PROTIP: Press 'i' to view the image gallery, 'v' to view the video gallery, or 'r' to view a random entry.
The Nuzlocke Challenge is a type of video game challenge involving the Pokemon series. In it, players must release a Pokemon when it faints, thus declaring it "dead’, and must catch the first Pokemon they encounter in each area.
In 2010, a 4chan user known as “Nuzlocke” posted a comic on 4chan’s /v/ board chronicling a special way of playing the Pokemon games that he had come up with. The rules were simple: Release a Pokemon if it faints and catch the first Pokemon encountered on each route and nothing else. These rules he made for himself made each Pokemon caught more precious while giving him a new appreciation for Pokemon that he would have never considered using.
When he posted the comics on the /v/ board, they became popular quickly, mostly due to the character of “Nuzlocke”, a Nuzleaf which was drawn with the likeness of John Locke from “LOST”.
After the original thread was made, other people started playing the Nuzlocke Challenge, changing the rules just a bit to suit their tastes. It wasn’t long before people also started chronicling their own runthroughs of the challenge and sharing them online.
In February 2011, Know Your Meme interviewed the creator of the Nuzlocke Challenge. For the full-length interview, please read KYM Blog – Q&A with Nuzlocke.
Since the original Nuzlocke Challenge was shared in comic format, other comic artists started sharing their stories as well. One of the most popular examples of this is Helmic’s run of the challenge.
Eventually, the original creator of the challenge started a website for him to share the rest of his comics of the Nuzlocke Challenge. This only further encouraged other people to share their experiences with the challenge.
Also, with 4chan’s new Pokemon forum, /vp/, and a forum made specifically for people doing the challenge, new threads about the challenge came up asking for help in naming their pokemon or just to share their stories. This is the same for other Pokemon video game forums.
Also, using emulators and similar technology, people have recorded their Nuzlocke runs and posted them on YouTube. Some of these videos are commentary, while others simply let you watch the play-through. There are over 2000 videos of people playing the Nuzlocke Challenge, likening this to other video game challenges such as speed runs.
Many variations of the original challenge have been made, but the first two rules must be intact in order for it to count as a Nuzlocke run. Also, while not an actual rule, it is agreed that all caught Pokemon must be nicknamed in order to “grow a stronger bond with them”.
Rule variations include: Adjusting the first encounter rule to ban duplicate captures, considering a black out/white out to be “game over”, banning the use of potions and healing items,banning the use of Pokémon Centers, limiting Pokémon Center visits to a certain number per town, etc…
This flowchart provides a good example of a few of the variations on the challenge:
(click on image for larger view)