Editorial: Pokémon Challenge Run (Nuzlocke)

A heart so true!

Those of you who who listened to Monday’s podcast may have heard, somewhere through Nate’s signature banter, that I am currently in progress for a Nuzlocke run of Pokémon Sapphire. A Nuzlocke run, if you missed the explanation, is a challenge run of a Pokémon game with two simple rules:

1) You can only catch the first Pokémon you find in each new route. This applies only after you first get the ability to purchase Pokéballs, or receive them for free for the first time, whichever comes first.
2) If a Pokémon faints in battle, it is considered dead and must be released as soon as possible. Revives and all similar items are not allowed, and fainted Pokémon cannot be recovered through a Pokémon Center.

The Nuzlocke run was invented by a gentleman who was bored of normal Pokémon games, so he felt he needed something more difficult. He created a series of comics about his runs, and on his website many fans posted their own Nuzlocke comics as well.
The Nuzlocke run is a particularly challenging run, as it forces the player to make do with whatever they find. I am on my fourth attempt at the moment, and I have just recently reached Victory Road. The run has been long and harrowing.

I choose you, Dustox!

Beginning with Torchic in this particular playthrough, the first Pokémon that I caught was a Wurmple. The second, third, fourth, and fifth Pokémon that I caught were also all Wurmple. All but one were eliminated, slowly, methodically, through careless battling and terrible luck. Such is the way of the Nuzlocke. Moving through the game, I found myself rethinking my opinions of many of the Pokémon in the third generation, as they could be more useful than I ever though possible. I found myself relying on Dustox and Plusle, two Pokémon I would normally count as mediocre at best.

Nicknames, yeah!

A third rule that most Nuzlocke runners use is the rule that all Pokémon must be given original nicknames, preferably on the spot. This encourages the player to become attached to these Pokémon, so that they will feel more pain if they happen to die. Luckily, this run has been fairly good to me. I have had a few close calls, such as against Norman and the twin Gym Leaders of Mossdeep. However, for the most part, I have been a lucky man. I even managed to grab Kyogre without using Repels or save scumming; I was lucky enough to make it through the entire Cave of Origin without a single encounter. I have a box full of backup Pokémon, ready to take the place of fallen comrades, but it is my sincere hope that I never need to replace my team. Our own Deimosion is also currently on his second attempt at a Nuzlocke run of Pokémon Yellow, and I wish him the best.

Some runners choose to disallow items and/or Pokémon Centers for their Nuzlocke runs. I find that to be ridiculous, making the game far too difficult, but others may disagree. There are some discrepancies, however the general consensus is that wherever you get a Pokémon in its Pokémon form is the location the Pokémon was found in. This means that fossil Pokémon count as being caught in towns, and are fair game. There are also gift Pokémon in many of the generations to help, though Eggs are not advisable, because if they hatch in a route you’ve been to before, you must discard that Pokémon immediately.

I'm gonna take you down, Steven!

Many runners fail early on, but most fail at the pinnacle of their careers: the Elite Four. It is my sincere hope that I will triumph against those sinister fiends. Wish me luck, Lusipurrites!
But, I won’t let myself stop there, oh no, you wonderful readers, you! I would be absolutely ecstatic to take into consideration the challenge run ideas of Lusipurr.com’s readership for different games, from Pokémon to anything they can think of. Get your friends in on it! Bring them to Lusipurr.com, tell them, “This site has some wonderful things, and look, you can even leave meaningful comments that the staff actually reads! In fact, Lusipurr.com hires most of their readers!” Good times will be had by all.


  1. So you let them go if they fail in battle? This sounds like less of a difficult run and more of a way to more realistically simulate a fantastic dog(or whatever)-fighting ring.

    I hereby nominate Nuzlocke to be on the cover of Madden ’11!

  2. The one real downside to Nuzlocke runs is the incredibly great role luck plays. One could have a decent spread of types and good coverage, or a team full of Pidgey and Spearow. It’s largely reliant on luck, unfortunately.

    @Lusipurr: I know, I’m just as disappointed as you are. But bad puns is all part of the fun. My second Rattata in Yellow wound up being named “Maust”, because I felt like it.

  3. Success! Oh, joyous day! Steven Stone is extremely difficult to beat if you are underleveled. I almost lost everything, but in the end I emerged victorious. My hard work and grinding paid off!

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