GBAtemp Recommends #114: Pokemon Romhack - Crystal Clear

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Welcome to the 114th issue of the GBAtemp Recommends Revival Project! This project is a revival of our once-weekly feature where we share our favorite games and applications with you. The titles we recommend may be "old school" games, a piece of Homebrew, a ROM hack, sleeper hits, an application, etc, but one thing's for certain, we think they are fantastic and deserve your attention!

Pokemon romhacks have always been a popular commodity. From changing what Pokemon appear on a given route, to rewriting entire dialogue to create their own story, multitudes of different romhacks have been created, offering unique or refined takes on the Pokemon world. Simple UI changes, adding quality of life improvements from newer games to older entries, sprite and palette edits, and completing mixing up how you play the game are all different ways you can experience your favorite Pokemon games. This time, we’ll be looking at a romhack that makes use of all the aforementioned changes, in order to create what could quite possibly be the best way to experience a Pokemon game ever.

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Pokemon Crystal Clear by ShockSlayer is a Pokemon Crystal hack that takes the second generation game that you know and love, and turns it on its head by making it an open-world customized experience. Have you ever wanted to start in Kanto, instead of Johto at the start of Crystal? Or how about choosing what color your player sprite appears as? What about if you wanted to choose a Ditto as your starter Pokemon? You can do all of those thing, and more!

As you start a new game, you’re given the option as to where you want to start; Palette, or New Bark Town. Then, you pick if you want to play as a male or female, and are able to choose from both the typical player avatars from Crystal, or you can play as Red and the new female option variant, Green. After that, the game takes you immediately to a starter selection screen, with 28 Pokemon to pick from. The usual suspects are here as always; Charmander, Totodile, Cyndaquil, Squirtle, Chikorita, and Bulbasaur. However, there’s also Pikachu and Eevee, and if you’re feeling really unconventional, one can select a Magikarp, Unknown, or Ditto.

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Once you’re teleported into the overworld, you’ll notice that the game asks if you want to save. This is another new feature; whenever you’re given a gift Pokemon or have a Legendary encounter, you’ll be prompted to save, in order to save time on soft-resetting for Shiny Pokemon. It’s a simple change, but a definitely welcome one. HM’s have been rendered obsolete, as well, so that you can freely explore the world of both Kanto and Johto with nothing to block your path. Tohjo Falls and the winding path to the west of New Bark still exist, but there’s also a simple road you can walk to skip past all of it. There is no sidequest needed to get the Magnet Train pass, either, so once you reach Goldenrod or Saffron, you can jump back and forth between regions easily. Things that were removed from G/S/C’s original versions, like Cinnabar Island or the Safari Zone have also been revised and replaced, as well. Thanks to these changes, and some re-additions of legendary Pokemon events, you can catch all 251 Pokemon without any cheats.

Not only are you free to explore anywhere at anytime, players will find that every single trainer and Gym Leader now scale in level. Depending on how many Gym Badges you’ve earned, the game will change how difficult it is. It’s entirely valid to skip Brock or Falkner off the bat, only to run to Blackthorn or Fuschia and challenge Claire or Janine, who will have a team of level 10s. This made starting with a Charmander far easier, as once-roadblocks Misty and Brock were bypassed, and I was allowed to walk to Celadon to take on Erika and her grass type team, which my Charmander could easily take on and level up quickly from.

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Due to the scaling of your opponents' levels, you might feel a need to grind your team up between each match. Luckily, Gym Leaders can be rematched at any time, and you can even set what level bracket their teams are at, letting you quickly level up weaker Pokemon. This is especially useful because of the massive type coverage Gyms have. Leveling up a Flying type is especially easy when you can go fight the Bug type Gym over and over. Or, you can tough it out and fight only on the wild Pokemon. It's your adventure to choose. Another level of customization comes from the sound menu. Here, you can pick new-old tracks to play during different parts of the game. Want to replace the Kanto Wild Pokemon theme with the Trainer Battle VS theme demake from R/S/E? You can! How about the B/W or S/M Gym Leader Battle music? You bet! It's a simple, small change, but it's a nice one, for certain.

Something to note is that while most romhacks of pre-gen 4 titles tend to fix the physical/special split, this one does not. No new Pokemon have been added, either. This was done specifically by the developer for the sole reason of allowing for Crystal Clear to interact and trade with legitimate Pokemon games. Due to the fact that major changes aren’t implemented, everything within the game is still compatible with actual copies of Pokemon G/S/C, and even Stadium 2.

Originally, while this article was being written, ShockSlayer hosted both a patched .gbc ROM of Crystal, as well as a .cia file for 3DS users. These have both been removed, now, at the time of posting, and the patch can only be found through joining the dev's secret Discord server.

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The concept of making the world of Pokemon something open-world and explorable and letting players take it at their own pace is a fantastic idea. Even those who have played the Generation 2 games a dozen times will find a breath of fresh air pumped into them, thanks to this romhack, and it begs the question if/when we will see this repeated for later games.

Genre: Pokemon Romhack/Turn Based RPG
Release Year: v1.3 - 2018
Developer: ShockSlayer
Available for: Anything that can play GBC patched roms

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If you enjoyed this week's edition of GBAtemp Recommends! Please leave a comment in the thread. This helps us monitor feedback and ensures we keep posting these articles in the future! If you would like to see the original archive of our previous entries, you can look at our archived content here.

:download: Patch: Google
:download: Patching Tool (beat)
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grey72

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Is it just me or does crystal version get all the most creative ROMhacks? Either way looks very interesting, gonna try it out soon
 
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Justinde75

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I've actually played this a while ago, and its a pretty solid hack. People that like Gen 2 should try this for sure.
 

Patxinco

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Yesterday was actually watching a video of this rom hack, and i was pretty impressed, what a surprise to see it here reviewed!!

Heard they had a Discord server, anyone knows about it?
 

Kourin

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I played this through a few months ago and it was honestly the most fun I've had with Pokemon in years. I'm hoping someone does something similar with gen 3 - the whole choosing where to go, taking things at your own pace and growing challenge makes it feel like what Pokemon is supposed to be - an adventure
 

Jayro

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So I've been playing for a few hours, and I'm almost to gym #2 in Kanto... and I REALLY enjoy this ROM hack. Instant running shoes, the nurse is mute if you want her to be, it has good character selection, faster transitions right into battle, all sorts of good stuff that is welcomed. Very good ROM hack so far. Quality is right up there with Pokemon Prism.
 
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I've had the .cia of v.1.3b for a while now, and it's my favorite Pokemon game so far, even better than the cannon games IMO.
 

migles

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This looks slick! I hope I can buy it from China on a cartridge soon, to try it on actual hardware. ^_^
hey watch me.
of course i am gona use my everdrive and play this in my gba (its not a gbc and am gonna use a flashcart but still counts!)

edit: i am even gonna dump my real pokemon crystal rom and use it to patch this hack ;O;
 
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