Nuzlocke Rules for Pokemon - What are they?

A new way to enjoy Pokemon games with a punishing twist

nuzlocke rules for pokemon games

The Nuzlocke rules for Pokémon increase the difficulty of general gameplay and are not for the faint of heart! They’re voluntary, self-imposed restrictions that a player places on themselves to unexpectedly reshape the way they play and make the game significantly more challenging.


To be completely honest, this challenge is brutal and it may break you.


Just to be clear, the Nuzlocke Challenge is NOT a setting on any Pokémon game that can be turned off and on. There is no toggle to disable specific game features or deny a player from taking certain actions.



The Nuzlocke Challenge can only be completed by knowing the rules & following them. It’s an act of sheer will power.


The core rules:

  • Any Pokémon who faints has died and must be released or put into the PC or storage system forever. The player may not revive and use them again. May they rest in peace.

  • Catch only the first wild Pokémon encountered in each area. No other Pokémon may be caught and used.

  • If this Pokémon faints or flees, the opportunity has passed and the player must move on without catching a Pokémon in that area.

  • If the first wild Pokémon encounter in an area is a double battle, the player may choose and catch only one of the two.

  • This rule doesn’t apply to static encounters or shiny Pokémon.

  • Do not restart the game and reset to the last saved point when things go wrong (i.e. after losing a gym battle or a key Pokémon faints)


One of the things that many players like best about this challenge is that it forces them to use Pokemon they would otherwise pass up. #ALLPOKEMONMATTER


Since the Nuzlocke Challenge is a personal limitation, many variations and restrictions have popped up over the years to increase and decrease the overall difficulty.


Gameplay is generally thought to follow the Nuzlocke Challenge as long as the core rules have been adhered to.


Optional rules most players follow:

  • Nickname all Pokémon to encourage the formation of strong emotional bonds

  • Players may not use any Pokémon acquired through trading or mystery gifts

  • There is no unanimity as to whether or not players may trade the same Pokémon for the purpose of evolving it (i.e. trading a Haunter for a Haunter to receive a Gengar)

  • The game is over when a whiteout/blackout occurs

  • If the first Pokémon a player encounters in an area is one that they have already caught, they may not catch it again and must move on without catching a Pokémon in that area.

  • The Experience Share may not be used

  • If the player has no Pokémon who can use a required field move (like Cut, Surf, Strength, etc.), the player may catch any Pokémon who can learn that field move, then use it and release or store that Pokémon immediately. It may not be used in any battles.

  • If the game crashes unexpectedly, the player may restart the game from the last save point


Other rules some players enforce to further increase difficulty:

  • The player’s starter Pokémon must be chosen at random: fire, grass or water

  • The starter Pokémon must be released or put into the PC box after the player catches their first wild Pokémon

  • The player may only use the same number of Pokémon as their opponent in trainer battles (or only in

  • Held items may not be used

  • Potions and status-healing items may not be used, only Pokémon Centers may be used to heal –OR– Pokémon Centers may not be used, only potions and status-healing items outside of battle.

  • Pokemarts may not be used, only items the player finds or receives from NPCs

  • Master Balls may not be used

  • The player may not evolve their Pokémon, but evolved Pokémon may be caught

  • The player may not switch their Pokémon after K.O.-ing an opponents Pokémon

  • Legendary, mythical and UB Pokémon may not be used

  • The Pokémon Day Care may not be used

  • Walkthroughs and other gameplay resources may not be used


Other rules some players use to decrease difficulty:

  • Nuzlocke Rules do not apply until the player has captured their first wild Pokémon

  • The player may continue to try and capture wild Pokémon in a new area until a Pokémon species is encountered that they have not caught yet

  • Shiny Pokémon do not need to be released if they have fainted

  • Gym badges, successful rival battles & successful Elite Four victories act as checkpoints where the player may save and revert back

  • A set number of revives may be used for fainted Pokémon during the entirety of gameplay

Where did the term “Nuzlocke” come from and what does it have to do with this challenge?

It all started when a Pokemaniac decided to chronical his effort to challenge himself by enforcing the original, core Nuzlocke Challenge rules in a comic called ‘Ruby: Hard Mode’.


The term “Nuzlocke” refers to the first Pokemon he caught on that adventure —a Seedot (which later evolved into Nuzleaf) — and its striking resemblance to the TV show Lost’s ‘John Locke’ character.


So, "Nuzlocke" is the combination of "Nuz" from "Nuzleaf" and "Lock" from "John Locke".