Pokemon Rom Hacks FAQ – How to Play?

Pokemon hack rom

Pokemon Rom Hacks FAQ

This FAQ covers:

How to play GBA Pokemon Rom Hacks

Note: GBA refers to Game Boy Advance

Getting a Rom

You need to get a GBA Pokemon Rom Hack

First, you already have one already. A GBA Rom Hack is going to have a.gba extension. If a.rar,.zip,.7z, etc. archive is open, delete it to retrieve the.gba document. If you have a patch folder (.ips or.ups), there will be a guide on how to bug the patch below.

Note: This tutorial is for .gba files in particular. If you have a.nds, you’re going to have to have a.nds emulator. You may need another emulator if you have a GBC game (.gbc).

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Next, you’ll need a GBA emulator to play Rome. An emulator lets you play GBA games on the console, but on your device. Below are few instructions.

Windows – Visual Boy Advance (VBA)
Android – My Boy!
ChromeOS – GPemu

If you have an emulator that is not available, please mention it to help everyone out in the comment section.
Note: The recommended emulator for most hacks is Visual Boy Advance 1.8.0 Beta 3.

Start the rom

Next open the.gba (or possibly.zip) emulator file. On VBA, File->Open or ROM drag-and-drop.) You ought to load the game now. A Rome Pokemon should show a similar screen

pokemon gba start screen

If you have a white screen, go to step 5.


If you have a touch panel, your buttons (A, B, Start, Select, L, R and the direction pad) should appear on your screen.
Usually Z= A, X= B, Enter= Start, Backspace= Select, A= L, S= R are the controls if you are using VBA. View / Change by heading to Options->Joypad->Settings->1.


At this point, if you get any of these errors-White screen

The 1m sub-circuit board is not installed
Internal Battery has run dry

Or some other mistake I may have forgotten to use these VBA settings (try to find similar settings for steps 4 and 5 if you have another emulator)-

    1. Close VBA.
    2. Delete the .sgm, .sa1 or .sav files for this game in your folder (if they exist).
    3. Open VBA.
    4. Go to Options -> Emulator -> Save Type -> Flash 128k
    5. Options -> Emulator -> Real Time Clock
    6. Options -> Gameboy -> Automatic
    7. Close VBA again.
    8. Open VBA and load the rom once more (and preferably start a new game)

Note: If using MyBoy, check Settings -> Advanced Settings -> Cartridge Save Type -> Flash 128k. Also, Even if you do not see any error, if possible, it would be helpful to use these settings.


That’s it. That’s it. Now you can play the game as you would on a console of Game Boy Advance. You can either use an input Save Mechanic (Start->Save while in the game) to save your match or use save status (some emulators like My Child! Free don’t help that).
In VBA, click on Shift+F1 to save and load F1 to save states. (Substitute F1 for F2, F3,…, F10 for save states)

How to patch a Rom Hack?

You will need 3 things – a patch file, a basic rome and a patching software to patch a rome.


This is probably what you have since you’re here. A repair file turns it into a modified rome once installed on the base rom. The most frequent types are.ips and.ups. Also less common types like.aps and.xdelta are available. pokecommunity.com is one of the most popular sites for patch files.


A base rome is the game that the hacker modified to hack the rome. It is normally a Pokemon official game such as FireRed, Emerald, etc. The extension should be.gba (extract if.zip or.rrar). You can learn what the right base rom is by referring to the page from which you downloaded the patch file.

Basic Roma are available in different versions, which means that Fire Red v1.0 is different than Fire Red v1.1. To make the final game work properly, it’s crucial that you use the same rome that the developer cracked-usually anywhere you received the patch folder. If you are not sure which version to use, some trial and error may be necessary.

The most popular base roms are as follows-
FireRed- Squirrels (also called 1636 and BPRE), Independent (1695)
Emerald- Trashman (1986), UE
Ruby- v1.0 (0907), v1.0 Mugs (0907), Independent (2006)

You can usually get basic Roma by quickly searching for Google.


This tool will patch the patch file on the base rome. Based on the patch file type, different software may be required.

Some recommendations (for Windows)-
ips – Lunar IPS (LIPS)
ups – NUPS, Tsukuyomi
aps – A-Ptch
xdelta – Xdelta

If you use Ios, there is an app that runs on ips and downs, called Unipatcher.


    1. Open the patching software you use,
    2. Select Apply Patch (or similar)
    3. Select the base rom if the commands are’ Patch File’ (or similar)
    4. Select your patch file when the’ Patch’ command is prompted, if needed.
    5. If an mistake happens, the most popular patching code can overwrite the base rom and what used to be the base rom is now the modified roma-hack.
    6. If you want, change it. Change it.
    7. That’s it. You can now access and run it with an emulator.

How to use your old data with an update?

Note: I don’t have any iOS background, so I don’t know if it will work. In fact, if your saving files are stored in an online service such as Dropbox, the cycle might get harder.

Short version:

The.sav file contains all your saved data. Whenever you play a roma, the simulator can scan for a certain directory for a certain file named.sav and load it if it exists. This.sav directory is typically in the same folder as the rom folder and has the same title as the rom archive. When you opened xyz.gba, for instance, the simulator can scan and load the xyz.gba file (if it does not work, you will only see a “New Player” and no “Start” in the player). So when you open the new rom, you want to get the simulator to load the older.sav archive. You can do this by renaming and transferring the.sav directory if necessary.

GBA players are not so sophisticated, so that there is no simple way to update a rom. Next, you must get the new rom by scratching it or geting it from a page like this. In some rare instances, such as Prism, you will also need to fix the save directory.

The earlier model will be called “gamev1.gba” and the newer version will be called “gamev2.gba” There, too, rom applies to the.gba directory. When you play a.zip file, the steps are the same. Think of “zip” in any position where “gba” is listed.

1. Make sure old saves are supported Sometimes, older saves may not work properly if an update is released. You just need to start a new match in this situation. If you still use the old backup, it can result in more glitches and crashes.

2. In the older version, store in-game, do not use save states, i.e. you should open a menu within the game and save it (saving… do not disable the power please).

3. Usually locate your .sav file in the same folder as the gba file (i.e. gamev1.sav is in the same folder as gamev1.gba). Other files like.sa1,.sgm, etc. can be available, but don’t worry about them. When the.sav is not in the same directory, a different folder can be installed on your machine that contains save data for all players.

4. Rename Make a copy (i.e. gamev1.sav-> gamev1(copy).sav) of the old.sav folder. Rename this version to exactly match the modified title of the rom (i.e. gamev1(copy).sav-> gamev2.sav). If gba rom is moved to a separate directory, move the renamed.sav file to that folder (i.e. switch gamev2.sav to gamev2.gba folder). If your.sav and.gba files were not in step 3 in the same folder, place it in the same folder that was used by older.sav.

5. Play That’s it. When you begin the new gba folder, your old data should be enabled in the player.

Troubleshooting: White Screen/1m sub-circuit board is not installed/Saving Problems

Here, rom refers to the game you are playing. Usually a .gba or .zip file.

    1. Close your emulator
    2. Delete any .sav, .sgm, .sa1, .sa2, …, files for the game (usually in the same folder as the rom you’re playing)
    3. Open your emulator
    4. Change the save type to Flash 128k
      • VBA: Options -> Emulator -> Save Type -> Flash 128k
        • Also, Options -> Gameboy -> Automatic
      • MyBoy: Settings -> Advanced Settings -> Cartridge Save Type -> Flash 128k
      • Others: Search on google for the settings for your particular emulator
    5. Open the rom; it should work fine now

Note: Some emulators will not allow you to change the type of save. Something like “gba4ios pokemon white screen” (replace gba4ios with your emulator) will just have to be searched on google.

Troubleshooting: Internal Battery has run dry

    1. Close your emulator
    2. Open your emulator
    3. Enable the Real Time Clock (RTC)
      • VBA: Options -> Emulator -> Real Time Clock (should be ticked)
      • Others: Search on google for the settings for your particular emulator
    4. Open the game; it should work fine now


If you don’t have the RTC functionality in your simulator, I don’t think you can do anything. Some emulators also have trouble synchronizing with the time of your system. Google search for something like “gba4ios rtc” (replace your simulator with gba4ios).

If you have any additional questions or ideas, please ask in the section on comments.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.