Pokémon is a fantastic series, one whose core concept has remained largely unchanged for two decades: the player is challenged to catch a winning team of Pokémon, train them hard and fight for glory and fame. Overachieving players can embark on the staggering quest of obtaining all of the Pokémon found in each game. Considering the latest games in the series --Pokémon Ultra Sun & Moon-- have a whopping 800+ Pokémon, it’s a hefty feat of patience and dedication.
For some truly committed players, however, the petty tasks of winning the game and catching 'em all is small potatoes. To make the game more exciting or more challenging, some players will adopt certain sets of rules and restrictions for their playthroughs. Here are some of the best challenges for players looking to dive back into these classic games.
10 The Clones Challenge
No, you’re (probably) not using Ditto for this one. The Clones challenge has you use a random number generator to pick which of the 800+ Pokémon (or however many are in the series entry you're playing) you’re going to use in the game. They're the only Pokémon you can use in your team.
It’s an interesting challenge, as the game becomes much easier or harder depending on the Pokémon you roll. If you roll a 445, for instance, you get to have a team of Garchomps to use (watch out for Ice-types, though), but roll a 10 and you have the monumental task of beating the game with nothing but a team of Caterpies.
9 The Unevolved Challenge
This challenge seems rough at first. The rules state that you’re allowed to catch whichever Pokémon you want, but you can only ever use the base version of that 'mon. This means your Charmander can never become a Charizard or any of the Mega versions.
It sounds harsh, but if you consider that many powerful Pokémon in the game don’t have evolutions (Ho-Oh and Lugia for instance), it's still possible to create a beastly team. Some players even prefer this challenge, simply because it removes the hassle of having to determine the best level to evolve Pokémon in order to get the best stats and movesets.
8 The Roleplay Challenge
This challenge can be either really fun or really annoying, depending on who you pick. It has you choose a character from either the games or the TV series and build a team based on what they used. If you pick Red from Pokemon Heart Gold & Soul Silver, for instance, you can roll with a Pikachu, Venasaur, Charizard, Blastoise, Lapras and a Snorlax, a classic team that would perform very well in any of the games.
On the flipside, if you pick Poké Kid Meghan (the Pikachu cosplayer in the Sunyshore City Pokémon Gym in Pokémon Diamond & Pearl), you’ll be playing the game with a team of four Pikachu.
7 The Evil Pokémon Challenge
The Evil Pokémon challenge has players going into battle with the creepiest, darkest, slimiest Pokémon around. Typically, this means the team will be made of Bug, Poison, Dark, and Ghost-types, though exceptions are made if the Pokémon in question is creepy enough.
While you can’t be outright evil in these kid-friendly games, there’s something satisfying about imaging the look of horror on an opponent's face when your team is made of Pokémon like Gengar, Muk, Banette, Yamask, Mimikyu, and Giratina (to name just a few diabolical examples).
6 The Monotype Challenge
In the Monotype challenge, players are tasked with imitating gym leaders and restricting themselves to a single Pokémon type. A common add-on is being limited to single-type Pokémon only, though this can be very difficult in some of the older games like Pokémon Blue & Red (which have only three Dragon-types).
It can be challenging to enter a gym devoted to Water Pokémon when you’re working with Fire-types, but it introduces some fun creativity you wouldn’t get to utilize otherwise.
5 The Catchless Challenge
One of the more difficult (and more popular) ways to play is the Catchless challenge. Yep, this means you are not allowed to catch a Pokémon under any circumstances. At first, this can sound almost impossible but remember: over the course of any game in the series, the player is given a number of diverse Pokémon for various reasons.
The real difficulty of this challenge lies at the beginning of the game. Gift Pokémon don’t tend to come along until later, requiring the player to beat a good chunk of the action before getting any real chance to expand their team. It’s a fun way to play that still gives access to some strong Pokémon.
4 The Single Challenge
Players will get a taste of this in the beginning of a Catchless challenge, but the Single challenge dials the difficult up further: you’re not allowed to use another Pokémon, ever. Typically, this means you are restricted to your starter Pokémon, although some variations have you incorporate the randomness of the Clone challenge (whichever Pokémon you roll is the one and only 'mon you can use).
Playing the game with only a Froakie (which evolves into an adaptable Greninja) or even starting out randomly with a Mewtwo isn’t so bad. It’s when you’re stuck with a Pikachu or a random Slaking that this challenge becomes rough.
3 The Scramble Challenge
This challenge requires players to get help from other Pokémon fans. Going on forums, sites, or key groups in social media, players will announce that they’re going on a Scramble run of a Pokémon game. It’s then up to the community to determine the Pokémon that will be used.
There are guidelines in place to make sure all Pokémon chosen are actually usable and give the player a chance at winning the game. Depending on the group, players could end up with a really fun team, or they could be lumbered with a barely functional team that requires immense grinding to become battle-ready. What's inside this Poké Ball (created by DeviantArt user Lucid-Grey)? That depends.
2 The Nuzlocke Challenge
Probably the most famous challenge ever created by the Pokémon community, the Nuzlocke challenge is designed to develop bonds between the player and their Pokémon. The player is only permitted to catch the first Pokémon they find in a new area (with exceptions made for duplicates). Moreover, if a Pokémon faints, it’s considered dead and may no longer be used.
Many players have been surprised by how emotionally attached they become to their Pokémon during a Nuzlocke run. It rekindles some of those childhood emotions that came with playing the Pokémon games for the first time, and the risk of permadeath gives the game higher stakes. After all, the loss of a key Pokémon could be devastating for the player's chances.
1 The Shiny Collection Challenge
By far the most time consuming and tedious of all the challenges, the Shiny Collection challenge has players finding and catching the shiny versions of all the Pokémon in the various games. Generation I games are off the table (shiny Pokémon didn't exist back then) and some can’t be caught without using cheats, like Mew in Generation II.
For all the other games, players must exert incredible effort, tapping into lesser-known tactics like shiny Ditto breeding in Generation II, chaining in Generation IV and soft-reseting when encountering legendaries (until a shiny version appears). Even with these advantages and rarity buffs, it’s still a gargantuan effort that requires incredible patience and dedication.