From Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia.
"Okay, let's make this run of Ruby more interesting... -release a pokémon if it faints; -have to catch the 1st pokémon in each area and nothing else"
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 name of the challenge originates from the comic series of the same name, which features a Nuzleaf resembling John Locke as a recurring gag character.
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. If the first encounter in the area is a double battle in dark grass, the player may choose which of the two Pokémon they would like to catch.
- 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.
- Also not a definite rule, but the general consensus is that a black out/white out is considered to be "game over", even if there are Pokémon left in the PC.
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:
- Starter Pokémon is based off your Trainer ID number. If the last number is 1-3 the player starts with a Grass type, 4-6 is Fire type, 7-9 is Water type, 0 is the player's choice.
- Adjusting the first encounter rule to ban duplicate captures.
- Not officially enforcing the rules until the player has Poké Balls and can catch Pokémon. For example, the ZigzagoonRS/PoochyenaE that the player has to save Professor Birch from is not counted as the first encounter on the route, and not counting any other encounters as such until they can catch. Likewise, in the games where the rival battle is immediately after getting the starter Pokémon, the "any that faint must be released" rule is not enforced at that time.
- Use the same amount of Pokémon as the opponent during a Gym battle or rival battle.
- Going to options and making the battle style "set", leaving the player unable to switch out.
- After the first wild Pokémon was caught, the starter Pokémon must be released.
- 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 permanently boxed, migrated, or transferred with Poké Transfer should it happen to faint.
- The player may not evolve captured Pokémon, but evolved Pokémon may be caught.
- No catching/using legendary Pokémon.
- As a mercy rule, allowing 1-3 "second chances" or revives of fallen team members.
- As another mercy rule, if the player runs into a Shiny Pokémon on the incredibly rare chance, the player may still catch it, regardless of whether or not it is the first encounter in the area. It also does not need to be released if it faints.
- If the player has no Pokémon that can use a certain field move that is required to continue through any given point of the game, they may catch another Pokémon that can learn said field move. However, it cannot be used in battle for any reason, and must be released, permanently boxed, or migrated as soon as the player gets another Pokémon that can use said field move.
- Modifying the "first encounter only" rule for the Safari Zone, sometimes allowing one encounter for each area, or until they catch one Pokémon in the entire area, and vice versa.
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.
First thought up by Marriland following the success of his Emerald Nuzlocke series, the Wedlocke Challenge is a variation on the Nuzlocke that focuses on Pokémon teaming up. The rules consist of the following:
- Any Pokémon that faints is considered dead, and cannot be used for the remainder of the challenge.
- Instead of only being able to catch the first Pokémon in each area, exceptions to what the player catches are based on the wild Pokémon's gender. If said Pokémon faints or flees, there are no second chances.
- If the player has an odd number of Pokémon in their party, they ignore any encounters of genders they have an odd number of on their team. Genderless Pokémon cannot be caught at any time.
- Species Clause is also highly encouraged to add to the uniqueness of each Pokémon used.
- The Pokémon are partnered with each other and must fight in pairs.
- Only one male and one female can form a pair, and after that, that pair lasts until one of the Pokémon dies or is released.
- Each Pokémon can only battle alongside its partner, if it has one. The Pokémon can only switch out for its partner. For example, suppose the player's team consists of the following pairs: a male Dewott and a female Sewaddle, a female Patrat and a male Riolu, and a male Growlithe and a female Zubat. If the player uses said Dewott, they can only switch it out for the Sewaddle, and they can only switch the Sewaddle out for the Dewott, and vice versa.
- If a Pokémon dies in battle, the player must immediately send out its partner to avenge the fallen Pokémon, or die along with it, and they cannot switch to any other during that battle unless said Pokémon dies too. In the above example, if the female Sewaddle dies, the player must immediately send out the Dewott and cannot switch it out for the remainder of the battle barring it dying too. Should this happen, the player must select a Pokémon from their PC that doesn't have a new partner to replace the fallen partner. If both Pokémon in a pair die, the player must use two Pokémon from their PC to create a new pair.
- If a Pokémon dies in a Double Battle, the player must bring out a Pokémon of the opposite gender of the one that was deceased, to keep them from losing too many Pokémon of a specific gender. (This rule is discussed further in Episode 23 of Marriland's HeartGold Wedlocke.)
- The player cannot deposit any Pokémon into their PC at will. The player must release their Pokémon or have it die in battle if they wish to withdraw anything from their PC.
- They may release their Pokémon at will, but that is strongly discouraged.
- Likewise, if the player requires a certain field move at any point in the game that no Pokémon on their team can learn, they can temporarily break the rule and deposit a pair for another Pokémon that can use said field move, but only until the player gets another Pokémon that can.
- As with the original Nuzlocke rules, the general consensus is that the player must nickname all their Pokémon to form closer emotional bonds.
- The original Nuzlocke run through Hoenn is interesting as it can be considered a failure because of the wipeout of the entire team and the loss during the Champion battle.