Pokemon Dark Rising ROM Hack Review

Pokemon Dark Rising is seen by many as one of the greatest Pokemon ROM hacks of all time. It’s one of the top choices on just about every ROM hack list, and for good reason. Tons of Pokemon fans love this hack.

Not only does it have brand new features that you couldn’t find in the original Pokemon games, but there are 386 Pokemon from Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and Unova, newer generation moves, new characters, new events, Dream World abilities, Pokemon can learn egg moves by leveling up instead of breeding, you can battle Nurse Joy for additional XP, and much more!

What Is Pokemon Dark Rising?

The Story

The Pokemon Dark Rising story is great.
The Pokemon Dark Rising story is great.

Pokemon Dark Rising is a GBA ROM hack based on the Pokemon FireRed original version of the game. It made the top of our list as the best Pokemon ROM hack and was originally created by DarkRisingGirl and last updated in 2017.

In the game, the story starts with the player having a dream. In it, a strange Pokemon appears and says that you need to save the entire world. The player wakes from the dream with many questions, but decides to ignore what just took place for a while.

They leave their hometown located in the Core Region and meet up with their best friend who, turns out, had the exact same dream as them. They meet you at the front door and let you know that the town’s Professor sent an emergency message.

The Professor quickly informs you that there are climate changes happening in the Core Region that are leading to some horrible disasters. The Professor’s team are panicking and so he asks you to go on a mission for him to the delivery station and grab a package sent to him from Professor Oak.

You head out on your way to grab the package for the Professor, but as you start on your journey, you meet a mysterious girl who seems to know about the strange dream you had earlier in your sleep. It turns out, the mysterious Pokemon that you saw in your dream is named Darugis.

You head on and pick up the package from Professor Oak, but are confronted by a powerful Pokemon. You decide to battle it, but the powerful Pokemon uses its wind attack and defeats you and your team without even breaking a sweat.

You wake up back in your room and find that your friend and Mom are both waiting nearby. You begin to realize just how serious things have gotten and how this is only just the beginning of a much larger journey you’ll need to embark on, full of mystery and very powerful Pokemon ready for you to battle.

The Features

This ROM hack has tons of new features added
This ROM hack has tons of new features added.

This ROM hack has over 386 different Pokemon included from the following regions:


There are also moves included from newer generation games along with brand new abilities called Dream World abilities. Pokemon can learn your best egg moves by leveling up instead of breeding and you can even battle Nurse Joy to gain additional XP.

The added Kaizo version features have bug fixes, tough gym leader battles, additional story content with cleaner scripts, new enemies included, and new moves. There are also new areas, EVs have been removed (there is no physical special split), extra mini-boss battles, Chanseys that can heal you (no need to visit the Pokemon Center), and some ability and a few stat changes.


A review of Pokemon Dark Rising
A review of Pokemon Dark Rising.

Pokemon Dark Rising’s story is a great selling point for this ROM hack and is what makes it one of the best Pokemon FireRed ROM hacks. It goes deeper than most and feels very fleshed out. The Gen 5 sprites in the game and the addition of newer moves are a nice touch that make this hack feel more modernized.

The ability to choose a Dragon type as your starter Pokemon is always welcomed for those who like Salamence.

The game is definitely more on the difficult side and for those who are more casual players, this might be a turn off for you. While the difficulty level doesn’t necessarily feel unfair, it is quite challenging at times. For those who feel that the mainline series are too easy, you will definitely enjoy working to beat this game.

There is a decent amount of grinding that’s necessary in Dark Rising as most Pokemon you’ll encounter in the tall grass will be lower leveled. By comparison, the Trainers that you’ll be battling have some pretty high level Pokemon.

You also can’t revive Pokemon in battles, so the challenge level is definitely prevalent here.

All that said, the storyline is great in this hack and regarding any grinding you’ll need to do, depending on the emulator that you choose to play on, you can usually just speed up the battles to save time.

Pokemon Dark Rising is usually at the top of most Pokemon ROM hack lists for good reason. It’s a great game that will leave you wanting to progress to see what happens next.

You might also be interested in our list of the best Pokemon Red ROM hacks.

How To Play Pokémon Dark Rising

The most common way that players will play Pokemon ROM hacks is on a computer (that is, unless you’re downloading and playing pre-patched games on an Android phone or tablet). If you want to play a ROM hack on your computer, you’ll need to make sure that you have the following:

A file of the Pokemon Dark Rising ROM hackAn emulator that can play the type of file of the ROM hack – in this case, because Pokemon Dark Rising is a hack of Pokemon FireRed version, this means that you’ll need an emulator that can play Game Boy Advance (GBA) games

There are multiple different GBA emulators out there, but here are the most popular options for PC and Android.


There are a few different solid options out there, but we recommend you check out mGBA to play Pokemon Dark Rising on your PC.


My Boy! is the best GBA emulator Android app, and you can download it from the Google Play Store here.

Pokemon Dark Rising Download

You can download Pokemon Dark Rising from the PokeHarbor website.

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