What’s A Nuzlocke? A Different Way To Play Pokémon


Pokémon has played a major role in millions of lives. A fresh kick of nostalgia came in the form of Pokémon Gold and Silver’s re-release on the Virtual Console in September. It was the second lot of games to be re-launched after Red/Blue/Yellow in February 2016. Newbies will want to learn the ropes but seasoned veterans might want a challenge. The games are limited compared to the newer versions, so what more can you get out of them? Enter the Nuzlocke challenge.

The challenge’s name derived from a comic series of the same name (Nuzleaf + John Locke). The basic rules of a Nuzlocke are as follows:

  • Fainted Pokémon are considered “dead” and must be released or put in storage.
  • The player can only catch the first Pokémon encountered in each area. If the first Pokémon encountered faints or flees, there are no second chances.

One of the most common rules added is to give each Pokémon a nickname. This creates an emotional connection and adds some depth to your challenge. Further rules can be found on Bulbapedia and an extensive FAQ on this Nuzlocke Reddit page (where you can also see the John Locke-looking Nuzleaf).

If you need convincing, we suggest you search YouTube for Nuzlocke runs (we featured Avery Edison’s a few months ago). We’ve added two of the best below. There’s also a dedicated subreddit for Nuzlocke stories to whet your appetites. I’m doing a Nuzlocke run myself on Pokémon Blue after years of procrastination. I didn’t like the idea of having to release Pokémon but it’s been a lot of fun. Currently, I’m up to Lavender Town and I’ve “lost” three Pokémon (including my starter, Bulbasaur. That one hurt a lot). It’s taught me a few things:

  • Train up. Don’t rely solely on type advantages.
  • Buy potions because you’re gonna need them.
  • Nuzlockes take you out of your comfort zone. Would you have ever used a Butterfree or a Fearow in your team otherwise?
  • You become a more considerate trainer. You find yourself thinking moves ahead in an attempt to avoid death.

As challenges go, Nuzlockes are some of the most fun. There are variations on the theme – Wedlocke, Egglocke, and Wonderlocke are the most popular but there are plenty more with their own intricate quirks. The word Nuzlocke must have lost all meaning now. You better get playing then!

Are you Nuzlockeing at the moment? Let us know in the comments! And follow @nuzlocke on Twitter.

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