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I play games wrong.

This has been one of my big obsessions over the last year - playing beloved games, new and old, cranking the self-imposed difficulty up to 11, and then finding my own ways to crank it even higher. I just really love adding my own rules to my favorite games to make them harder.

That time I hit level 100 in WoW with a dance pad
That time I hit level 100 in WoW with a dance pad

It’s always stupid, often painful, and oh so much fun

Enter the Nuzlocke Challenge. For any readers unfamiliar with this experience in masochism, the rules are simple. You play a game of Pokémon from start to finish, with these three caveats:

  • One, if a Pokémon faints, you MUST release it ASAP.
  • Two, you may only catch the very first Pokémon you find when entering a new area.

If it faints or runs away, no new Pokémon for you until the next zone. If it's another bloody Rattata, then tough luck - you better love that rat like you'd love the Pikachu you really wanted.

  • Three, ALL Pokémon must have a nickname.

This is purely to enhance the emotional anguish you’re guaranteed to experience when you have to say goodbye to your sidekick Charizard that’s been through thick and thin with you.

Keep in mind, it’s possible to run out of Pokémon! If you do, it’s game over - even if you’re in the middle of the Elite Four. Wipe your save, wipe your tears, and go back to Pallet Town.

Hi, my name’s Rudeism - you can call me Dylan if you like - and I’m a stupid idiot

I LOVE challenges like this. I've tried my hand at several weird challenges: leveling a World of Warcraft character to 100 using only my feet, playing Counter Strike with Guitar Hero controllers - you name it, I'll try it.

I wanted to give Nuzlocke a go (but make it even harder, of course), so I loaded up five emulators with five different Pokémon games spanning five generations, and hooked up each game’s control system to a single controller. If I moved up on the thumbstick, all five characters moved up simultaneously. I call it the Multilocke Challenge.

My goal was to complete all five games like this, Nuzlocke rules in effect. If I fail on any one game, it’s game over for all five. (Note: I own all the games I have emulators for. Stay in school kids, don’t do piracy.)

Trying to keep track of five games at once - and Twitch chat to boot - is absolutely mind-bending

Every step of the Multilocke Challenge needs to be calculated and thought out ahead of time, lest a Pokémon faints and you need to say goodbye. It happened to me more times than I could count - I’d neglect to glance over at one of the games, just to see a Pokémon faint because I attacked one time too many. I was progressing through the games at a crawl.

I got about quarter way through the games when the last Pokémon in my White save file took a critical hit on the nose, causing me to lose the whole challenge after at least a full day's worth of game time. But it’s OK! I had a ton of fun doing it, and I'm just about to start another run of it this week on my stream!

We create our own gaming folklore, together

There's something special about weird and new experiences like this - they have a tendency to bring people together in really great ways. You have Pokémon itself, for instance - I remember being in the schoolyard with Game Boy and link cable in hand, trading and fighting with my friends when the Pokémon craze was brand new. Just the other night, I saw almost fifty strangers hanging out in town, talking to each other and playing Pokémon Go.

On top of that, you have challenges like Multilocke or Twitch Plays Pokémon, where people will gather on streaming platforms like Twitch to add their own layers of lore on top of their favorite games. It's awesome to see so many people come together in a positive way and bond over their favorite games, whatever they may be.

If you’re keen to see the stuff I get up to, you can check me out on Twitch, YouTube and Twitter. If you have a weird idea for a way you want to play your favorite game, go do it! You never know how much fun you’ll have. (Or tell me so I can play it - I love hearing new ideas!)

I'm always looking for a new challenge
I'm always looking for a new challenge