Announcing the Overthinkerlocke Challenge!

Inspired by Dragon’s Tea Party and Ian at Adventure Rules, who have both been doing some seriously awesome Nuzlocke runs, I have decided to do one of my own!

(I’m grateful to them both for giving me the OK to go ahead with this while theirs are still in progress. See the beginning of Dragon’s run here, and the beginning of Ian’s here. They’re very much worth reading!)

For those unfamiliar with what a Nuzlocke Challenge is, it’s effectively a playthrough of a Pokémon game which uses some specific rules to make it more challenging, and also more emotionally devastating. It was originated by a comic strip which features a Nuzleaf who looks a bit like John Locke (everyone’s favourite seventeenth-century empiricist and social contract theorist, and apparently also a character on Lost, the latter of which is in fact the one the Nuzleaf looks like – although it looks more like a Seedot in all the pictures I can find. Oh well). The challenge has developed a fair bit since its inception, and there are a ton of variations (Ian’s running a ‘Restartlocke’ challenge, where Pokémon are released after each gym!) but there are two primary rules that the player must always follow:

  1. If a Pokémon faints in battle, it’s considered dead. It can’t be revived, and must be released (or permanently consigned to the PC, but release is the spirit of the original).
  2. You can only catch the first Pokémon you encounter in each area. If the first Pokémon you encounter faints or flees, you can’t catch any more Pokémon in that area.

Other rules that seem to be fairly common, and that I’ll definitely be sticking to, are:

  • You must nickname all of your Pokémon, to enhance the emotional connection with them and to make it correspondingly more of a kick in the balls when they inevitably die.
  • If you get a ‘white out’ or ‘black out’ (i.e. if all of the Pokémon in your party faint and you therefore lose a battle), that’s game over and you’re done. Even if there are Pokémon left in the PC, that’s it.
  • This one probably doesn’t need stating, but no resetting the game if something goes wrong. No matter what happens, ya stick to it.
  • As a variation on Universal Rule 2, you don’t have to catch the first Pokémon you meet if it’s one you already have, or an evolutionary relative of one you already have. Instead, I can catch the first Pokémon I encounter in that area that isn’t a ‘dupe’.
  • Also, on the off chance that you encounter a Shiny Pokémon, you can catch that even if it’s not the first in the area. Legendaries and ‘static encounters’ (for example, the Sudowoodo that blocks your way in Gen 2 – not a random encounter, basically) are also allowed, if applicable.
  • Finally, if an HM is required to proceed and you don’t have any Pokémon capable of learning the move, you may catch an extra Pokémon solely to teach it the required move. You must, however, release it immediately without using it in battle.

So that’s the essence of what I’m going to be doing, but there are still a couple of decisions to make, and on this I’d like some audience participation!

Firstly I need to decide which Pokémon game I’ll be playing. Ian’s doing Omega Ruby, and Dragon’s doing Silver, so those are out. I also need it to be one that’s not on the 3DS (so OR wouldn’t have been a goer anyway!), which means my options are:

  • Gen 1. Red, Blue, Yellow
  • Gen 2. Gold, Crystal
  • Gen 3. Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed, LeafGreen
  • Gen 4. Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, SoulSilver
  • Gen 5. Black, White, Black 2, White 2

So let me know in the comments or on Twitter which game you’d like me to play! Just for some background, I have played pretty much all of these at some point, but only ever casually and not particularly well. I am not expecting this run to make it to becoming Champion, since my knowledge of how the game actually works and how to play with any kind of strategy other than ‘I like that Pokémon, let’s give it a move that sounds like it should hit hard’ is incredibly limited.

The other thing I need some help from you guys on is picking some house rules. I’ve got my set of standard rules above, but I feel like I can make this more fun, so I want a couple of house rules. There are already an absolute ton of Nuzlocke variants using a load of different rules – let me give you a few examples, just to get the imagination flowing.

  • Evolocke: You may not allow your Pokémon to evolve, except one after each Gym Leader.
  • Restartlocke: You must release a certain number of Pokémon after each Gym Badge.
  • Forestlocke: You may only catch Pokémon that could live in a forest.
  • Gainlocke: You’re only allowed to use certain types, unlocking more types to use as you make progress through the game.

To be honest, all of these sound ridiculously difficult to me, but they’re some examples of things that other people (who are much more skilled and presumably much more masochistic than I am) have done, just to give you some ideas. Again, let me know via comment, or Twitter, or whatever, your ideas for some house rules that I could incorporate for maximum amusement, and I’ll pick two or three of them to use in the run.  (Ideally not too ruthless – heck, give me something that doesn’t add any mechanical challenge whatsoever like ‘you must come up with detailed backstories for all of your Pokémon’, or a theme to nickname them around or something.)

I’m also hoping that once Ian, Dragon and I have all finished our individual runs, we might be able to work out some sort of way of collaboratively Nuzlocking. Ian did suggest one particularly nasty-sounding potential variant, involving linking two players’ Pokémon to each other so that if one person loses a ‘mon, the other person also loses their linked team member. That sounds maybe a bit harsh, but we’ll come up with something!

I’ll see what sort of results I’ve got next week, and announce my game choice and full ruleset at that time, and then we’ll be off on our adventure!



  1. If you’re looking for rules that don’t make the game all that much harder, I think your backstory suggestion is pretty solid. You could also look at a couple of formats like the Chesslocke and the Apocalocke which have specific “classes” for your Pokemon that limits how you switch them or what moves they can learn. It doesn’t make the game that much harder (if you only use the class rules, that is) but does add another layer of strategy.
    As far as which game to play, from a structural standpoint red/blue has a really good progress ladder – you generally have a pretty good chance of catching the type of Pokemon you need before a gym comes up, and the order of the gyms make sense as far as difficulty in handling the typing (just watch out for Sabrina!).


  2. My big rule was that I had to release my starter Pokémon because they’re usually over-powered. So once I caught my first Pokémon in the wild (Hedwig the Hoothoot, RIP, gone before your time) I used the starter to get them to level 5, or until it learned an attack, and then basically started from scratch again. I thought it would make it a lot more difficult but actually I’m doing pretty well! If you don’t want to release the starter maybe you could close your eyes, hold the arrow key in and press A randomnly and get a surprise starter!
    I’ve also been wondering about trying an animal based one only, that’s a lot easier with later games though so depends. I’d like to do a dog only playthrough so I can only catch like Poochyena, Growlithe, Snubbull, etc. This is inspired by Commander Holly’s bird only playthough (

    Game wise I would say one of the Gen 3 games as you have a slightly larger variety of Pokémon (I am really struggling for anything elemental in my current playthrugh and I can guarantee you that will be what finishes me off), plus I just really like Gen 3. I tried a basic Nuzlocke on Sapphire a few years ago and got as far as Victory Road.

    Hope that helps! I look forward to reading about your experience!


  3. I think, because this is my first one, I’m probably going to keep hold of my starter! (At least until its inevitable and dismaying demise.) I might well go for a random starter, though… we shall see.

    As for which game, Ian’s suggested Red/ Blue are well structured for picking up the right kind of ‘mons and the gym typing is quite a nice difficulty curve, but I do like Gen 3. So maybe FireRed/ LeafGreen… we’ll see what other suggestions we get!


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