We all know that Nintendo gets litigious, especially when it comes to notable fan projects. But you also may have noticed that there are about two and a half bazillion Pokémon ROM hacks out there. It may seem like that kind of thing is invincible, but not always. In fact, one game in particular was so hyped up Nintendo went out of its way to send the creator a Cease and Desist demand. Here’s everything to know about the Pokémon Prism ROM Hack.
When it comes to these kinds of things, there’s a lot of different approaches. Sometimes people use ROM hacking to screw around and learn, some people use them as elaborate shitposting vehicles. Or to just get weird, like with Pokemon Snakewood. Other times, ROM hack enthusiasts will take a Pokémon game as a foundation and pretty much make their own original entry in the series on top of it. That’s the case with Pokémon Prism.
The creator already released a fairly notable ROM hack, Pokémon Brown. This person (known online as “Koolboyman”) made their own region (connected to Johto) and Pokémon Prism was a sequel of sorts. Players took on the role of one of Lance’s children (of the Elite Four in Kanto) and get lost in a new region called Naljo. This region seems to be having issues with industrialization, and the player sets out to help make things better.
What’s notable about Pokémon Prism is it was such a high-quality ROM Hack of Pokémon Crystal that Nintendo actually reached out to shut it down. But then it leaked, and another group stepped in to polish up the near-complete game. Now it’s easily available at spots like PokéHarbor, and Nintendo seemingly doesn’t care anymore.
Speculation seems to point to Pokémon Prism’s proximity to the latest official games at the time, Sun and Moon. But Pokémon Gold and Silver would also hit the Virtual Console the following year, so it could’ve been a brand clarity issue as well. Either way, Nintendo went after a Pokémon ROM hack, which was unusual even for Nintendo.
If you’re curious and feel like playing a souped-up Pokémon Crystal with tons of new content and an original story, you could do a lot worse than checking out Pokémon Prism. And if not, hey, at least the story behind it is interesting!