While the Pokémon games have always been open for all ages, some fans have wanted a harder option for decades. In 2010, a weekly webcomic was released by Nick Franco originally called Pokémon: Hard-Mode. Later the name would be updated to be called Nuzlocke, a fusion of the names Nuzleaf, a Hoenn Grass-type Pokémon, and the character John Locke from Lost.
The original rules Franco created were that he could only catch one new Pokémon per new area, all Pokémon had to be named so the player forms an emotional attachment, and if a Pokémon faints, they are considered dead and have to be released. While there have been many rules added to make the games harder, such as not using items in battle and using randomizers, these core rules set up over a decade of content from a variety of steamers and Pokétubers alike.
10 Griffin McElroy Plays A Beginner’s Nuzlocke
The Adventure Zone and MBMBAM host Griffin McElroy took a stab at his first Nuzlocke back in 2016 with Pokémon Y on Polygon’s YouTube channel. As an already celebrated entertainer, McElroy brings his signature voices, comedy, and personality into the game while playing a standard Nuzlocke.
Since this run is made by a beginner Nuzlocker, it is rife with fatal mistakes that cost the lives of the Pokémon, making for great viewing for new and old Nuzlocke fans. McElroy also added a Wonder Trade mechanic where he trades a member of his team for a new randomized Pokémon.
9 Alpharad’s Randomized Nuzlocke Adds Difficulty
In June 2021, Alpharad found himself quickly rising in reaction videos thanks to his first Nuzlocke video. With that video amassing over 4 million views, Alpharad has made several follow-up Nuzlocke runs that have been equally appreciated in the Pokémon community.
Just a few months later, Alpharad played a Randomized Nuzlocke, a game type that randomizes all the Pokémon encounters and items in the game, including the trainer’s Pokémon. This run started off powerfully as Alpharad pulled the legendary Groudon as a starter and caught several starters and pseudo-legends to bulk up the team. The run ends in Groudon spamming Earthquake, but not the way Alpharad wanted.
8 AntlerboyLIVE Normal Type Only Legends: Arceus Adapts The Rules
With Pokémon Legends: Arceus being the newest game in the Pokémon franchise until November 2022, it has been subject to several different types of Nuzlockes. Since it features a new playstyle, the typical Nuzlocke rules have been slightly edited to reflect the new catch system and story leveling.
For AntlerboyLIVE’s run, he played the whole game using only Normal-type Pokémon. With powerful beings like PorygonZ and Hisuian Zoroark in tow, Antlerboy shows off what a solid mix of Pokémon knowledge and comedy can bring for the most basic type in the franchise.
7 PaPaSea Colorlocke Uses Color Classification For Captures
While PaPaSea’s more popular Pokémon playthrough videos are his “Nintended” series where he plays through games using official guides, he has also done several Nuzlocke series as well. One of these series is his Colorlocke series which only allows the player to catch Pokémon of a certain color per the Pokédex classification system.
This version of the Nuzlocke adds a harder difficulty to the Nuzlocke rules, as some Pokémon change color when they evolve, meaning that the player can only use the base form. In his Green Pokémon Only run, PaPaSea wipes several times before asking for help from another Nuzlocker and making it to the end of the game with a bang.
6 SmallAnt and Cjya Team Up Against The Dreaded Raikou
Most Nuzlocke runs are solo adventures as originally designed, but the Pokémon community decided that solo gaming isn’t as fun as teaming up with a pal, which led to the birth of the Soul Link Nuzlocke. A Soul Link run features two trainers playing the game simultaneously. Every new Pokémon they catch is linked to another Pokémon on the other trainer’s team. If one dies, they both die.
SmallAnt and Cjya, two popular video game content creators, teamed up for a randomized Soul Link of Fire Red. The run resulted in several wipes and showed just how powerful of a foe Raikou can be.
5 FlygonHG Uses Only Baby Pokémon
FlygonHG is one of the more well-known Nuzlockers and the one that PaPaSea reached out to for help in his time of need. FlygonHG has run dozens of Nuzlockes of all types. While his videos are all typically comedy filled with a hint of tragedy, FlygonHG’s Baby Only run takes the cake.
A baby Pokémon is a first-stage Pokémon that can be obtained through breeding but cannot breed, like Pichu, Munchlax, or Togepi. To make the run even more difficult, non of FlygonHG’s Pokémon could evolve. Having no evolutions makes any run hard, but using the weakling baby Pokémon, known for having poor stats and move pools, ratchets up the difficulty even further.
4 FeintAttacks and Lindz Team Up On The Hardest Pokémon Game
Pokémon Colosseum and XD Gale Of Darkness are considered to be some of the hardest games in the franchise with limited captures and high-level curves. Released on the GameCube, both games follow the protagonist of the Orre Region as they attempt to save scientifically engineered Pokémon by stealing them from the evil teams.
Pokétubers FeintAttacks and Lindz teamed up for a hardcore randomized Soul Link of XD Gale of Darkness. Their chemistry, personalities, and different experiences with the game, one being brand new and the other knowing the plot and characters, make the series very fun to watch.
3 SilphSpectre Runs The First Ice Type Only Platinum Nuzlocke
SilphSpectre is a Pokétuber that focuses on hardcore Nuzlockes and solo runs, routinely running Nuzlockes that haven’t been done before. SilphSpectre played the first hardcore Ice Type Only run of Pokémon Platinum, which is the least used of the 18 types with only 52 Pokémon.
In Pokémon Platinum, that number dwindles down to just six encounters, which are almost all found in the late game. To make the run happen, the game was edited slightly to include a seventh option in Spheal, which served as the run’s starter Pokémon. This seems like a run designed to fail with powerful trainers like Cynthia to face off against, but the run goes through several twists that result in a happy ending.
2 Jaiden Animations Nuzlocke Broke The Internet
While most other Nuzlockes are put to video as gameplay with voiceover, popular YouTuber Jaiden Animations changed Nuzlockes by making “I Attempted My First Pokemon Nuzlocke,” which received over 82 million views. Instead of just gameplay, Jaiden animated large swaths of content using her unique style and retold most of the story through animations.
This animation style was incredibly impactful, allowing the Pokémon to have visible emotions and letting the viewer connect with all the characters in the story. Jaiden has followed up her original video with several Pokémon videos including Nuzlockes, competitions, and storyline retelling, cementing her place as a top-tier Pokétuber.
1 Saltydkdan Turned Nuzlocking Into An RPG With Friends
In 2021, Saltydkdan launched a Pokémon Nuzlocke series called the Friendlocke. The rules of the Friendlocke follow the standard rules, except that all the Pokémon are controlled Dungeons and Dragons style by friends. The series used voice-over, gameplay, animation, and even an ill-fated card pack opening mixed with comedy to create some of the most memorable Nuzlocke runs on YouTube.
The Friendlocke method of play gave each Pokémon its own human controller, which in turn gave them distinct personalities and quirks. With two seasons of the Friendlocke under his belt and another on the way, Saltydkdan created a sub-genre of Nuzlockes that few others have been able to top.
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