Do you ever do play-throughs where you have to stick to particular rules? Like the Nuzlocke challenge? If so, what are your favourites and what are the ones you vow never to do again?
I’ve done a few Nuzlockes. They have… ended poorly. One of them featured an Illumise spontaneously exploding. Sometimes Jim the Editor will pick teams of terrible Pokémon for me (honestly, though, I don’t think I’ve yet had a Pokémon challenge experience that made me really firmly swear “never again”). Once I even wrote a Nuzlocke story, which I never finished, and honestly I don’t know if I’m ever going to have time to finish it (maybe I should just tell everyone what I had in mind for the rest of the story, I don’t know). But anyway, if you don’t mind that it cuts off about 3/4 of the way through the story, or think you might want to start bugging me to finish it instead of the other things I have in mind to do, you can read it here.
I’ve even designed my own incredibly convoluted variation on the rules, inspired by the concept of a Nuzlocke but based loosely on the rules of a drinking game (dubbed “Kingslocke” by Jim the Editor). Except… instead of drinking, you have to do things in the game, which… hmm. Y’know what, you should also take a drink every time one of your Pokémon faints. If you want to make it really hard-core, take a drink every time you use a Pokémon Centre.
[but only if you’re of an appropriate age to drink alcohol in whatever country you happen to reside in, obviously – 21 in most of the US, 18 in New Zealand, only once you’re dead in Saudi Arabia, 18 months in Scotland, etc.]
Another thing that’s a lot of fun is playing older titles on an emulator after running them through the Universal Pokémon Game Randomiser, which can mix up all the Pokémon that appear, as well as the moves they learn, or even their types and evolutions; there’s a whole bunch of different settings you can experiment with. If you want to replay the story of an old Pokémon game while recapturing a bit of the excitement of not knowing exactly what you’re going to run into, check it out!
I think all this reflects something really interesting about Pokémon’s fandom: people love Pokémon’s core gameplay and they love the huge variety of creatures, but there’s something of a hunger for 1) variations on the formula, or even just features to enhance replayability, and 2) higher stakes. The latter is a tension inherent in the fact that Pokémon will always be fundamentally for children, but it’s been around so long that a lot of people who grew up with it (like me!) are now adults and want our fiction to deal with more “serious” themes. Nuzlockes are a lot of people’s way of developing that desire. This blog is mine.