Many long-time Nuzlockers have been there.
Imagine – it’s been a while since your last Nuzlocke challenge, and you feel the itch to start a new run. You boot up your favorite Pokémon game, pick your starter, and play through the first few routes. For a while, all is well, and you have a blast building your team and defeating the first couple of Gym Leaders. However, you soon start to feel yourself losing interest. You’re not that excited about your team, the challenge isn’t what you’d hoped for, raising your team feels tedious, or it all just seems too familiar. You continue on for another hour or two before coming to a tough battle. Your team is underleveled, and the prospect of grinding for experience seems dull and uninteresting. You shut the game down, thinking you’ll prep your team tomorrow, and then just never pick it up again.
You’re not alone. We’ve been there ourselves! The really frustrating thing is that you want to participate in the Nuzlocke run! You love the idea of the challenge, get excited about new ways to play, and enjoy following along with other people’s runs, but you just seem to have lost some of that spark that makes pushing through the often punishing gameplay of a Nuzlocke so worthwhile. This article is for you! We’ve collected our best tips and pieces of advice to help you recapture the fun of the Nuzlocke challenge.
Tip 1: Add variety with new optional rules.
Adding new elements or rules to the Nuzlocke challenge can help mix things up and provide you with a new, fresh experience. This is a flexible tool; you can limit your use of healing items or Pokémon centers to increase challenge, allow one Revive to make the run more forgiving, or give your team personality by applying special rules to certain Pokémon, to give a few examples. Here at Nuzlocke University we’ve compiled a list of optional rules for the Nuzlocke challenge which is being updated regularly with new ways to play.
Tip 2: Mix things up with a totally new Nuzlocke variant!
If you’ve tried out a few optional rules and your run still feels too familiar, take this advice one step further and try out a brand new Nuzlocke variant! These variants take the basic Nuzlocke rules and make significant changes, resulting in a vastly different gameplay experience which keeps that Nuzlocke feeling at its core while adding novelty and forcing you to make decisions and play in new and exciting ways. We’ve compiled a list of common Nuzlocke variants you can try, and are always adding new ways to play as we come across them. For veteran players who love Nuzlockes but crave a new experience, this is our top recommendation.
Tip 3: Try a new Pokémon game or generation.
You might be surprised to find out that many players only play one or two Pokémon games, even having completed multiple Nuzlocke runs of the same game! There are many reasons for this; some players simply have a “favorite child” when it comes to the games (we’re partial to Emerald), some have limited access to different Pokémon games, and some are intimidated by undertaking a Nuzlocke challenge in a region they’re not familiar with. Whatever your reasons, it’s worth trying a different game or generation if your Nuzlocke experience has become stale. This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to add variety with little effort on your part, and our Resources page has links to other sources of information such as Gym Leader teams, Rival’s Pokémon, and encounter rates if you’re nervous about going in blind. Different games have different Pokémon, trainers, level curves, and degrees of challenge, and often these changes are enough to recapture the excitement and novelty of the Nuzlocke challenge. Check out our guide ranking which Pokémon games are best to Nuzlocke!
Tip 4: Get social! Play with friends, or share your runs with the community.
For many players, a big part of the fun of the Nuzlocke challenge is interacting with the community. Sharing stories, asking for tips, or simply talking about your run with others can breathe new life into your Nuzlocke experience, and places like the r/nuzlocke subredddit and the Nuzlocke Forums provide ready-made communities of fellow players who are interested in doing exactly that! These communities are also great places to find a partner for a paired or competitive run if you’re interested in some social gameplay. Finally, if you have the dedication and the video-editing chops, you could turn your Nuzlocke challenge into a YouTube series and, if you’re lucky, share your experience with hundreds or thousands of Pokémon fans! Sharing with others can provide that extra little push you need to see a run through to the very end, and becoming involved in a community of like-minded players can remind you what’s so fun about the Nuzlocke challenge in the first place.
Tip 5: Try randomizing!
You’ve tried adding new rules to your Nuzlocke challenge, you’ve tested out a brand new Nuzlocke variant, but still the experience feels familiar or stale. What can you do? Randomization might be the answer. Tools like the Universal Pokémon Randomizer allow you to change or randomize starting Pokémon, wild encounters, Trainer’s teams, Pokémon evolutions, and many, many other properties of a standard Pokémon game to whatever degree you’d like. Craving novelty, but not looking to throw off game-balance too dramatically? Randomize the starting Pokémon to any three-stage evolutionary lines, and randomize Gym Leader’s Pokémon while keeping each Leader’s type-theme. Looking for an unpredictable, crazy, Twitch stream-worthy challenge? Randomize everything to the max! This method allows you to change the game’s basic parameters to whatever degree you think will provide the best experience, while potentially changing the game in dramatic and unpredictable ways, allowing long-time players to have a truly fresh experience even with a game they may have played dozens of times.
Tip 6: Focus on what drew you to the Nuzlocke challenge in the first place.
For many Nuzlockers who still love the idea of the challenge, despite lacking the motivation to boot up a game and continue their run, the fundamental issue has something to do with what brought them to the Nuzlocke challenge originally. If you’re in this situation, consider what first intrigued you about Nuzlocking, and ask yourself whether this is still your focus. Maybe your first interest in the challenge centered around forming a strong bond with the Pokémon on your team, but you’ve lost sight of that as you’ve been playing the uber-challenging runs your friends are into. Perhaps instead you came for the difficulty and problem-solving of the Nuzlocke challenge, but have resorted to grinding your Pokémon to high levels and have lost the sense of risk that made the difficulty exciting in the first place. For some players, this type of examination can lead them to “remember” their initial reasons for playing a Nuzlocke, and can help them play in a way that fulfills that desire. Others may realize that while they were drawn to the challenge by a particular element, that element may no longer be the most engaging part of their Nuzlocke experience. Trying new rules and Nuzlocke variants are great ways for these players to discover what parts of the Nuzlocke challenge are truly engaging to them, and will help them to find a way to play that, ultimately, feels like a pleasure rather than a chore.
With these six tips laid out, it’s time for us to answer a question:
“Why write this article at all? If players are bored with the Nuzlocke challenge, shouldn’t they just stop playing?”
Well, our answer gets to the heart of what we love about the Nuzlocke challenge – there are so many different ways to play! Any player who enjoys the concept of a Nuzlocke can keep the experience fresh, even after multiple playthroughs, by modifying, sharing, randomizing, or changing the gameplay to a nearly endless degree. We’ve talked to players who felt unmotivated to complete their Nuzlockes, yet still loved the challenge and wanted to participate. For many of them, it was simply a matter of finding a new way to play that really “scratched the itch” that they felt and provided them with a fresh and rewarding experience. There may still be players who struggle to regain that initial spark (after all, sometimes the best solution is to take a little break and come back once the urge to play strikes again) but for those who just need a little help rediscovering the fun, we hope these tips can act as a guide and a resource to make the Nuzlocke experience the best it can be.
We hope that, with the tips we’ve outlined in this article, you’ll have the tools and the inspiration you need to breathe new life into your Nuzlocke experience. For more Nuzlocke tips, tricks, and guides, check out our Guides and Articles section! Or, head over to our Optional Rules and Nuzlocke Variants sections and find your new favorite way to play.