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Achievements for ROM Hacks

RetroAchievements opens the doorway to include fun hack sets for players to enjoy. The issue arising in such a broad category open to world of creativity being "What is allowed, and what is not allowed to have a set at RetroAchievements?" This page will go over the various types of hacks that are not allowed to have their own set and whether or not they are allowed to be linked to a base set.

Game Trainer Patches

  • These are hacks that have integrated cheat features. For those familiar with GoodTool's naming scheme, ROMs with [t1], [t2], etc. in the title are examples of this.
  • These are not allowed to have their own sets or be linked to base sets under any circumstance. In fact, thousands of known hashes for these are linked to dummy game entries, such as this one.

Difficulty and Story Hacks

  • If a hack has sufficient enough differences from the base game insomuch that the hack can be considered an entirely different game, then yes, a unique set is usually acceptable. Linking these to the base set is not recommended since they will likely break the set.
  • If the hack does not have enough differences from the base game, but there are good achievement ideas exclusive to the hack, then consider doing a compilation of hacks or incorporating them into a bonus set.

Bug-fix, Re-balancing and Utility Hacks

  • Hacks that include development-level integrated utilities such as easily accessible level select, debug menus, menus that display information or provide testing features not normally accessible via the normal game, are almost never allowed to be linked to core sets or get their own set.
  • Hacks that offer gameplay utilities where it doesn't exist in the release version are allowed at the discretion of the active developer (or Revision vote if the developer is inactive). Utilities such as easy weapon select, in game maps, new minor upgrades or abilities, improved controls, faster movement.
  • Utilities and bug-fix hacks that improve or patch glitches found in the released version of games are allowed at the discretion of the active developer (or Revision vote if the developer is inactive).
  • Cosmetic bug fixes which don't alter gameplay might be allowed, see cosmetic/sprite hacks.

Beta Release, Prototype and "Testing" Hacks

Usually not allowed

If a rom hack is incomplete or in a beta/prototype/testing state with potential game-breaking glitches, crashes, or bugs, intact as a result of hacking, it is usually not allowed.


Translation Patches

Usually allowed

English is the Primary language of RetroAchievements. Translation Patches are sometimes applied by developers to non-English titles as the main MD5 for an achievement set where no licenced English version exists. In these cases patching instructions will be provided in the forum thread of that title. Providing an up-to-spec translation patch for an existing title is usually allowed to make a game more accessible to other native language speakers. You must deep-memory inspect your translation contribution against the core set and submit it for approval before handing it over to the developer of the set for posting in their thread along with the game.

Sometimes translation patches may critically differ from the developer MD5 in memory differences that you may find online. Before linking these patches check with the original developer or do deep memory tests to ensure total compatibility. You can link translation patches you find online to core sets as long as the game's core achievements all function correctly and do not make the game more or less difficult.

Tip: For games with text-triggered achievements (especially RPGs) it's recommend to find an event flag instead of hooking onto text or text ID. Text presentation varies between regional versions making multi-region support difficult.


Cosmetic Hacks

Usually allowed

  • Cosmetic / Sprite hacks that do nothing to change the original game other than its graphics are not allowed to become their own set. They may be a little fun experience but they are still the same game. When linked they will be linked to the primary set.



Consult the community via the forum and Discord for review and approval. You can get a good view-port of what the community likes to see by asking. Asking for approval before linking is an integral Developer practice, and falls within your code of conduct as a developer here at RetroAchievements.

Released under the GPL-3 License. There are no copyright-protected ROMs available for download on RetroAchievements.