Hacking Pokemon Games
So I have been spending a lot of my time making Pokemon games. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a huge Pokemon nerd, I enjoy the games but I don’t own a houseful of plushies and posters or anything. It is an interesting story as to how I fell into this sort of hobby.
It has always been a dream of mine to get my name in a real video games credit list. So one day I just started doing research into hacking video games. I think it is pointless to hack a game without a point, so I needed a reason to hack. I decided that I had always wanted to play a Pokemon game that had all of the Pokemon in it (for the specified generation). If you are unaware, Pokemon is a video game series that came out around 1998. The point of the original games (the only ones I care about) is to catch all of the Pokemon (little monsters you can obtain by battling and capturing in items called “PokeBalls”). Pokemon games require multiple cartridges to complete the games 100%. You have to trade Pokemon between the cartridges until you have them all. My idea was simple, I wanted to hack the first generation games, Red, and Blue (my favorites) in particular, to contain all 151 Pokemon so there would be no trading needed to complete the game.
The idea was simple so I used a simple tool to create “Pokemon – Red Version (Emu Edition)”. The name “Emu Edition” came from the realization that you would be playing this game on an EMUlator, and it is generally considered impossible to trade on emulators (yes I know some emulators have this ability, but they are few and far between, and it does not change the fact that you must play 2 versions of the game to trade Pokemon to get them all by yourself). I don’t know how well the name took off but that’s what I went with. My first Emu Edition game simply tossed all the unobtainable Pokemon in legitimate locations. This was not difficult for low level Pokemon like Ekans (only obtainable in Red version) or Meowth (only obtainable in Blue Version), I would simply place them in the location they would originally be if you played their version. But SOME Pokemon could only be obtained by trading and evolving a Pokemon at the same time. If you traded a Haunter to a friend, it would evolve to Gengar by the time your friend got it. I tossed these high level Pokemon in logical locations too but it made the game silly to run into these very powerful wild Pokemon.
I made an Emu Edition for Red Version and then the second generation game Gold Version. These hacks were moderately popular but you can see some of the downfalls. I started working on a first generation game remade with third generation graphics and hardware. This game was FireRed. FireRed is the same game as Red Version but it is made for GameBoy Advance instead of regular GameBoy. So much it had better graphics, full color and the series had just generally gotten better in the several years it took to get to third gen.
Working on FireRed was much more appealing. The graphics were better, it was the story I loved, and there were more tools. I started with the same steps, adding all game specific Pokemon to this game. There was a tool that allowed me to change how Pokemon evolved so I did not have to add random powerful Pokemon to the game. So by this point the game was about what my Red Emu Edition was, but I wanted more. Mew was my favorite Pokemon and I wanted him to have his own event. So you can catch him in a special event during the game and there was only one Mew. I needed to learn how to script events, how to create new things and make the game do what I wanted.
To do this I started looking at scripts already in the game. I began to learn how the game made things happen and started creating my own by simply copying how the game did it and altering little things. For instance there is a Mewtwo event where you fight the only Mewtwo in the game, I simply copied that event and changed the Pokemon to be Mew, I also changed his level and the noise it makes (so it sounded like Mew and not Mewtwo). I released the game just like this. And people wanted more.
A 3rd gen game actually as 386 Pokemon in it, but my hack only had the first 2 generations of Pokemon in it (251 total) because I only cared about the first two gens.
To accommodate my growing fan base I started learning how to create maps, and levels, and areas. I made a huge new island the player could travel to that contained all of the 3rd generation Pokemon. By doing this I learned a TON about scripting and pretty much gained the ability to make the game DO anything I wanted without rewriting HOW the game thinks. Staying within the games capabilities I could script any event.
Because there were so many changes to this game I decided to rename it. I mixed Red and Blue (the first generation game colors) and came up with purple or violet. Then it needed to be special because FIRE red or LEAF green are special colors, not just red and blue, I decided to call my hack Ultra Violet Version. To rename the game I had to learn to change the title screen from the standard screen to my custom one. I learned how to work with graphics and LZ7 compression (which is the image compression that the GameBoy Advance (GBA) uses.
Born to Make Video Games
Now I am a fairly good authority on scripting and mapping and graphics editing for these games. Not that I’m the biggest Pokemon fan in the world, but I enjoy making my own games, and am apparently good at it. People loved my hack, it’s one of the more popular hacks out there. In 3 months I learned A LOT, but still had NO IDEA what I was doing. I decided to actually learn how to program because I was good at it, and I enjoyed it, and people enjoyed my work. I enrolled in Fountainhead College of Technology and started a new chapter in my life. Not to mention I grew up wanting to make video games - that passion had faded through the years until I actually started hacking.
Welcome back passion.