, we have to thank user Zeera the Reploid for their time spent making something we generally take for granted: choosing your gender, now available in Pokémon Red & Blue.

The game takes Leaf, the female protagonist from Pokémon Leaf Green, and then adapts her sprites to the first generation while also modifying all in-game interactions to reflect the character’s gender.

Pretty cool!


8. Pokémon TRE: Team Rocket Edition

Pokemon Team Rocket Edition rom hack screenshot

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If what you’re looking for is to choose your whole faction, then Pokémon TRE might be a great way to spend a few hours.

Team Rocket mafioso leader Giovanni is looking for a successor. And the choice comes down to two siblings, one of which you’ll control depending on your chosen gender.

The rest is a pretty basic Pokémon adventure, with several tweaks to accommodate for this new setting. The hack also adds new sprites, maps and entire storylines with their own scenes.

It may have a couple of glitches, but this is most likely the closest we’ll ever get to Game Freak actually letting us play as one of the bad guys. It’s worth a try!


7. Pokémon Black(Gen 1)

Pokémon Black gen1 rom hack gameplay screenshot

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No, this isn’t a project to bring the Unova region to Pokémon Red & Blue’s engine.

I mean really what is this, Skyrim?

This mod by user Ax461 actually predates the release of those games(if you can believe it) and it’s based on a widely known creepypasta detailing the spooky experience of a gamer who got their hands on a cursed bootleg Pokémon game.

It recreates everything, from the ominous new starter Pokémon GHOST to the game’s creepy post-game, and everything in-between.

Whether you download this for its meme value or to play a prank on an unsuspecting victim, you won’t be disappointed.


6. Pokémon Little Cup Red

Pokémon Little Cup Red rom hack screenshot

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A very interesting way to re-experience the original adventure through the Kanto region is provided by Pokémon Little Cup Red, a complete overhaul that offers some odd changes.

Namely it reduces all Pokémon to level 5, devolves any Pokémon to their baby forms, and replaces those that can’t be devolved to other similar Pokémon.

Experience and leveling aren’t factors in this game. Rather it’s about finding a good team composition for each encounter, and eventually aiming to beat the Elite Four.

To aid your now meager HP reserves it also reduces the random encounter rate in many areas such as Mt. Moon.


5. Pokémon Pink

Pokémon Pink GBC rom hack gameplay screenshot

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The next ROM hack in our list fuses together many others to create a complete overhaul of the original Pokémon Blue.

Modder 80C combines the generation VI typing updates along with a big graphics update that makes the game look much like Pokémon Gold & Silver.

The story also brings in Kris, the main female lead from Pokémon Crystal. She plays the protagonist for this tweaked adventure.

Other than that, it modifies the Unknown Dungeon from the post-game to resemble that of Pokémon Yellow and it fixes some minor bugs present on the original Pokémon Blue. Overall a truly enjoyable experience for those who remember the original generation of games.


4. Pokémon Brown (2014)

Pokémon Brown rom hack screenshot

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Another one of those new and improved versions of the game comes by the hand of renowned ROM hacker Koolboyman, who originally released Pokémon Brown in 2008.

But it was updated with some much-needed enhancements in 2014 and that’s the version we know of today.

This modification changes the game to its core, going as far as taking place in the new region of Rijon. And it adds over 70 new Pokémon along with new areas, music, and an entirely new post-game dungeon for players to enjoy.

There are even 7 new Pokémon types along with all of these goodies.

Too much? Perhaps, but I will say this is an amazing playthrough.


3. Red/Blue Full Color Hack

Pokemon Red&Bue full color rom hack

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Sometimes you don’t want to mess with the core game, but you still feel like something is missing to bring the game back from the dead.

That’s exactly what this ROM hack from DannyE33 offers.

It leaves the game’s storyline and gameplay completely unchanged, but updates both Pokémon and trainer sprites to their gen 2 counterparts. Of course, it also makes the game full-color to match.

Even the battle HUD and text boxes have been replaced by the newer ones from Pokémon Gold & Silver.

And so what if they couldn’t find certain sprites from those games? Well then assets were taken from the newer Leaf Green/Fire Red and downscaled to better work with generation I’s architecture. Easy-peasy and lots of fun.


2. Pokémon Blue Kaizo

Pokémon Blue Kaizo rom hack

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Among the most well-known ROM hacks in all of Pokémon Red & Blue’s history is Pokémon Blue Kaizo, designed to make the game considerably more challenging while giving you a more complete experience.

The project’s author redesigned areas, dungeons, and routes down to each trainer’s party. This also includes the moves on wild Pokémon to make sure every fight is a challenging encounter to tackle seriously.

On the flip side, you get to catch all 151 Pokémon on a single file. And Pokémon that usually only evolve through trade can now evolve normally by leveling or similar factors.

A great option if you’re planning a nuzlocke run.


1. Pokémon TPP (Red Anniversary)

Pokemon TPP ROM hack

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However if you’re looking for the most minimal game overhaul for Pokémon’s first generation, there’s nothing better than Pokémon TPP by Pigu and Projectrevo.

It was made specifically for the Twitch Plays Pokémon channel so it includes a couple of surprises for them. But overall, it’s the ideal vanilla-friendly version of the game.

To start off, it makes all 151 Pokémon available in a single save file. It also lets you choose from several characters of both genders instead of just Red.

Like Pokémon Blue Kaizo, this version also features generally stronger trainers but not as dramatically buffed-up. Still there is a clear difference and with that difference comes a totally new gaming experience.

Fun bit of trivia: the actual stream this ROM hack was made for took 920 hours of Twitch gameplay to finish.

How long will it take you?

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.