Our Top 5 Favorite Nintendo ROM Hacks

Super Mario Star Road

What is a ROM hack?

A ROM hack is a modification of a video game ROM that adds new continent, translates, palette swaps, and can even completely overhaul the game. What’s the difference between a ROM hack and a mod? Nothing. The only difference is that a ROM hack is a mod of a video game ROM (the type of file used in old cartridge-based games) like the ones used in the NES or Super Nintendo.

#5 Mario Kart R

Ever wanted to have new tracks in Super Mario Kart? Ever wished you could play as Kirby in Super Mario Kart? Well with the Mario Kart R ROM hack, you can!

Mario Kart R is a ROM hack for Super Mario Kart (SNES) that adds all new tracks and replaces poor toad with Kirby. All the newly added tracks look great and are of such a high quality that they could easily be mistaken for a track made by Nintendo themselves. Throw in some beautiful original graphics and cool track gimmicks not seen in the original and you have a really well made ROM hack that can easily add a lot more hours to an already great game.

#4 Mega Man In The Mushroom Kingdom

One of the coolest part about ROM hacks is the freedom for modders to provide a creative game without the fear of copyright and the need to make money. This allows modders to create very original ideas and put in different characters from different games without the fear of copyright infringment.

A ROM hack that epitomizes this idea is Mega Man in the Mushroom Kingdom, a hacked version of Mega Man 1 that places Mega Man into the world of Mario. A completely original game that (weirdly) is really easy compared to the brutally hard original Mega Man. I highly recommend you check it out.

#3 Pokémon Light Platinum

Pokémon ROM hacks are a dime a dozen. Only Super Mario World can contend when it comes to the sheer number of ROM hacks available for the series. Pokémon Light Platinum is one of the gems in the vast world of Pokémon hacks. With Pokémon from the Johto, Kanto, Hoenn and Sinnoh regions, every legendary imaginable, a new region called Zhery, new rivals and more, this Pokémon hack is one of the best.

#2 The Legend of Zelda: Parallel Worlds

The Legend of Zelda: Parallel Worlds has been in development for 10+ years and is one of, if not the best Super Nintendo ROM hack(s). The Legend of Zelda: Parallel Worlds is a hack of The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past and completely overhauls the whole entire game. A new and complete storyline, all new light/dark worlds and new music/graphics to top it all of.

This game is noted for being extremely well made but also brutally difficult causing the author to release an easier version for those who wanted a more traditional experience, or just couldn’t handle the harder version. Do yourself a favor and check this one out if you ever get the chance.

#1 Super Mario Star Road

Super Mario Star Road…ahh…what an amazing ROM hack. This hack was beautifully crafted and you can tell just by the intricate levels and stunning graphics that the author of this hack really put a lot of time and effort into it. Super Mario Star Road is a ROM hack of Super Mario 64 and completely overhauls the game. A new Overworld, 120 new stars, 30 new areas and 50 new songs make this an amazing ride for not only Super Mario 64 fans, but fans of video games in general.

The maker of this hack “SKELUX CORE” has created a lot of hacks for Super Mario 64 and even ported Star Road into the Nintendo DS version of Super Mario 64! Best of all Skelux has announced that he is making a sequel.

Honorable Mention: Kaizo Mario

Kaizo Mario is one of the most infamous ROM hacks of all time. This hack was made by a gentleman who goes by the name of Takemoto who was trying to make a hack that was to difficult for his friend to beat. I imagine he succeeded.

Kaizo Mario is the definition of a hard game. With extremely precise jumps and puzzles that require vast knowledge of the Super Mario World mechanics…well…good luck beating this ROM hack. Plenty of YouTubers have tried this rom hack (most notably ProtonJon), but few have succeeded in completing every level.

You’ll know what you’ve gotten yourself into when the game kills you the moment you click play.

Runner-up: Mario Adventure

Mario Adventure is a diamond in the rough when it comes to Super Mario Bros. 3 ROM hacks. Not a simple palette flip but a total overhaul, Mario Adventure has new graphics, tons of new levels/worlds and a new power-up. Mario Adventure has plenty of new features that feel neither gimmicky, nor forced. One of these features is a random weather system. When a level is chosen, a random weather effect will be put into place. One playthrough could be snowy causing the screen to show snow falling down and having the controls feel slippery, while another playthrough could be your average sunny day. A cool effect of this feature is that the physics will change to match each weather condition.

Mario Adventure is a difficult hack but provides infinite lives, which you will definitely be thankful for. Overall an amazing hack and definitely worth a download.

Are there any notable ROM hacks that you think deserve to be mentioned? Let us know which ones in the comments section below!

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About The Author

Hello my name is Caleb, it's been a huge blessing to write for this site and do what I enjoy. I play retro and new games and am always up for a new experience.