So you’re wondering what the Nuzlocke challenge is all about, and whether it’s worth your time to try it.
Over the past few years, Nuzlocking has grown immensely, with millions of new players discovering the challenge and attempting it for themselves. There are lots of reasons why Nuzlocking has become one of the most popular ways to play the Pokémon games, with a large and dedicated fanbase and a huge presence on YouTube and Twitch. In this article we’ll cover three of the most important, and let you know why the Nuzlocke challenge is the best way to play the Pokémon games.
Let’s get started with reason number one:
Nuzlocking makes Pokémon challenging again.
Let’s face it – once you’ve figured out how Pokémon works, it’s easy.
When I was eight years old, I struggled against Gym Leaders and the Elite Four over and over again, blissfully unaware of the type chart, move effects, and Pokémon stats. When I finally beat the Pokémon League and emerged victorious as Champion, I was ecstatic. I felt like I’d overcome insurmountable odds along with my team of friends to become the very best.
Now, as a Pokémon veteran in my twenties, I use a team of Pokémon with high stats, teach them the strongest super-effective moves, and demolish the games with no challenge at all.
Doe this sound like you?
I missed the feeling of challenge and progress that defined my childhood Pokémon experiences, and Nuzlockes were the perfect answer. By forcing you to box any Pokémon that faints forever and limiting the Pokémon you can catch, the Nuzlocke challenge restores the high-stakes, exciting battles you remember from your childhood, forces you to improvise and adapt to what the game throws at you, and gives experienced players a reason to flex their knowledge and skill in the Pokémon games.
If you’ve found yourself bored with the lack of difficulty in modern Pokémon, and want something more challenging to get you engaged in the games again, Nuzlocking is the answer.
It forces you to use new Pokémon and strategies.
Before I started Nuzlocking, all of my playthroughs of Pokémon Emerald were pretty much the same.
I had my favorite starter, Mudkip. I always picked up a Ralts, Taillow, Electrike, and Makuhita in the first few routes, and would add a Spheal to the squad later on. Sometimes I’d try to pick new Pokémon for my team, but I always felt drawn to my old favorites – I liked them, and nothing else seemed to work as well for beating the game’s tougher battles.
When I did my first Nuzlocke, that all changed.
This time, I picked Torchic instead, and I didn’t manage to find Taillow, Ralts, or Makuhita. This meant the strategies I’d been using for years didn’t work anymore, and I had to adapt and find new ways to overcome the Gym Leaders and other challenging trainer battles.
And it felt amazing!
It seemed like I was playing a brand new game, and I discovered a whole new set of favorite Pokémon. I learned to appreciate Crobat, Tentacruel, Banette, and many others that I’d never paid attention to before. And with new Pokémon, I had to come up with new plans and strategies for taking on the game’s toughest challenges.
If you’re tired of all your Pokémon playthroughs feeling stale, Nuzlocking is the solution.
You’ll get attached to your Pokémon team, and your playthrough will feel like a real adventure with memories, trials, and emotional moments.
At its heart, the promise of the Pokémon series has always been about going on an adventure and forming bonds with your Pokémon friends, overcoming challenges together, and becoming a true team.
Nuzlocking makes that a reality, in a way that regular Pokémon playthroughs can’t compete with.
Let me give you an example.
During my first Nuzlocke, I ran into trouble fighting the last Gym Leader before the Elite Four. A mixture of bad planning and bad luck had brought my team to its knees, with every Pokémon hanging on at low health. I was convinced the run was over – until I found there was still one line of play that would allow me to win. There was a catch though – it would mean sacrificing my Crobat, named Jet, in order to switch in Axel the Manectric who could sweep the rest of the fight. I sat in front of the screen for almost five full minutes, looking for any other way to save the battle without sacrificing this Crobat, who’d been with me since nearly the beginning of the game and had been one of my most valuable teammates.
But it was no use. Seeing no other way out, I let my opponent knock out Jet, switched in Axel, and completed the battle.
I was surprised by how deflated I felt. Losing my Crobat felt like more than just losing a unit in a game – I’d asked a trusted friend to sacrifice themselves for me and the team, and would have to go on without one of the Pokémon I’d come to rely on most. I went on to finish the run, defeating the Champion, and when I did, I imagined the surviving team dedicating the achievement to Jet the Crobat, who had been such a vital part of getting the team to that point, but never got to see the victory himself.
Now, maybe this story sounds a little ridiculous to you, but consider this:
Years later, I can still remember those Pokémon’s names, and have vivid memories of the battles they fought in, the strategies we used, and the ones who didn’t make it. Naming your Pokémon, overcoming real challenges with them, and having to say goodbye when things go wrong fosters an emotional attachment that, for me at least, captures the essence of what the Pokémon games should be about, but have failed to deliver for a long time.
If you want another example, watch Jaiden Animations’ Ruby or Platinum Nuzlockes on YouTube. These videos resonate so much because each Pokémon has a personality and a story, and you get to be there for the highs, the lows, and everything in between.
Yes, Pokémon is just a game, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a source of stories, memories, and emotional moments that will stay with you after your playthrough is complete.
If you want your Pokémon playthroughs to feel like engaging, emotional adventures, and you want to feel a real connection to the Pokémon that fight alongside you, the Nuzlocke is the challenge for you.
That concludes our list of three reasons why the Nuzlocke challenge is the best way to play Pokémon, and why you should try it for yourself!
If you’re interested in giving it a try, read the Nuzlocke rules, prepare yourself with some helpful tips, and decide which game is best for your first Nuzlocke. And check out the Guides and Articles section on Nuzlocke University and follow for more Nuzlocke guides, tips, tier lists, and other Nuzlocke content.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Nuzlocking!