The Overthinkerlocke Challenge: Rules and Specifications

I recently announced that I was planning to undertake my very own Nuzlocke challenge, inspired by some awesome people who’ve been creating some very smashing runs of their own, and I put it out into the internet that I could use a hand working out which Pokémon game I should play and what rules I should stick to.

Thanks to everyone who responded, and I’ve now made some decisions, so here’s the format that my challenge is going to take!

I’ll be playing Leaf Green, a Gen 3 Game Boy Advance remake of the original Gen 1 Red/ Blue/ Green. I had a few different suggestions as to which games I should play, so in the end I combined the advice that Gen 1 provided a good structure for a first-time Nuzlocker with the thought that I remember Gen 3 as being generally pretty fun!

As for the rules, I had a couple of really cool suggestions. I want to mostly focus on increasing my connection to my team, so I’m maximising the emotional experience rather than adding extra restrictions that will make the run even more of a challenge. Since this is my first time, I’d rather go for rules that enhance the role-playing aspect, as opposed to increasing the difficulty to the point that I stop enjoying myself. So I’ve taken a few of the suggestions, added a few of my own, removed some to avoid it being overly complicated, added some more for extra fun, and ended up with a list that I think I like.

My final set of rules will be as follows:

  1. If a Pokémon faints in battle, it’s considered dead. It can’t be revived, and must be released.
  2. I may only catch the first Pokémon I encounter in each area. If the first Pokémon I encounter faints or flees, I can’t catch any more Pokémon in that area.
  3. If I lose a battle by having all of the Pokémon in my party faint, it’s game over, even if I have extra team members in the PC.
  4. I may not cheat, quit and reload, or otherwise play the odds because something didn’t go in my favour. What happens happens, and will stay that way.
  5. I must nickname every one of my Pokémon and come up with a backstory of at least one 100-word paragraph for each of them.
  6. I must select a ‘favourite’ move for each of my Pokémon. If one of my Pokémon faints, the rest of my team are forbidden from using their favourite move for the rest of that battle due to grief at the loss of their companion. 
  7. As part of their backstory, I must assign each Pokémon a best friend out of the other ‘mons on my team. (These do not have to be mutual, i.e. ‘Mon A can have ‘Mon B as a best friend, but ‘Mon B does not have to have ‘Mon A as a best friend. Each of my ‘mons can only be the best friend of one other ‘mon.) If a Pokémon’s best friend dies, it will not accept any healing (including at Pokémon Centres) for the next three battles. This is in addition to rule 6.
  8. If I swap out a Pokémon for a new or boxed one, then the swapped-in Pokémon takes on the best-friend relationships of the swapped-out one. I may reshuffle the best-friend relationships after each Gym to account for the new experiences my team have been through together.
  9. My starter must be selected at random.
  10. The Pokémon that deals the final hit in a Gym battle feels a special bond with me, but also gets a bit overconfident. It cannot be swapped out of my party until after the next Gym (unless it dies). It will not use any super-effective moves for that time due to its certainty that it doesn’t need to resort to that sort of thing, nor will it accept healing items while we’re in battle (but it will allow me to heal it outside of battle, since nobody will be around to mock it or question its toughness).

There are also a couple of addendums to Rule 2 (which I’d call 2a, 2b and so on, but WordPress doesn’t seem to like lists with that format so here are some bullet points):

  • I may consider the first non-duplicate Pokémon I encounter in an area to be the one I’m allowed to catch. If I already have a Geodude and the first thing I meet in an area is also a Geodude (or a Graveller, as I’ll be counting evolutionary relatives as duplicates), I can essentially ignore it. Repeat until I find a Pokémon I don’t already have.
  • If the first encounter I come across removes itself (flees, uses Roar/ Teleport/ Self-Destruct), I may catch the second Pokémon I encounter, but this rule is only good once per area.
  • I am allowed to catch any legendary or static (ie not random) encounters, if applicable. I may catch any shiny Pokémon, regardless of whether they’re the first in the area, purely because of how unlikely it seems that I’ll find any. I may also trade with NPCs and accept ‘gift Pokémon’ or Eggs that I am given as part of the story, but I may not trade outside the game.
  • If an HM is required to proceed and I don’t have any Pokémon capable of learning the move, I may catch an extra Pokémon solely to teach it the required move. I must, however, release it immediately without using it in battle. (I don’t have to nickname any Pokémon caught under this rule or give them a backstory.)

I call it the CaringLocke ruleset, since it’s designed mostly around role-playing elements intended to build emotional connections between me and my Pokémon (and between them and their fellow members of my team).

As you can see, I haven’t really added any rules that make the challenge significantly harder (I think). There are an absolute ton of extra rules out there that people have come up with specifically to make their runs as difficult as possible, but I’ve erred on the side of making mine more accessible for a first-timer. I haven’t gone so far as to include rules that directly alleviate Rule 1, such as ‘you can revive one dead Pokémon per Gym victory’ and that sort of thing, so I think I’m still in the Nuzlocke spirit, but hopefully it’ll be more of a ‘YAY FUN CHALLENGE’ than an ‘ugh soul-crushing challenge’.

I’m hoping this will be a lot of fun. As I said in the introductory post, my experience with Pokémon is a bit more than minimal: I have played at least one of the games in each generation, so I have at least a working knowledge of how it all works, but I’ve got no idea about anything more in-depth than that. If anyone who does have a bit more knowledge around Pokémon wants to cast an eye over this and let me know any glaring weirdnesses I’ve accidentally included in my rules – anything that’ll actually potentially raise the difficulty more than intended, anything that just doesn’t make much sense – that’d be much appreciated!

Tune in soon to see if I even make it to the first Gym!

12 comments

  1. It’s hard to say because it depends on what types you end up catching. Personally I’m struggling for anything elemental so there’s been a few battles where if I hadn’t been able to use a certain move I’d have been wiped out. That might just have been bad luck though, you’ll have more variety in Gen 3. Also you’ll have a starter and they can generally kick all the ass unless they have type disadvantage. I think that rule would make for some good bits in your re-telling though!

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  2. My thinking was that it added an extra restriction for additional fun, but that it probably wouldn’t come into play all that much because the Pokémon that had scored the win on a particular gym would probably not be super useful for the next one, if that makes sense. Should I make it as far as Victory Road, though, I’ll have to be careful about who gets the last hit on the eighth Gym, since I won’t be able to use them to full effect for most of the late game!

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  3. I think the main idea is to add more challenge, more fun, more role-playing elements. I’ve gone for more of the latter because I suspect it’s going to be enough of a challenge, but now it’ll also be emotionally devastating! Yay!

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  4. I think the “overconfident” rules will hit you hardest at the beginning of the game, most likely. Particularly if your random starter is Bulbasaur, since Brock and Misty are both weak to grass. It could also be problematic between Blaine and Giovanni, as they are both week to water, but by that point you should have enough team variety to handle it better. Regardless, this will certainly be an interesting run!

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  5. Oh, I was referring to your Pokemon being overconfident after a gym win, not you as a player being overconfident for choosing that rule. Oops! xD
    You’re totally right, the selling point of a Nuzlocke challenge is that moment when you think “oh crud, I have most certainly bit off more than I can chew,” but you still somehow get through it and are able to push on. I’ve definitely had a couple of surprise encounters where I felt like one wrong move would get my whole party wiped out!

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