The Nuzlocke Challenge, a fan-created way to play any Pokémon game by, has been a staple of the community for many years. It essentially involves players releasing any Pokémon that faints (as it if had died) and following specific rules when catching Pokémon, such as only the first one encountered in a given area or route. The challenge can be completed without the use of any type of game manipulation and is simply a method of making the game harder, for the most part.
Considering how benign the additional stipulations of the challenge are, fans were surprised to hear that The Pokémon Company International (TPCi) considered the runs on the same level of ROM hacks. For those who have not heard of them, ROM hacks are games created by fans based on the files of an existing game.
Kit & Krysta Podcast reveals TPCi’s reaction to Nuzlockes
During their most recent podcast, former Nintendo employees and hosts of the Nintendo Minute series Kit Ellis and Krysta Yang answered a fan question that asked them if they had ever played a Nuzlocke Challenge. They responded with a story of actually pitching a Nuzlocke run for a Nintendo Minute Segment to TPCi, but being heavily shot down, with the company making the aforementioned comparison to ROM hacks.
They also said that there had been creators that had been removed from the company’s creator program for performing Nuzlocke runs, but it’s unclear if they’re referring to Nintendo’s Ambassador program or a program through TPCi.
TPCi’s current stance on Nuzlockes
The Nintendo Minute ran from 2013-2021, so it is currently unknown exactly when the situation Kitt and Krysta discussed took place. Nowadays, the company regards the Nuzlocke Challenge as totally fine for creators within its programs to participate in, as long as they’re done in a normal Pokémon title.
It is possible that they were originally thinking of Nuzlocke Randomizer challenges, which involve a modified game played on an emulator that allows players to start with and encounter completely random Pokémon throughout the game. For viewers, those challenges can be much more exciting because it’s never known what a player will encounter next, however because it involves the use of game data modification, it’s no surprise that the company wouldn’t want to showcase that kind of gameplay.
UPDATE: Another point, which I meant to include originally, is the concept of Pokémon “dying” after being defeated in battle. Death itself is not something the series has shied away from, but the concept of succumbing after a battle may have been considered too controversial to give attention to on any official channel. They may have also worried that people unfamiliar with the brand, such as kids, may misunderstand how the games are meant to be played.
Whether or not creators have been historically removed from the program for content around Nuzlockes is currently unknown. We may hear more if a creator comes forward to confirm that they had been kicked out, but, if it’s the Nintendo Ambassador program or similar, they may not have even been given a reason.
Hopefully the corporate culture has expanded to be more open to different content and approaches that do not too heavily regulate online creators that it works with.
Let us know what you think and if you have ever participated in a Nuzlocke run yourself in the comments below! Or join us on Discord!
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