How to Do a Nuzlocke – The Perma-Death Pokemon Challenge

Since 2010 twitch has been obsessed with one particular kind of video game challenge; the Nuzlocke. Originally started as a way to add difficulty to some of the easier Pokemon games, the Nuzlocke has since evolved into a wide variety of challenges across different games. When figuring out how to do a Nuzlocke, it’s important to start with the basics.

At it’s inception, a Nuzlocke challenge only had two primary rules. First, If a Pokemon faints they are to be released completely from your team. Secondly you must ONLY catch the very first Pokemon you see in each area. This combination of rules makes the game harder since you can’t select a perfect Pokemon team and you have to avoid fainting at all costs.

Who invented the Nuzlocke?

The inception of the game was credited to the web comic creator Nick Franco who is known by his fans as “Nuzlocke”. Originally titled “Pokemon: Hard Mode” he described it on a 4chan board as a way to make the games more challenging.

uby more m release apokemon i have o cateh the 1s else r^ Pokemon: 0 anothec co be Cool LATER growl ok hit the forest . . びの VSC Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Pokémon Gold and Silver Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver My Pokémon Ranch text mammal black and white cartoon line art vertebrate font drawing organism line
Credit of original webcomic to Nick Franco

This comic illustrates how his rules can make the game more strategic and force people to have deeper bonds with their Pokemon.

Standard Nuzlocke Rules

A standard Nuzlocke only has a few main rules.

  • When a Pokemon faints for any reason it is considered dead. It must be released from your team at earliest convenience.
  • You must ONLY catch the very first Pokemon you run into in a new area. If you fail that catch you do not get any Pokemon from that area.
  • If your last Pokemon faints you fail the Nuzlocke.

There has become a few exceptions that have been the topic of debate in the Nuzlocke world.

A few areas in the series have allies who heal your Pokemon when they faint. These Pokemon are usually still considered dead and must be released.

There’s a bit of grey area of what is considered a new area in the Pokemon world and when you can catch a new Pokemon. This should be something to consider before starting your run. Plan what does and does not constitute a new area in the game.

Nuzlocke Variants and Alternatives

For those who get bored with the original rules or are just looking to add even more difficulty to their next journey there’s a ton of extra rules and variations to try out.


In this variant any pokemon traded must immediately be swapped out using the “wonder trade” function in the game. What this does is trades for a completely random Pokemon online with another person, resulting in a much more chaotic adventure.


This variant of our own creation adds fun booze drinking rules to turn the whole run into a drinking game.

  • If a pokemon faints you must finish your current drink
  • Drink to use any kind of item in a game
  • Drink whenever your attack is “not very effective”
  • Drink for every Pokemon healed when you visit a Pokecenter

For complete Guzlocke rules visit our page.


Like the name implies, this variation kicks the difficulty up to 11.

  • You may only catch the first Pokemon after each gym, not each area.
  • Your starting Pokemon must be randomized.
  • Healing items cannot be used during battle.
  • If your team is wiped the game is over, even if you have other Pokemon left in the PC
  • The Daycare may not be used
  • EXP share may not be used

At the end of the day, how to do a Nuzlocke challenge is completely up to you. We suggest mixing and matching rules until you find the perfect sweet spot of difficutly.