Official ROM Hacks

This week, Sunsoft announced a rerelease of Trip World in collaboration with Limited Run Games and it includes a new Trip World DX version. It colorizes the original and ports it to GBC.

I started wondering what other examples are out there where developers have essentially embraced something the community has been doing for years and made it something officially sold.

In brainstorming for potentially covering this on a podcast episode, a friend suggested the Knuckles playability in Sonic 1-3 as an example. I thought about some of the stuff we've seen from M2 in certain compilations or ports.

What can you think of?

I don't know if this is a fair answer but: the entirety of Mario Maker

@“Mnemogenic”#p112785 Oh that’s a great answer. That really leaned into the spirit of the community changing up the old games.

You’ve also just reminded me that NES Remix exists.

That same hacker recently worked on colourisations and/or translations for several Ninja JaJaMaru-kun games for ININ/Strictly Limited Games (and they don‘t work very well, but that’s probably due to the emulation company and not the patches themselves).

The company Retro-Bit has translated or otherwise tweaked several of the games they've reissued on unlicensed cartridges... off the top of my head, they tweaked the performance of Mega Man: The Wily Wars and implemented a bunch of endings from the arcade version of Zero Wing into the Mega Drive port.

A lot of fan translations have shown up on bootleg cartridges, plug-and-play/one-chip devices, etc—they are sometimes licensed from the translators, but quite often just scraped off the internet. I believe Aeon Genesis did get paid for some of theirs (but I have no idea who actually signs off on those deals...)

Homebrew and old unlicensed games are being commercially reissued nowadays as well; one particularly notorious publisher, Piko Interactive, buys up every obscure catalogue they can identify and will license them to everyone and anyone, legality be damned, so you'll see x-in-1 devices that somehow include Taiwanese bootleg Disney games next to genuine Aladdin or whatever.

One of Piko's more notorious acquisitions was the Barkley: Shut Up and Jam! games, which they've since reissued by editing Barkley's name to "Hoops" and replacing his likeness with some random Shutterstock guy, complete with poorly-removed watermark.

@“gsk”#p112806 I knew you would come through with a ton of great answers.

It's interesting to see how different companies approach these with varied results. I forgot entirely about that Barkley rerelease... I fear we'll likely see more and more of that as this stuff continues to find new ownership.


Ugh, Piko. I haven‘t thought about them since the Glover fiasco. It’d be better if companies like that just stayed out of retro gaming.


@“gsk”#p112806 Hoops

Sharing this because people need to see it

A few come to mind:

  • - Digital Eclipse's Disney Classic Games includes a “Final Cut” version of Aladdin for Genesis that fixes some bugs and restores some removed features found in the source code.
  • - *Donkey Kong: Original Edition* is the NES version of *Donkey Kong* with the ~~pie~~ cement factory level added back in.
  • - *Luigi Bros.*, unlockable in *Super Mario 3D World*, is a ROM hack of NES *Mario Bros.* that makes Mario green.
  • Pac Man Championship Edition NES


    Not gonna lie I thought this was Shut Up and Jam Gaiden and thought it was confusing that they made Charles Barkley into Hoops because that‘s his son’s name.

    @“hellomrkearns”#p112887 a breakdown of M2's community-sourced stuff:

  • -

    the Darius and Fantasy Zone ports released on the MD/Genesis Mini systems were primarily made by a dude named hidecade, a middle-aged OB/GYN who randomly took up MD dev as a hobby and is shockingly good at it. hidecade did the bulk of the work but M2 helped polish them and/or bring them across the finish line, including bringing in another community member named WING to work on the audio.

  • -

    the Space Harrier port included on the MD/Genesis Mini 2 is also rooted in a homebrew project by someone who doesn't like putting their name out there; even putting aside the "Mark V" VD integration, the homebrew version was substantially different to the final version and was based more on the PCE version (hence why the final version has so much flicker—the sprites were initially intended to be much smaller)

  • -

    Pac-Man CE NES was a hobbyist project that M2 snapped up years and years before they were ever able to do anything with it; it was mostly done when they got it, but they tightened it up and rewrote the audio for the N163 chip. I don't remember whether the original programmer has or hasn't laid claim to it, but they're an active member of the industry who's been working since the late-era Compile days.

  • -

    Gaplus NES wasn't fan-sourced as such, but it may has well have been: basically, some folk at M2 were bullshitting online about how whether one could conceivably port Gaplus to FC, and then when the opportunity came to actually do it, they brought in one of the homebrew guys they'd been chatting with to handle the port. That programmer's another pro who's been active since the Famicom era and has worked on high-profile classic games (but again, I forget what they feel comfortable claiming), and they recently programmed GG Aleste 3.

  • -

    they did a FC demake of a Steinsgate ADV a few years back, and while it wasn't a homebrew project as such, it does have some roots there: they repurposed a bunch of old chibi-tech arranges for for the music but, due to schedule constraints, they didn't have time to write a dedicated driver, so they basically ended up collaborating with the Famitracker developer to finagle some sort of hardware-compliant Famitracker-derived driver.

  • @“donrumata”#p112889 oh no i'm having kickstarter sequel backer flashbacks

    i know they meant well, i mean, i know a guy who actually got his cyberdwarf body pillow

    similar to luigipope's, the mario 25th anniversary or whatever that turns the ? blocks into the number 25 is just an nes rom patch playable on hardware.

    there's a blurry line here between "official hacks" and just "official patches" if they have the source code, then it's just a patch.

    the game hellomrkearns said, pac man championship edition, is so good on hardware that it's possibly my favorite famicom game of all time, it's certainly the most polished, streamlined, playable etc.

    I was gonna say gaplus in the same category, but's not really a patch of a previously existing game. if we're talking any new game for old hardware, that opens things up a lot.

    technically the first four animal crossing games were all versions of the n64 original ported to gamecube, with new stuff patched in.

    I believe famicom disk system has a few of these with bizarre marketing cross-overs.

    The one that comes to mind is all night Nippon super Mario Bros which is largely a bunch of sprite swaps for lost levels. They may have re-arranged some of the levels as well.

    There is also a bunch of setellaview games which are similar concepts

    You could probably make the case that most of the more extensive Famicom–>NES conversions (most famously Dokidoki Panic–> SMB2US, but also Obake no Q-tarō–>Chubby Cherub and so on) are official rom hacks, although I‘m not sure that’s in keeping with the spirit of this thread!