Pikachu and Charizard facing off in an arena.
Image via The Pokemon Company

What is PokéRogue? Viral fan-made Pokémon roguelite, explained

This game has taken over the Pokémon community.

If you’re a Pokémon fan who frequents YouTube and Twitch, you’ve probably seen some big creators playing something called PokéRogue. This roguelite title isn’t an official Pokémon game but it is very quickly taking the internet by storm—but what exactly is PokéRogue and why has it become such a hit?

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PokéRogue is a unique take on the classic Pokémon formula developed by fans, for fans outside of the usual ROM hack style that the community has become accustomed to seeing. It takes some of the best parts of the roguelite genre to pair with Pokémon’s iconic creatures, putting a focus on battles and challenging players to build dynamic teams to take on challenges completely different to that of the main series.

If you’re interested, here’s what you can expect from PokéRogue.

Seviper and Zangoose battling in Pokemon TCG art.
This is a challenge most Pokémon players have never faced. Image via The Pokemon Company

The PokéRogue team describes the game as a “browser-based Pokémon fangame heavily inspired by the roguelite genre. Battle endlessly while gathering stacking items, exploring many different biomes, fighting trainers, bosses, and more!” That means you don’t need to download an emulator or any other specific assets to enjoy the game, and all updates are pushed live to the PokéRogue servers automatically.

A roguelite is a game that cherrypicks specific mechanics from the roguelike genre, usually involving permadeath and randomized features like levels. PokéRogue takes those ideas, drops them into a modified Pokémon experience, and pushes players to go forth with new runs, teams, and challenges each time.

PokéRogue has been in development since early 2023 with the goal of having players attempt multiple runs to reach new heights each time, with some unlockables being earned to improve your abilities permanently. It features all Pokémon introduced in Gens I through IX—meaning Kanto through Paldea—are obtainable along with a good chunk of moves and abilities from those same generations. Levels also don’t cap at level 100, and instead can easily reach into the thousands as there is no stat or level limit implemented at all.

Each run varies in the encounters you’ll have, the bosses you’ll take on, and each goes far beyond the typical Pokémon game. There’s classic and endless modes that offer different experiences and a leaderboard for each that will continuously track the top players in the world, while also giving out rewards based on placements.

Some of those rewards include Egg Vouchers, which can be used for the game’s free gacha system—and plays into how Starters work. Any first stage Pokémon can be used as a Starter when you begin a run, but only if you catch or hatch it. This includes Mythicals and Legendaries, which are the rarest drops in the game. Additionally, every main battle gimmick such as Mega Pokémon, Gigantamax, and Terastallization is included.

A fusion system is also in place so you can use DNA Splicers to combine any two different species together in order to trade abilities, average out stats, or alter their learnsets. These new Pokémon also “dynamically palette swap” based on which Pokémon you use. This gives you an additional level of depth as you build out your team and even makes some potentially weaker Pokémon viable depending on your fusion options.

On top of all that content, the PokéRogue team has a planned roadmap for future content too. 

PokéRogue update roadmap: All content planned for the fanmade Pokémon roguelite

Weedle Pokemon TCG art.
What is next up for this extreme title? Image via The Pokemon Company

Just like with most popular Pokémon fangames, PokéRogue is being developed by Pokémon fans with no monetization—to avoid running into any legal issues if something pops up from The Pokémon Company.

TPC tends to avoid taking down unmonetized fangames, though a DMCA wave in March did kill the biggest fan game hub for still unknown reasons.

The game is still very much a work in progress despite its massive success, with more content and options coming in future updates. One such feature is the “Daily Run,” which is already in beta and will let every player test themselves against the set run paths as a sort of daily challenge. Here is everything else the dev team has confirmed is in the works for PokéRogue as of its March 11 launch:

  • Additional modes like Randomized and Nuzlocke.
  • Fully implementing all moves and abilities.
  • More items.
  • PvP battles using content and teams from successful runs.
  • Trading between players.
    • (This feature is up in the air).
  • Quality of life updates.
  • Devs also added: “Probably a lot more.”

We won’t be sharing the exact specifics for how to PokéRogue for yourself because it is an unofficial product, however, if you are planning to play the fan-created game, make sure you’re looking for it in reputable places.

This’ll help you avoid running into websites or downloads unassociated with the PokéRogue team, which is sometimes an issue with popular Pokémon fan projects.


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Author
Cale Michael
Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.