What is a Pokemon Nuzlocke challenge?

Luca Di Marzo
Pokemon Nuzlocke Trainer

Here’s a breakdown of the Pokemon Nuzlocke challenge including recommended rules to increase the difficulty of Pokemon games.

Pokemon is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time. Despite being around for over 25 years, Pokemon continues to grow with each new release and Scarlet and Violet was another massive success.

As new players continue to dive into the storied franchise, some may be wondering about the notorious Pokemon Nuzlocke challenge. This challenge is great for testing your skills as a top-tier Pokemon Trainer, so here’s everything you need to know about Nuzlockes.

What is the Pokemon Nuzlocke challenge?

A Pokemon Nuzlocke challenge forces players to follow a set of self-imposed rules that dramatically ups the difficulty of Pokemon games. You can choose which rules to follow, but the core rules will ensure a much more challenging experience.

Players can enjoy Pokemon Nuzlocke challenges with any mainline game in the series. Nuzlocke’s have increased in popularity recently thanks to content creators and top Pokemon streamers on the lookout for a challenge.

Pokemon Nuzlocke challenge rules

There are two major rules to follow when attempting the Pokemon Nuzlocke challenge and several others that are optional depending on your preferred difficulty.

Keep in mind that there aren’t dedicated Nuzlocke modes in Pokemon games, therefore the rules are self-governed.

starter pokemon in pokemon scarlet and violet

Main Pokemon Nuzlocke Rules

The first major rule of Pokemon Nuzlocke challenges is that you can only catch the first wild Pokemon you encounter on each route, area, or town.

With Pokemon appearing in the Scarlet and Violet overworld, this rule is a little tricky to govern. However, in order to maintain the random essence of a new encounter, players are encouraged to close their eyes when entering a new location.

The second major rule involves the permadeath mechanic gamers may be familiar with. Essentially, if one of your Pokemon faints at any time throughout your playthrough, they’re gone forever. You can either place them in your box or release Pokemon that have fainted.

Optional Pokemon Nuzlocke Rules

Here is a list of additional rules that you can follow when attempting the Nuzlocke challenge in a Pokemon game:

  • Give each of your captured Pokemon a nickname. Players can set a theme for each attempt.
  • Do not reload from the previous save or reset the game if you lose a battle. In other words, if your entire active Pokemon party faints, your attempt is over even if you have Pokemon in your box.
  • You cannot use in-game trades to acquire new Pokemon, with the exception of evolution requirements.

How to beat a Pokemon Nuzlocke challenge

While there’s no official rule that dictates when a Pokemon Nuzlocke challenge is complete, most players consider defeating the Elite Four and Champion as a victory.

If you’d like to add an extra challenge, you can always attempt to catch the game’s entire set of Legendary Pokemon.

For more, check out all of the Pokemon Scarlet & Violet Mystery Gift codes, or the best Pokemon to use for Tera Raid Battles.

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company / Game Freak