It’s time to stock up on Pokeballs and head out into the great unknown, as we check out the best Pokemon FireRed ROM hacks!
Bringing the very first Pokemon games – Pokemon Red and Blue, which released on the monochrome Game Boy in 1996 – into full colour and with numerous gameplay and quality of life improvements, Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen remain hugely popular entries in the series.
That’s despite the fact that Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen are now themselves nearly 20 years old, having released on the Game Boy Advance back in 2004!
Their enduring popularity has made the games prime fodder for enterprising, inventive coders who’ve found ways to transform and improve the experience of the base games, sometimes in very surprising ways.
There’s quite a few Pokemon FireRed ROM hacks out there in the wild – but which are the best?
Let’s find out, as we check out the best Pokemon FireRed ROM hacks!
5. Pokemon Liquid Crystal
Though most ROM hacks build on the game they’re derived from to offer a new, but familiar experience to players of that specific game, Pokemon Liquid Crystal does something a bit different to that style of evolutionary hack.
Instead of building a new storyline and setting for Pokemon FireRed, Pokemon Liquid Crystal uses the style of Pokemon FireRed to remake the beloved second generation game Pokemon Crystal!
Included are a day/night system, the Johto and Kanto regions, updated visuals and maps, an evolved Viridian Trainer House, a remastered soundtrack, updated battle mechanics and even real weather conditions and effects!
As with most ROM hacks, Pokemon Liquid Crystal is a real labour of love. And it’s a hugely popular hack of a Pokemon generation that doesn’t get enough attention in the humble opinion of us long term Pokemaniacs at Retro Dodo Towers.
You can also check out our thoughts on more direct ROM hacks of Pokemon Crystal in our best Pokemon Crystal ROM hacks article!
4. Pokemon Cloud White
This ROM hack features more than 540 Pokemon, from generations 1 to 6 – and all of them are available to catch.
They have new moves and abilities – and there’s also a Pokemon Black/White repel system!
Additionally, Pokemon Cloud White features a new storyline and several new regions, including Johto, Mangan and Azur.
In terms of aesthetic upgrades, there’s improved visuals and new battle backgrounds too.
A Pokemon Black 2/White 2-style World Tournament is also included.
As well as Mega Evolutions being a feature, there’s an awful lot more besides. And the difficulty level has been ramped up, so it’s perfect for trainers who are looking for a challenge as well as a unique Pokemon adventure!
Looking for more Black/White style hacks? Check out our best Pokemon Nintendo DS ROM hacks list!
3. Pokemon Shiny Gold Sigma
Using Pokemon FireRed as its base, this ROM hack remakes the second generation game, Pokemon Gold.
As is the case with many ROM hacks, Pokemon from numerous other generations appear – with Pokemon Shiny Gold Sigma featuring Pokemon from the 1st to 7th generations!
Impressively, it features more than 850 Pokemon – including Alolan forms.
That’s not all though – far from it.
Pokemon Shiny Gold Sigma also overhauls the visuals with new sprites and improved graphics, as well as having remastered and enhanced sound.
Events from the anime now occur in-game, as well as new rivals mirroring those that appear in the Pokemon manga!
There’s even plenty of additions and improvements that bring features from as far ahead as Pokemon Black and White into this particular hack.
There’s plenty more additions too; this is a pretty comprehensive ROM hack that deserves its place in the top three of the best Pokemon FireRed ROM hacks list!
2. Pokemon Gaia
When considering the very best Pokemon FireRed ROM hacks, we have to look at just how much a hack brings to the experience. Pokemon Gaia is a hack that adds an absolutely bewildering number of features to the usual FireRed shenanigans.
For one thing, it’s set in an entirely new region – Orbtus – and features a completely different storyline.
There are Pokemon featured from a huge number of regions (Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, Unova and Kalos) and games, with more modern movesets, items and abilities – taken all the way up to Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire – also added in to the game.
Visuals – including trainer and Pokemon sprites as well as animation – have been updated and improved; there’s also entirely new music too!
Bug-catching contests, an EXP capture system, in-battle Mega Evolutions and even underwater maps feature in Pokemon Gaia.
There’s so much more too; this is a completely well-rounded experience that feels like an almost entirely new game, especially as you can climb walls and even explore underwater.
Pokemon Gaia almost made it to the very top of our best Pokemon FireRed ROM hacks list – and it even made it to our best GBA Pokemon ROM hacks list – but there was one more title that absolutely blew us away here at Retro Dodo Towers, as you’ll soon see!
1. Pokemon Ash Gray
It’s important to realise that, back in the late 90s, some Pokemon fans weren’t necessarily familiar with the Game Boy games at first.
In fact, many fans will have been hooked on the franchise thanks to the brilliant Pokemon cartoon, the story of which took a pretty different path to the game, at least initially (for more on this, check out our feature on The Evolution of Pokemon).
Though Pokemon Yellow rectified this a bit, with your in-game character being able to choose Pikachu as a starter – and having the electric mouse Pokemon follow you around on screen, in a manner that made it feel closer to the animated show – it still didn’t bring things properly into line with the events of the anime.
Which is something that Pokemon Ash Gray deals with very cleverly.
Pure Gold For Fans Of The Anime Series
Pokemon Ash Gray storyline impressively adapts the first 50 (yes, 50!) episodes of the anime, featuring 116 events that occurred in the show, as well as two events from the Pokemon movies.
Despite closely following the events of the anime, there’s still the opportunity to catch Pokemon that Ash doesn’t actually manage to snag in the show – one example is the Spearow that our heroes are attacked by in the very first episode.
Though Ash didn’t catch that Pokemon, you can in Pokemon Ash Gray!
There are also events from ‘lost’ episodes of the show – which for various reasons weren’t shown outside of Japan – such as Beauty and the Beach, the Legend of Dratini and Electric Soldier Porygon, the latter of which is infamous for having caused hundreds of Japanese children to have potentially dangerous seizures upon its one and only transmission to date.
So Pokemon Ash Gray isn’t just a nostalgic trip through the anime in game form; it’s also a pretty great historical record of the entire first season of the show, with events that will be new to many players despite being featured in recorded (but unseen) episodes!
It’s all very impressive – and that’s exactly why we’ve chosen Pokemon Ash Gray as our number one on the list of the best Pokemon FireRed ROM hacks list!
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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.