The Nuzlocke Challenge is a fan-favorite way to play through the Pokémon games. The premise is simple: you can only catch the first Pokémon you encounter in each area, and if a Pokémon faints in battle, you can’t use it for the rest of the race. Nuzlocke requires a combination of luck and skill – and it relies very heavily on random number generation.
This all works well in Pokemon games with linear, disparate routes to travel, ones with tall grass hiding wild Pokemon just waiting to jump up and attack you. But with Pokemon Scarlet and Purple, the main series now has an open world with Pokémon roaming freely, and there are no random encounters. How do you do a real Nuzlocke in a game where you can scan an area and pick the Pokemon you need, rather than getting stuck with whatever jumped out of the grass?
A traditional Nuzlocke may not be entirely possible in Scarlet and Purple, but with a little creativity – and maybe a virtual dice roller – you can keep the spirit of the challenge intact. Let’s (ha) step through the pillars of the Nuzlocke Challenge to see what still works and what needs adjusting for the times.
Step 1: Limit Your Pokémon
Although Scarlet and PurpleThe world of is large and open, you can always absolutely limit yourself to catching one Pokemon per named area in Paldea. The map is divided into north, south, east and west sections, each of which is divided into numbered areas, and the game tells you when you leave one and enter another. (Unlike the mostly open-world spin-off Pokemon Legends: Arceuscompleting your Pokédex is not required to progress in Scarlet and Purple.)
However, you’ll probably want to note where you catch Pokemon. It is a little more difficult to follow provinces and cloudy areas than linear routes that connect points of cities on a map.
Step 2: RNG
This is where it gets trickier. Scarlet and Purple have a random element in that different Pokemon can appear in the same location each time you visit it, but to keep the Pokemon you catch random you’ll need to RNG yourself. The easiest method: When you first enter a new area, close your eyes and walk around until you come across a Pokémon, and congratulations! This is the Pokemon you get.
If you do this, however, you might inadvertently wander into a new area, complicating the whole thing. So if you’re dedicated to randomness but want to explore a bit more carefully, you can try a method submitted by a player on Reddit: Catch six Pokémon, then roll a six-sided die to determine which is eligible for your party. (You can also do this with higher numbers and dice with more sides, if you wish.) Maybe it’s a bit easier than a traditional Nuzlocke in that you have a chance of dice. to get anything other than Lechonk, but hey, it’s still sort of Random!
Now if you are really dedicated to random, you can check the full list of Pokémon spawns in a given area on a site like Serebii, assign each of these Pokémon a number between one and the total number of possible species in this area and open a random number generator; the number you get is the Pokemon you need to catch. If it’s a rare spawn, good luck to you.
If you want more randomness with less work – but potentially stronger Pokemon that make Nuzlocke’s run easier – you can also head straight for the first Tera Raid Crystal you see and grab. this Pokemon. Since there is more than one crystal per area, you can use this method of rolling the dice to determine which one to approach.
Stage 3: When Pokemon Faint
Depending on where you go and when you go, Scarlet and Purple can be much harder than previous Pokémon games. It’s all too easy to wander from a windswept meadow full of low level Hoppips to a meadow that looks great but is home to much higher level Pokemon. If you’re not careful, your Pokémon will be faint. And as Nuzlocke rules dictate, a passed out Pokémon is dead to you for the rest of the run.
Luckily, grinding is much easier (and safer) thanks to Auto Battles, which let you send your main Pokémon to battle a wild without your input. Pokémon will not faint if damaged in these battles; they will simply stop fighting if their HP gets too low. Level up so you can take on more powerful Pokémon, but without the stress of a normal battle! (However, this does not apply to the Auto Battles you have to do in Team Star Bases. Your Pokemon can absolutely faint during these missions, so be careful.)
If you want to make the Nuzlocke harder, you can forbid auto-battling and grind the old-fashioned way: through regular battles in which your Pokemon have a chance of fainting.
Step 4: Improvise your own rules
Of course, the great thing about the Nuzlocke Challenge is that anyone can introduce their own house rules – maybe you’re not allowed to catch more than one of the same Pokemon, or maybe that you cannot use healing items in combat. There are tons of variations on Nuzlocke’s basic idea, and that applies to Scarlet and Purpletoo.
In the end, these are just ideas. As more people play the games, the community is sure to develop even more ways to keep the spirit of the Nuzlocke alive in Paldea.
[Disclosure: Kallie Plagge worked for Nintendo as a localization writer and editor from April 2021 to March 2022 for the games Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Dragalia Lost, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Mario Kart Tour. This affiliation will be disclosed in any content that relates to Nintendo-published games, and she will not cover any games she directly worked on.]