Pokémon ROM Hacks With No HMs: The Ultimate Collection

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Hidden Machines (or Hidden Moves) are something we’re all familiar with by now.

They’re special moves Pokémon learn and use outside of battle to help us progress in each game’s story

The problem with these moves is that they’re mostly useless inside of battle – and for some diabolical reason, in most games they can’t be forgotten or replaced with better moves.

Pokémon hacks have explored countless avenues to differentiate from the competition, and appeal to different segments of the Pokémon fanbase – but if there’s one thing everyone can appreciate, it’s removing the need for HM slaves in your party.

So let’s take a look at some genius Pokemon ROM hacks that do away with all HMs.


10. Pokémon Emerald Final

Pokémon Emerald Final Game ROM Hack screenshot

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The issue with HMs is not so much having to teach them, but more about how long a Pokémon remembers them.

Hidden Machines can’t be forgotten. That means once you teach it to a Pokémon, that critter has one less slot for a more powerful move.

Pokémon Emerald Final is a hack that fixes this the simplest way possible:

Players can replace their HM moves with TMs, or with moves learned by level up.

By also making TMs reusable, this makes it easy to just learn Surf, Cut, Strength, or Rock Smash for a specific route or puzzle, then go back to your last move – as long as you own the TM.


9. Pokémon Crystal Clear

Pokémon Crystal Clear Hack Gameplay

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Another way to avoid carrying an HM slave around is by removing those obstacles in the first place.

Pokémon Crystal Clear is an open-world ROM hack, meaning there are no barriers to reaching any of the game’s major cities.

You can beat all 16 gyms in whatever order you choose, starting from any town – all without a single HM move.

It’s an interesting project, and you can keep up to date with more updates on Crystal Clear via the creator’s discord.


8. Pokémon Insurgence

Pokémon Insurgence screenshot

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For a long while, we thought of HMs as a necessary evil.

They’re annoying, but they add some difficulty to exploration and force you to make tough decisions, which is what RPGs are all about.

Still, some games are hard enough without extra obstacles.

Pokémon Insurgence is a fantastic fan game offering trainers a chance to prove themselves against its brutal difficulty.

Among other things, it places a level cap on your Pokémon, forcing you to strategize and use items cleverly to prevail.

To give you a fighting chance, it also completely removes the need for Hidden Machines.

No HMs means no HM slave, letting you focus on crafting a perfect six-man team.


7. Pokémon Ruby++

Pokémon Ruby++ Romhack Gameplay

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I love enhancement hacks that keep things simple, like Pokémon Ruby++.

The creator’s objective was to create a polished version of Pokémon Ruby by adding the Physical/Special/Status split, updating all typing, movesets, and new abilities to match Gen 7 – and introducing reusable TMs.

It even makes an IV/EV checker available by pressing select.

And let’s be honest: it makes no sense to still saddle players with any HM slave for these older gen games.

As such, this hack replaces HM moves with items.

There are still obstacles, but they won’t mess with your team.


6. Pokémon Altered Emerald

Pokémon Altered Emerald Game screenshot

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The idea of needing your Pokémon to learn special moves so you can traverse the wilds isn’t a terrible idea on its own – but did we really need 6-8 moves like this?

I mean, I’d need at least two HM slaves if I wanted to have them all on me at all times.

Pokémon Altered Emerald improves the situation by letting any Pokémon with Nature Power perform any of these actions outside of combat.

That’s one move instead of eight.

This game also features over 386 Pokémon, new maps, and most importantly: new moves.

If you want a game with specialized Pokémon and a lot of meta diversity, check this out.


5. Pokémon Adventures Red Chapter

Pokémon Adventures Red Chapter Gameplay

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Letting Pokémon forget HMs to replace them after use is fine.

But it’s awfully inefficient.

Pokémon Adventures Red Chapter polishes the idea by letting you use HMs directly from your bag, as long as you have a Pokémon that can learn that move.

This way, there are still obstacles for your Pokémon to clear, but you don’t have to worry about crippling their potential by teaching them a bad move they can’t forget.

And this FireRed ROM hack follows the Pokémon Adventures manga closely.

It’s pretty long, and will take you on a journey from Kanto to Alola, including some rather unique regions like Orre from Pokémon Colosseum.


4. Pokémon Unbound

Pokémon Unbound ROM Hack Game screenshot

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Next up, we have a game well known for its ambitious features and great difficulty.

Pokémon Unbound is a FireRed hack meant to take the game to its maximum potential by introducing all 807 Pokémon up to Gen 7 – and many useful features like DexNav, indoor running, infinite inventory space, and even Mega Evolution.

Much like our previous entry in this list, Pokémon Unbound does away with the need for HM slaves by letting your Pokémon use the move straight from your inventory – no taking up extra move slots.

There’s also the Battle Frontier here too, which works a bit like a mobile game in that it offers daily log-in rewards, periodic events, and raid battles.


3. Pokémon Zeta & Omicron

Pokémon Zeta & Omicron Gameplay

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If you’re in the mood for an all-new experience rather than a rehash of your favorite Game Boy game, consider Pokémon Zeta & Omicron – a fan game with an excellent story and lots of new features.

Similar to Pokémon Ruby++, Zeta & Omicron replace HMs with tools – like Rocket Boots for flight or a Boat in place of Surf.

This lets you free to focus on stopping Team Asgard & Team Olympus from using divine Pokémon to become gods.

You know, the classic JRPG stuff.

There are 649 Pokémon to capture here, including everything up to Gen 5, plus some X&Y Pokémon and even Shadow Pokémon as seen in Pokémon Colosseum.


2. Pokémon Ash Gray

Pokémon Ash Gray Romhack screenshot

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Pokémon Ash Gray was one of the first proponents of the idea of replacing HMs with tools.

This game focuses on Ash Ketchum’s adventure from Pallet Town, all the way up to the Orange League – and HMs were nowhere to be seen in the Pokémon anime.

In fact, there are extremely few instances of an HM move being used by any Pokémon in the series.

So instead of HMs, you’ll get a Hatchet, a Raft, a Pickaxe, a Climb Kit, a Teleport System, and whatever a “Whirlpuller” is supposed to be.


1. Pokémon Solar Light & Lunar Dark

Pokémon Solar Light & Lunar Dark Screenshot

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By far, my favorite solution to the HM dilemma comes from Pokémon Solar Light & Lunar Dark – a fan game featuring a grand adventure with 386 all-new Fakemon of the highest quality.

Taking place in the region of Rikoto, this game follows the classic Pokémon progression of winning eight gym badges, then challenging the Elite IV after foiling the plans of an evil shadowy group (in this case it’s Team Solar & Lunar).

In this game, Hidden Machines still exist and can be taught to Pokémon to clear obstacles – but as you advance through the campaign, you’ll get chances to pick up tools like Clippers or a Surfboard that replace these essential moves.

This adds an interesting form of progression – and a way to polish your team as you approach the higher-level battles.

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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.