Easiest (and Hardest) Pokémon Games to Nuzlocke Tier List

Every Pokémon game is someone’s favorite, but when it comes to difficulty for a Nuzlocke, they’re not all created equal.

Whether you’re looking for an easy, casual introduction to Nuzlockes or a brutally difficult Pokémon challenge, this list will help you pick the right game to get started with.

We rank the main-series Pokémon games from easiest to hardest, and for generations with multiple games, we’ve picked the “definitive” version from that generation and grouped the others with them to make the list easier to read.

Let’s get started with the first tier, the easiest Pokémon games to Nuzlocke:

Beginner Tier

14 – Red and Blue

The original Pokémon games are also the easiest to Nuzlocke, thanks to all the bugs, jank, and cheese strategies that allow players to trivialize the game. Whether it’s Wrap-locking your opponent’s team or manipulating trainer AI, these games are just too easy to break.

13 – X and Y

Pokémon X and Y give you a guaranteed Mega Lucario, access to tons of powerful Pokémon, and opponents are generally weak and underleveled. Not only are the fights you face mostly easy, you’re given tons of new tools and mechanics to tackle them. These are fun games to Nuzlocke, but also very, very easy.

12 – Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire take the original Ruby and Sapphire games and give the player access to powerful new mechanics like unbreakable TMs, Mega Evolution, and party-wide EXP share, making the remakes much easier than the originals.

11 – FireRed and LeafGreen

The Kanto remakes don’t have the same abusable bugs as the original Red and Blue, but opponents still have simple teams with weak moves and there aren’t many very challenging fights throughout the game. These games are simple and straightforward, and a great starting point for a beginner Nuzlocker.

If you want to see which Pokémon will make the best additions to your team, we’ve put together a FireRed and LeafGreen Pokémon tier list.

Novice Tier

10 – Gold, Silver, and Crystal

Gold, Silver, and Crystal have less bugs than Red and Blue, but elements of their older design are still exploitable. Their low level curve makes the mid-game easy, and anyone using the Duplicate Clause rule will have an easy time putting together a team of the strongest Pokémon since the encounter tables are so limited.

9 – Sword and Shield

While these games have a few tough fights, such as Champion Leon, and wandering high-level Pokémon in the Wild Area can be a nasty surprise, the ability to Dynamax in major battles makes many of these fights trivial. Combine this with a wide variety of powerful Pokémon available in the early game and that brings the difficulty down a bit, though we’re certainly moving into more challenging territory with many of the boss battles in these games.

8 – HeartGold and SoulSilver

Much of what was said about Gold, Silver, and Crystal, applies to HeartGold and SoulSilver too, especially the low level curve and limited Pokémon variety, but the post-game in the Kanto region is harder and you’ll need to do a lot of grinding to catch your Pokémon’s levels up in the late game.

7 – Scarlet and Violet

The newest Pokémon games are hard to rank, because their open-world structure changes the classic Nuzlocke approach in a big way. There’s a wide variability in difficulty depending which early-game Pokémon you encounter, with very weak or very powerful Pokémon being available in the same areas. Many of the Team Star boss battles pose a serious challenge, and the late-game fights are no joke, but the open-world format gives the player access to more tools than ever to meet and mitigate the challenge.

Advanced Tier

6 – Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald

Even though Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald have simple mechanics like their GBA cousins, FireRed and LeafGreen, the addition of Double Battles and some truly brutal Gym Leader fights make the original Hoenn games much more challenging. Players who aren’t prepared can easily find promising runs thwarted by the likes of Norman, Winona, or Tate and Liza, and Double Battles increase the level of unpredictability a player needs to overcome. Emerald is definitely the hardest of the three, with upgrade Gym Leader fights and more challenging opponents.

For tips on tackling a Nuzlocke of Ruby, Sapphire, or Emerald, check out our Pokémon Emerald Nuzlocke guide and Pokémon tier list.

5 – Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum

With perhaps the strongest Champion in the Pokémon series in Cynthia, combined with tough fights against Gym Leaders and Team Galactic commanders even in the early game, the Sinnoh games are no joke. (We’ll lump the remakes, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl in here too, even though early access to Gyarados with Waterfall and the always-on EXP Share makes the early game much simpler). The hardest of the three games is Platinum, with tougher Gym Leaders and the challenging Distortion World section.

The Sinnoh games are tough, but lucky for you, we’ve put together a complete Platinum Nuzlocke guide and Pokémon tier list to help get you started.

4 – Sun and Moon

Sun and Moon’s new twist on the classic Gym Leader formula throws a curveball at new and experienced Nuzlockers alike. The Island Challenges and Totem Battles are tough, and can easily end a run if a player isn’t ready for them. Even well-prepared players will find themselves losing Pokémon in these boss battles. Professor Kukui is no joke either, sporting a strong, balanced team that will require strategy and a strong team to take down.

Grandmaster Tier

3 – Black and White

Pokémon Black and White are challenging games, with tough Gym Leader fights, a brutal late-game gauntlet involving the Pokémon League and Team Plasma, and a more limited Pokédex than many of the other games in the series, which can make it tougher for players with lots of experience in other Pokémon titles to transfer their knowledge to these games, as Nuzlocke staples like Gyarados are unavailable.

These games demand a lot of any Nuzlocker, so be sure you’re prepared to build the strongest team possible by referencing our Black and White Pokémon tier list.

2 – Black 2 and White 2

Black and White 2 are tough, especially if you decide to tackle Challenge Mode, a unique option that unlocks after beating the game. In fact, if you’re using Challenge Mode, then these games probably jump to the top spot on the list. A huge number of challenging fights, a tough Champion in Iris, and brutal boss battles throughout the game almost made these the toughest Pokémon games to Nuzlocke. Only one set of games was tougher…

1- Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are the hardest main-series Pokémon games to Nuzlocke. You’ll face brutal Totem battles, trainers with perfect EVs and IVs on their Pokémon, powerful opponents at every stage of the game, and, of course, Ultra Necrozma. Every phase of these games are full of tough, potentially run-ending battles, and that earns them the top spot on our list of the hardest Pokémon games to Nuzlocke.

That wraps up our ranking of the hardest main-series Pokémon games to Nuzlocke! Did you agree with the list? Rankings like these are ultimately subjective, so be sure to share your opinion in the comments below!

If you’re new to Nuzlockes, you might enjoy our article about which Pokémon game is best for a first Nuzlocke.

For more Nuzlocke content, guides, tips, and tier lists, check out the Nuzlocke University Guides and Articles feed, and be sure to check back often and follow for more. Happy Nuzlocking!


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