Nuzlocke runs are a type of challenge mode for the mainline Pokémon games, where KO’d Pokémon are retired and trainers can only catch one per area.
There are Pokémon fans who have played through their favorite entries multiple times, and there is a way to make these runs more challenging and exciting than before. This can be accomplished with a Pokémon Nuzlocke run, which is a type of self-imposed challenge that turns Pokémon battles into a life or death situation.
A common complaint about the Pokémon series is that the games are far too easy. There is practically no challenge in the single-player mode, as the player will gain enough levels by fighting the mandatory trainers on routes, that they can steamroll everything in the game. Even the Elite Four and Champion can be undone by a barrage of Full Restores and Max Revives. The fans have been begging for a Hard Mode in the Pokémon games for years, but Game Freak seems determined to keep making things easier. The only true competition to be had is found in the online PvP battles.
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There is a fan-made challenge for the Pokémon series that has become popular with streamers, as it forces players out of their comfort zone and drastically increases the amount of tension in each fight. These are called Pokémon Nuzlocke runs, and they were created by Nick Franco as a way of making the game more interesting. Franco codified the rules for Nuzlocke runs on the Nuzlocke Comics website, but they have evolved over time. Here’s how to play a Pokémon Nuzlocke run.
What Is Nuzlocke Run?
There are two Pokémon Nuzlocke rules that almost everyone follows. The first Pokémon Nuzlocke rule turns every KO into a death. If a Pokémon faints during a battle, then it’s considered dead, and the player must release it or permanently put it in the Box. The second Pokémon Nuzlocke rule limits the player’s options. They can only catch the first Pokémon they encounter in each area. If the Pokémon is KO’d or it runs away, then the player loses the opportunity to catch it.
The Pokémon Nuzlocke rules drastically increase the difficulty in a run. It’s now possible to get a game over, by running out of usable Pokémon, as there is a finite supply. A vital team member can be KO’d at any time by an errant critical or a bad run of confusion self-hits. In short, the Pokémon games actually have stakes in a Pokémon Nuzlocke run, and every move counts.
Popular Optional Rules
The first two rules are vital to the Pokémon Nuzlocke run, but there are also popular variant rules that many players use to make things even more interesting. The most common involves nicknaming every Pokémon, as this gives the player a closer connection to them. The use of experience or stat-boosting items is usually banned. One way in which to increase the difficulty even further is using the “Set” option in battle, which prevents the player from getting a free switch when a Pokémon is KO’d. Pokémon received by NPCs are generally banned, unless they are necessary for story progression, and they’re dumped straight after. If a player is lucky enough to encounter a Shiny Pokémon, then they’re allowed to try and catch it, even if they already have a Pokémon from that area.
Why Do A Nuzlocke Run?
Outside of the increased difficulty and tension, one of the best parts of the Pokémon Nuzlocke run is that it allows players to experiment with Pokémon and team compositions that they would never use. There are almost 900 Pokémon in the series, yet most players have only used a fraction of that number in their runs. Players generally settle on a team with a good mixture of types and use that for the entire game. In a Pokémon Nuzlocke run, the player has to leave their comfort zone and work with the hand that they are dealt with.
The idea of a challenge run is nothing new, but there is a special significance with using them in a Pokémon game. There are Pokémon fans who played every game at launch and have grown weary of the standard Pokémon journey to become a Champion. A Pokémon Nuzlocke run changes how the player looks at the game, as enemies that were a breeze in a standard run become nightmarishly difficult, and junk Pokémon that would normally be ignored become valued members of the team. The Pokémon series might have become stale, but fans can easily inject a dose of excitement into the games with a Pokémon Nuzlocke run.
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Source: Nuzlocke Comics
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About The Author
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Scott has been writing for Screen Rant since 2016 and regularly contributes to The Gamer. He has previously written articles and video scripts for websites like Cracked, Dorkly, Topless Robot, and TopTenz.
A graduate of Edge Hill University in the UK, Scott started out as a film student before moving into journalism. It turned out that wasting a childhood playing video games, reading comic books, and watching movies could be used for finding employment, regardless of what any career advisor might tell you. Scott specializes in gaming and has loved the medium since the early ‘90s when his first console was a ZX Spectrum that used to take 40 minutes to load a game from a tape cassette player to a black and white TV set. Scott now writes game reviews for Screen Rant and The Gamer, as well as news reports, opinion pieces, and game guides. He can be contacted on LinkedIn.
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