Five Things I Learned from Nuzlocking Every Main-Series Pokémon Game: Generation One

Written by Reddit user u/ross_spotted

I’ve set out somewhat of a Pokéathlon for myself. I started this project in early March of 2020, and after some heavy procrastination have come quite far. I’m in the process of doing a standard Nuzlocke for every single main-series title. I’m doing these all on hard copies so that I can transfer my teams to Pokémon Home, and maybe use these games to complete my Home Living Dex once I’m done.

The first generation taught me a lot of things about the beginnings of Pokémon, the most notable one being how much I miss the things we take for granted in the current generation, like Natures, Abilities, and balanced type matchups. For those who are curious, these are the teams I brought with me to the Elite Four in each version:

Red – Blastoise, Nidoking, Fearow, Vileplume, Hypno, Flareon

Blue – Sandslash, Gyarados, Hypno, Electrode, Ninetales, Muk

Yellow – Nidoqueen, Charizard, Jolteon, Seadra, Hitmonlee, Hypno (killed by Lance’s Dragonite)

Here are five things these runs taught me.

Psychic-types are OP.

I’m sure you saw this coming. Before the advent of the Dark-type, Sabrina and her Psychics reigned supreme above all others. Ghosts, you ask? Not only is there one Ghost-type evolution line in the game (rather ghastly design if you ask me), but Psychic-types aren’t weak to them in generation one, they’re immune! Sabrina is the most challenging hill to climb in RBY, especially in Yellow, since the steep level curve grants her a Level 50 Alakazam! The best way to counter her is with a Psychic-type of your own to resist her Alakazam’s monstrous Special stat.

You may have noticed that there is one constant across all three of my teams: Hypno. For those who are unable to either catch an Abra or be able to trade-evolve it into an Alakazam, Hypno is a very easily accessible powerhouse that is a must-have for any RBY team. If using Duplicate/Species Clause, there’s a very good chance that Drowzee is the only encounter left available to you on Route 11 (east of Vermilion City). It does need a little bit of training to learn Confusion, but you’ll soon have access to the incredibly strong Psychic TM once you’re able to reach Saffron City. Hypnosis is also a boon which you have access to from the start thanks to sleep being a slightly more broken mechanic in generation one. It doesn’t have any other type coverage, but it’s passable-enough Attack stat is more than sufficient to finish off weaker foes with Headbutt via level-up or Tri Attack via TM (especially in the case of Sabrina’s Alakazam, which eats Special moves for breakfast).

Water-types are pretty nice too.

Another constant between all of my teams is a strong Water-type. My starter Blastoise took me all the way to the end in Red, a Magikarp I caught on Route 6 turned into the monstrous MVP of my Blue squad in Gyarados, and a last-minute decision to run a Seadra on my team after reeling it in with a ten percent encounter rate on Route 13 served me well in Yellow.

Not only is a Surf user necessary to reach Cinnabar Island, but it’s widely regarded as one of the strongest moves in the game, and for good reason. With a base power of 95 and no doubles partner to speak of to get hit in the crossfire, Surf has the capability to wash away anything that doesn’t resist the Water-type, which is incredibly handy in sweeping through Blaine and Giovanni’s teams, as well as half of Bruno’s team and a few choice members of Lance and your rival’s Pokémon squad. Sure, you can teach Surf to a Nidoking or Nidoqueen, or even a Rhydon if you’re lucky enough to find one. But a STAB Surf is definitely up there with the most fearsome techniques you can have in your arsenal.

That one Team Rocket Grunt in Mt. Moon is a meanie.

And yes, he would fit in perfectly on Gengar’s team in Mystery Dungeon.

You know who I’m talking about. He has a level 16 Raticate and he was definitely the class bully at Team Rocket High School of Horrible Buttheads. This guy appears halfway through your trek through Mt. Moon and can be a run-ender if you’re not well-enough equipped. If you’re lucky enough to have found a Geodude as your encounter in Mt. Moon, I would highly recommend training it up for this specific fight if nothing else (who knows, your Geodude might even grow up into a big strong Graveler to knock Lt. Surge down a peg or two!) because having something that resists the Normal-type or something that has a high enough Defense stat is crucial here. Unfortunately, all three of my runs got me nothin’ but bats.

Wanna know why I’m so frightened of the Route 1 Rat? Because critical hits in generation one were tied to the Speed stat in the first set of games, and weren’t given their own value until Johto. And since Raticate is a speed demon, this thing’s going to wreck house with crits all across the board if you’re not careful, thanks to the fact that this level 16 Raticate clearly came from the same vein as Lance’s army of Dragonites (in other words, it shouldn’t exist.) In my Blue Nuzlocke, this Raticate ended the lives of my Charmander, Butterfree and Beedrill, two of them with critical hits from full HP. May their souls rest in the twinkling twilight of the moon mountain.

Sorry Ash, but Pikachu ain’t all that great!

This one’s for all of you Yellow players who have the joy of Pikachu following you across your journey, and the nightmare-inducing 8-bit “Pika” of its cry. It’s a brilliant creature to have in the early game, especially when squaring off against Misty and her Water-type Gym. Having a strong STAB in Thundershock from the start, as well as Thunder Wave not too far into the adventure, is a brilliant bonus for any starter to enjoy. But once you hit Celadon, the ride is over for ol’ Pika!

Pikachu is far too cute to evolve, right? In Red and Blue, if you were lucky enough to find a yellow rodent in Viridian Forest, you had access to the formidable Raichu thanks to the Thunderstone you can buy in Celadon Dept. Store. In Yellow however, Pikachu refuses to evolve in order to maintain its adorable image; in which case, Celadon is the perfect time to ditch it for a different adorable yellow mammal that outclasses Pikachu in every way: Jolteon. With all of the benefits of Pikachu as well as easy access to Thunderbolt at the low low price of Free (thanks Surge!), there’s no reason for you to not make the switch if you’re playing a serious Yellow Nuzlocke. If you like Pikachu and want to give it a go against the odds, be my guest! Unfortunately, in Generation One, the lack of held items means that Light Orb Pikachu is simply not existent.

Training for the Indigo Plateau.

The Pokémon League can be a daunting place, especially for the unequipped. The best place to grind in RBY is undoubtedly Pokémon Mansion on Cinnabar Island. Whereas Victory Road does boast some brilliant experience yielders such as Golbat and Venomoth, there’s also a high chance you’ll come across Geodudes and Zubats in their low level 20s, which is hardly ideal for your beefy Level 50 team. And the risk of a Graveler going “boom” on your cherished ‘mons is far from ideal.

Pokémon Mansion boasts brilliant Pokémon to train on, such as the weaker Ponyta which gives around 600 experience, Grimer and Koffing at a slightly less-respectable 300-400 experience, and the elusive Muk and Weezing, which can give an experience yield of roughly 800. Yellow Version nerfs the mansion a fair bit by removing Ponyta from the equation, but Muk is still available on the top floor, and most commonly on the basement floor. My personal preference for the final grinding session of the game is reaching level 58. It does make the Lorelei and Bruno fights trivial, but it means you stand a decent enough chance against Lance and your rival. I calculated this based on the mean average across every Pokémon on all five teams, but if you want to go higher or lower based on how much you want a challenge, it’s entirely up to you! Level 58 can be somewhat steep, but don’t forget to use any Rare Candies you’ve saved up for this moment, as it can really cut down on your grinding provided you use them at the end of your grinding sesh (not at the start!)

As of writing this article, I’m finishing my Nuzlocke of Pokémon Crystal and am ready to share some information on the topic of the Johto region soon enough! I usually post run updates on r/nuzlocke whenever I beat a gym or have to shuffle my team around if you’re interested in checking up on my suffering.

Written by Reddit user u/ross_spotted


Interested in Nuzlocking this generation? Check out our starter Pokemon rankings for generation one. And be sure to check out our Guides and Articles section for tier lists, Pokémon rankings, tips, and more!

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