Greetings adventurers and welcome to something that is hopefully not a bad idea! Inspired by the series being done over at Dragon’s Tea Party (which you should definitely check out), I have decided to begin a Nuzlocke journey of my own here on Adventure Rules. This is something I’ve thought of doing in the past, as part of the Nuzlocke tradition is to capture your story in some way so you can share it with other people. This isn’t my first Nuzlocke challenge by any means, but this will be the first one that I share openly with you and that you might even get the opportunity to contribute to from time to time (more on that in a later post). I’m treating these kind of as a walkthrough in the sense that I’ll be sharing a lot of the reasoning behind some of my more mechanical decisions in the game, but I’ll also share my thoughts about the game in general and probably make some jokes. For now, let’s dive in and begin the story of my tiny avatar’s journey through the land of Hoenn!
The opening of Omega Ruby was pretty cool to me when the game first came out – your character is actually playing the original Ruby (or Sapphire) on their own handheld, so the game begins on the opening screen from the original third generation games. Once you’ve chosen your gender and name, the screen pans out and we get to see the wider world. You hop out of the back of the moving truck – which is definitely NOT a safe way to transport your ten-year-old to his new house – and begin to explore Littleroot Town.
The town has a couple of boring NPCs, who must all live at the Pokemon Lab because there are only two houses in the whole village. One belongs to your family and the other to Professor Elm and his wife and daughter. Oh, I guess now is a good time to say this: for the purposes of this series, I’ll be referring to the player character as male and the rival as female, but ORAS allows you to choose your gender. The rival is always opposite, so had I chosen a female avatar, Elm would have a son named Brendan instead of a daughter named May.
May gets all flustered because you’re probably the first human being her own age that she has ever met, and she then runs off to find her dad. Upon following her, we finally get to meet the professor and – more importantly – our first Pokemon. By the way, May is nowhere to be found during this scene. Why isn’t SHE the one saving Professor Elm from the wild Poochyena? Ah well, I guess I gotta be the one to do everything.
I chose Mudkip as my starter for this run, largely because I’m thinking ahead to what kind of challenges I’ll be facing in the coming days. The starter selection is the only time I’m going to be able to choose what Pokemon I want – once the Nuzlocke gets going I can only catch the first Pokemon I meet on each route. If bad luck leads to a series of terrible encounters, I need to make sure my starter is as helpful as possible at as many gyms as possible. With a Rock gym right from the start, Torchic was off the table. Thinking ahead to the next few gyms after, there’s Fighting, Electric, Fire, Normal…Mudkip’s Water typing and later its Ground typing definitely sound most beneficial. So I chose this little guy and made quick work of the Poochyena.
After that, Professor Elm took me back to the Pokemon Laboratory where I finally got the chance to nickname my Mudkip and take a look at his abilities. I chose the nickname Slick on account of this Pokemon being wet and muddy. Plus it sounds cool; “hey, Slick, what do you think you’re doing?” Slick has a gentle nature, which lowers defense and raises special defense. It’s not great but I could have definitely gotten something worse for Mudkip, and of course you can’t realistically be all that choosy in a Nuzlocke.
Some Pokemon games take way too long to get into the actual Nuzlocke portion of the game – the point where you have Pokeballs and can therefore actually start capturing things. Luckily, all it takes in Omega Ruby is a quick jog and a battle with May to really get things moving. May’s Pokemon always has type advantage, so I ended up facing a Treecko. I was a bit worried about this battle because Treecko started off with a critical hit, but Slick gave as good as he got – he immediately hit back with a critical of his own and after a couple of rounds Treecko was done.
Finally, I could start capturing Pokemon! This to me is the most exciting part of the Nuzlocke challenge – having multiple routes ahead of you, each one full of potential captures. What Pokemon will we meet? What abilities will they have? Will they be just who I need to defeat the next gym? Finding out can be disappointing, but it’s all worth it when you capture just the right Pokemon, or find yourself surprised by one you never expected to perform well in the field.
On route 101 I met a Wurmple, which I called Herman after the song. You know the one. Wait, you don’t? Well then-
Sittin’ on a fence post chewing my bubble gum *smack*smack*smack*smack*
Playin’ with my yo-yo *doo-wop*doo-wop*
When aloooooooong came Heeeeeeeerman the Wooooooooorm
And he was THIS BIG | |
And I said: “Herman, what happened?”
And he said: “I ate a leaf.”
You get it now? Okay, cool. Anyway, Herman the Wurmple spent a little time shadowing Slick on the job. He’s lax natured so he’s pretty content to just sit and watch. As a result, he rarely wanted to get involved in battles himself. Wurmple is a tough catch during Nuzlockes – you have no way of knowing which evolution you’re going to get, and each one has different skills. I had to wait for Herman to evolve in order to find out whether I’d have a Beautifly or a Dustox. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long to find out.
Silcoon! That means I’ll end up with a Beautifly. That honestly was a bit disappointing for me – Beautifly has a four-times weakness to Rock types compared to Dustox only having a two-times weakness. Beautifly won’t be worth much in the first gym, and may struggle in the second as well if any of Brawly’s Pokemon have a rock-type move at their disposal. It’s common for many fighting types to run moves like Rock Throw, Rock Slide, or Stone Edge, which makes it scary to try and stop them with a Bug-Flying type despite its four-times resistance to Fighting.
The other Pokemon I caught before making it to Petalburg City was a Zigzagoon. I wanted to name it Zagitha Christie, but only the first part fit. Zagitha is an adamant nature which is pretty solid for Zigzagoon, giving her a bit of extra attack power at the cost of a stat she’ll never use, special attack. I tend to rely on Zigzagoon as an HM Slave normally – Cut, Strength, Rock Smash, and Surf may all be moves that Zagitha ends up with later on. Of course, the danger of that is that if a Roar or Whirlwind ever switches her in, she’d be toast. Carrying an HM slave means effectively limiting yourself to a team of only five Pokemon; I can’t make that decision lightly, but there’s no need to make it right now at any rate.
My route 103 encounter was a Poochyena, but I didn’t end up being able to catch this one. Slick got a little bit too enthusiastic with a water gun and critted the goofy thing into the pool of water on the eastern side of the trail. Gentle nature? Yeah, right. I’m not a huge Poochyena fan, though, so it’s only a problem for me in the sense that if I run into another one on a more important route, I can’t call dupes. Once I got to Petalburg City, I met my dad and had to endure the worst part of every single Pokemon game: the capture tutorial.
I understand the reasoning behind the capture tutorial in Pokemon games, but I honestly don’t think it would be that difficult to add a “skip this, I’ve been playing since Red and Blue and could do this in my sleep” option; a little quality-of-life update that would be greatly appreciated by veteran players. Of course, in this game it’s important because it introduces you to Wally, a character who is a sort of pseudo-rival on your journey. He’s very sickly, but Pokemon inspire him to go on an adventure and to find friendship and happiness and yada yada. My favorite line during this scene is when he gives you the PlayNav app for your PokeNav and explains that he’s had it for ages just waiting to finally have Pokemon to use it with. It reminds me of myself and tabletop RPG rulebooks – I keep purchasing them in hopes that someday I’ll be playing roleplaying games more than just one session a month…
Anyway, after Petalburg comes Route 104 and the Petalburg Woods. These would be my last two encounters before taking on the gym leader, and I decided that this would be a good stopping point for this week as well – get my last two Pokemon, and then next time I can focus on training them up and taking on the gym leader. My Route 104 encounter was a Wingull that I decided to name Wobbles – it kind of wobbles back-and-forth when it flies. Wingull is an odd duck (er, seagull) in the sense that its water typing would be good for the upcoming gym if its flying typing didn’t make it weak to rock. On the plus side, it might be valuable for Brawly’s gym, as it resists fighting and only has a two-times weakness to rock in case one of those fighters is packing a rock-type move.
Just before Petalburg Woods there’s a rich kid who has a pretty tough Zigzagoon. I wouldn’t necessarily call him a “Locke-ender” but if you’re switch-training here and aren’t prepared to fight this guy, he can be a bit of a pain. His level 8 Zigzagoon has both Growl and Tail Whip, enabling it to lower your defense and attack power. Combine that with STAB Tackle (for a total power of 75) and this thing is definitely the scariest creature you’ll have fought so far. In my case, he got a crit on Slick that put me in a bit of a bind. Slick knew Mud-Slap at that point, which is a nice move for tough fights because it both deals damage and lowers accuracy. I managed to get a few off while the Zigzagoon focused on lowering my stats, and I then switched out to Herman. Now Herman’s attack power is total garbage, but he has decent defense (especially with that Lax nature) and poison sting gave me the ability to whittle Zigzagoon down while all of its attacks missed. I put the rick kid in his place and made a decent sum for it, as well.
After kicking Winston’s tail I made my way into Petalburg Woods to find my last encounter before the gym. It took me multiple tries because I kept encountering Pokemon I had in my party already – Wurmple and Zigzagoon just can’t resist my winning smile, I guess. Some folks play in such a way where these encounters would still count, but I always Nuzlocke with the dupes clause active not to make the game easier, but to make it more fun. The joy of the Nuzlocke is in the “what am I gonna get?” moments – when the answer is always Zigzagoon the game loses its appeal pretty fast.
Of course, it lost its appeal anyway because my encounter ended up being a Slakoth. Now I understand that from a base stats perspective, Slaking is one of the most powerful Pokemon in the game. I’m going to be shaking in my boots later when I have to fight my dad and his powerful Slaking duo. But to have in my own party, I’m not a fan. The truant ability makes this Pokemon too difficult to use for my tastes. I still caught the little guy, but I named him Monday because he’s lazy and I am NOT excited about him. It’d be a little better if I didn’t already have a normal type Pokemon in my team – Zagitha and Monday step on each other’s toes a bit as far as roles in the party.
So here I am with five Pokemon to take on Roxanne and her rock types: Slick the Mudkip, Herman the Silcoon, Zagitha the Zigzagoon, Wobbles the Wingull, and Monday the Slakoth. It’s a pretty lackluster team and I missed out on some Pokemon I would have really preferred to have along – in particular, not getting a Ralts on Route 102 means I missed out on probably the best option for addressing Brawly’s gym. But for now my sights are set on Roxanne, and with Slick leading the pack I truly don’t think I have anything to worry about there.
That’s the end of today’s chapter, adventurers. Next week I’ll fully explore the Petalburg Woods, take on Roxanne, and introduce the interactive part of this Nuzlocke challenge! For now, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the tone and direction of the series. Would you prefer more walkthrough elements, focus on the reasoning behind my decisions and the technical advantages of one Pokemon over another? Would you prefer more fictionalized versions of specific events, like key battles or conversations? Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to share your own Nuzlocke memories or memories of a happpier, less death-filled adventure through Pokemon Omega Ruby. Thanks for reading, adventurers!