Pokémon ROM Hacks & Fan Games With The Best Stories

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Back when I was a child, I didn’t really need Pokémon to have a complex story.

It was enough to know what Pokémon were, how to catch them, and ideally what direction the next gym was in.

But after playing through the same basic story so many times I find myself wishing Game Freak put a little bit more effort into crafting a narrative I’ll care about.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable story set in the Pokémon world, ROM hacks are the way to go. And here’s a few out there with some incredibly captivating storylines.


10. Pokémon Blazed Glazed

Pokémon Blazed Glazed ROM Hack Screenshot

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Pokémon Blazed Glazed is a well-rounded Pokémon Emerald ROM Hack with beautiful visuals, and a well-crafted story set years after the events of HeartGold and SoulSilver.

It follows the standard structure of a kid going on a journey to become a Pokémon Master and thwarting an evil organization’s dastardly plans along the way.

Still, the game surprises us by introducing the concept of parallel worlds and inter-dimensional travel between the Tunod region and the “real” world.


9. Pokémon Sienna

Pokémon Sienna Hack Screenshot

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Pokémon Sienna follows a young adventurer who sets out on a journey through the gorgeous rocky region of Voultan, in the hopes of honing their skills and acquiring the experience necessary to be accepted into the Indigo Plateau’s trainer school.

What makes Sienna special is how your actions shape the story.

You’ll have several run-ins with a nascent criminal organization threatening the peace and prosperity of the Voultan region.

You’re free to drive them back, ignore them, or even join their ranks – but your decisions will change the world around you and the ending you get.


8. Pokémon Reborn

Pokémon Reborn Fangame Screenshot

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The regions we explore in official Pokémon games are generally idyllic places where humans and Pokémon live happily in harmony with nature.

The Reborn region is different.

It’s a place where the air is thick with smog, and ruins litter the landscape.

A once-booming region, Reborn has fallen into disarray – and crime has been on the rise for a long time.

It’s up to you to put the region back on track.

Other than the fantastic storyline – which features some of the best-written characters in the medium – Reborn shines for its gorgeous visuals and an awesome soundtrack by notorious producer GlitchxCity.


7. Pokémon Rejuvenation

Pokémon Rejuvenation ROM Hack Screenshot

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The spiritual sequel to Pokémon Reborn brings the same polished experience, featuring Pokémon up to gen 7 and a whole new region to discover.

After the calamity that was the Storm-9, the Aevium region was utterly devastated. Still, the community banded together to retake what was lost – and a semblance of peace and prosperity has returned.

But not everyone is happy with how things turned out.

It’s up to you to uncover Team Xen’s master plan to plunge the region into chaos and put a stop to it before it’s too late.


6. Pokémon Legends of the Arena

Pokémon Legends of the Arena Screenshot

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Another incredible narrative experience where your decisions have the power to shape the course of the story is Pokémon Legends of the Arena.

In the Aria region, no event is quite as important as the International Pokémon Championship.

Anyone can join the IPS for a chance at fame and fortune – no matter who they were beforehand.

It’s a massive competition, and you’ve just signed up.

Instead of tackling Aria’s eight gyms by yourself, you’ll do it as part of an eliminations group.

This gives you plenty of time to get familiar with the other competitors, listen to their issues, and fall in love with the cast like you’ve never done in a Pokémon game.


5. Pokémon FireRed: Rocket Edition

Pokémon FireRed: Rocket Edition ROM Hack Screenshot

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There comes a point in your Pokémon career when you can’t help but wonder what’s going on in the lives of the countless Team Whatever grunts you beat on your way to victory.

What led them to where they are now?

Pokémon FireRed: Rocket Edition gives us a glimpse into Kanto’s thriving criminal underworld from the perspective of a Team Rocket grunt trying to lie, cheat and steal their way to the top.

It’s not only a fun look at the dark side of many beloved FireRed characters but a full-fledged Pokémon adventure with an exciting plot full of secrets and conspiracies to uncover.


4. Pokémon Korosu

Pokémon Korosu Nuzlocke Screenshot

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Pokémon Korosu is the sequel to Pokémon Outlaw, a hack famous for showing players the seedy underbelly of FireRed’s Kanto – the side no 10yo Pokémon adventurer should see.

While not as in-your-face about it as Pokémon Outlaw, this ROM hack also explores some of the darker allies of the Pokémon world – like the dire consequences of losing a battle against the wrong person.

Sometimes people offer some money or a TM when they lose a Pokémon battle.

In Korosu, you’ll take their lives.

If you like violent thrillers like Kill Bill, this game won’t let you down.


3. Pokémon Insurgence

Pokémon Insurgence ROM Hack Screenshot

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Game Freak’s stories are always really tame.

Sure, the fate of the world is usually at stake, but, in the end, you know it won’t amount to much.

Pokémon Insurgence offers players a dark and gritty take on the classic Pokémon journey.

Instead of the local Pokémon Professor giving you a starter and your mom kissing you goodbye, you begin your adventure by escaping from a crazy Darkrai-worshipping cult – and that’s only the first of your problems.

Besides the great story, the game shines for exciting additions like Pokémon armor and in-depth character customization.

It also features many scripted challenge modes, like Nuzlocke and Iron Man.


2. Pokémon Adventure: Red Chapter

Pokémon Adventure: Red Chapter ROM Hack

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Developing a hack is hard work. And it’s usually handled by a single person.

Sometimes they just don’t have any working neurons left to write dialogue after weeks of fixing bugs, and the story suffers greatly.

A great way to guarantee your hack will have a good story is to base it off an existing one – and no hack takes this concept as far as Pokémon Adventure Red.

This FireRed ROM hack follows the events of the Japanese Pokémon Adventures manga to a T – including characters, locales, and battles copied straight from its pages.

The game also features different playable characters, customizable outfits, a day/night cycle, and upgraded visuals setting it apart from the original FireRed.


1. Pokémon Phoenix Rising

Pokémon Phoenix Rising Hack Screenshot

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Pokémon is such a unique kind of RPG, people often forget it’s the same genre as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest.

But what if Pokémon embraced its JRPG lineage instead of shying away from it?

Phoenix Rising does just that by dropping you in the middle of a civil war between the Council of the Oracles and a charismatic rebel leader, promising a better future for the Hawthorne region.

Meanwhile, the Legendary Ho-Oh stirs from its deep sleep, and mysterious Relic Pokémon roam the land.

You’ll also unlock different endings depending on your character’s actions, which gives you the perfect excuse to start a second playthrough.

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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.