Get 3 play testers (one for each starter) that ONLY have the job of playtesting (so they don't focus specifically on maps or scripts or character plot or anything like that), and if possible, ask them to catch certain Pokemon that you, as a game designer, think are either broken or very weak. See if there are starters that make the game WAY harder, and see if there are some that make it easier. Starter selection was a very big weakness in the last game, with Dratini being a level 5 that had Wrap, having to fight against a Gible with rough skin and a 40 BP move along with Sand Attack. There were also things in general that just shouldn't be there that early in the game. Pokemon that could poison before you got antidotes? Nooo... Drought Vulpix when the gym gives you over heat (plus the gym itself being WAY too powerful... Heatmor with Solar beam and Fire Punch under sun? No thank you regardless of the fact that you start out with a dragon) is not a good idea, either. Zen Headbutt having a 100% chance of causing the flinch status was another problem. The level curve from the beginning to the first gym was also ridiculous in all regards. These are all things that could have been fixed completely with 3 play testers.
If you don't have 3 designated play testers that have access to programs like YAPE, some type of move editor, Advance Map, and other programs similar to the mentioned, then the (few) negatives from the last game will stand out. This will also fix any typo problems early instead of them being left untouched and then being left in the end product.
There is a reason why play testers are a legitimate thing in actual gaming companies, and there's a reason why the general public doesn't play test in most cases. MOST players are happy when they get a Vulpix that has drought, gets over heat early, and has a move that can cause 100% flinching... But for the people that like balanced games, that's not good at all, and it will push them away from this hack if it is anything like the first in this regard.
I'm not here to criticize, I'm here to state that I really want to play this version of your game because the last one was so hard to play through with these obvious flaws, and I don't want to have to play through that in this version. I really liked the plot details of your last hack, but the gameplay made it unbearable... Literally.
I'm not asking to be a play tester, either (although I wouldn't mind helping out )... I'm just asking that you get (at least) 3 people that are specifically there for play testing this hack WHILE you're creating it, not afterwards. Encourage them to find any flaws in the game's balancing. These issues are VERY small individually, but without play testers, these small issues add up and make the game play un enjoyable. If you get three play testers that will point out these flaws and make sure the game is balanced over all, It will make this hack TONS better, and it will probably be awarded for the efforts. Trust me. Good hacks have all good traits, from game play to story, and number 1 lacked in the game play department. Make the game play in this one WAY better by having play testers on your team playing with you WHILE you make the hack.
Don't worry, all of that is covered and completed. I have an entirely different look at this stuff Now than when I made the first one. The first one was actually finished 2 something years ago and was my first overall hack back when I was a beginner at all of this stuff. I just moved everything over to another rom and changed a few things which actually caused the gameplay to be unbalanced at times and buggy.
The other thing is, I made the hack with just 1 person who was the scripter. So Dark Rising 1 was a two person hack. THIS time, I have an entire team full of very good hackers And I'm A LOT better at everything. I just couldn't show it in Dark Rising 1 because it was pretty much done already before I got as good at this stuff as I am now. Dark Rising 2 is still going to be hard(But not as ridiculous as the first one), but it will be more balanced and fun. There will still be things you won't like about the sequel and others will however, I can't satisfy everyone. But I'm sure overall it will be a very amazing hack. Everything from the first one has been improved Drastically.