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How The “Nuzlocke Challenge” Makes Replaying Any Video Game More Fun - Antsy Labs

How The “Nuzlocke Challenge” Makes Replaying Any Video Game More Fun

Are you looking for a fun way to get some more playtime out of your old video games?

The little-known Nuzlocke Challenge (not a secret to the hardcore Pokémon fans among us) could be just the trick to breathing new life into your beloved gaming experiences and providing hours of additional fun.

(And no, you don’t have to catch ‘em all to participate!)

Just for Video Gamers!

Becoming the best player you can be is a challenge. Becoming the best player in multiple games is even more challenging. You're ready for it. But it takes a lot of turns, a lot of RESTART? Y/N, before you reach that level of excellence. Stay motivated and reward yourself with IRLA Video Gaming challenge medals. Get a series of five medals that mark your milestones for playing multiple videogames. As you set more goals and make progress in your quest to be the best, your IRLAs give you the motivation to do more and more.

We were pleasantly surprised at how fun the Nuzlocke Challenge is for all types of games – and gamers! – so today we’re sharing more about it, as well as how you can apply it to level up your old video games. 

Just What Is The Nuzlocke Challenge Anyway?

The Nuzlocke Challenge is popular among Pokémon aficionados as a self-imposed set of rules that players can follow while playing Pokémon games. It is based on Nick Franco’s comic Nuzlocke (you can read those comics here). 


In short, the challenge is about adding an additional level of difficulty and excitement to the gameplay of an old favorite. If there’s one thing we appreciate here, it’s a video game challenge that helps us get more out of our old favorites


The core rules of the Nuzlocke Challenge are as follows:



  • Catch Only the First Pokémon Encountered in Each Area - When entering a new area, players are only allowed to capture the first Pokémon they encounter. If the first encounter faints or flees, players are not permitted to catch any Pokémon in that area.

  • Perma-Death Rule - If a Pokémon faints during a battle, it is considered "dead" and must be permanently released or stored in a PC box, never to be used again. This emphasizes the importance of strategic decisions and raises the stakes during battles.

  • Nicknaming Pokémon - To form a stronger bond with their Pokémon, players are encouraged to give each captured Pokémon a nickname. This adds a personal touch and helps create a stronger emotional connection to the team.


The Nuzlocke Challenge adds an element of suspense, strategy, and emotional investment to the Pokémon games. 


And we believe that with the right tweaks, it can do the same for your other favorite games, too!

3 Ways To Use The Nuzlocke Challenge To Add Replay Value To Your Favorite Games

While avid gamers may be able to invent their Nuzlocke Challenge adaptations from scratch, we thought we’d illustrate just how you can do it at home with three all-time favorite game series:

  • Mario Kart
  • Super Mario Bros
  • The Legend of Zelda

By adapting them with the Nuzlocke Challenge, you'll unlock a whole new level of excitement and strategic thinking. Let’s dive into our examples.

As a note, we’ll be focused on the first two challenges, as we’re not sure adding emotional connections to your Mario Kart racers will have much of a payoff. Your mileage may vary!

Adapting “Catch Only the First Encounter”


  • Mario Kart Deluxe - Players can adopt a "First Kart Only" rule, where they choose the first kart they unlock or encounter and commit to using it for the entire gameplay session or tournament.

  • Super Mario Bros - Players can apply a "First Power-Up Only" rule, limiting themselves to using only the first power-up they encounter in each level. They must stick with that power-up until the end of the level or until they lose a life.

  • The Legend of Zelda - Players can follow a "First Weapon Only" rule, using only the first weapon they obtain in the game, such as the starting sword or an initial bow. They must rely on that weapon for combat throughout the entire playthrough, emphasizing resource management and adaptability.

Adapting the “Perma-Death Rule”


  • Mario Kart Deluxe - While not directly applicable, players can incorporate a "Perma-Death Lap" rule. If they finish a race in a certain position (e.g., last place), they must retire from that cup or session and cannot participate in it again.

  • Super Mario Bros - In a similar spirit, players can implement a "Perma-Death Level" rule, where if they lose a life in a specific level, they can no longer play it as that character. This is more relevant to the newer iterations of Super Mario Bros which have multiple playable characters, including Mario, Luigi, Toad, Toadette, and Nabbit.

  • The Legend of Zelda - A variant of the Perma-Death rule can be applied in the form of a "Perma-Death Dungeon" challenge. If the player dies in a dungeon or temple, they must start the entire dungeon from the beginning, making success and survival crucial.

Other Video Game Challenges To Liven Up Your Old Favorites 

We’re not only obsessed with the Nuzlocke Challenge here. We also love the idea of video game challenges that give us a new way to play, which is why we created the Video Gaming IRLA Pack


As a set of video game challenge medals, you’ll get IRL rewards you can proudly display for all your virtual achievements, including getting a K/D ratio of 13, completing a single-player game, completing a game on a console that’s over 15 years old, winning a battle royale game, and planning an in-person video game party.


For more ideas on getting more out of your games, check out 11 video game challenges to spice up your next replay, how people train to get better at games, and new ways to play old games.


You were made for this moment the first time you stepped in an arcade or powered up your first console. Power up, plug in, and get ready to earn the type of coins that’ll make Italian plumbers jealous. These IRLAs come from stringing together killer combos, defeating dastardly bosses, and clearing complex levels. If you want achievements that don’t reset when you pull out the cord, you’ll have to work for it - so warm up those thumbs and strap in.

It’s time to level up.

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