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These are the Nuzlocke Challenge rules up to Pokemon SV

pokemon scarlet violet nuzlocke challenge rules

Many Pokemon players have become confused over the rules of Nuzlocke Challenges after Scarlet and Violet, Sword and Shield, and Legends: Arceus all introduced new ideas to the series. Thankfully, the rules are as straightforward as ever.

While Pokemon fans routinely complain about how the series needs a major shakeup, they’ve gotten that already. Several times over. One consequence of that has been the confusion surrounding the Nuzlocke Challenge. Nuzlocke runs are compelling based on the high stakes attached to every battle, and the forced randomness of the team-building process. Changes introduced in Sword and Shield that carried forward to successive games have removed that randomness.

Thankfully, new rules have been implemented to remedy this. Even in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, players can put together a challenging playthrough without having to download a ROM hack. Here are the key rules for the Nuzlocke Challenge, how players have softened and increased the difficulty, and how to do this in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.

What are the rules of the Nuzlocke Challenge in Pokemon?

The Nuzlocke Challenge has just two rules.

First, players can only catch the first Pokemon they encounter each time they discover a new area. Finally, Pokemon are considered dead once they are knocked out. They must be either released or kept in a box for the remainder of the playthrough.

Those are the only defined rules that were put forward by the original Nuzlocke, who introduced the concept. Fans have largely intuited things from there but many unique situations fall outside these parameters. There are no hard-and-fast rules regarding things like Pokemon given to the player by NPCs, how legendaries fit into this, or whether fishing or Repels can be used to have greater control when building up a team. It’s also left amorphous whether players are allowed to evolve their Pokemon by trading, or if players are stuck with a Graveler or Boldore for every playthrough.

pokemon legends arceus graveler

Optional rules for Nuzlockes

There are many optional rules that are common for Nuzlocke Challenges, some of which are used so regularly that they’re mistaken as official rules.

These are designed to either increase the challenge of a run or get players more emotionally invested in the game. Here are some of the most common optional rules used and how they impact a playthrough:

  • All Pokemon require a nickname
  • Legendaries cannot be caught or used
  • Shinies cannot be caught or used
  • Shinies can be caught even if another Pokemon has been caught in that area
  • Players can catch the second Pokemon they encounter in a new location if the first is one they’ve already caught
  • Levels are capped based on the highest level of the next gym leader’s Pokemon

Beyond this, many rules can be introduced that can make things easier or more difficult. Restrictions on items, a checkpoint system, limiting how many times a Pokemon Center can be used, and many others can all be thrown into the mix. Ultimately, player are self-imposing and self-enforcing these rules so there’s plenty of freedom there.

Full rules for Nuzlocke Challenge in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

There is no defined set of rules for doing the Nuzlocke Challenge in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, but there are many solid imitations for the games.

The gen-nine Pokemon games introduced a fully open world, something that made Nuzlocke Challenges awkward. Alongside the lack of random encounters, there aren’t any defined borders between areas, making it difficult to discern how often players are allowed to catch Pokemon. Players have found multiple ways to emulate the experience despite these issues.

Here’s a starting rules framework for a Pokemon Scarlet and Violet Nuzlocke Challenge:

  • Pokemon that are knocked out are considered dead
  • Players can catch one to three Pokemon following each Titan Pokemon, Team Star base, and gym
  • Players must follow a level cap system and complete story events in a general order

The method for catching Pokemon can vary, as can the number of Pokemon caught. It ultimately comes down to how much of a challenge players want.

In terms of how to determine which Pokemon to catch and when, there are multiple options. For a fully random experience, players can visit Tera Raid dens. These offer one from a pool of dozens of different Pokemon, depending on how far the player has progressed.

For a different approach, players can open the map in an area, close it, and look at the mini-map. This will show the icons of a few different wild Pokemon in the area. Players can randomly select an option from the mini-map using anything from flipping a coin to “the Pokemon that appears furthest north in the mini-map can be caught.”

The most important rule for running a Nuzlocke Challenge in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet is sticking to the level cap. Because players can hypothetically catch a high-level Pokemon at the start of the game, maintaining a challenge requires a level cap. This requires players to temporarily box over-leveled Pokemon. Here’s a breakdown of all the different story events, the recommended level range, and the level cap:

Level CapEvents
15-25Cortando Gym, Titan Klawf, Artazon Gym, Titan Bombardier, Dark Star Base, Levincia Gym
26-35Fire Star Base, Titan Orthrworm, Cascarrafa Gym, Poison Star Base
36-45Medali Gym, Montenevera Gym, Titan Iron Treads or Great Tusk
46-60Glaseado Gym, Fairy Star Base, Fighting Star Base
60+Final bosses, Elite Four, and Post-Game

Do note that these events are in a recommended order based on the level of the Pokemon encountered.

Because there is no defined set of rules for a Pokemon Scarlet and Violet Nuzlocke Challenge, players have a fair amount of freedom to make up their own. This general structure is still strong for those who want to maintain the Nuzlocke feel in the new games.

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Written by Steven Rondina

Steven Rondina has been playing video games since he was a toddler and appreciates every genre out there. He has earned the platinum trophy in every Soulsborne game, is regularly Master Ball-ranked on the competitive Pokemon ladder, and has spent thousands of hours missing shots on Dust 2. His work has previously been featured by Bleacher Report and The Washington Post, and he was an Assistant Editor at WIN.gg. You can follow him on Twitter / X at @srondina.

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