5 Best Pokemon Crystal ROM Hacks of 2023

5 Best Pokemon Crystal ROM Hacks of 2023

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 foundation 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 main series of Pokémon games, thanks to mechanics such as the use of an internal clock (which affects what Pokémon are available on different days and times) and the introduction of Pokegear and Pokémon 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 are plenty of Pokemon Crystal ROM hacks available, but which ones are the best?

Let’s find out, as we check out the best Pokemon Crystal ROM hacks!

5. Pokemon Orange

Pokemon Orange - Best Pokemon Crystal ROM Hack

The Orange Islands are a chain of islands that do not actually appear in any Pokémon game; instead, they only feature in the Pokémon 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 chance to finally play through a campaign set in a beloved, well-known archipelago that isn’t officially featured in any Pokemon game.

However, the anime-based story and setting aren’t the only thing unique about Pokemon Orange.

There are base stats for Pokemon, taken from Gen 7 updates; OI and Alolan variants of Pokemon and reusable TMs too.

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Many other features have been added to make this a complete, well-rounded experience.

Given the gorgeous tropical climate and brand new game setting, it’s great to finally get the chance to visit the Orange Islands – so this Pokemon Crystal ROM hack easily makes it to the top 5 on Retro Dodo’s best Pokemon Crystal ROM hack list!

4. Pokemon Crystal Kaizo

Pokemon Crystal Kaizo

Imagine having a ROM hack that’s so well-received that it gets a sequel – well, that’s exactly what happened with a first-gen Pokemon hack: Pokemon Blue Kaizo.

Pokemon Crystal Kaizo is the sequel itself – and features, among other features, a secret Pokemon (albeit only the one from the 252 on offer), the removal of the need to trade certain Pokemon in order for them to evolve, and even an item called The Odd Eggs – which guarantee a shiny Pokémon!

Evolution Stones can be purchased – and all Eevee forms can also be accessed with these stones.

Oh – and we also have to warn you that the difficulty is also dialed in, making Pokemon Crystal Kaizo a pretty stiff challenge. Revives can’t even be used in combat here, so tread very, very carefully!

3. Pokemon Crystal Clear

Pokemon Crystal Clear - Best Pokemon Crystal ROM Hack

The dream of an open-world Pokémon adventure was one that players had had for years – only recently was it realized in the main Pokémon games.

However, the open-world Pokémon dream was realized earlier than that – unofficially, of course!

Pokemon Crystal Clear removes railroads and the majority of obstacles in the game to make the entire world free to explore.

Trainers can be tackled and badges collected in any order, with difficulty scaled depending on the trainer’s level when they arrive.

Trainers are now hugely customizable; gender and skin tone options, along with trainer classes and clothing color choices, can also be selected at the start of the game.

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There’s also no rivalry and no villainous organization to face, which really makes the game feel open, non-linear, and much more fun to explore!

It is a hugely impressive hack; despite being such an ambitious undertaking – there are many more improvements and additions than I’ve managed to cover here – it all works brilliantly.

It makes you wonder why it took the official series decades to shift to an open world; if a ROM hacker could achieve this, why couldn’t the official developers?

2. Pokemon Prism

Pokemon Prism

Unbound from the need to fit into existing rules or the balancing act of an ever-growing Pokedex, ROM hacks can go as wild and crazy as they want with Pokemon.

That’s 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 all-new region of Naljo – and even adds five new Legendary Pokemon as well!

Also: despite Sylveon debuting in Generation Six (Pokemon X & Y), you’ll also be able to evolve Eevee into Sylveon in Pokemon Prism!

There are 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 a completely different, fully featured game that uses Pokemon Crystal as a base.

1. Pokemon Polished Crystal

Pokemon Polished Crystal - Best Pokemon Crystal ROM Hack

The underlying thought process behind the 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.

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So what Pokémon Polished Crystal does is – as the name suggests – adds enhancements just to make the game sparkle even more.

Firstly, the entire Pokedex of 253 creatures (oh how big it sounded at the time – now we’re creeping up to 1000 Pokemon in the total Pokedex!) in just one game, which is an excellent improvement.

However, it does not stop there – far from it.

The list of improvements is huge – lots of bug fixes, refined combat mechanics, improved overworld mechanics (including the ability to always wear the sneakers), better city maps, locations restored from Heart Gold and Soul Silver… and many, many more. Way too many to list here, actually!

This hack is an absolute labor of love that doesn’t drastically change Pokemon Crystal, but makes it perhaps the most refined and satisfying of the early Pokemon games.

It just goes to show that ROM hacks don’t have to completely transform an experience – but they can make a game much better; even one already loved one!

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