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 my intro and guide a read. We’ve already covered Metroid, Pokemon, Super Mario, and various other Nintendo titles in past entries.

If you’ve been reading this series, you must’ve seen this coming. No list of classic games would be complete without a mention of Mega Man. Capcom may have relegated the Blue Bomber to re-releases, crossover games, and tons of merchandise, but the fans have kept on working. There are some very high-quality ROM hacks ranging from the NES classics to the X series on SNES and beyond.

Rockman 4  Minus Infinity is not just one of the best Mega Man hacks out there. It’s a high point in the wider hacking scene. I think you’ll see why pretty quickly.

Looks pretty great, right!? This hack of the Japanese version of Mega Man 4 (Rockman 4) made by Puresabe goes all out with new artwork, level designs, and edited Robot Master patterns. The difficulty is customizable, a rare feature in the hacking world. I try to point out games that span a large skill level in this series. This game hits pretty much everyone perfectly. Fans of NES Mega Man simply have to check this game out.

Another great NES hack that caters more towards the highly experienced player is Rockman No Constancy. Based on Rockman 2, this one is all new. Robot Masters and their weapons have been changed alongside entirely new levels and music. It might not be for the faint of heart, but the entertainment value here is quite high. The music is particularly fantastic here. Give it a listen during the very cool TAS speedrun video below. For those who are unfamiliar, TAS stands for Tool-Assisted Speedrun. These runs are created using emulators and scripting, recording controller inputs frame by frame to perfect gameplay. TAS is the “ultimate” speedrun, accomplishing things humans simply can’t by running the game one frame at a time, pulling off incredible feats and exploits. If you dig it, there’s plenty of great TAS content on YouTube and tasvideos.org. I suggest my friend Hyperresonance’s Banjo-Kazooie 100% TAS.

Let’s take a look at some SNES era games next, eh? The X series has started to pick up as a hacking platform in the last 5 years or so, thanks to new emulation and editing tools. My favorite example is Mega Man X3: Zero Project. As the name implies, this game swaps X with fan favorite Zero as the playable character. The whole game has been edited to reflect this change, and Zero’s iconic Z-Saber and air dashing is in tact. The game has been rebalanced to suit Zero’s stronger abilities and play style. The patch download comes with a nice readme explaining all of the changes and a small FAQ. Documentation like this is highly appreciated.

Mega Man X – Generation is an early look at the future of Mega Man X hacking. There are a fair number of projects out there already, but the majority are smaller changes and improvements to the original content. Generation is actually a full-on custom game complete with new levels to explore as X. The level design is a bit…uninspired at times, but it’s a sign of things to come. It won’t be long before the Mega Man X community starts releasing ambitious, high-quality games.

That’s it for this week. As usual, there are plenty of other quality Mega Man ROM hacks out there. This is just a place for you to get started. You can always browse the archives at Romhacking.net for more games and read about upcoming projects on the forums. Next week, we’re going to step into a different world. Similarly blue, but much….faster.

Gotta go fast.