A gamer and writer at heart who wants to combine his hobbies into one. I am 25 years old and I'm from the Netherlands. Having played many games over the years, I wanted to express my love for them, however obscure they may be!
Ah, it certainly has been a while since I took a look at ROM hacks and fan games! Since the last time I’ve actually done so was before I took a break from the site, allow me to welcome you again and explain what the ROM Hack Showcase is going to be about!
In a ROM Hack Showcase, I take a look at a fan’s creation who has used an existing game as a base, and developed their own patch that can be applied to a ROM which makes the result an entirely different game. Given that this hack is built upon an existing game, I will only talk about what the creator has done differently from the original source, be it for the better- or worse. You can kind of see it as a review in that sense, though it’s more casual and informative instead of breaking the game down to its core. The showcase also assumes that the reader is familiar with the base game, in this case, Pokémon Emerald. So without further ado, today I’ll be tackling Pokémon Glazed by Lucbui!
Also, a disclaimer before I start: The version of Pokémon Glazed that I’ve played is the Beta 7b version. This is the only version compatible with Retro Achievements, and all of the later versions are unofficial. That said, I would still recommend checking out later versions of this game, or Pokémon Blazed Glazed which is an overall big expansion.
I do always read up on what a ROM hack is exactly about, and also if it’s finished which is of big importance to me. I’ve played several ROM hacks that ended after a certain gym because it was still in progress, and I know myself a bit too well to know that I most likely won’t return to it due to other distractions. So I did technically already know about Pokémon Glazed‘s selling points but for the sake of this showcase, I’ll just pretend this ROM hack fell in my mailbox and I popped it in, not knowing what I was about to get myself into!
So after getting the short introduction out of the way, the first thing I do is… not visit the professor and instead go explore around a bit. There’s a world map on every route and upon opening it the first time, there I saw it: Pokémon Glazed wasn’t just a completely new region with 8 gyms and all-new cities, but there was a second region on the map. That region… is Johto. I recognized it immediately and upon going over the cities, it was confirmed. While Kanto in Pokémon Gold/Silver wasn’t necessarily the best, I desperately miss going to a second region, specifically an old one we’ve already been to. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a third region! It’s not as major as the other two, but this is a whole lot of content fit into a single ROM hack.
Since I obviously couldn’t progress through the game without paying the professor a visit, that’s exactly what I did. The starting town has a statue of the Johto starters so that’s what I expected to receive, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover I was given the Sinnoh starters instead, alongside Shinx and my personal pick, Riolu. I always (try to) make it a point to not use Pokémon that I’ve used before on other playthroughs, but I’ll make an exception for one of my favourite Pokémon of all time. I failed that ideology anyway since I grabbed my favourite Pokémon Froslass pretty quickly later on, but let’s pretend that didn’t happen.
Upon starting your journey, you come across a rampant Pikachu who apparently has beef with you. Later on, you get a device that allows you to talk to Pokémon… but it still doesn’t make me understand this Pikachu’s problem. Apparently he is a legendary since the legendary theme plays in the background while fighting him. I’ll come back to the story execution later down the showcase, but I just don’t understand the point of this Pikachu being here. It’s not like he is a stand-in for a rival or something since you’ll meet your first of too many just a few steps after beating the Pikachu. The rivals are fine I suppose, but there are like… 7 or something, and that is way too much for me to care about them. Their importance in the story is also minimal.
Actually, maybe I’ll just get the story part out of the way first since we also meet the villainous team at the next town. Stories have never been the main attraction of a Pokémon game- or ROM hack, unless the creators have specifically made a story-driven ROM hack. With that mindset, I also won’t really judge the hack as a whole on the story since that’s not what we’re here for, but I have to address it regardless. The concept behind the story and the villainous team is interesting; offsetting the balance of the creation trio results in universes coming closer to each other, occasionally interacting. The villainous team wants to summon Mew to create the ultimate TM which is definitely an interesting motive as well.
I don’t like saying this about a fan project, but the story execution is just horrible. The universes interacting with each other serves absolutely no purpose and when it’s over, it is never brought up again. When the evil team is defeated, they just disband immediately because they’ve supposedly seen the errors of their ways. One of the former members of this team does not agree with this disbanding and goes to Johto to capture all legendary Pokémon for no reason other than them being legendary, then fights with another “evil” team’s leader who does not agree to capturing legendary Pokémon. You stop them both and… they fall in love and fly off? …What?
But like I said, we’re not really here for the story. Don’t put your expectations beyond a normal Pokémon story and you’ll be fine. The first region we explore is Tunod–which is totally not a palindrome for Donut. It’s a mostly linear region, but it does open up a bit more once you can surf. The creator of the hack has done his best to make every town and city distinguishable from each other with unique landmarks, and it certainly worked. There’s the ski slopes in Northcoast town and the Lighthouse Challenge on Serenity Isle just to name a few. I genuinely enjoyed arriving at each new route- and town to see what they had to offer. What I didn’t enjoy however, was the extremely high amount of HMs. Like seriously, there’s a total of 9 HMs and a few extra TMs that have overworld effects, like Dig and Bounce. The amount of HMs is ridiculous and I hate it.
The progression for the first four gyms was a bit tough. They required a lot of grinding since you simply didn’t have the best Pokémon at that point in the game, and the gym levels were pretty high. Progression immediately skyrocketed after the fourth gym where everything suddenly became easy in comparison, and I never even needed to think about grinding again until the Johto elite four. It sucks for the first four gyms, but 99.99% of the human race play this on an emulator so there are a lot of ways to make that part less redundant. It wasn’t ideal for my stream but oh well, most people won’t have that issue.
The variety in Pokémon to obtain was nice as well, and you could already get several beloved ones early on. There are Pokémon from the first five generations, making the total count go up to… still 386. I can’t really blame the creator for this though, as adding new Pokémon to the Pokédex is a massive hurdle, especially around the time period this hack was created. But that limitation didn’t stop the creator from adding Mega Evolutions, and also making every single Pokémon available to catch- or evolve without the necessity of trading. That last part was especially nice, since that meant I could catch an Elekid early on without needing to worry about being unable to evolve it into Electivire later on. Pokémon were also updated to their later generation counterparts in terms of the physical/special split, and a few new moves were added as well.
I do also like how Johto was handled. The beginning seems pretty normal but upon reaching Violet City and beating Falkner, it’s obvious that you won’t go through the gyms in the exact order that you remember. You can’t go to Azalea Town, so your next best option is to take the route west of Violet City and see where you can end up. There have also been a few changes to Johto to make it an even more unique experience, namely two completely new towns with new gym leaders, as two others have retired. Mt. Silver has also erupted, so the Johto League has been moved elsewhere and also has new members as the old ones apparently died. Edgy.
Finally there’s Rankor, which is a fine region on its own but mostly serves as an extra to finish up the story. It’s technically just a bunch of islands to travel between, with each having either a legendary, a gym, or both. Good segue with the legendaries, as that’s essentially most of the post-game. Pokémon Glazed has almost all legendary- and mythical Pokémon from generation 1 to 5 with the exception of the “Forces of Nature” trio–but let’s be honest, nobody cares about them since they’re trash. They’re spread all over the three regions, and it was a fun journey to discover where all of them were hiding. Also, no roaming legendaries. Thank you Lucbui, I love you.
And… that’s basically all I have to say about Pokémon Glazed! I’m not sure if I’ve been able to express my enthusiasm for this ROM hack well enough in this showcase, but it truly has everything that I’m looking for. A fun region to explore alongside a returning region and a few islands, a nice variety in Pokémon to catch early on in the game, and a ton of added features that weren’t present in the original Pokemon Emerald. But most of all, it understands what makes a Pokémon game fun and replicates that feeling very well.
Nowadays, I unfortunately am not as big a Pokémon fan as I used to be, as the main games simply can’t provide me with what I’m looking for, or make many questionable decisions that I do not approve of. The Pokémon Sword/Shield controversy was one that, in my opinion, rightfully happened. Unfortunately, I doubt Gamefreak has learned their lesson from it as the games sold extremely well. That’s why I’m mostly sticking to the older games now, as well as creations from fans. And Pokémon Glazed definitely made me remember what I love about Pokémon–so much so that I even completed the entire Pokédex.
Thank you for reading! Due to legal reasons, I can’t tell you how to gain access to an official Pokemon Emerald ROM. However, a little googling should help you out for sure, and you can also find some information on the Pokecommunity forums! You can find many more ROM hacks here as well, so it’s definitely worth a check!