Pokemon Nuzlocke Playthrough: Basics, Types, Difficulty, More

Pokemon fans have come up with unique and interesting ways to add challenges to the base games. Below is everything players need to know to add a Nuzlocke Challenge to a game.

The Pokemon video game series is known for its linear story, catch mechanisms, and simple storylines. Players start in their hometown, bring together a team of Pokemon, battle antagonistic teams, and compete against Gym Leaders to defeat the region champion.

However, some fans of the series have found that the recycled story and goals don’t spoil the Pokemon itch, and the community has come together to come up with new challenges. These “Nuzlocke” runs place restrictions or add challenges to the base game without the need for ROM hacks or randomizers.

Getting started with a Nuzlocke playthrough isn’t difficult. Players can choose from the list of Pokemon Nuzlocke ideas collected by the community, or create their own challenges to use in one of the existing games. Below you’ll find everything you need to try a Nuzlocke adventure.

What is a Pokemon Nuzlocke run?

A Nuzlocke is a set of rules or challenges placed on the player when starting a new save file in a game.

These rules may apply to Pokemon, story progress, or items/extras available in the game. However, since the Nuzlocke is player-appointed, there are no ways to complete the challenge in-game. It is entirely up to the player to be diligent and hold themselves accountable within the parameters they set at the beginning.

The Pokemon Company

Scorbunny can be part of many Nuzlocke challenges

The default rules of a Nuzlocke run are as follows:

  • Each passed out Pokemon must be released or stored permanently in the PC box.
  • Only the first Pokemon players encounter on a route can be captured. After that, that route is no longer usable.
  • All captured Pokemon MUST be given a nickname.

Types of Pokemon Nuzlockes for players to choose from

There are a number of popular options for players to choose from when choosing a challenge. As compiled on Nuzlockeuniversity.ca, the challenges vary in difficulty and focus. Below are some of the most popular Nuzlockes.

  • Hardcore Nuzlocke – Players cannot use items in battle. Players must limit their Pokemon levels match the top level Pokemon of the current boss (Antagonist Squad Leader, Gym Leader, Champion, Elite Four).
  • Egglocke – Players replace their captured Pokemon with eggs containing unknown Pokemon. They can be obtained through online trading or from friends.
  • Monolocke – A player’s entire team must be of the same type.
  • Giftlocke – The player may only use his starter and Pokemon that have been gifted to him. No catch allowed.
  • Uniquelocke – All Pokemon in a player’s party must be different types.
  • BallLocke – Players must catch Pokemon in different ball types. These Pokeballs cannot be used twice.
  • Sleeplocke – The game should be played from start to finish in one sitting without falling asleep.
  • Shinylocke – All Pokemon on a player’s team MUST be shiny except the starter. In Easy mode, gifted or transferred Shinies from previous saves can be saved, in hard mode they must be captured during the same playthrough.

Outside of these Nuzlockes, there are dozens of others that players have come up with and shared across YouTube, Twitch, Reddit, and Twitter. Limiting the way a team is put together presents players with a tough challenge and can significantly change the way a save goes.

How to change Pokemon Nuzlocke difficulty levels

There are a few ways players can change the difficulty of their playthrough. Below are several options to make a Nuzlocke easier.

  • Allow a “starter pack” of items that can be used at any time. Once they are gone, they cannot be replaced.
  • Allow a certain number of resurrections before fainting becomes permanent.
  • Bring a Pokemon from a previous playthrough to the Nuzlocke for a boost.

In addition, players can make it much more difficult by adding a few minor tweaks. Below are the ways to increase the difficulty of a Nuzlocke run.

  • If the starter Pokemon passes out, the game must be restarted from the beginning.
  • Reduce the party size from 6 to 4 or from 6 to 3.
  • Never evolve your Pokemon.
  • Cap the number of levels Pokemon can be raised between boss battles.

All of the above challenges work on any basic Pokemon game (except internet transactions on older titles), allowing players to try new paths without damaging their games or risking viruses through hacks and mods. Pokemon Nuzlockes can be the perfect way to pass the time between the release of new titles.

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