The Nuzlocke Challenge is a set of rules intended to create a higher level of difficulty while playing the Pokémon games. Many challengers feel that the rules also serve the purpose of encouraging the use of Pokémon the player would not normally choose, and promoting closer bonds with the player's Pokémon. The rules are not an in-game function, but are self-imposed on the part of the player, and thus subject to variation.
The most basic Nuzlocke rules, as they were first introduced, are as follows:
- Any Pokémon that faints is considered dead, and must be released.
- The player may only catch the first Pokémon encountered in each area, and none else. If the first Pokémon encountered faints or flees, there are no second chances.
While not exactly a definite rule, the general consensus is that players must also nickname all of their Pokémon, for the sake of forming stronger emotional bonds.
Though the above rules tend to stay consistent with all challengers, many optional variations and amendments to the rules also exist to further adjust difficulty. These include, but are not limited to:
- Adjusting the first encounter rule to ban duplicate captures.
- Considering a black out/white out to be "game over," even if there are Pokémon left in the PC.
- Banning the use of potions and healing items, relying only on Pokémon Centers for healing.
- Banning the use of Pokémon Centers, relying only on potions and healing items for healing.
- Limiting Pokémon Center visits to a certain number per town.
- Banning the use of held items.
- Limiting the number of Poké Balls to purchase per Poké Mart.
- Banning the use of Master Balls.
- Rather than releasing the Pokémon, it can be migrated or permanently boxed should it happen to faint.
- The player may not evolve captured Pokemon, but evolved Pokemon may be caught.
Many other rules exist; challengers adjust their personal rules according to their own preferences. In order to be considered a true Nuzlocke Challenge, however, the two core rules must be in place.
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