Best GBA Rom Hacks: 20 Best Games You Never Heard Of!
The GBA rom hacking community is ramping up and here are some great games you never heard of.
We've selected 20 of the best you can download today!
The Game Boy Advance was released in North America in 2001 succeeding the Game Boy Color.
A handheld console that spanned until 2008 featuring multiple revisions to the 32 bit console's hardware. Some of the best selling games on the platform have sold over 16 million copies world wide.
The quality of games that have been released for the GBA have been nothing short of timeless classics.
Since nowadays there aren't any commercial releases made available, the modding community is extremely active, making improvement patches and entirely new rom hacks for your favorite games.
From Pokemon to Final Fantasy we'll make sure to cover them all!
Considering these are only going to be game mods that we'll be covering, we'll only be covering the best ROM hacks available for the GBA.
Be sure to check out our other great ROM hacking articles below:
Best Zelda ROM Hacks | Best Metroid ROM Hacks | Best SNES ROM Hacks
Best NES Rom Hacks | Best Castlevania Rom Hacks | Best Pokemon GBA ROM Hacks | Best Super Mario World Rom Hacks
Table of Contents
- What is a GBA ROM Hack?
- How do GBA ROM Hacks Work?
- Why are GBA ROM Hacks so Popular?
- 20. Mother 3 English Translation
- 19. Pokemon Adventure Red Chapter
- 18. Fire Emblem Different Dimensions: The Ostian Princess
- 17. SMA2 - Super Mario World Color Restoration
- 16. Castlevania: Reaper's Reckoning
- 15. Metroid Zero Mission Menu Hack
- 14. Breath of Fire Improved
- 13. CV Dawn of Symphony (Alucard SOTN Hack)
- 12. Doom - PC Doom Total Conversion
- 11. Advance Wars Returns
- 10. Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced Battle
- 9. Metroid Other ZM
- 8. Pokemon: Ultra Violet Version
- 7. Metroid Fusion: Special Edition
- 6. Final Fantasy VI - Sound Restoration Hack - Framerate Fix
- 5. Metroid: Spooky Mission
- 4. Final Fight One - Arcade Remix
- 3. Wario Land 4: Parallel World
- 2. Pokemon Orange - Pokemon Naranja
- 1. The Last Promise
- How To Play ROM Hacks On GBA?
What is a GBA ROM Hack?
Game Boy Advance (GBA) ROM hacks are modified versions of the original game code.
These modifications to the game's:
- Other components are made by fans of the original games using specialized software.
Simple adjustments to the game's plot or complexity might fall under this category, as can total overhauls of the gameplay and aesthetics.
How do GBA ROM Hacks Work?
A GBA emulator and the ROM file of the original game on which the hack is based are required to play a GBA ROM hack. We can't share any links since ROMs may be considered illegal if you don't own the original game.
Once you have the emulator and the ROM file, you may patch the original ROM file using the ROM hack patch file. The hack creator's alterations to the original game are contained in the patch file, which is a file. You may play a new, updated version of the game on your emulator after applying the patch file to the ROM file.
Why are GBA ROM Hacks so Popular?
In recent years, GBA ROM hacks have grown in popularity among retro gamers. They provide a fresh challenge to gamers who may have previously completed the first game, which is one reason for this. New stages, opponents, and equipment are frequently included in these hacks, which may keep the gameplay interesting and fun.
Their appeal stems in part from the fact that players may modify their favourite games using these platforms. Fans can alter the game to correct problems or add other improvements that they think make it better. They may exercise their creativity and programming abilities by building totally new games using the code of the original game.
20. Mother 3 English Translation
One of our favorite parts about rom hacks is the ability to bring a game that would have never saw the light of day in North America and give you a full translation from Japanese to English.
Mother 3 also known as Earthbound 2 saw this translation take place in 2020 by SterrFry who has worked night and day to bring us this translated game.
The translation is extremely accurate and the script feels like it should as you play through the storyline. Mother 3 also is available to work on original hardware if you have a flash cart available.
19. Pokemon Adventure Red Chapter
A rom hack of FireRed that follows the Pokemon manga series closely. Letting you play as the boy while having the Pokemon follow you now.
You'll face off against the green girl rival as well as as the blue boy rival. With special enhancements like TMs being reusable, new dungeons and several references to the Pokemon TV series pop culture and more!
18. Fire Emblem Different Dimensions: The Ostian Princess
Fire Emblem is one of those franchises that commands a ton of time to put into it while mastering the gameplay and grinding away at each battle. Once it's all over though, you'll probably be sitting around thinking what you can do next.
Here's where The Ostian Princess comes into play. Based on The Blazing Sword, it features new playable characters, brand new enemy designs, additional weapons and an entirely new storyline!
It's almost like you have a brand new Fire Emblem game all thanks to the modding community.
17. SMA2 - Super Mario World Color Restoration
Did you notice that playing GBA roms on an emulator that the colors were sometimes off while playing? That's because the GBA originally came with a dim screen so developers used the color palette to brighten up the gameplay in order to accommodate.
Super Mario Advance 2 - Color Restoration's goal is to bring you the true 1:1 color accuracy that the Super Nintendo version originally had. The end result is a stunning game that you can fully play on that backlit screen or on an emulator.
16. Castlevania: Reaper's Reckoning
Castlevania Aria of Sorrow was a fantastic release on the GBA in it's own regard. Reaper's Reckoning is an entirely new game giving you tons of dialog changes, all of the weapons have been modified and items have been relocated.
The storyline in Aria of Sorrow is entirely new now. Even though the gameplay hasn't been modified, Reaper's Reckoning feels like a brand new release from Nintendo.
We've been begging Nintendo and Konami to give us more 2d metroidvania releases and we got one courtesy of the hard work of caminopreacher.
15. Metroid Zero Mission Menu Hack
The world of speedrunning has gained popularity over the years. Special ROMs are perfect for being able to practice certain areas that you normally wouldn't be able to practice with a fully playable regular rom file.
This is where Metroid Zero Mission Menu Hack is great. It enables a debug option that allows you to toggle on or off equipment such as suits, beams or items like the morph ball or power grip.
This is extremely useful if you're learning Metroid Zero Mission for the first time or want to refine your skills and get better at skipping certain powerups throughout the game. Sometimes the simplicity is all that matters when considering the best GBA ROM hacks.
14. Breath of Fire Improved
The GBA version of Breath of Fire always felt like the poor balancing really held it back. Breath of Fire Improved rebalances the gameplay that makes it feel like one of the later releases in the series, as well as a few additional quality of life improvements.
The text has been updated on all of the items and spells to match the later game names. There is no longer a damage cap on any of the enemies that you take on. We've also got a new color palette to match the SNES version of the game.
These are some of the features we wished had been a part of the original Breath of Fire GBA game and are glad we finally got an opportunity to play it thanks to the hard work of ThegreatBen for his release on Breath of Fire Improved.
13. CV Dawn of Symphony (Alucard SOTN Hack)
Ever wonder what it would be like to have one of the best PS1 games make it to the Game Boy Advance in Symphony of the Night? That's exactly what this GBA ROM hack strives to provide.
Giving you a brand new story and including the iconic cast of characters from Richter, Maria and Alucard along with the same items, weapons and armors from the PS1 classic game as well.
The soundtrack has been entirely replaced from fan recreations of your favorite songs like Bloody Tears, Divine Bloodlines and many others!
The difficulty has also been revamped, giving you a much harder metroidvania this time around. We'd bet you won't be able to complete this in one sitting!
12. Doom - PC Doom Total Conversion
Considering Nintendo has always been portrayed as the family friendly console that has been faced with strict censorship challenges when coming over to North America. Doom is a notoriously blood shed game with lots of action from the minute you enter the first stage.
This hack totally revamps the entire Doom game, using an entirely new game engine to give you a higher quality mod. That means better sound, updated maps, a higher frame rate and much more!
PC Doom Total Conversion feels so much smoother than the original GBA release. We wish this was the Doom game that was brought to our favorite handheld console from the beginning!
11. Advance Wars Returns
We loved the Advance Wars series on the Game Boy Advance. It's a perfect turn based strategy game that you can pick up and play while on the go. We just wished there were more options to choose from for this style of gameplay.
Advance Wars Returns picks up the pieces of the puzzle and gives you an entirely new story line as well as 42 brand new campaign modes for each of the difficulty modes.
If you're looking to battle against one of your friends, Advance Wars Returns gives you a brand new PvP mode in case the original gameplay is a bit stale for your liking.
We also liked that there was an entirely new War Room mode, giving you the choice of one of 30 missions to play from. There's a ton of value here in Advance Wars Returns so it's no wonder it's made our list of the best GBA rom hacks.
10. Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced Battle
If you enjoyed the gameplay mechanic in this GBA classic of monster taming, this ROM hack is for you!
Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced Battle is a whole new game centered around this experience. You can use this newly created item called the Capture Orb to collect monsters who'll join your party and fight along side of you.
It truly makes for a remarkable experience being able to use a minor game mechanic and explore it to it's full capacity in a brand new game. Considering you'll start with the two party members and rely on purchasing abilities for the monsters to gain new tactics.
9. Metroid Other ZM
Metroid Zero Mission redesigns are a fantastic way to breath new life into a game you may have explored and completed in full. In Metroid Other ZM you have an entirely different and much more difficult gameplay experience to the original.
Each of the boss battles are now harder with more health and have less item drops. You'll also only be able to turn on one beam at a time like how the original Metroid was. Some of the item pickups are also modified, making the game play feel fresh.
Be very weary as this is not for the faint of heart. If you're not a fan of backtracking or figuring out how to approach the increased difficulty this GBA ROM hack may not be for you. A game as good as Metroid Other ZM is awarded a well deserved spot on our list of the best GBA ROM hacks!
8. Pokemon: Ultra Violet Version
One of the biggest downfalls of Pokemon Fire Red was not being able to catch all of the Pokemon from the first three generations with a single save file. Pokemon Ultra Violet Version now allows you to do this with only a single save file!
One other key feature that we didn't like from Fire Red was the need to trade Pokemon to watch them evolve. Pokemon Ultra Violet Version takes care of this by removing this feature. You no longer need to trade to make sure you get your favorite upgraded Pokemon.
These type of quality of life improvements make Pokemon: Ultra Violet Version a go to for fans of the original game but are looking for some enhancements to the GBA ROM hack.
7. Metroid Fusion: Special Edition
Metroid Fusion: Special Edition is the definitive way to play through your favorite Metroid game. It offers a much cleaner map for increased visibility. You can now make use of your favorite mechanics such as the bomb-jump and wall jumping off of a single wall.
One of the coolest features of the Metroid games is the ability to skip item sequences. Metroid Fusion: Special Edition adds to that by allowing new ways to explore the game like pick up power bombs early.
The colors have also been altered and an all new hard mode has now been added to the game.
6. Final Fantasy VI - Sound Restoration Hack - Framerate Fix
Sometimes the smallest things are what make these ROM hacks fantastic. Final Fantasy VI on the GBA was plagued with slowdown when using the handheld hardware. This ROM hack improves the framerate, resulting in a much smoother gameplay experience.
Additionally, the opera songs can be patched to include the true opera sounds from the SNES FF3 RPG. We really enjoyed hearing the improved audio in this release and this hack is for those who want to appreciate Final Fantasy 6 for what it should have been.
5. Metroid: Spooky Mission
An extremely interesting concept for a ROM hack was created for the Metconst 2017 fall contest. Giving you three all new areas to explore where you're set off to take on the large space pumpkin that has sealed off all the areas.
Metroid: Spooky Mission is a great option as a choice for a haloween game that can be completed in around 2 hours. What better way to save haloween than with Samus at the helm. Metroid: Spooky Mission is an excellent choice for one of the best GBA ROM hacks available!
4. Final Fight One - Arcade Remix
If you've ever played Final Fight One, one of the biggest gripes is the lack of originality towards the Arcade release. Final Fight One - Arcade Remix aims to reproduce the look and feel of the Arcade release.
You now have characters like Poison and Roxy restored. Cody's colors are now as accurate as possible towards the Arcade release. The music is now restored and each of the areas are now in the correct order.
If you were looking at playing Final Fight on the GBA, this is the version you'll want to play.
3. Wario Land 4: Parallel World
We wished there are as many options for Wario Land 4 as there are Pokemon or Zelda but finally we have this wonderful ROM hack released on the 20th anniversary of the original release of Wario Land 4.
All of the levels have been modified, giving you a fresh new layout to explore and solve puzzles for. Each of the bosses have also been modified and other elements from Wario games have been added.
You'll also receive custom CD quality audio from various Wario games. We wished we had this option on the original cartridge but due to size limitations ROM hacking has given the ability to unlock this feature.
2. Pokemon Orange - Pokemon Naranja
The entirely new region of The Orange Islands is brought to you in the ROM hack of Pokemon Orange. With brand new Pokemon that you can find and catch, making the game much more replayable.
If you're a fan of the original anime TV show, Pokemon Orange follows the manga very closely in video game format. With added 2v2 pokemon battles, giving you a harder experience as you make your way throughout the game.
All of the original characters from Pokemon 2000 and Mew vs Mewtwo are available from Ash and Misty. Pokemon Orange is one of the best GBA ROM hacks which is based on the Ruby version of the game.
1. The Last Promise
The Last Promise is the most well known ROM hack for Fire Emblem, period. Over the years, this GBA ROM hack has become such an iconic foundation to the modding community.
Dating back to 2012 where most ROM hacks were simply a reskinned version of your favorite game. With a development team of over 30 contributors, The Last Promise is a game built from the ground up.
It feels like an entirely new sequel to the Fire Emblem game on the GBA. Something you would only expect from Nintendo to produce. It's quite simply a masterpiece every fan of GBA ROM hacks should experience.
How To Play ROM Hacks On GBA?
The process of playing a rom hack on the GBA is quite simple. It involves taking an original unmodified version of the game as well as an IPS patch. You'll need two things in order to sucessfully create a patched ROM:
- The ROM file which is often found by searching the ROM name in each of the links above.
- An IPS patcher that can be found here (Lunar IPS)
Note: sometimes the files will need to be patched using a bps patcher. The process is the same, the file extension will be different.
- Once you've downloaded and extracted any of the ROM hacks, you'll have a file called "romhackname.ips"
- Open the Lunar IPS application and click "Apply IPS Patch"
- This will prompt you to find that ips file that you downloaded using one of the links.
- Once you've selected the file, it'll ask you to locate the ROM file to apply the patch to.
- Once you've selected it, you'll receive a prompt that the file was patched correctly.
You can now load your ROM file onto your emulator or flash cartridge of choice and enjoy the newly created game.
A intriguing and satisfying option for vintage gamers to play their favourite games in a brand-new way is through GBA ROM hacking.
With so many skilled hackers out there, there are countless opportunities to create fresh and intriguing GBA ROM hacks.
Why not try them out and experience what new difficulties and adventures the world of GBA ROM hacks has in store for you?
We hoped you enjoyed our listing of the best GBA ROM hacks. Please let us know on Twitter if you've enjoyed our list or wish some other options made the cut!