Best Pokémon ROM Hacks & Fan Games With No Fakemon

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One of the most controversial elements of Pokémon ROM hacks is Fakemon – fan-made Pokémon that get created in many hacks as a way to differentiate from the vanilla game.

While some people think “the more, the merrier”, a large chunk of the community would rather not have to deal with them.

It’s easy to see why, too.

We often find otherwise fantastic hacks boggled down by unbalanced or ugly Fakemon.

If you get triggered by Fakemon, I’m here to tell you that I care. I understand. Your feelings are valid, and it’s going to be OK.

There are plenty of excellent fan games and ROM hacks that stick to the canonical critters, and we’ll be ranking out some of the best right here.


10. Pokémon Showdown

Pokémon Showdown Game screenshot

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Let’s start with the obvious pick to check out:

Pokémon Showdown is a perfectly crafted fan-made online Pokémon battle simulator for players to compete against other Pokémon Trainers worldwide.

Since it’s based on the current official tournament rules, there’s no room for any Fakemon.

On the other hand, all current Pokémon are available from the start.

That might take away half the fun, but it does make competitive play much more accessible.


9. Pokémon Radical Red

Pokémon Radical Red Gameplay

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Pokémon Radical Red was designed as a difficulty hack, meaning it’ll take more than a bit of patience and skill to clear it.

If you like a challenge, this is a no-brainer.

This hack of Pokémon FireRed includes Pokémon up to Gen 8 – all up to date with the latest stats.

There are even some moves from the Isle of Armor DLC for Pokémon Sword & Shield!

Other than that, you’ll enjoy the all-new Raid Battles, an expanded TM list, and features from more recent Pokémon releases, such as EV Training Gear and Gen 8 Exp Share.


8. Pokémon Orange Islands

Pokémon Orange Islands screenshot

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Playing as Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town has been every kid’s dream since the Pokémon Anime started airing.

And the Pokémon Orange Islands ROM Hack lets you do just that – at least for a little bit.

As its name might suggest, this ROM hack adapts the Pokémon anime’s Orange League arc into a game format with incredible attention to detail.

Every scene is just like the anime – just sprite-based, and with dialogue boxes.

That said, it’s only four gyms long.

But every step is filled with adventure and nostalgia.


7. Pokémon FireRed: Rocket Edition

Pokémon FireRed: Rocket Edition Game

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I’ve always wondered what motivates the rank-and-file members of the various criminal teams we encounter throughout our journey.

Their leaders often have delusions of power or legitimate causes they fight for, but what about the grunts?

This FireRed ROM hack answers that question by letting us experience a darker adventure parallel to Red’s journey to become a Pokémon Master.

You’ll see a new side of characters that seemed good on the outside, and you’ll get an idea of how corrupt the Pokémon world really is.

Of course, you’ll also be able to steal Pokémon from every trainer in the game. Makes sense, right?

And all the Pokémon in here are updated to Gen 6 standards/stats, but only Pokémon already in FireRed were included.


6. Pokémon Liquid Crystal

Pokémon Liquid Crystal Game screenshot

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Pokémon Liquid Crystal presents the classic GBC Pokémon Crystal story updated to GBA Gen 3 graphics.

Many of us came into the franchise with Gen 2, and many still claim Gen 3 has the best graphic style in the history of Pokémon.

This hack gives you the best of both worlds and makes revisiting Crystal just a little more bearable for my pampered modern gamer self.

Other than the updated graphics and soundtrack, you’ll also find new features like real Season-based weather effects, underground exploration, and a whole new Orange Islands scenario – all with just the 251 Pokémon initially present in Gen 2.


5. Pokémon Perfect Crystal

Pokémon Perfect Crystal Gameplay

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If you really want to keep things simple and accurate to the original games, Pokémon Perfect Crystal is an even better option to try out.

The original Pokémon Crystal is excellent, no doubt about that.

But many features were locked behind regional events and multiplayer activities that are hard to re-create over 20 years later.

This ROM hack solves many of these issues as non-intrusively as possible.

With it, you’ll be able to buy anything from Mystery Gift directly in-game.

You’ll also be able to catch or evolve all 251 Pokémon – including event-locked ones like Celebi and those that need trading to grow.

It also restores many previously censored sprites, giving you a more authentic experience.

This is the definitive Pokémon Crystal.


4. Pokémon TPP Red Anniversary

Pokémon TPP Red Anniversary Game screenshot

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Much like the previous ROM hack above, a similar concept can be seen in Pokémon TPP Red Anniversary – a ROM hack explicitly made for streaming.

This hack originated as part of the Twitch Plays Pokémon channel, so it includes a couple of direct references – but for the most part, its functions as a perfected version of Pokémon Red.

It makes all 151 Pokémon in Gen 1 obtainable in a single run, no trading.

Where the original 151 Pokémon are concerned, every other generation might as well be Fakemon.

In other words, it doesn’t get any more authentic than this.

Thanks to reworked enemy trainer teams, the game should also provide a little extra challenge, making it an all-around great way to revisit this classic game.


3. Pokémon Fire Ash

Pokémon Fire Ash Gameplay Gameplay

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Like Pokémon Orange Islands, Pokémon Fire Ash lets us play as Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town and relive his anime adventures.

But it’s not just a couple of episodes or a short season.

Pokémon Fire Ash will take you from Kanto all the way to Alola.

You’ll get to meet his iconic travel companions, fight his rivals, and make his Pokémon team your own over hundreds of hours of gameplay.

This enormous adventure includes well over 50 gyms to tackle – in addition to non-gym boss fights – and 800+ Pokémon to catch for your ultimate team.

If you really need something to keep you busy for a while, give this a try. You won’t be disappointed.


2. Pokémon Unbound

Pokémon Unbound Game screenshot

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Not wanting any Fakemon doesn’t mean you don’t need critter variety.

We all like a good mix of Game Freak-designed Pokémon right?

Pokémon Unbound offers you every Pokémon released until Gen 7 – complete with updated movesets and Mega Evolutions.

In addition, this FireRed ROM Hack offers plenty of Quality-of-Life enhancements like infinite inventory space, HMs that work directly from the bag, and even the DexNav app.

There’s character customization, daily events, and fun new mini-games too.

I really don’t have the space to list everything you’ll get Pokémon Unbound, but check out the main page (linked above) for more detailed info.

Then you can stop reading and go play!


1. Pokémon Revolution Online

Pokémon Revolution Online Gameplay

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Like many things in life, most games are better when shared with other people.

So if you want a fresh new Pokémon experience without Fakemon, a massive online Pokémon game is the way to go.

Pokémon Revolution Online is my pick for the best free-to-play Pokémon MMO.

It’s a great place to meet gamers with similar interests, join a guild (or form your own), and explore several canonical regions from the Pokémon world.

These regions include Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh.

It’s not all about catching Pokémon, either.

There are many fun mini-games to play with others, and varied activities for a change of pace after you’re done training your critters for the day.

If you can get into the MMO vibe then absolutely check this one out.

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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.