I’ve never had a Nintendo DS or Gameboy. My childhood Pokemon experience consisted mainly of inconsistently watching the anime, collecting trading cards, and watching my friends play some of the most enticing and fascinating video games I’d seen on their handheld consoles. I even remember dreaming of receiving a red Nintendo DS for my birthday and immediately loading up Pokemon; it’s one of the only dreams I can recall vividly.
When I found out that you could play Gameboy Advance games through smartphone emulators, I immediately downloaded "FireRed" and began living out my Pokemon dreams. However, as with many, many other video games, I grew frustrated and bored and stopped playing.
So when the Pokemon itch hit me again early in 2018, I wasn’t sure which game to start playing. I didn’t want to go through FireRed or Emerald again, as I had played through a good amount of each already.
Then, I discovered Pokemon ROM hacks. When emulating a Pokemon game, you usually download a Gameboy Advance emulator from the App Store, then download a ROM of the game online. However, the Pokemon community has figured out how to modify Pokemon games, and have created a whole bunch of new Pokemon games by changing aspects of the original games. These ROM hacks, as they are called, are completely new games from the originals, with wildly different plots, game mechanics, and even Pokemon. The game I chose to play is called "Pokemon Glazed"; here’s my review of this excellent ROM hack, as spoiler-free as possible.
The storyline of "Glazed" is unique; although many guidelines from the original games exist, the developer has added many new twists and additions to the plot, making for a fun experience. One of my favorite features is the addition of the PokeComm item, which translates Pokemon. This means that the Pokemon themselves are able to talk and are integral to the plot, which is a nice addition to the game.
Finally, because the plot stretches across three different regions, beginning in Tunod (donut spelled backward), and also including Johto and Rankor, there is plenty of action and gameplay to be had. Plus, "Glazed" breaks the fourth wall all the time!
One excellent change that "Glazed" includes is the ability to catch lots of Pokemon. "Glazed" includes Pokemon from Sinnoh, Unova, and Kalos, even though those regions aren’t geographically included in the game. "Glazed" also includes the fictional Trade Stone item; this helps evolve Pokemon that would normally need to be evolved through trade. Finally, "Glazed" includes over 40 Legendary/Mythical Pokemon, all available to capture. Even though I recently completed the game, having the ability to capture all these powerful Pokemon has been enticing.
Many ROM hacks increase the difficulty of Pokemon to make it more interesting for fans who are bored with the relative ease of the original games, which are made for children. However, I enjoyed the smooth difficulty increases that "Glazed" has, as I really only had to grind to prepare for the Elite Fours of Tunod and Johto. Even when you do need to level grind, "Glazed" includes trainers that will battle you, again and again, to help make leveling up easier, since trainer battles give much more experience than wild Pokemon battles.
The only thorough walkthrough of the game is still somewhat half-baked or vague, and it doesn’t include the final region, Rankor. However, I didn’t find this much of an issue and only had to Google specific problems a few times. Of greater concern for some will be which moves your Pokemon will learn. While "Glazed" is built off of Emerald (a Gen III game), many Gen III Pokemon learn moves at different levels than they’re supposed to. This won’t stop you from completing the game (again, it’s made for kids!) but some fans will find it frustrating. Finally, there are minor glitches and typos, such as a severe lack of apostrophes.
Pokemon "Glazed" isn’t the most ambitious or unique ROM hack out there; you don’t play on the side of Team Rocket, there are no Fakemons (fan-made, fake Pokemon), and the basic structure of the game stays true to the core games. However, "Glazed" is so polished and content-rich that none of these flaws matter; it’s a streamlined, believable Pokemon game that gives long-time Pokemon fans a fresh new storyline and new game mechanics to reinvigorate their love for the captivating world of Pokemon.