Many people love and enjoy playing Nintendo and Game Freak’s various Pokemon games out there. The series has garnered many dedicated fans over its past two-decade-long existence. Even so, for many of us who love Pokemon and have grown up playing its various games, the repetition and redundancy can get tiring. Especially as the series seems to continue to simplify and dumb down recent additions to make it more marketable to kids, which is admittedly their target audience, while leaving us ‘old timers’ in the dust.
However, back in 2010, an artist from UC Santa Cruz (Go Slugs!) documented his journey through a self-imposed ‘Hard Mode’ of Pokemon Ruby in a webcomic. Eventually, his version of the hard mode came to be known as a ‘Nuzlocke,’ which weirdly comes from his first caught Pokemon Nuzleaf and for some reason the character John Locke from Lost.
Over time the Nuzlocke rules developed into a well-known set of restrictions to make a game of Pokemon challenging and oftentimes exciting and suspenseful. Nuzlockes vary in many ways and there are multiple different rules you can play with but the main one is always the same. The biggest part of any Nuzlocke run is that your Pokemon ‘die’ when they faint, and you have to give each a nickname so it hurts more when they die. There are tons of other rules that players may mix and match but that is the main one.
Other favorites range from only being allowed the first pokemon you see on a route, to not being allowed to use healing items in a fight, to turning on the set format for battling. The rulesets for Nuzlockes have only grown and expanded since they first came into existence back in 2010 and the Pokemon community has embraced them with welcoming arms.
In a series where challenge and difficulty have fallen by the wayside for profits and marketability, Nuzlockes bring hope for us old hats to come back to a favorites and have new experiences with a game that’s difficulty curve, we have long outgrown. I hope Nuzlockes can help bring back those of us who have left Pokemon behind when we outgrew its challenge and bring some kind of renaissance to the series. In fact, Nuzockes have recently garnered some mainstream attention with a popular Youtuber like Jaiden Animations doing some of her own Nuzlocke runs and animating her stories in them. Who knows, maybe someday, way in the future, Nintendo will add Nuzlockes as a ruleset option when you play a game.