There are countless unofficial Pokémon games out there, from hacked ROMs to entirely original works. But version 1.0 of Pokémon Uranium, released for Windows PC earlier this week, may be among the most ambitious. The free game has been in various stages of development for more than nine years, its creators say, making the Aug. 6 launch a major milestone for the full-length, original Pokémon adventure.
Pokémon Uranium, according to its official Wiki, takes place in the Tandor region, where many classic Pokémon have become infected by nuclear radiation. The trainer — one who can be male, female or gender neutral — must stop these monsters from wreaking havoc across the land, all the while collecting gym badges and trying to become a Pokémon master, as per usual.
Among the features offered in Pokémon Uranium are three playable characters, a new region to explore, online battling and trading, a Pokémon speech translator (!!!) and more than 150 new Pokémon to capture. That’s just scratching the surface of what’s listed on its Wiki page and website, which the pair of lead designers — known as JV and Involuntary Twitch — have maintained during the lengthy development cycle.
No emulator is required for Pokémon Uranium, even though its developers consider it to be an homage to the classic Game Boy Pokémon adventures. Instead, Windows PC players may simply download the file; Mac support is reportedly in the works.
Some have already had the chance to play the game in beta over the years; save files from these versions won’t work with the new, full game release. Despite that, and despite the years in production, fans’ hopes remained high for the full Pokémon Uranium release. Following the release of version 1.0, the website’s servers went down for hours "due to extreme amounts of traffic," the creators wrote on Tumblr.
JV and Involuntary Twitch have continued to answer fans’ questions about the game and the status of the servers since launch, even as the game racked up thousands of notes on Tumblr and comments on Reddit. A patch that brings the game to 1.0.1 went out earlier today to fix several bugs, and players are encouraged to post on the forum about other issues.
Development continues on, even after nearly a decade. Time will tell if Nintendo or The Pokémon Company try to put the kibosh on the project, but several other fan games live on without issue. For those who prefer Pokémon on handhelds, Sun and Moon are out in November on Nintendo 3DS, and Pokémon Go is now on smartphones.