If you’ve played all of your favourite games to the point of no return or are looking for some familiar classics with a little twist, then take a look at out pick of the 15 best ROM hacks of all time!
For those of you that don’t know, ROM hacks are modified versions of games that you know and love. These hacks often swap around characters, bring in new elements, mix up rooms, and make games much harder.
And they’re great to play if you’re looking for some new adventures that you won’t have found on Nintendo consoles over the years!
From Ninty’s famous bird and bear duo exploring Kokiri forest through to a Pokemon game that fans of the Anime will jump for joy over, we’ve made a list of 15 of the best ROM hacks for players to sink their teeth into.
Experience collaborations that you never thought would work and mashups that you’ve always dreamed right here!
Table of Contents
1. The Legend Of Banjo Kazooie: The Jiggies Of Time
The Legend Of Banjo Kazooie: The Jiggies Of Time takes the top spot in our best ROM hacks of all time article.
If there are two games that I love more than anything, it would be be Ocarina of Time and the original Banjo Kazooie game.
So, I guess there’s no wonder this game has made the top of our list.
Plus, we’re talking about two of the best N64 games of all time joining forces in a brand new adventure, one where Banjo and Kazooie visit fairy fountains and battle Grunty’s minions around Hyrule.
A bomb bag with eyes from Mumbo Jumbo symbolises the perfect ‘RARE’ vibes that this ROM hack encapsulates, and Banjo in the Forest Temple is something you really have to see to believe.
Check out more of our best N64 ROM hacks to see more of your other favourite games reimagined.
2. Pokemon Unbound
Pokemon Unbound topped our list of the best Pokemon ROM hacks list, and we can safely say that out of all the Pokemon games, this provides users with the most customisable adventure to date.
It’s an incredibly ambitious ROM hack but one that has a storyline that never fails to drag you in.
Based on FireRed, players take to the world of Borrius for a brand new adventure with 80 missions to undertake.
Customise your trainer, meet newly created characters, catch Pokemon from seven generations, and collect HMs/TMs in a whole new way!
Read our full review: Pokemon Unbound Review
3. The Legend Of Zelda: Voyager Of Time
Next up in our list of the best ROM hacks is The Legend Of Zelda: Voyager Of Time, an Ocarina hack that took the top spot in our best Zelda ROM hacks article.
If you love Ocarina of much as us, then playing an updated version with more humour and challenging gameplay should make you feel like it’s 1998 all over again.
Remember how the signs used to be straight to the point in the original game? Well, now they’re actually worth reading instead of chopping in half.
The dungeons have all been amended and redesigned, and this ‘Master Version’ of the Ocarina Master Quest features so much more action that you’ll find it hard diving back into the original game afterwards!
If you love Zelda as much as everyone in Retro Dodo Towers does, then you owe it to yourself to give this game a try!
4. Super Mario 64: Last Impact
If Super Mario 64 had received a direct sequel, then it would have undoubtedly been Super Mario 64: Last Impact.
This ROM hack goes beyond simply being a mod of one of our favourite games – it adds to the legacy of one of the greatest Mario games of all time, and the work that Kaze Emanuar has put into it has made it one of the best Super Mario 64 ROM hacks around.
Expect new bosses never before seen in a Mario game and items from other Mario games like FLUDD joining the party.
Collect 130 stars from around the levels and do some Mario Party-esque minigames just to keep the action going!
5. Pokemon Radical Red
If you’re a regular Retro Dodo reader, then you’ll have no doubt checked out our list of the best Pokemon GBA ROM hacks.
Radical Red is a little difficult at times, but it does give you a great challenge that could easily fit into the main Pokemon canon.
The Pokenav is a great new tool in this ROM hack too. Imagine it as like a satellite navigation app, but instead of getting you to your destination, it searches for Pokemon for you!
We all love Pokemon FireRed, and this hack takes all the brilliance of the core game and makes it… well, more radical.
If you do find it a little more tough than previous Pokemon games, then you can always take a look at our list of the best Pokemon Radical Red cheats.
Read our full review: Pokemon Radical Red Review
6. New Super Mario World 2: Around The World
I think it’s time for another Mario title, don’t you?
New Super Mario World 2: Around The World took the top spot in our list of the best Super Mario World ROM hacks, and it’s a chaotic ROM hack that feels a little like boarding a rocket ship into the sun while playing a guitar turned up all the way to 11.
This ROM hack does have some feels of Mario Odyssey about it, as you’re heading into space on this adventure to chase Bowser.
There are 119 different exits on this game, meaning you’ll be playing for a heck of a long time before you get to the end. I would say it’s great value for money, but seen as though it’s free I guess that’s kind of already implied!
7. Super Mario 64: Sonic Edition
Super Mario 64: Sonic Edition is up next in our list of the best ROM hacks of all time!
Sonic and Mario have since called quits on their feud and starting working together on games. Just look at how successful the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic games titles have been.
So, it’s no wonder this hack took the top spot in our list of the best Sonic ROM hacks!
I love playing this game just as much as I love playing the original SM64. I know that’s probably blasphemous to a lot of you, but I’m sticking by it!
Sonic’s super speed makes this adventure feel so much different, and the blue-blur’s trademark humour twinned with homing attacks and spin dashing make for compelling gameplay from start to finish.
Sure, he’s not as good a plumber as Mario, but he certainly holds his own adventuring around Peach’s Castle
8. Super Metroid: Ascent
If you’re looking for one of the best Metroid ROM hacks that adds to the original game, then step right up and give Super Metroid Ascent a try.
The levels on this game are spectacular, and like I’ve said time and time again through this game
It’s no longer than the original Super Metroid game, but it’s one of those games that you’ve got to use your noggin for as there are multiple ways to complete specific problems.
I find a different way to complete a puzzle every time, so it’s gift that keeps on giving!
The rooms are bigger, the puzzles are more mind-boggling, and some map portions close after you leave them, so make sure you’ve got everything before continuing!
9. Mario Adventure
Mario Adventure is an absolute masterpiece, so much so that many people would class it as the unofficial Super Mario Bros 4.
Hey, if that’s not a reason for it to make this list of the best ROM hacks and the best NES ROM hacks, then I don’t know what it!
Brand new levels, changing weather conditions, item storage, and more innovative features than you can shake a 1UP mushroom at, all while managing to capture that iconic Super Mario Bros style that we know and love!
10. TMNT of Rage: The Final Shell Shock
There have been a few Streets of Rage crossover title over the years, but TMNT of Rage: The Final Shell Shock will forever be our favourite!
That’s mainly because it’s an amalgamation of every Turtles brawler, a fact that makes us insanely happy every time we play it.
And there’s something about TMNT that we always associate with old-school arcade halls too, which makes it even more exciting to play.
This brand-new story sees players saving April and fighting Shredder. It’s a concept that we all know, but it’s worked for Mario all of these years, so there’s no real problems there.
And, there are so many nods to the TMNT universe, cartoons, and characters that hardcore fans will soak up like a pizza-shaped sponge.
And if you like the look of this, you could always check out some more of the best Sega ROM hacks of all time too!
11. Pokemon Prism
I think it’s time we had another Pokemon title in this list, don’t you?
We’ve covered Pokemon ROM hacks extensively here at Retro Dodo, and picking out the best Pokemon GBC ROM hacks certainly gave us some nostalgic feels of holding Ninty’s famous pocket-sized colour handheld and playing through Gold and Silver back in the day!
Topping that list of GBC hacks is Pokemon Prism, a title that Nintendo really should consider bringing out as a main game one of these days – we’d flock to buy it in droves!
I think Nintendo knew this, because back in 2016 they banned this ROM hack and tried to eradicate it from the internet. Still, like anything that gets banned, it flourished 10 times faster and can still be found on the internet to play.
Rijon and Naljo are the two areas to play through in this hack, and with 10 original cities, it’s perfect for those of us that have played the main GBC Pokemon offerings to death.
There are also some areas that you have to play as a Pokemon to complete – that’s why Prism makes this best ROM hacks list!
12. Advance Wars R: Advance Wars Returns (2021)
Advance Wars is still one of the best GBA series of all time, with both Advance Wars 1 and 2 being games that we regularly go back to time and time again when we want to test our brain in strategic puzzles and problems.
Still, there’s only so many times that you can replay them without knowing what’s coming next, which is where Advance Wars R: Advance Wars Returns comes into play.
This is without a shadow of a doubt one of the best GBA ROM hacks of all time, with 42 new campaigns, 30 War Room Missions, Advanced Wars By Web multiplayer, and reworked COs to provide even more of a challenge.
In essence, this ROM hack plays and feels like an official expansion to the main game, a tour-de-force of warfare stratagem that never fails to get our brains pumping.
13. Earthbound: Halloween Hack
We’ve not had a lot of talk about the SNES yet in this list of the best ROM hacks, but luckily the Earthbound Halloween Hack is here to change that.
Earthbound has always been one of my favourite Super Nintendo games even without any kind of hack treatment, so when we first clapped eyes on this mod, it immediately made its way to the top of our best SNES ROM hacks list.
I mean, it’s the only game to play on Halloween, brining spooky retro gaming goodness to the fold while we eat snacks and carve out pumpkins.
Imagine Earthbound with a Silent Hill meets GTA theme; it’s odd to think of this game as disturbing, but it definitely leaves you feeling a little creeped out.
It’s funny, odd, and certainly not for the faint of heart. Play on, if you dare!
14. Super Mario: Endless Earth (2019)
Like Pokemon FireRed, New Super Mario Bros has been the core for many of the best Nintendo DS ROM hacks over the years. And one of the reasons why we’re continually still so excited by it is down to the fact that it boasts massive open worlds in 2D.
Essentially, that means the levels are much longer and have a bigger feel to them like the original Metroid game.
And one of the good things for those that played the original to death is that the hacked version of the game feels so much different, to the point where it has more of a Super Mario Galaxy vibe to it.
So much so, that you’re actually helping Rosalina collect star pieces!
Nintendo played it safe with the DS title, but this ROM hack adds some much needed oomph to the formula and makes it a game to remember, complete with an all new storyline and epic cutscenes!
15. Pokemon Ash Gray Version
Let’s finish this list of the best ROM hacks off with another of our favourite Pokemon hacks – Pokemon Ash Gray Version.
If you loved the original Pokemon series, then this game will feel like all of your Christmases have come at once. Play as Ash and, alongside Misty and Brock, play through the entire events of the first series.
And when I say the entire events, I mean it sticks to the plot of every episode incredibly closely. Will you catch all of the Pokemon in the same order that Ash did and have his same team, or will you mix things up and make the team that you always thought he should have had?
This game doesn’t have Pokemon from different generations or any new surprises; it’s purely a homage to the iconic Anime, and we can’t get enough of it!
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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.