If you’ve always imagined Streets of Rage with a tonne of different characters or Sonic in alternate settings, then you’ll love the 10 best Sega ROM hacks of the year!
We’ve scoured the internet to find the best examples of ROM hacking around, delving into the minds of the retro gaming community to find you quirky and exciting versions of your classic games.
It’s ROM hacks like the games below that not only keep us entertained, but keep the achievements of the developers of yesteryear alive for newer generations.
We’re doing this for the children… won’t somebody think of the children?
I’m gonna go right ahead and crack on with our list. But first, just cast your eyes over the disclaimer below …
PLEASE READ – This article on the best Sega ROM hacks is for informative purposes only. Retro Dodo does not condone illegal downloading or uploading of copyrighted materials and will not accept liability for any copyright infringements or other shady stuff you might try and get us into. We see everything, so behave yourselves, alright?
Table of Contents
10. Streets of Rage 2: Diglett Edition
Who’s the hardest Pokemon you know? Machamp? Mewtwo?
No, it’s Diglett hands down every time… if he had hands. That’s why he’s kickstarting this list of the best Sega ROM hacks.
This ROM hack is so bizarre you can’t help but laugh at it. Honestly, there’s nothing as equally cute and terrifying as seeing an angry Diglett coming towards you holding a pipe with seemingly nothing but his mind powers.
This mod simply removes SoR character Max and puts our ground-dwelling friend in his place. Seeing a Nintendo character in such an old title is so weird, but we love it.
Those goons don’t stand a chance now!
9. Sonic 2 XL
How fast is Sonic the Hedgehog? He’s pretty quick, right? Quick enough not to ever have to worry about putting on weight, surely?
Well, in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 XL, all of the rings have been replaced by onion rings. And the more Sonic collects, the fatter he gets.
That’s a twist you never expected, isn’t it!
Luckily, running helps him shed the pounds, as does passing through social boxes… where I assume he shares his snacks around.
Eat too many rings and you die of over indulgence. It adds a whole new dynamic to a game that we know so well, giving it a different edge and making it a lot trickier…
… and also slow sonic is really weird to see!
8. Luigi In Sonic The Hedgehog 1
Luigi in Sonic the Hedgehog 1 takes the 8th spot in this list of the best Sega ROM hacks.
I know Sonic featuring in Luigi and Mario’s world made our list of the best N64 ROM hacks, but seeing Luigi running around Sonic’s turf never, ever gets old.
I have no idea what possessed Luigi to warp to the Green Hill zone in the first place… maybe he finally got sick of all Toad’s crap and decided to hot-foot it outta the Mushroom Kingdom.
This hack doesn’t change the gameplay, but seeing a crossover as incredible this for the first time made our minds explode like Krakatoa.
And let’s face it; Robotnik doesn’t stand a chance against Luigi. It’s gonna’ be a blood bath.
7. Street Fighter II – Bloody Edition
Speaking of a bloodbath, that’s exactly what’s happening in this next SEGA ROM hack.
We all love Street Fighter II, but compared to Mortal Kombat, it looks a little… tame.
Now, with this Bloody Edition Hack, players can finally feel ever kick, punch, and throw a little more thanks to the addition of blood splatters from the characters.
What else is new?
Well, different attacks have different speeds, with strong attacks flying like bullets. Stronger attacks also hit a lot harder and there’s no reloading time.
All that… and the blood. As Terry Pratchett once said, ‘the very oldest stories are, sooner or later, about blood.’
6. Streets of Rage 2: Robotnik Wars
It’s time for another Streets of Rage ROM hack… and you know it’s not going to be the last.
Still, with a game as good as this as a starting point, there’s no wonder so many retro gaming fans have tried to reimagine it.
This ROM sees all of the goons that try to give you a beatdown replaced with Robotnik’s henchmen.
Play as Tails, Sonic, Amy, and Shadow as you move through recognisable levels with a whole new feel.
It’s weird seeing Tails brandishing a metal pipe and laying the smackdown… he’s much cooler this way!
5. Streets Of Rage 2: Street Fighter Edition
Oh look… another SoR 2 mod… who expected that?
To be fair, this is totally one of my favourites. Swapping out the original characters for Zangief, Balrog, M.Bison and Cammy just makes total sense – it’s the ultimate mash up that combines two of the best games from the era.
Gameplay is the same as always, but seeing these Street Fighter behemoths taking centre stage on the Streets of Rage never fails to give me goosebumps.
Honestly, this one is a stroke of pure genius.
4. Sonic Smackdown
Let’s continue the trend of Sega characters laying the smackdown in Sonic Smackdown, the next title on our best Sega ROM hacks list!
When Sonic finally hit the world of Super Smash Bros it changed everything. Sure we had the crossover with the Olympic Games before it, but Smash Bros sealed the deal.
And I seems that Sonic got a taste for beatdowns and decided to hold his own fights, Tekken-style.
This ROM hack is essentially Street Fighter with Sonic Characters…. which is all you need to give me to grab my attention.
Play as Sonic and 11 other characters from the world of Mobius as you take on the Smash Life, button mashing your way to victory as well as pulling off gnarly combos.
Do you think Amy can use Yoga Fire?
3. Ultimate Mortal Kombat Trilogy
The Ultimate Kombat Trilogy takes the bronze medal in our list of the best Sega ROM hacks.
What could be better than a version of Mortal Kombat 3 with all of the characters from MK1, 2, and 3.
How about adding Sheeva into the mix too and some new levels and moves?
Yeah that should do it!
Take advantage of brand new finishers and improved audio too. Wow… this really is the ultimate version!
2. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Complete
If there’s one Sonic mod that makes everything 100 times easier, its this complete version of Sonic 3 with Sonic and Knuckles built in.
That’s two of the best Sega Genesis games in one!
Some of you might be wondering why this is such a big deal, but let me explain.
Both cartridges used to have to be put together in some sort of Sega MegaZord style fusion. Now, players can just load this mod up and take advantage of the the complete version without any faffing around.
The gameplay is much slicker now too, as are the graphics thanks to some neat tinkering in this ROM hack.
It’s a cracking modification, but there’s one that leaves us utterly ‘shell shocked’ every time we see it.
1. TMNT of Rage: The Final Shell Shock
TMNT of Rage: The Final Shell Shock is the best Sega ROM hack of all time!
Listen, there have been a few TMNT/Streets of Rage crossovers, but this amalgamation of all of the previous titles, ‘The Final Shell Shock’ makes the ultimate version out of them all.
All the cast, both the protagonists and antagonists, have been replaced by characters form the TMNT universe.
Save April, fight Shredder, and bash baddies Turtles-style in this brand new story.
This new adventure is incredibly detailed and well-thought out with lots of little nuances that Turtles fans will lap up.
I mean, there’s never too may pizza references that you can get in a game, right?
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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.