The world of ROM hacks can be a scary place. Diving head first into the community with little prior knowledge is a frustrating experience. There are tons of hacks for just about every popular series and platform out there, with vastly varied quality and goals. Luckily for you, your old pal Casey is here to help you out. Let’s explore the world of ROM hacking, its terms, and purpose, and find some great games to play! If you are new to ROM Hacking or missed Part 1, go back and give it a read.
It’s time for this week’s ROM Hacking post, and boy is it a doozy. So far we’ve talked about the big three Nintendo IP as far as ROM Hacking goes. Pokemon, Super Mario, and Metroid may be the most popular games to hack into, but there are plenty of other games from Nintendo platforms worth talking about.
Donkey Kong Country ROM hacking has been making some strides lately. It’s still a fledgling community, but new hacking tools are starting to surface. DKC is my jam, so personally, I’m quite excited. The stand-out here seems to be Donkey Kong Country 2 – The Lost Levels, a complete ROM hack with all new levels based on the original themes. The level design here is simply fantastic, picking up right where Rareware left off. Clever use of the base game’s enemies and game mechanics are littered throughout this long lasting experience without straying too far away from what made DKC2 so great. This is one you really need to check out.
Sticking with the Rareware theme, Banjo-Kazooie Returns is a work in progress hack for the seminal N64 title. Creator Michael Koczwara is hard at work creating the first full Banjo ROM hack using the newly released Banjo’s Backpack modding suite. He regularly streams his development sessions on the YouTube channel (link below). I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. Follow him on Twitter and check out the trailer.
We’ve made it pretty far without any mention of The Legend of Zelda. Zelda might not have the largest hacking community there is, but there are still quite a few ROM hacks worth checking out. Today we’ll highlight The Legend of Zelda – Parallel Worlds. This ROM hack has quite the history, stretching back to 2004’s concept demo. Since then, the game has seen a complete overhaul with brand new artwork and music. Both the overworld and dungeons are completely redesigned, with a new storyline in place to boot. There is also a remixed version of the game available called Parallel Remodel which smooths out the difficulty curve and eases up on the backtracking. Either way, you’re in for a good time.
Super Smash Bros. is no stranger to ROM hacks. Both Melee and Brawl have seen their fair share of fan edits. Projects like Brawl Plus aim to make the game more competitive, removing tripping and restoring Melee gameplay mechanics, while Brawl Minus goes crazy with new characters and stages. One of the most ambitious console mods of all time has to be 20XXTE, a tournament hack of Super Smash Bros. Melee. This game aims to be a complete replacement for vanilla Melee, adding in features that support tournament players both at home and during events. New training mode options, replay support and baked in tournament rulesets make this the ultimate tool for competitive players.
How about some RPG love? I can’t leave out the first entry in one of my favorite franchises ever, Shigesato Itoi’s Mother. Mother: 25th Anniversary is more of a complete rebuild of the first title than anything else, redoing all of the sprites to more accurately resemble the original clay models. More scenery and signposting have been added to the map, making it much easier to get around, and the game has been completely recolored. The game’s difficulty has been balanced out a lot as well. Earthbound Beginnings is great and all, but this is the definitive way to play Mother 1 in the modern day. Any fan of Mother/Earthbound should check this game out.
Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes has an interesting history. Originally conceived in 2004, this game went through a long development period before being shut down by Square Enix at the last minute. Despite this, several builds of the game leaked online, eventually culminating in a full release candidate playable to the end. This game takes place 5 years after Chrono Trigger proper, and includes all of the original party members. The plot acts as a setup for Chrono Cross and ties up some loose ends from both official entries. After it’s cancellation via cease-and-desist, another small team picked up the project in an effort to finish it. This game, known as Chrono Trigger: Flames of Eternity has it’s fans, but garnered a fair bit of controversy due to using the original team’s work without permission. Ethics in ROM hacking is in fact a thing, folks. The dust has mostly settled these days, and the result is two interesting ROM hacks for those who want more Crono and Lucca in their lives.
That’s it for this week. Lots of great games to check out across many genres and eras. Next week, we’ll dive into the world of MegaMan! Until then, enjoy exploring the wacky world of ROM hacks friends.