Pokemon Nuzlocke Playthrough: basics, types, difficulty levels, more

Laura Gray
Pokemon Nuzlocke Guide Challenges Difficulty Types

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

The Pokemon video game series is known for its linear narrative, catch mechanics, and simple storylines. Players start in their hometowns, raise a team of Pokemon, battle antagonist teams, and tackle Gym Leaders to take on the region Champion.

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

Getting started on a Nuzlocke playthrough isn’t difficult. Players can select from the list of community-gathered Pokemon Nuzlocke ideas, or they can cook up their own challenges to use in one of the existing games. Below is everything you need to give a Nuzlocke adventure a try.

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 can apply to Pokemon, story progression, or items/extras available in the game. However, because the Nuzlocke is player-appointed, there are no in-game ways to manage the challenge. It is entirely up to the player to be diligent, and hold themselves accountable within the parameters they set at the start.

Scorbunny can be part of many Nuzlocke challenges

The standard rules of a Nuzlocke run are as follows:

  • Any fainted Pokemon must be released or stored permanently in the PC box.
  • Only the first Pokemon players encounter on a route can be caught. Afterwards, that route is no longer usable.
  • All caught Pokemon MUST be nicknamed.

Types of Pokemon Nuzlockes players can pick from

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

  • Hardcore Nuzlocke – Players can’t use items in battle. Players must restrict their Pokemon Levels to match the current boss’ (Antagonist team leader, Gym Leader, Champion, Elite Four) highest-level Pokemon.
  • Egglocke – Players replace their caught Pokemon with eggs containing unknown Pokemon. They can be obtained via online trading or from friends.
  • Monolocke – A player’s entire team must be of the same Type.
  • Giftlocke – The player may only use their starter and Pokemon gifted to them. No catching allowed.
  • Uniquelocke – All Pokemon in a player’s party must be different Types.
  • BallLocke – Players have to catch Pokemon in different Ball types. These Pokeballs can’t be used twice.
  • Sleeplocke – The game has to be run from start to finish in one sitting without falling asleep.
  • Shinylocke – All Pokemon on a player’s team MUST be Shiny except for the starter. Easy mode allows gifted or transferred Shinies from past saves, hard mode requires them to be caught during the same playthrough.

Outside of these Nuzlockes, there are dozens of others that players have come up with and shared via YouTube, Twitch, Reddit, and Twitter. Limiting the way a team is constructed gives players a solid challenge, and can greatly change the way a save plays out.

How to change Pokemon Nuzlocke Difficulty levels

There are a few ways players can change the difficulty level of their playthrough. Below are several options for making a Nuzlocke easier.

  • Allow a “starter kit” of items that can be used at any time. Once they are gone, they can’t be replaced.
  • Allow a certain number of resurrections before faints become permanent.
  • Bring one Pokemon from a previous playthrough to the Nuzlocke for a boost.

Additionally, players can make things much harder by adding a few small tweaks. Below are the ways to increase the difficulty of a Nuzlocke run.

  • If the starter Pokemon faints, the game must be started over from the beginning.
  • Shrink 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 base Pokemon game (except internet trades on older titles), giving players the ability 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.

About The Author

Laura Gray is a former Senior Writer for Dexerto who mainly covered Pokémon, farming simulation titles, Dungeons and Dragons, and other family-friendly games. Living in Idaho, Laura has previously written for Screen Rant and also works as a book/comic illustrator.