What is a Pokemon Nuzlocke Challenge, and Why Should You Try One?


Do you love Pokemon but wish it had a Hard Mode? The Nuzlocke Challenge is a great way to challenge yourself to play Pokemon in a way you haven’t before.

As much as I love Pokemon, and as intricate as its metagame is, the base story is a touch easy for my taste. I’ve never understood why they’ve never implemented a Hard Mode of some sort with higher leveled, better evolved, or simply more Pokemon in Gyms and major story battles. It seems I’m not alone, either, as over the years, a community has created its own “Hard Mode” for Pokemon. It’s called the Nuzlocke Challenge, and it turns the dial up to 11 on your Pokemon game.

The Nuzlocke Challenge began as a result of the comic “Pokemon: Hard Mode,” (warning: some strong language) a Pokemon fan comic in which the creator plays through Pokemon Ruby and documents his journey, applying two rules to his run:

"Release a Pokemon if it faintsHave to catch the 1st Pokemon in each area and nothing else"

His journey is fraught with drama and frustration, as the inevitable results of such a run are that you end up using Pokemon you’ve never trained before, and you also end up very, very attached to your monsters as you try to save them from death while progressing at the same time. The name of the run, the “Nuzlocke” run, is derived from the character Ruby’s first caught Pokemon, Seedot (Nuzleaf), and the character John Locke from Lost, which inspired many of the comic’s jokes.

Over time, players have added their own twists and restrictions on the Nuzlocke Run. Some runs dictate that you can’t use items, only Pokemon Centers. Other require that you nickname your Pokemon to increase your attachment to them. Some more lenient rule sets allow you to catch Shinies if you find them, or let you avoid capturing duplicates. Overall, the Nuzlocke Run is what you make of it: the rules are the ones you set and agree to follow, and the challenge is the one you make for yourself.

Next: 5 Secrets and Easter Eggs in Pokemon GO

For more fabulous stories about Nuzlocke Runs, /r/nuzlocke is full of people sharing their stories of successes and failures in Nuzlocke. If you want to start your own Nuzlocke, simply start a brand new game in any Pokemon version, decide what rules you want to use, and head out on your adventure! Good luck, trainers!