I have always been a massive fan of the Pokémon series of games – especially the older GameBoy Advance and Nintendo DS versions of the game. Games like Pokémon Sapphire or Pokémon FireRed were my childhood. Recently I have replied a lot of them on emulators (which I will review in a separate post) on my phone and it has been an amazing nostalgia trip. As I replayed these games I started discovering ROMHack versions of the games. I have known these exist for a while but never bothered giving them a go, and I was really missing out.
Pokémon Gaia is a FireRed ROMHack made by Spherical Ice. The hack completely alters the game with an amazing original story seeing you through the typical storyline of beating gyms and the league, defeating an evil organisation all while creating the ultimate team of Pokémon. The game is set in a fictional region known as Orbtus. The game features Pokémon from up to Gen 6 from the regions of Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, Unova and Kalos. The game includes updated move sets, items, mega evolutions, fairy types, reusable TMs and more.
The story follows the established model of a young teen who leaves home in the quest to become an amazing Pokémon trainer. As you and your rival progress through the world you will encounter members of an evil organisation intent on controlling the world by using the power of legendary Pokémon (in this case it’s Regice, Regirock, Registeel and Regigigas). Battle them and the many trainers of the region, discover all Pokemon from newer generations and take on the Pokémon League in this amazing fan made passion project (which might as well be an original release). The region of Orbtus is well fleshed out with a variety of cities, biomes, areas and an interesting history.
Replaying old Pokémon games on an emulator is free and an a great nostalgia trip. Playing these fan-made ROMHacks is also free and an amazing experience. Like many other ROMHacks this was made by fans of the franchise, working for no profit but purely the love of Pokémon games. The game story, the amount of detail and work that has gone in are truly remarkable. Being able to catch Pokémon up to Gen 6 and use all new moves or functionality (like Mega Evolutions) is awesome – especially for those who don’t really appreciate the new style of games as much, who haven’t had a chance to play on DS or Switch or who would like to relive new experiences on the older engines.
Overall, if you have not played any ROMHacks before, Pokémon Gaia is a good introduction. While in its current state there isn’t much of a post-league game, the story, events, gyms and Elite Four are all really well done and fleshed out. It would be nice to see the Regis as catchable after the main story concludes and maybe some additional challenges or high-level trainers. The game really feels like it could be an official entry to the series. The use of the Regis as the legendary Pokémon for the focus of the story is quite different and almost provides a bit of a fictional backstory. For me the ideal way to play is on my phone and a good emulator will set you back around £3, but there are some decent free options too. The game will keep you busy for quite a while, especially if you decide to take your time and talk to people or help out where you can.
- You can get Deoxys once you have Strength in the Cosmic Caverns
- You can catch Rayquaza once you have waterfall in the Emerald Peak just outside Nestpine Town
- The best place to use the VS seeker is in the area just before the nurse on Victory Road – there are 3 Ace Trainers in view which are all quite easy to beat
- You can find the coin case inside one of the warehouses in Telmurk city – the same one with the Rotom appliances
- You can get the Amulet Coin quite early on by buying it from a guy in Aerous City for $5000
- You can turn fossils into Pokémon at the Professor’s house – upstairs
- You can play on 2x speed with most emulators which makes the whole experience that little bit better
- To set up the ROMHack download FireRed (Squirrels) and then apply the patch to it, then simply load up the newly patched FireRed (you may want to rename it) into an emulator and off you go
- Pokémon FireRed (U) (Squirrels): https://archive.org/details/1636PokemonFireRedUSquirrels
- Pokémon Gaia Info and Download: https://www.pokemoncoders.com/pokemon-gaia-gba-rom-hack/
- Pokémon Locations: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1OXOhR5oMio9lbdMoqKlKUyceQTiRvrNxooDwbWnbVqc/edit?usp=sharing
- Item Locations: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1oW8qNFk4TZKfvPArWcUhnoJqInKg87j_EDauglPhUMs/edit?usp=sharing
- Move Tutor Locations: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1di5hs7OfD5h6HKqhUW2EqKpa_rKvse3JTVaMTzt9S88/edit?usp=sharing
- Evolution Methods: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1kNl2L2twD__tkGVU0eAHS65jPY2DSYKE9ZNXnTLPSlY/edit?usp=sharing
- My Boy! – GBA Emulator (Android): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fastemulator.gba&hl=en_GB&gl=US
- GBA Emulators (PC): https://www.emulator-zone.com/doc.php/gba/