The Best Pokemon Crystal ROM Hacks of 2023

Pokémon Crystal is a beloved Pokemon game by fans of the series. There’s no denying that there are some really solid Pokemon Crystal ROM hacks that fans have put tons of effort into perfecting. It’s no surprise that the original game was so popular; it introduced some very unique mechanics when it debuted. The game’s internal clock, Pokegear, and Pokemon breeding are just two worth mentioning.

While it may be a somewhat unusual entry to the series, its popularity paved the way for some incredible ROM hacks that we now get to enjoy and play through all these years later.

In this article, we’ll be breaking down the absolute best Crystal ROM hacks and which you need to play today! Without further ado, let’s jump into the games.

1. Pokemon Polished Crystal

Pokemon Polished Crystal is the best Pokemon Crystal ROM hack
Pokemon Polished Crystal is the best Pokemon Crystal ROM hack.

Pokemon Polished Crystal is one of the best Pokemon ROM hacks on this list. This hack was originally crafted by the talented Rangi who is an Italian ROM hacker. They used the English version of the original game and this hack can actually be played across multiple devices like the original Gameboy handheld, the GBC, and even on a GBA emulator.

The main aim of this hack is to improve on the original game without changing any of the game’s Pokemon type, base stats, or moves.

You have the ability to catch all 253 Pokemon in this game and there’s no requirement to trade with other players to complete your Pokedex.

The game’s battle system has also been improved. The town maps have been revamped and locations from Heart Gold and Soul Silver have been added as well. You can also fully equip the running shoes and use them continuously, speeding up some of the more tedious and grind focused areas of the game

You also get to travel around and explore both the Orange Islands and Naljo regions in this game. There’s also an additional Elite Four challenge where you can battle against the game’s strongest teams.

Polished Crystal takes an already great game and gives it some extra finishing touches that take it to the next level that we never knew were possible. It does so while keeping the initial core gameplay of the game intact without changing too much that players know and love about it. You can tell that the developer put in a ton of time and hard work to make this what it is. It’s definitely worth a solid playthrough.

2. Pokemon Prism

Pokemon Prism box art
Pokemon Prism box art.

It’s no surprise that number two on our list is Pokemon Prism, another popular ROM hack of Pokemon Crystal. This hack lets you go off on a brand new adventure in the Naljo region that you’ve never experienced before.

Prism was created by the well-known ROM hacker Coolboyman, famous for his countless ROM hacks that have grown massively in popularity over the years. Pokemon Prism has a brand new list of Pokemon types like Wood Pokemon, Gas, Wind, Abnormal, and even Sound types. The developer really flexed their creativity here and went above and beyond what you often see with many ROM hacks.

There are also some new mini-games that make an appearance here along with some brand new side-scrolling areas and a new clock system that was implemented. As you play through the game, you’ll work to collect all of the 8 new badges. This ROM hack really does feel like a reimagining of the original game built from the ground up. It’s a very unique experience that at times will leave you wondering if this is a genuine sequel.

Alone with the new types and the region that you get to play through, there are also five new Legendary Pokemon that make an appearance as well. If you’re looking for a fresh take on the original game loaded with new experiences, you definitely need to give Prism a shot.

Some additional changes were also added like the changes made to Pokemon base stats, the various different Alolan variants, and some notable difficulty adjustments, among other modifications as well. There’s plenty of new dialogue added and quests to go on. You can choose to either play through the original hack that was first released, or a version that removes the intro and lets you get right into the action.

Pokemon Prism is a fantastic ROM hack that you absolutely must play through if you are a fan of Crystal.

3. Pokemon Crystal Clear

Pokemon Crystal Clear is a great ROM hack
Pokemon Crystal Clear is a great ROM hack.

Pokemon Crystal Clear is an open-world style ROM hack set in the Onwa Region. This region is somewhat similar to both the Johto and Kanto regions from the original game with some modifications. The game gives players a lot of freedom to explore the world and it feels like an open world Pokemon adventure which is pretty wild considering this is built off of Crystal.

This game replaces the HM system with a brand new system that gives Pokemon special abilities like Surf and Fly without having to take up one of the Pokemon’s moves to do so. It’s a welcome change indeed and removes the need for keeping that one specific Pokemon around who only knows a particular move.

There’s also a fair amount of customizing available here. When choosing your character, you can choose all sorts of things like gender, skin color, outfit, and the class that you begin with.

Keeping with the open-world style of gameplay, you get to tackle the gyms in whichever order you choose. The gym leaders’ difficulty levels scale as you progress throughout the game so regardless of which gym you choose first, it really won’t matter in the grand scheme of things level-wise.

Pokemon Crystal Clear is one of the more open and free ROM hacks on this list and is a lot of fun to play and explore in. It’s definitely worth a play-through.

4. Pokemon Crystal Kaizo

The box art for Crystal Kaizo
The box art for Crystal Kaizo.

This ROM hack is a sequel to the first generation Pokemon hack, Pokemon Blue Kaizo. There’s a mysterious Pokemon in this game that you will need to play through to figure out and there’s also a unique Odd Egg item and Evolution Stones make an appearance here as well. This means that you have access to all of the different forms of Eeveelutions.

Just like with Polished Crystal, you don’t need to trade with friends in order to complete your Pokedex. You can catch all the different Pokemon simply by playing through normally.

As the name of Pokemon Crystal Kaizo insinuates, the game’s difficulty level has been ramped up significantly from the original Crystal version. Revives are no longer available to be used in battles, so you can expect some rage-filled moments. That being said, even with the added difficulty spike, the game has become quite popular amongst Pokefans who love a good challenge.

There’s a total of 252 Pokemon here. The graphics and soundtrack have a sort of Gen III vibe to them which adds a very nice touch. You’ll have a great time playing through this one as even though it is on the more challenging side, it feels fair and is worth it to beat. You can really tell that the developer behind this hack had a good time making Pokemon Crystal Kaizo and put a lot of work into the finished game.

5. Pokemon Orange

Pokemon Orange is such a unique game and experience
Pokemon Orange is such a unique game and experience.

Pokemon Orange is the last ROM hack on our list and was created by Pia Carrot. In this hack, you play through the Orange Archipelago area. Fans of the anime will immediately notice that this game focuses on the series, but did you also know that this game has Pokemon base stats from Gen 7 and OI as well as Alolan variants of Pokemon?

Aesthetically, the tropical backdrop makes this hack feel mostly like an entirely new game.

Pokemon Orange lets you travel through and explore the Orange Islands and go on a brand new adventure that you’ve never experienced before. With the area snatched right from the anime series, you might also not be surprised to hear that the game’s story and setting are based on the show as well. Pokemon Orange is another must-playthrough and was a no-brainer to join the ranks of every other Pokemon Crystal ROM hack on this list.


If you’re a Pokémon ROM hack enthusiast, you need to check out all of the games on the list above. Each of them is unique in its own way and absolutely brings something fresh and new to the table. Some of them are more challenging, while others focus on bringing a different experience than the original Crystal game. It’s pretty amazing how some of these Pokemon games feel like entirely new games and almost like sequels that were released by the official developers.

Also be sure to check out our list of the best Pokemon fan games.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some popular ROM hacks for Pokemon Crystal?

Some of the most popular ROM hacks for Pokemon Crystal include Pokemon Polished Crystal, Pokemon Prism, and Crystal Clear.

What is the difference between Pokemon Liquid Crystal and Pokemon Crystal Clear?

The main difference between the two hacks is that Pokemon Liquid Crystal is a remake of Pokemon Crystal with added features, while Pokemon Crystal Clear is a complete overhaul of the game with new areas, events, and Pokemon. Crystal Clear feels more like a new game and experience than Liquid Crystal.

Are there any difficulty hacks available for Pokemon Crystal?

Yes, there are several difficulty hacks available for Pokemon Crystal. Some popular difficulty hacks include Pokemon Crystal Kaizo, Pokemon Crystal Clear Hard, and Pokemon Crystal 251+.

What is the best emulator to use for playing Pokemon Crystal ROM hacks?

There are several emulators available for playing Pokemon Crystal ROM hacks, but the most popular choice that players usually use is the mGBA emulator.

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