What's A Nuzlocke? A Different Way To Play Pokémon

Be prepared to mourn the loss of your best friends… in Pokémon, that is!


Pokémon has played a major role in millions of lives. A fresh kick of nostalgia came in the form of Pokémon Gold and Silver’s re-release on the Virtual Console in September. It was the second lot of games to be re-launched after Red/Blue/Yellow in February 2016. Newbies will want to learn the ropes but seasoned veterans might want a challenge. The games are limited compared to the newer versions, so what more can you get out of them? Enter the Nuzlocke challenge.

What is a Nuzlocke?

The challenge’s name derived from a comic series of the same name (Nuzleaf + John Locke). The basic rules of a Nuzlocke are as follows:

  • The player can only catch the first Pokémon encountered in each area. If the first Pokémon encountered faints or flees, there are no second chances.
  • You must nickname every Pokémon you catch to create a bond
  • Fainted Pokémon are considered “dead” and must be released or put in storage.

Further rules can be found on Bulbapedia and an extensive FAQ on this Nuzlocke Reddit page (where you can also see the John Locke-looking Nuzleaf). There’s also a dedicated subreddit for Nuzlocke stories to whet your appetites.

Tips I’ve learnt along the way

I’ve done my fair share of Nuzlockes now so here are some quick tips to keep yours going:

  1. Train up. Don’t rely solely on type advantages.
  2. Don’t rush (unless you’re doing a Rival Locke)
  3. Buy battle items because you’re gonna need them: potions, status healing items, X items (X Attack, X Defend, X Speed etc.)
  4. Enjoy it. Nuzlockes take you out of your comfort zone. Would you have ever used a Butterfree or a Fearow in your team otherwise?
  5. Prepare for rival battles because they’ll be harder than gym battles

Different types of Nuzlockes

As challenges go, Nuzlockes are some of the most fun. There are variations on the theme:

  • Egglocke – every caught Pokemon needs to be swapped out for an egg
  • Wonderlocke – a Nuzlocke that uses the Wonder Trade function
  • Rival Locke – it’s a versus and the rules seem to change all the time
  • Wedlocke – involving male and female Pokémon in pairs (always felt weird about this one as it literally excludes genderless Pokémon)
  • Restartlocke – a very restrictive Nuzlocke involving only keeping 1-3 Pokémon in your team after each gym battle
  • Apocalocke – this uses dice and lots of rules
  • Chesslocke – another rule-heavy variant emulating the game of chess
  • Biolocke – this is something I made up based on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species where each Pokémon has 6 lives rather than 1 and once they faint 6 times, they “die”

Are you Nuzlockeing at the moment? Let us know in the comments! And follow @nuzlocke on Twitter.