The basic premise of Pokémon relies on two concepts; catch Pokémon and battle Pokémon. The games are fairly simple and straight forward if played on the normal gameplay level.
Then a guy named Nuzlocke came out with a webcomic where he played Pokémon on “Hard Mode.” His playthrough had to follow two rules:
1. He could only capture the first Pokémon he encountered in each new area.
2. If a Pokémon fainted he would consider it dead and release it.
These two small modifications managed to change everything about how someone plays the game.
In a game where “fainting” is a basic mechanic of the game, and it’s expected in a regular basis- Pokémon becomes a tragic tale of love and loss as you try to save the life of your friends.
Having completed a recent Nuzlocke playthrough of Pokémon Emerald, I can tell you, I was amazed by how affected I was with the loss of each of my Pokémon. When death is permanent suddenly everything matters.
Petty’s Nuzlocke comics do a very good job of capturing how much more dramatic a game Pokémon becomes with these new rules.
There are also alternative rules you can choose to add in order to increase the challenge of the game. For my current Nuzlocke playthrough of Soul Silver, I am using this ruleset:
1. If a Pokémon faints, it dies.
2. I can only catch the first Pokémon on each route.
2a. DUPES CLAUSE ON: I cannot catch a duplicate of a Pokémon. I get three chances to encounter a non-dupe, after that the route is a non-catch route.
2b. This does not exclude evolutions: if I catch a Tentacruel on one route and find Tentacool on the next, I must count Tentacool as the catch.
3. No repels.
Click here for a list of all of the possible rules you can use to add some extra challenge and drama to your next Pokémon playthrough.