Get ready to experience all your favourite NES games like never before as we check out the 10 best NES ROM hacks of the year!
What is a ROM hack? I guess that’s the main question we need to answer before we go ahead.
A ROM hack is a modified version of of a downloadable ROM with a whole heap of differences.
From language changes and extra levels to whole new characters, weapons, and more, ROM hacks take our favourite games and give them a whole new lease of life… and make them 100% more difficult.
From musical cameos to entirely new epic quests, these best NES Rom hacks will draw you in and grab hold of you like the Hulk on a hugging spree.
PLEASE READ – This article is for informative purposes only. Retro Dodo does not condone illegal downloading or uploading of uncopyrighted materials and will not accept liability for any copyright infringements or other shady stuff you might try and get us into. Behave yourselves, alright?
Table of Contents
10. The Beatles Adventures in Pepperland
First up on our list of the best NES ROM hacks of all time is The Beatles Adventures in Pepperland, a cracking ROM Hack of Super Mario Bros 2.
I know we’ve had Micheal Jackson appearing in a video game, but I bet you never thought you’d ever see the Beatles heading through a side-scrolling NES game, did you?
This exciting mod from hacker Nes Draug reinvents SMB2 and transforms it into a Beatles big screen epic.
That’s right; the Mushroom Kingdom has given way to a Yellow Submarine, with John, Paul, George, and Ringo taking the place of Mazza and the gang.
The gameplay style is essentially the same, though any item can be carried from room to room and attacking cops with dogs…
… I can’t ever remember seeing Paul doing that, but I guess this is a ROM hack, after all!
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
If seeing John Lennon on a NES game made you feel a little confused, then seeing the First Avenger on one will certainly get your juices flowing.
We’ve all heard of Power Blade & Power Blade 2 even if you haven’t played them. They’re odd but exciting games following a boomerang wielding special agent, and now this hack swaps in Captain America and follows the storyline from the Winter Soldier film.
Why use a boomerang when you can use a Vibranium shield anyway?
Don’t be under any illusions though; this game is incredibly tough and Captain America feels more like Toad compared to his usual hard-as-nails self.
Still, persevere with it and see how far you can get. It’s a really great game and a clever reimagining of the original title.
Next up in our best NES ROM Hacks list is a title that sees Princess Peach herself taking centre stage.
Royal Flush: Princess Sidestory is an SMB3 ROM Hack with a difference. Well, there are actually a lot of differences; it’s essentially a new game!
We’re talking new levels, a new world, and a new theme. Peach is making her way across a cursed board game… pretty much like whenever she plays Mario Party then?
Don’t fear; Daisy isn’t getting her nose shoved out of this one. She replaces Luigi in Royal Flush, and both princesses have a whole host of items at their disposal including bomb flowers and mushrooms that make you really high…
… jumping high, that is, not the same kind of high that the Beatles might have experienced…
7. Super Smash Bros
Super Smash Bros. on a NES? What’s going on here!
Don’t get too excited; it’s not going to replace Super Smash Bros Ultimate in your life, but it is a cracking ROM hack that is sure to make you smile.
So what’s this game at the core then?
Well. it’s actually a hack Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu or Nekketsu Fighting Legend. The four in-game fighters have been replaced with 4 classic fighters from the N64 game – Kirby, Mario, Pikachu, and Jigglypuff.
If you want to do a bit of classic NIntendo fighting on the NES, then this is the hack for you. Sure, it has its weak spots, but it’s a great novelty and one you should certainly check out!
6. Batman: Assasin’s Creed
This Batman: Assasin’s Creed mod takes the 6th spot in our list of the best NES ROM hacks.
Batman looked a bit weird in this game… I think we can all agree. A load of dark and moody levels with a purple crusader at the front… it just didn’t feel right.
Now, however, players can play through this epic game using an 8-bit version of Ezio from AC II game.
It instantly adds a much cooler vibe to the classic adventure, even if Ezio is holding an invisible gun that fires very real bullets that seem to fly out of thin air.
In a way, Ezio reminds me a little of One of the Belmonts, giving this game more of a Castlevania feel, which is never a bad thing!
5. Castlevania: Chorus of Mysteries
Speaking of Castlevania, this ROM hack of the original game adds so many new features that its practically a new game.
We’re talking new maps new weapons, new music, and even new boss fights and enemies to tackle on route.
Basically, if you wished that there were more games that came out around the same time, then you’ll feel like its Christmas Day when you play Chorus of Mysteries.
Instead of Simon or Richter, players control a guy called Armund. Dracula’s done a runner too, with Count Orlox taking up post as the resident antagonist.
Chorus of Mysteries is well made, a great play, and has some clever features that I’m sure you’ll love.
4. Extra Mario Bros
What’s the one way to make Super Mario Bros better? How about mixing it with Metroid?
Yeah… that would do it I reckon!
So what’s the score here?
Well, the game now has new Metroid inspired maps and levels, as well as a new boss to tackle. Mazza moves through Samus’s pipes which look mysteriously like Warp Pipes now, and with new powerups to try out too there’s plenty for you to sink your teeth into.
Get a load of the new music, fight Giga Bowser, and experience what Mario feels like with a MetroidVania touch…
… would that be MarioidVania?
3. Mega Man in the Mushroom Kingdom
Mega Man in the Mushroom Kingdom takes the bronze medal in this list of the best NES games of all time!
Bowser can be defeated without Mario’s help you know… In fact, it’s probably much easier using Mega Man’s skills and abilities!
This hack combines everything we know and love from these two classic series. If you’ve played any of the Mega Man games, you’ll know all about Dr Willy. Well, he’s actually called in help to defeat his pesky nemesis Mega Man this time…
… you guessed it – Bowser.
King Koopa & Dr Willy are teaming up to create havoc in Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom, but MM isn’t going to let that happen. Play through new level designs and experience new graphics that give the Mario Franchise a futuristic boost.
2. The Legend Of Zelda: Outlands
Number 2 in our list of the best NES ROM hacks need no real introduction. What it does need is a difficulty warning… man is this game tough to crack.
If you think you know The Legend of Zelda, then think again. This reimagined version of the original Legend of Zelda game gives the old title a brand new spark via new maps, new dungeons… basically new everything!
This is a well put together hack with elements that look like they could have dropped straight out of Ninty HQ.
Still, I meant what I said earlier; it’s super hard to play. Tears will flow, though whether that’s through happiness or frustration is yet to be determined.
1. Mario Adventure
Mario Adventure os the best NES ROM hack ever made. It’s more than just a hack; it’s a masterpiece.
You know how Super Mario 64: Last Impact, one of the best Super Mario 64 ROM hacks, is considered a spiritual successor to SM64? Well, Mario Adventure is what many would class as Super Mario Bros 4.
This ROM changes the game engine itself, not just adds extra elements in to an already amazing title.
We’re talking new levels, enhanced abilities, music, new power ups, innovative features – additional things that would never even have occurred to Nintendo back in the NES days.
There’s also changing weather conditions, a power-up storage system like the Mario Party item system, and much, much more.
This game really is a work of genius and needs to be in your life. Give it a go and let us know your thoughts!
This article may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to purchase an item we may earn a commission. Thank you for your support.
Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 33 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.