It’s time to take a trip down memory lane – albeit one that will take some unexpected turns – as we check out the best Pokemon Crystal ROM hacks!
Pokemon Crystal – which built on the solid foundations of Pokemon Gold and Silver – completed the second generation of Pokemon games (and while you’re here, why not check out our list of the best Pokemon Crystal cheats?).
Generation two remains one of the strongest and most unusual generations in the entire mainline series of Pokemon games, thanks to mechanics such as the use of an internal clock (which affects what Pokemon are available at different days and times) and the introduction of the Pokegear and Pokemon breeding.
Given that Pokemon Crystal is such a beloved entry in the overall series (check out where it appears on our list of the best Game Boy Color Pokemon games!), it’s naturally ripe for clever developers to create ROM hacks of the game.
There’s plenty of Pokemon Crystal ROM hacks available, but which are the best?
Let’s find out, as we check out the best Pokemon Crystal ROM hacks!
5. Pokemon Orange
The Orange Islands are a chain of islands that don’t actually appear in any Pokemon game; instead, they only feature in the Pokemon anime series.
Well, that is unless you don’t know about the Pokemon Crystal hack, Pokemon Orange!
That’s right: Pokemon Orange, by Pia Carrot, gives Trainers the opportunity to finally play through a campaign set in a beloved, well-known archipelago that doesn’t officially feature in any Pokemon game.
The anime-based story and setting isn’t the only thing that’s unique about Pokemon Orange, however.
There’s base stats for Pokemon, derived from Gen 7 updates; OI and Alolan variants of Pokemon and Reusable TMs too.
Lots of other features have been added in to make this a complete, well rounded experience.
Given the lovely, tropical climate and entirely new game setting, it’s great to finally have the opportunity to visit the Orange Islands – so this Pokemon Crystal ROM hack easily makes it to the top 5 of the Retro Dodo best Pokemon Crystal ROM hacks list!
4. Pokemon Crystal Kaizo
Imagine having a ROM hack that’s so well received that it receives a sequel – well, that’s just what happened with a first generation Pokemon hack: Pokemon Blue Kaizo.
Pokemon Crystal Kaizo is that very sequel – and amongst other features, has a secret Pokemon (albeit just the one from the 252 on offer), the removal of the need to trade certain Pokemon for them to be evolved and even an item called The Odd Egg – which guarantees a Shiny Pokemon!
Evolution Stones can be purchased – and all Eevee forms can be accessed using these stones too.
Oh – and we must also warn you that the difficulty has been dialled up too, making Pokemon Crystal Kaizo quite a stiff challenge. Revives can’t even be used in battle here, so tread very, very carefully!
3. Pokemon Crystal Clear
The dream of an open world Pokemon adventure was one that players had been harbouring for many years – only recently did it come to fruition in the main Pokemon games.
Yet the open world Pokemon dream was realised earlier than that – in an unofficial way of course!
Pokemon Crystal Clear removes railroads and the majority of the obstacles in the game to make the entire world free to explore.
Gym leaders can be tackled and badges collected in any order, with scaled difficulty depending on the Trainer’s level when they arrive.
Trainers can now be hugely customised; gender and skin tone options, along with Trainer classes and clothing colour choices, can be chosen at the start of the game too.
There’s also no rivalry and no villainous organisation to face off against, which truly makes the game feel open, non-linear and much more fun to explore!
It’s a hugely impressive hack; despite being such an ambitious undertaking – there’s many more improvements and additions than I’ve been able to cover here – it all works brilliantly.
It makes you wonder why it took the official series decades to shift to open world; if a ROM hacker could accomplish this, why couldn’t the official developers?
2. Pokemon Prism
Untethered from the need to fit within existing rules or the balancing of an ever expanding Pokedex, ROM hacks can go as wild and crazy as they want with Pokemon.
Which is what Pokemon Prism – by Coolboyman – does, adding the eclectic selection of Wood, Gas, Wind, Abnormal, and Sound types of Pokemon to those already on offer.
Not only that, but Pokemon Prism does this by taking players on an adventure to the entirely new region of Naljo – and even adds in five new Legendary Pokemon too!
Also: despite Sylveon debuting in generation six (Pokemon X & Y), you’ll also be able to evolve your Eevee into Sylveon in Pokemon Prism too!
There’s side scrolling areas, new mini games and a new clock system – the main quest in Pokemon Prism even feels like a full, new experience, given that you’re tasked with collecting eight new badges in the Naljo region!
All in all, Pokemon Prism is undoubtedly one of the best Pokemon Crystal ROM hacks – and is great for players who want an entirely different, fully featured game using Pokemon Crystal as its basis.
1. Pokemon Polished Crystal
The underlying thought process behind Pokemon Polished Crystal seems to be: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
After all, Pokemon Crystal is one of the best Pokemon games of all time to this day.
So what Pokemon Polished Crystal does is – as the name implies – adds refinements just to make the game sparkle even more.
For one thing, the entire Pokedex of 253 creatures (oh how huge that sounded back in the day – now we’re creeping up to 1000 Pokemon in the overall Pokedex!) can be caught in just one game, which is an excellent improvement.
However, it doesn’t stop there – far from it.
The list of improvements is huge – lots of bug fixes, refined battle mechanics, improved overworld mechanics (including the option to always use the running shoes), better town maps, locations restored from Heart Gold and Soul Silver…and many, many more. Far too many to list here, in fact!
This hack is an absolute labour of love that doesn’t drastically alter Pokemon Crystal, but makes it into perhaps the most refined and satisfying of the early Pokemon games.
It just goes to show that ROM hacks don’t have to entirely transform an experience – but they can make a game much better; even an already beloved one!
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Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.