There is absolutely no doubt that the olden days of gaming brought us plenty of masterpieces, however that's not always enough and we're always searching for more to fill our retro urge. That's where rom hacks come into play. Talented individuals use a variety of tools to modify a game's data on a PC, then release it in the form of a patch for the original game that can be applied by the user. This means you can turn one old classic into a completely new adventure for gamers to enjoy and show your love for a series by keeping it alive. Here at RA, we've taken our 10 favorite rom hacks and compiled it into a list to get you all started. Keep in mind these are our personal choices, and there are a lot more of these great hacks out there for you to enjoy.
10. Mario Kart R
Hack Of: Super Mario Kart (SNES)
Mario Kart R is a complete overhaul of Super Mario Kart with completely new courses, graphics, and music. The author has even included our favorite pink ball, Kirby, as a playable character. If you like the other Mario Karts, then this one is definitely worth trying, especially because its the most complete and comprehensive Super Mario Kart hack to date.
9. Pokemon Brown
Hack Of: Pokemon Red (GameBoy)
A lot of us grew up with Pokemon as kids, and this hack is perfect for recalling all those old memories while adding something completely new into the mix. Pokemon Brown takes place in the completely new region of Rijon with an all-new story while retaining everything you know and love from the original games. It includes all new pokemon as well as all of our favorite ones from the old games. This game simply feels like a Pokemon game should be and sometimes its easy to forget its a rom hack, when this game is so good it should be on a cartridge. This game isn't the only of its kind though, if you liked this one there's plenty more hacks of the GB/C era Pokemon games you should definitely try.
8. Panic In the Mushroom Kingdom 2
Hack Of: Super Mario World (SNES)
Note: Some material included in this hack for comedic purposes might be offensive to our younger readers, however a work-safe patch is also included to remove said content.
There are a lot of Super Mario World hacks, but out of the ones I've played, this one takes the cake. This hack is simply amazing, and changes the entire gameplay and graphics of SMW to the point of being nearly unrecognizable, borrowing elements from a variety of games including Super Mario Bros 3, and Super Mario World 2. I know this might scare some of you mario purists out there, but trust me, the changes are all well-welcomed and benefit the gameplay vastly. I will admit however, this game is a bit annoying to play with a keyboard, so those planning on playing via emulator should pick up a gamepad as well. Overall though, if you're a fan of Super Mario World, or any old-school Mario game, you should definitely give this one a try.
7. Super Metroid: Golden Dawn
Hack Of: Super Metroid (SNES)
Author: Black Telomeres
Have you been longing for a new two-dimensional Metroid game? Well then this game is for you. Super Metroid: Golden Dawn completely changes the original; every room has been individually disassembled and remade adding an exciting new twist to a great Metroid game. This hack can be a bit difficult at first, but that wears off after you get used to the game. Another issue that is shared with all Super Metroid hacks, is that Super Metroid doesn't respond well when you insert new save points into the game, so as a result get used to using save states because not a lot of save points were able to be added safely. Don't let this small issue bother you though, this game is simply too great to pass up.
6. SMW2+2: Yoshi's Island
Hack Of: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)
Author: Golden Yoshi
Yoshi's first adventure has been hacked and remixed! SMW2+2 not only includes 50 all-new levels, but features enhanced colors/graphics and even has a brand new story. In SMW2+2 Kamek manages to kidnap Baby Luigi, and so its up to the all the Yoshies and the mystical "Chosen One" to rescue Baby Luigi while protecting Baby Mario from Kamek's evil hands as well. The original Yoshi's Island was always a "love it or hate it" game though, and the same holds true for this one, so if you never liked the original, there's nothing new here to make you want to play. However if you always loved the intense egg-throwing action of the original, this game is simply a must have.
5. Dragoon X Omega II
Hack Of: Final Fantasy (NES)
Author: Sliver X
If you play this game, it might be hard to believe it was based on Final Fantasy if you weren't already told. This game takes Final Fantasy and completely revamps it into something completely new and exciting. In fact, no screen shot or description can do this game justice. The only thing that remains is the core programming of the original game, but everything else has been replaced. The dark atmosphere and captivating story is enough to have this game compete against even the best commercial NES RPGs. When it comes down to it, Dragon X Omega II stands as one of the best accomplishments in rom hacking history and is a must have for both those who like Final Fantasy and those who don't.
4. Mario Adventure
Hack Of: Super Mario Bros.3 (NES)
I wanted to avoid listing two Mario games in this Top 10, but there's just no way I could leave Mario Adventure out. Mario Adventure goes above and beyond by not only simply changing levels and graphics, but by improving certain gameplay mechanics and pushing the NES to its limits. This game will take you all the way back to 1990 and make you want to stay there with its vast levels and impressive gameplay. One cool feature I noticed is boss fights at the end of regular levels, this makes this game much more challenging and will definitely keep you hooked. However, if you were never a fan of the 8-bit mario games and prefered the 16-bit ones, then you might want to stick with SMW hacks, but I do recommend you at least try Mario Adventure once. Another important note is that just like Panic in the Mushroom Kingdom 2, you'll want a gamepad for this one instead of using the keyboard.
3. Sonic MegaMix
Hack Of: Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)
Sonic MegaMix is one of those cases where a rom hack is not only amazingly brilliant, but better than any game the series has pumped out officially in quite awhile. MegaMix is easily the best Sonic game in years, besting even Sega's own offerings easily. The amount of changes is simply too great to list at once. They included new levels, new playable characters, new sprites/animations, new gameplay mechanics (such as adding in the spin dash), a huge list of menu options, and so much more. Sega might not be producing any good Sonic games this generation, but the hacking community sure as hell is.
2. Chrono Trigger: Prophet's Guile
Hack Of: Chrono Trigger (SNES)
Author: Kajar Laboratories
Although the highly anticipated Crimson Echoes hack for Chrono Trigger was slapped with a C&D order recently, Kajar Laboratories was luckily able to release Prophet's Guile earlier this year and it is easily the best Chrono Trigger hack that has been officially released so far. You play as Magus, and the game covers his rise to power in the Kingdom of Zeal. This game is simply outstanding and demonstrates the power of rom hacking with new graphics, sounds, locations, a new story, etc. The game was meant to be a side-project to Crimson Echoes, so it is a bit on the short side and is about as long as two Chrono Trigger chapters. I won't spoil anything for you, but just know that any Chrono Trigger fan would be crazy not to play this outstanding hack.
1. The Legend Of Zelda: Parallel Worlds
Hack Of: The Legend Of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
Author: Euclid and SePH
If you loved the old Zelda games, this hack is for you. The Legend of Zelda Parallel Worlds changes a magnitude of things in a Link to the Past to make it into a completely new adventure. However, this game isn't for the easily angered, its for the die-hard Zelda fans and its difficulty shows it. The game is pretty hard overall; you don't even have a sword through most of the first dungeon. Don't let the difficulty steer you away though, this game definitely shows all the hard work that went into it with its captivating story and enhanced graphics. This game is simply one of the most amazing rom hacks ever created, and will be sure to keep you hooked for hours on end. Everyone should definitely give this magnificent game a shot, just make sure you make good use of save-states if the game begins to get too hard.
Well there you have it folks, 10 simply outstanding rom hacks you must play. I just want to mention that each and every game on this list easily deserves the number one spot, so take the order of the list lightly. There's also a rather large amount of rom hacks out there that also deserve to be on the list, so now that you have a start into the world of rom hacking, we hope you'll continue to explore all the amazing hacks available and maybe even develop your own one day.