10 Most Challenging Pokemon ROM Hacks to Try Out in 2024

People love playing Pokemon games, but some see them as too easy. Keep in mind that when Pokemon video games first came out, they were meant to be enjoyed by younger audiences.

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This is why some people place challenges on existing games to give them a nice experience. such as running a Nuzlocke challenge.

Apart from Nuzlocke, certain Pokemon ROM hacks are made to exert some extra difficulty to seasoned players.

If you are looking for such games, here is our list of 10 most challenging Pokemon ROM hacks.

Prepare to get punished and lost multiple Pokemon battles with the following hacks:

Editor’s Note (February 13, 2024): This article has been updated to ensure it’s following Pokemoncoder’s editorial guidelines.

Challenging pokemon rom hacks

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10) Pokemon Cloud White 3

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Let’s start this ten challenging Pokemon ROM hacks list with Pokemon Cloud White 3.

This game is a sequel to Pokemon Cloud White 2 and Pokemon Cloud White which is another ROM hack. It has an interesting story on its own and a couple of features you would want.

You get to explore 5 Regions such as Kaido, Kouros, Setoh, Sevii, and Sinnoh. The Pokemon roster itself goes up Gen 7 with a level cap of 200.

Notable Features

  • Mega Evolution
  • Physical and Special split
  • Day and Night cycle

Why Is It Challenging

We’re taking a little liberty on this one because a thing that makes it challenging are the bugs. The difficulty as well is a bit hard, but the bugs don’t help.

One of the Regions is also in French only, so that really makes it a bit difficult.

09) Pokemon Fool’s Gold

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Our first on the list is a Pokemon GBC ROM hacks called Pokemon Fool’s Gold. The story is the same as Crystal’s, so it’s something like an adaptation with a lot of modifications.

One of the things that makes this hack interesting is that Pokemon types have been switched. The Pokemon’s normal typing has been changed, and some might have added types.

Notable Features

  • 251 Pokemon to catch
  • Shiny encounter rate increased
  • Altered Pokemon sprites

Why Is It Challenging

One of the main reasons why it is challenging is because Pokemon has altered types.

The first time playing, you wouldn’t know what type the enemy Pokemon has unless you already owned one.

Trainers and Gym Leaders also have altered teams. The balance is also a bit off here, which makes it even harder.

08) Pokemon Altair and Sirius

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Pokemon Altair and Sirius are two hacks that are the same since they incorporate that style from the Pokemon games, where they have two different but similar games.

Both of them use Emerald as their base.

The roster has a combination of old and newer Gens with new and updated Moves. The story is also an unofficial continuation of the Gen 3 games taking place in a new Region.

Notable Features

  • Nearly 200 Pokemon
  • No need for Trade Evolution
  • Rematch Trainers

Why Is It Challenging

These games have the same element of just being undeniably challenging.

It doesn’t have cheap features because the games are just straight-up hard and require a lot of strategies.

In fact, another version which is Pokemon Vega is a sequel, and it eases the challenge if you really want it to be easier.

Also, there’s the Pokemon Vega Minus which makes it normal.

07) Pokemon Cosmic Emerald

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We’re adding Cosmic Emerald to our 10 most challenging Pokemon ROM hacks list.

The story is the same as Emerald and pretty much a lot of things.

One breakthrough is that they fixed the original Emerald’s PRNG glitch.

However, that doesn’t make this game any easier. All Pokemon from Gen 1 to 3 can be obtained in the game, and using Evolution Stones on those that evolve through trading can be done.

Notable Features

  • Poke Balls are reusable even after failed catch attempts
  • Black and White Repel System
  • Day and Night cycle

Why Is It Challenging

Cosmic Emerald is another hack that is just straight-up challenging without any of the unfair elements. You pretty much have it easier due to Poke Balls being reusable and other features.

The EV grind may also play into the challenge factor of the game.

06) Pokemon Sun Sky and Moon Galaxy

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We have another pair hack here like Altair and Sirius.

The story is an unofficial continuation of Pokemon Red and Blue. The Professor in the game is Brock, so that’s interesting.

It also has a ton of features, such as having a roster going up to Gen 7 and Alolan Forms, as well as Ultra Beasts included. Explore the Kanto and Alola Regions in these hacks.

Notable Features

  • Roster goes up to Gen 7
  • Mega Evolution
  • Z-Moves included

Why Is It Challenging

One challenging aspect is that players face powerful Pokemon at early stages in the game. They usually need a little grind and strategy to defeat.

Another thing that players have mentioned is that it is a bit harder to catch Pokemon for some reason.

There’s also the Ultra Space feature, where players travel from planet to planet.

05) Pokemon Polished Crystal

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We’re halfway through our 10 challenging Pokemon ROM hacks with Pokemon Polished Crystal. This game is another GBC hack and follows the original story of Crystal.

Not much has changed when it comes to the overall content of Crystal’s plot. That being said, there are a ton of new features added, such as the roster adding Pokemon from Gen 3 to 6.

Even a Nuzlocke mode is available if you don’t feel the game is challenging enough.

Notable Features

  • Fairy-type added
  • No Trade Evolution needed
  • Roster goes up to Gen 6

Why Is It Challenging

The challenge will pop up later on in the game when you realize that the game suddenly got harder.

You’ll notice that some Gym Leaders are very hard to beat.

Even if you have over-leveled Pokemon, it seems that you’re still using it. One could say that the grind is a bit more necessary later on in the game.

04) Pokemon Kanlara Ultimate

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Kanlara Ultimate has an original story for you to dive into taking place in the Kanlara Region.

The game has a unique Demon-type that also plays a part in the story.

This also means that Demon-types have their typing advantages and disadvantages. The graphics have also been altered a bit, and you can partake in catching around 300 Pokemon.

Notable Features

  • Fairy-type added
  • Roster goes up to Gen 7
  • Physical and Special split

Why Is It Challenging

First of all, the Starter Pokemon you get is a Porygon. This thing is a burden to level up, and the Moves it learns aren’t ideal early on.

You’ll be forced to find another suitable Pokemon to start your journey.

It will also become noticeably grindy later on. You’ll be grinding your Pokemon simply because you can’t progress the story through constant loss from battles.

03) Pokemon Clover

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Pokemon Clover has a lineup of Fakemon for you to use. The story is original and has some crude and maybe some mature humor for you to boot.

It has many features that you can use to make the game more interesting.

Wonder Trading is available as well as Character Portraits for some characters popping up on the screen.

Notable Features

  • 386 Fakemon to catch
  • Physical and Special split
  • Reusable TMs

Why Is It Challenging

Three things make the game challenging, and the first one is the Fakemon.

You wouldn’t know the Fakemon’s typing until you have one on your own or after the encounter.

The RNG can be a nightmare sometimes, and you usually get the short end of the stick.

Finally, the game can be an EV grind but necessary if you want to power up your Fakemon.

02) Pokemon Theta Emerald EX

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Theta Emerald EX is a different or updated version of the regular Theta Emerald.

There’s another one called Pokemon Theta Emerald Renev. Anyway, Theta Emerald Ex uses Emerald as its story point.

Every plot and character are the same because the features are where the additions have been made. It has over 700 Pokemon to catch, Fairy-type, and being able to run indoors.

Getting EXP from catching Pokemon is also a feature along with being able to delete learned HMs. Finally, this ROM hack is also complete.

Notable Features

  • Physical and Special split
  • Reusable TMs
  • Level Cap at 250

Why Is It Challenging

It starts off normal, and then you’ll feel the grind because the later battles will be harder.

There are those that involve a little more strategy instead of just being a grind or over-leveling your Pokemon.

The level 250 max is also a headache since you’ll be grinding some more to take on the battles a bit later in the game.

01) Pokemon Dark Rising

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The number one game on our 10 challenging Pokemon ROM hacks is Pokemon Dark Rising. We’ll be clear, it’s the original Dark Rising, the first one.

Not Dark Rising 2, 3, or any of its other variations. Anyway, it has its original story and a few features. It has over 300 Pokemon until Gen 5.

There’s also another version of Dark Rising, which is Kaizo, but that’s entirely an updated version of this one.

Plenty of complaints from different Pokemon communities have surfaced online about how challenging this game is, making Dark Rising first on the list.

Notable Features

  • Roster goes up to Gen 5
  • Around 386 Pokemon
  • Dream World Abilities

Why Is It Challenging

Dark Rising is a prime example of hacks where they go a bit overboard with difficulty. While it isn’t entirely unforgiving, it can be punishing and frustrating.

You’ll be grinding a lot and coming up with strategies to overcome a point where you’ll be stuck in.

You might even be forced to catch some Pokemon that you think you wouldn’t need unless you have to.

It also has some issues when it comes to some of the texts.

In Closing

This concludes our list of 10 challenging Pokemon ROM hacks that you might want to think about playing.

These games can be challenging, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be fun, or at least some of them. Some people want to have the challenge of breaking the mold.

Just remember that you don’t need to get too frustrated with these games. There are always cheats to help you, but that beats the purpose of doing these hacks in the first place.

Don’t take them too seriously or just be calm about it.



About Taichee

Taichee is the ultimate writer for Pokémon gaming enthusiasts. With extensive experience, he expertly delves into popular Pokemon game series and ROM hacks for GBC, GBA, and NDS, meticulously testing cheats and sharing general gaming strategies on Pokemoncoders.

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