If everything's a dream, don't wake me.

GMT -8:00
Seen July 13th, 2018
Posted June 11th, 2018
121 posts
7.2 Years
So, I’ve been playing ROM hacks for awhile but recently I’ve decided I want to try and make my own, I was wondering if people of this community could tell me what tools I should use and such, I would like to do a FireRed hack, I was hoping someone can help me with what tools I need ect to get started. Thanks.
The reply above mine is good, but somewhat incomplete. Here's some extra information -- you're by no means required to read all of it, but it may help you.

I'll start by saying that a lot of people also use MrDollSteak's decapitalization/later-gen attack ROMbase, which is a patch you apply to a clean FireRed ROM before you start a hack to get rid of the caps lock in FireRed (so instead of the Prof. saying "My name is OAK.", he'd say "My name is Oak.") -- it also gives the hacker the ability to implement the Fairy type, Physical/Special split, and later-gen attacks and abilities, among other things. There are some bugs, but overall it's an excellent and very convenient tool. You'll have to get the ROMs yourself, obviously, but you can download the latest version of that patch by clicking this text here.

There are also some great patches by Diegoisawesome in this thread here, and I'd highly recommend playing around with his tool GBA Intro Manager, as it's very stable and has lots of really cool features. Be careful to read his threads in full before doing anything, and ALWAYS back up your ROMs.

Now, I'm assuming you already have Lunar IPS (LIPS) installed if you've played ROM hacks before, but if you don't, go search up a download link and you'll be fine. Since you asked about tools, however, I'll show you my Tools folder. One of the biggest rules I have for myself is to keep everything involved with my hacks as organized as possible, so I have a setup that looks something like this:


It's fairly self-explanatory, but just in case, I'll say that "Bases and Patches" is a place to store .ips patches, whether they be for ROMbases or otherwise, "Packages" is for all resources in the form of .rar and .zip in case I need to reinstall something, "ROMs" is where I keep all my ROMs, "Scripts" is where I store scripts I've written, and "Tools" is my subdirectory for all the programs I use to hack.

Here's a list of all the tools I use:


And, finally, here's an explanation of what they all are:

Tool by LU-HO Poké. Absolutely essential, in my personal opinion. This is how you change maps in the game. You can find the best (in my opinion) tutorial for it right here.

...My advice? ALWAYS use AdvanceMap 1.92, 1.95 is a later version, yes, but it's very unstable in comparison. It's not worth the risk.

APE (Advanced Palette Editor)
Tool by HackMew. Lets you edit palettes within the ROM. I find it to be a necessary tool for replacing any images found within the ROM, i.e. titlescreens or sprites.

FSF (Free Space Finder)
Tool by HackMew. Though not "required" for more experienced hackers, it simplifies things greatly when hacking as it can automatically locate free space of any specified size within your ROM. I'd really recommend it if you're scripting or inserting anything because it locates and gives you offsets you can use to insert scripts.

GBA Graphics Editor
Tool by Nintenlord. Mostly used to edit palettes and graphics in GBA ROMs, but it can be used for a few other things. Some people prefer it over unLZ (explained down below) thanks to its stability.

GBA Intro Manager
Tool by Diegoisawesome. As I explained earlier, this makes editing the start of a game very easy. Check out the thread I linked earlier in this post for more info.

Gen III Hacking Suite
Tool by karatekid552. AKA "Lord of the Tools, there's a lot to say about this one, but I'll try to keep it short. This cross-platform multitool allows for expansion of many different aspects of FireRed (i.e. movesets, abilites, types, etc.). Many people find it extremely helpful, including myself. There are a lot more great aspects to it, so click here to go to its thread to learn more and download it!

Not explicitly for ROM hacking, but very important for intermediate-advanced hackers. Put simply, HxD is "a freeware hex editor, a tool that can open and edit computer code". It allows you to enter the code of the ROM itself to modify pieces of code or insert scripts.

Not explicitly for ROM hacking, but still (in my opinion) necessary. I mostly use this to configure palettes, which is compulsory for tile or sprite insertion/general graphic editing.

Tool by FuSoYa. It was created to replace a DOS program with essentially the same function. It allows you to both create and apply patches, which is necessary to allow people to play your hack as ROM distribution is illegal. It's also an incredibly simple program, which is a huge bonus in a world of complex hacking tools.

Tool by Shiny Quagsire. "MEH" stands for Map Editor of Happiness. It's still in development, but it runs very well and is also open-source. I still use AdvanceMap as my primary mapping tool because of how tried-and-true it is, but certain features of MEH (such as the map connections editor) are absolutely heavenly. Click here for more info.

NSE (Nameless Sprite Editor)
Tool by link12552. Another graphics editor that has a lot of support and runs fairly well. It also features universal compatibility, which means that it works on all GBA games as opposed to just Pokémon games.

NTME (Nameless Tile Map Editor)
Tool by D-Trogh. Allows you to edit tilemaps (a fundamental part of graphics editing -- there are plenty of tutorials that would explain it better than I can here, so if you're interested, go hunt around).

Overworld Editor: Rebirth Edition
Tool by HackMew (also developed and improved upon in the past by Xeon, Tutti, and Darthatron). Exactly what it says on the tin; it allows you to go in and edit all overworlds and all of their variant frames in the game, i.e. the protagonist and rival.

Sappy + Mid2Agb
Two tools in one! A tool combination used for music hacking. Modifying in-game music is considered advanced and very difficult by many, and I believe there are other tools out there that make it much easier to do this, but this specific combo has been around for a long time. The latter part of this combo is used to convert music into a form that can be inserted into the ROM of your choosing.

Not explicitly for ROM hacking, but very helpful for things involving graphics editing, etc. Spherical Ice covers it well in many of his tutorials.

Tool by SnowBro. This is yet another graphics editor (specifically geared towards editing tiles) that has cross-compatibility with more GBA games than just Pokémon.

Tool by loadingNOW. This scans ROMs for LZ77 image data and opens up a lot of possibilities for editing images and writing new palettes to ROMs.

XSE (eXtreme Script Editor)
Tool by hackmew. This is used to write, debug, and compile scripts into your ROM so that they can be implemented in the game via AdvanceMap. It's the best scripting tool for the modern age, and there are plenty of tutorials out there for it that are... eXtreme-ly helpful. Check around for those, and don't forget that if you're stuck on a script, you can always post to the forums or Discord asking for help.

AdvanceText gets an honorable mention here; even though it's not great for a serious or ground-up hack, I had a lot of fun with it when I was younger. It hands you all the text files in the game for your editing pleasure. Same goes for things like starter editors. Hacking doesn't always have to be about serious long-term projects, so go for it! AdvanceText is known to be buggy and not work well for people, though, and a few years ago I made a tutorial thread on how to fix one of those specific errors (it's located here if you're interested).

Pretty much all of them can be found with a simple internet search, installing them is just a bit of a time investment. Good luck.

Hope this helps. Feel free to quote this reply or leave me a VM if you have any other questions.
pokéfarm + tumblr + pinterest + pair
New to ROM hacking? Click here!