The Nuzlocke Challenge – PermaDeath in Pokémon

Have you ever been playing Pokémon and thought ‘this is fun and all, but I wish it was gritty, full of unrelenting stress and emotional trauma‘? I know I have!

For those of you who think you have the moral fortitude to endure such an undertaking, the Nuzlocke Challenge might be the thing for you. The concept can be boiled down to two basic rules. Firstly, that the player may only catch the first Pokémon they encounter in each area.

Secondly, if your Pokémon faints in a battle, they are DEAD FOREVER!

This self-enforced change in game mechanics brings about not only a whole new play-style, but also encourages the Trainer to form closer emotional connections with their team, more akin to the dynamic bonds of friendship from the TV show. Surely, all anyone truly wants from a Pokémon game is the chance to have the friends and adventures of Ash and Pikachu, right? Maybe that’s just me again….

If a Pokémon faints in battle, then said critter must be taken to a PC and released. Gone forever from your team. Your all-purpose HM slave? Gone. Your starter that you raised from level 5 baby to your best friend? Dust in the wind. You won’t end the game a kajillionaire because all your money will be spent on potions and antidotes just to keep your team healthy. It makes the game much more challenging – can you risk taking on that Gym? Are you sure? But it makes each win much more satisfying, and any major encounter escaped unscathed is a fantastic feeling of your team training coming to fruition.

Naming your Pokémon is also encouraged, because losing an Infernape is even more devastating when you’ve spent the last 100 hours calling it Mojo Jojo.

Full rules and such can be found here. I recommend anyone who has overplayed Pokémon to give it a go, to reignite the fire of having and caring for a team. I’ll be trying it again soon, and hopefully it won’t reduce me to a sad wreck of a man this time (I lost my Bulbasaur after just 5 hours of playing…) For anyone who hasn’t played any Pokémon yet, for shame! Go educate yourselves!


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