GBAtemp Recommends: Pokemon XG Romhack

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Pokemon Sword and Shield were hailed as the first mainline Pokemon games to grace a home console system, which laid some pretty big expectations. Whether or not those two games managed to live up to most fans’ hopes depends on who you ask, but the lead-up to their release was quite possibly the most chaotic, dramatic, and controversial of any Pokemon game ever. But a fully-fledged Pokemon game had already been released on a Nintendo console, nearly 20 years prior. 2003’s Pokemon Colosseum might have been a spinoff, but I think not being a main series entry gave it the freedom and ability to be one of the most unique adventures in the franchise.

For those who didn’t grow up with Colosseum, the concept of the game sees you playing as an ex-criminal, who journeys through the rough western region of Orre, a land so desolate and tough that wild Pokemon don’t exist there. Taking away the standard “catch ‘em all” attitude from your average Pokemon game, instead of obtaining your Poke-friends in the wild, you steal them from other trainers. Of course, there’s a caveat; Nintendo wouldn’t exactly want to market a game where you play as an irredeemable bad guy--in Colosseum, you steal abused “Shadow Pokemon” from their evil trainers, in order to “purify” and save them. Since Colosseum also followed directly after the release of Ruby and Sapphire, every fight in the game is a double battle, meant to highlight what was a brand new feature at the time. Outside of those facets, it feels like a real deal 3D Pokemon game--an actual adventure, with story--not like the battle-sim-esque Pokemon Stadium.

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With such a cool region, and story beats and ideas that felt a little darker than what you’d expect to see from the kid-friendly series, Colosseum sold well enough on the struggling Nintendo GameCube to get a sequel: Pokemon XD. It toned down some of the edgier aspects from its predecessor, while trying to balance some of the parts of the Shadow Pokemon system, all while teasing then-unknown and mysterious generation IV Pokemon, like Bonsly and Munchlax. Both games were fantastic, spinoffs or not, bringing unique ideas and pushing the series in ways that would sadly never get revisited again.

At least, not officially. Leave it to the fans, and they’ll deliver. Pokemon NeXt Gen, or XG, made by StarsMmd, is a “romhack” of Pokemon XD, modernizing the old game to have all sorts of new features, chief among them Gen VII gameplay mechanics. Existing as the first--and probably only--major mod for either of the Orre games, Pokemon XG is an impressive effort to take a nostalgic game and make it better than ever before. Pokemon games tend to be fairly easy by design, but this romhack rebalances XD to be more challenging to longtime fans, and changes the Shadow Pokemon lineup to have more fan favorites, freshening up the experience for those who’ve already played through the game multiple times.

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StarsMmd went all out with this, putting in the physical/special split, more shadow moves, more Shadow Pokemon, more Wild Pokemon, Alolan Pokemon forms; more everything. I’d honestly not expected for all these changes to be possible, but here we are. Having grown up with gen III games, it continually blows (and confuses...) my mind to see a Fairy-type Shadow Granbull, or watch as my poor Shellgon gets annihilated by a situation I thought was safe, until a Clefairy pulls out Dazzling Gleam and ruins my day.

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I’d actually say that the difficulty balancing might have gotten a bit out of hand--25 hours into XG and I find myself being worn down by what seems like fights that are excessive for the sake of it. Opponents will have ridiculous movesets right out of the gate; you’ll be wrecked by teams that know to throw out a Pokemon with the Hidden Ability of Drizzle and just go to town with Thunder. It’s fun to see, for sure, but it also gets grating watching my own Pokemon get one-shot by attacks that I never could have expected. You’d THINK a Combusken would be safe against a Grass-type, until it pulls something ridiculous out of its hat, like a high-powered water move that takes it out in one hit. Later fights were seriously challenging, to the point of insanity, with full teams of Shadow Pokemon, with moves that would hit everyone on the field for super-effective damage, or just giant level leaps that exist only to steamroll your team. And yet, it was still super fun, because it kept me coming back and engaged by making me plan out my turns.

If Pokemon Sword and Shield let you down, and you’re still craving a 3D Pokemon game that’ll actually sate your needs, then I’d absolutely recommend checking out Pokemon XG. It’s been at least ten years since I last played the original game, and this romhack lets me go through all my nostalgic memories once more, while still being engaging and fun, even if exasperating at times.

:download: Pokémon XG official page




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Silent_Gunner

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Romhack that makes the game really hard?

Sounds par for the course for these things, usually. While I get that a lot of games are made too easy, there's such a thing as not making enemies take 10+ beam blasts while they can kill you in, like, two hits...*Super Metroid Redesign's only latest version being the hard mode intensifies*

Meanwhile, Super Metroid Phazon, while harder than the base game, doesn't want to tear you apart limb by limb other than one enemy towards the beginning that you thankfully have an energy tank to deal with. Unfortunately, it's kind of easy to get lost in that one, as I eventually went up against a Federation Super Trooper that's a re-skin of the Golden Torizo...when I had 5 Energy tanks, at best. It's an open game, and actually uses sprites and other resources from Metroid Zero Mission and Metroid Fusion, which is awesome to see considering how the GBA is usually referred to as a portable SNES...albeit with a crappier sound chip.
 
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raxadian

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Does this run on a Wii?

Not that I will try it; I got burned out of freaking hard Pokemon with Emerald and that was just Gen 3.
 

raxadian

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What this game gets wrong is that being freaking hard from the start is not the right way to do a hard game. You start easily and slowly ramp things up and make the hardest setting a New Game plus or optional. That way people who don't want a really hard game can still enjoy it.

Gor example Legend of Mana has a super hard mode that's ridiculous but is completely optional.

How ridiculous is it? You need to expend a whole lot of time farming for materials for crafting the weapons and armor that let your survive the mode even at max level and it makes magic completely useless for you because your spells no longer do anything but scratch damage.
 
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Aheago

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What this game gets wrong is that being freaking hard from the start is not the right way to do a hard game. You start easily and slowly ramp things up and make the hardest setting a New Game plus or optional. That way people who don't want a really hard game can still enjoy it.

Gor example Legend of Mana has a super hard mode that's ridiculous but is completely optional.

How ridiculous is it? You need to expend a whole lot of time farming for materials for crafting the weapons and armor that let your survive the mode even at max level and it makes magic completely useless for you because your spells no longer do anything but scratch damage.
A lot of Pokémon rom hacks are made hard just for the sake of being hard. It’s pretty sad
 

Chary

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I mean, these are made for people who already have experience with the originals and want a challenge
Fair, bur there's challenge and then there's the opponent using 10 level higher than you Pokémon in three back to back fights you can't stop or heal between. And they all have super effective high power moves no matter what. And you're trying to catch them which means you don't want to kill them either, making you a sitting duck. I like it but I hate it.
 

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There’s a difference between having a challenge, and unbalanced difficulty

99.9% of rom hacks are unbalanced and difficult just to be edgy
I agree, but it's clear the person who made this went to extreme lengths to add in so many more things, too. Honestly I find it to be a marvel adding in the modern gameplay stuff. It's at least a million times better than "Pokémon Red but the first rival battle is vs a lv100 Blastoise" stuff you see flood the Pokémon haxminf community.
 

RichardTheKing

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I do recommend Drayano's DS Pokemon hacks - SacredGold, BlazeBlack, BlazeBlack 2. They do make the games more difficult, but not insanely so; it's a comfortable difficulty curve, in my experience.
 
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Chary

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I do recommend Drayano's DS Pokemon hacks - SacredGold, BlazeBlack, BlazeBlack 2. They do make the games more difficult, but not insanely so; it's a comfortable difficulty curve, in my experience.
Left unchecked, I could probably write 20 Recommends on Pokémon hacks alone...it was a toss up between those Drayano hacks, this, or the cute Battle Frontier hack I also found...which I might write about anyways because I'm a sucker for Emerald.
 

RichardTheKing

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Left unchecked, I could probably write 20 Recommends on Pokémon hacks alone...it was a toss up between those Drayano hacks, this, or the cute Battle Frontier hack I also found...which I might write about anyways because I'm a sucker for Emerald.
I would like GBA Pokemon ROMhacks more...if it wasn't for the base games' overly-strict anticheat system. Y'know, replacing Pokemon that fail a checksum with Bad Eggs that cannot easily be removed.
That's why I tend to prefer DS ROMhacks, since Game Freak eased up significantly there and afterwards.
 
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