Pokémon FireRed Nuzlocke Challenge - Part Zero

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If there's one thing that can be said of my user activity on Giant Bomb, it's that I enjoy writing serial blogs. In my time on this website I've put together two big blog series - January 2012's A Month in Skyrim, a daily journal chronicling my in-game actions in the most recent Elder Scrolls game from my character's own perspective; and my 'blognum opus', Enduring Final Fantasy VII, in which I replayed what is perhaps my favourite game of all time to see if it still holds up. I've also put up other semi-serialised blog content (last year's Metal Gear Madness, for instance), although I consider those to be closer to features than full-on series of blogs. Regardless, the point still stands - I like to take an idea and run with it. Preferably through the Giant Bomb blogosphere, if I can.

It's been just over two months since my time with Final Fantasy VII came to an end, and I've found myself itching to once again dive into some kind of long-term continuous blogging commitment. Having spent so much of last year with the Pokémon franchise, I was pretty sure my next blog series would involve Game Freak's collectable critters in some capacity, and the most obvious option was to attempt a 'Nuzlocke' run through one of the games. A Nuzlocke run is an idea that I started toying with when playing through the entire franchise last year, but ultimately decided against because the mechanics weren't really compatible with the "catch-'em-all" ethos driving those playthroughs. Now that my epic journey through the Pokémon world is all but over and all of my pocket monsters are finally residing comfortably in one cartridge, I figure it's the perfect time to go back to one of the earlier games in the series and finally attempt a Nuzlocke.

The first thing to do was to settle on a specific game in the franchise in which to play this Nuzlocke run. I initially toyed with one of the second-generation Pokémon games, purely because they feature so much content to explore and experience. However, given the nature of a Nuzlocke, and being as this is the first time I've ever attempted one, there's no guarantee we'll see even half of that content. The second game that sprung to mind was Pokémon White 2, as it's the only main series Pokémon game that I own which I haven't played yet. That seemed like a bad idea too, though, on the basis that a Nuzlocke run probably isn't the best way to experience a Pokémon game for the first time. My third and final choice was FireRed/LeafGreen, the Game Boy Advance remakes of the games that started it all. Being as it's the game I'm most familiar with, it seemed like the safest option in terms of guaranteeing a fairly lengthy series.

So ladies and gentlemen, without any further ado, I bring you the newest serial blog to come out of Dan Kempster Enterprises:

Part Zero - Laying Down The Laws

Before the series gets properly underway and I start catching some pokeymans, there are some foundations that need to be laid - the first of which should probably be explaining what a 'Nuzlocke' run actually is.

A 'Nuzlocke' run, also known as Pokémon: Hard Mode, is a game of Pokémon played with a set of self-imposed rules and restrictions. The aim is to take the kid-friendly, pretty easy core content of the Pokémon games and make it more challenging for the player. The name is derived from the original Pokémon: Hard Mode comic strip, which featured the player's Nuzleaf frequently stylised as the character Locke from LOST. There are several variations on the Nuzlocke format, some of which I'll be employing for my own run, but there are two core tenets which form the basis of every Nuzlocke run:

  1. The player can only capture the first Pokémon they meet in any given area. Failing to do so (e.g. making the Pokémon faint, or running away) means the player forfeits their capture for that area.
  2. If a Pokémon faints, it is considered 'dead' and must be either released or permanently boxed in the PC. If all Pokémon in the party faint, the game is over.

Alongside these two main rules, I'll be using a handful of additional restrictions to personalise my experience with the game. These are as follows:

  • All caught Pokémon must be nicknamed, to encourage a stronger bond between the player and their Pokémon. As someone who doesn't normally nickname their Pokémon, this should be an interesting rule to follow.
  • The player's choice of starter Pokémon is determined by the final digit of their Trainer ID. 1, 2 and 3 correspond to the Grass-type starter; 4, 5 and 6 to the Fire-type starter, and 7, 8 and 9 to the Water-type starter. If the Trainer ID ends in 0, the player has the freedom to choose their starter as normal.
  • Encounters are not counted against the player for the purposes of the Nuzlocke until they obtain their first Poké Balls. It would be unfair to penalise myself if I don't have the means to catch a Pokémon in the first place.
  • If the first Pokémon encountered on a route is the same species as a Pokémon already caught by the player, the encounter can be considered void and the player may look for another Pokémon. This is known as the 'species clause' or 'duplicates clause'. I'm invoking it because it should ensure I end up owning and using a wide variety of Pokémon throughout the run, rather than trudging through the first half of the game with a party full of Rattata and Pidgey.
  • 'Event' Pokémon (by which I mean one-off Pokemon gifted to the player, such as the Eevee in Celadon City and the Hitmonlee/Hitmonchan in the Fighting Dojo) may be used, providing the player has not already obtained a Pokémon within that area.

I think that covers all the bases as far as the rules and regulations go. If all goes to plan, the first proper part of this Nuzlocke challenge (covering from Pallet Town up to Viridian Forest) should be up on Tuesday. Until then, thanks very much for reading. I hope you'll join me on what should be an interesting (and hopefully entertaining) new serial blogging adventure. Take care guys, and I'll see you around.



Currently playing - Pokémon FireRed Version (GBA)

Back to the Pokémon CenterPart One - It's A Team-Building Exercise >>
Posted by ThomasMayhew

I am looking forward to following this as you progress! :D

Posted by ArbitraryWater

I always saw Nuzlocke runs as "Pokemon in Ironman mode", and while the idea of having a Pokemon game not be a complete joke difficulty-wise is one that appeals to me... I think the end result would just be a lot of grinding and overleveling to keep your team intact. I'll be interested to see if your attempts don't end with you acting like a paranoid power-gamer, but I'm not so hopeful about that given that you're already more invested in the Pokemonz then I am (at a mere 85 or so hours spent in X version).

All you need to know is that most Gen 1 pokemon are terrible and you should use your one capture in the Power Plant to get Zapdos because Zapdos is the boss. And don't forget that this is a gen 3 game and thus the Physical/Special split hadn't happened yet, which means you'll probably have to retrain yourself to remember that all moves under a single type are physical or special. Thus ends my hot Pokemon advice line.

Edited by dankempster

@arbitrarywater: Thanks for the words of encouragement. I'm going to try my best not to hugely over-level my team to keep things interesting (I have seen Nuzlockes where people have put 'level caps' on their team before each gym, and I may yet implement that rule myself). I'd been thinking about legendaries and whether I'd forgo the Nuzlocke rules to permit their capture or not, but decided against it. Technically I could legitimately catch Zapdos in this playthrough, but I'd have to spam a ton of Max Repels on my way through the Power Plant so I don't meet anything before I find it. Thanks for the reminder about the physical/special split not being present in the game, too - I'd completely forgotten about that, so I'll have to bear that in mind when learning moves.

And on sort of a side note, I've scared even myself with how invested I've become in the franchise over the last nine months. This weekend I cross the 300-hour threshold in Pokémon Y, and a significant portion of that can be attributed to both breeding and filling up my Pokédex (506 types obtained at the time of writing!). I don't think I could ever get into serious competitive battling, though - perfect IV breeding is perhaps the one remaining rabbit hole in that franchise that I'm not prepared to go down. Even so, I'm still getting a thrill from training new Pokémon and building teams to take on my friends in less serious battles. I've just finished training an Eviolite-holding Chansey with Toxic, Protect, Substitute and Soft-Boiled as its moveset, and I look forward to pissing off my mates with it in the near future.

@thomasmayhew: Thanks mate! I'm writing Part One now - it may even be up before the night is out!