Arceus – Nuzlocke and other ideas for challenge runs

Pokémon Legends: Arceus has been out for a few weeks now, so it’s only natural that people are slowly but surely finishing their mission to meet PokéGod. While Hisui is significantly more ripe for postgame exploration than the majority of its predecessors, there may come a point where completing research tasks becomes daunting — if that’s the case for you, the best thing to do is consider a challenge run.

Challenge runs have been an integral part of Pokémon for years, keeping the community invested in all eight mainline games long after their initial debuts — Gen 3, originally launched in 2002, is still one of the most popular games in the series for this very reason. Despite this fact, a lot of people who play Pokémon more casually are unaware of what these runs entail.

If you’re looking to experience Pokémon Legends: Arceus in a whole new way, or are even considering revisiting an old game after polishing off your adventure in Hisui, all of these challenge runs are transferable across each and every Pokémon game. 

Here are the best ways to test yourself in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which you can also apply to previous generations in order to see older regions in a whole new light. It’s important to note that these are all self-imposed rulesets, meaning all you need to do to make them work is remember to follow them. Easy, right? Nope. Very, very hard.

Monotype run

A pair of Gyarados

Arguably the least inspired challenge run, monotype runs basically give you the opportunity to play as a nomadic gym leader. Instead of building a team of your favourites or collecting the six best Pokémon in a given region, you’re forced to choose a single type and structure an entire team around it. 

This might sound easy — in Legends: Arceus, a Water team could include Hisuian Samurott, Gyarados, Vaporeon, Empoleon, Floatzel, and Tentacruel, all of which amount to a pretty ridiculous party. You’ve got five weaknesses to Electric moves though, which means you’re probably best off drafting in a Water/Ground hybrid like Whiscash or Gastrodon to make use of an Electric immunity.

But then you’ve got a 4x weakness to Grass to worry about, as well as 2x weaknesses for everyone here except Gyarados and Tentacruel, one of whom might have already been subbed out. There’s a lot more to monotype strategy than meets the eye, and a lot more that goes into designing gym leader teams than most players would like to believe.


Jubilife Village

This one is pretty self-explanatory: you can’t spend any money, or at the very least are subject to a limited budget. This can be a big deal in most Pokémon games, but it’s a particularly relevant challenge to impose on someone playing Legends: Arceus.

In Legends: Arceus, there is a general store, a shop in the field, and a merchant’s caravan. There’s also another vendor who deals with Merit Points, although that’s not actually legal tender as much as it is a specific currency tied to something outside of the regularly functioning economy. 

The point is that almost anything you can buy in the shops can either be crafted or foraged, meaning that Brokémon is arguably less difficult than usual, but also a much more active part of play. If you’re not into one of the more hardcore rulesets, incorporating this challenge into your next playthrough could be pretty fascinating. Just make sure to stock up on apricorns, yeah? Who needs cash when you’ve got 1,000 Sky Tumblestones?

No evolutions


This one is also exactly what it says on the tin, although once again is more interesting than usual in Legends: Arceus. In previous Pokémon games, playing a no evolution run could be frustrating — without multiple Everstones, you have to manually skip sluggish evolution screens every single time you level up. If you’ve become acquainted with how to evolve Pokémon in Pokémon Legends: Arceus though, you’ll likely already know that is no longer the case.

In Legends: Arceus, you need to manually instigate evolution from the party selection screen. Because of this, it’s easy to delay evolution indefinitely, meaning keeping your entire team in their first form is something you can just do on auto-pilot.

We feel obliged to warn you that taking on Volo’s Garchomp with Pichu and Shinx isn’t exactly going to be easy… with a Big Buizel though? Maybe that ridiculous request from earlier will finally have been worth the hassle.


Silver in Pokémon Generations

Have you ever had a favourite character from Pokémon? A lot of you probably like Ash — but what about Gary? Red? Silver? What about Koga, Cynthia, and Raihan? One of the best ways to spice up a Pokémon playthrough is to actively play as someone else, which means modelling not just your team off theirs, but also your battle strategies and sensibilities.

In some ways, this can be kind of similar to playing a monotype run, especially if you want to role-play as a gym leader. This comes with more restrictions though, and requires a much higher degree of commitment than simply using all Water-types. If you’re devoted to proper role-playing, this is absolutely one of the best ways of artificially making Pokémon more difficult.

What’s more, you get to shout “Smell ya!” every time you beat someone. Incredible.


Alpha Scyther

Arguably the most famous challenge run in Pokémon history, the Nuzlocke challenge only has two core rules: You can only catch the first Pokémon you encounter in each area, and if a Pokémon faints, it’s considered dead and cannot be used again.

There are plenty of optional modifiers you can implement, too. Some people nickname their Pokémon to increase their attachment to them, while others limit the use of healing items, set level caps for each gym, or incorporate other challenges like adhering to a monotype team or playing by Brokémon rules. The best thing about the Nuzlocke is that it’s simple but filled with opportunity — you can tailor it to suit your own personal wants and needs, meaning you can make any Pokémon game as brutally difficult as you’d like it to be. The only remaining barrier is your own imagination.

Given that there are no gyms in Legends: Arceus, things are a bit different there. While the battles are few and far between, they’re extremely tough and likely to result in the loss of more than a few Pokémon throughout the course of the game. If you want a more active Nuzlocke though, you can introduce extra rules like having to fight Alpha Pokémon, not being able to catch Pokémon on the overworld, and so on.

Alternatively, you could train for hours to be 20 levels higher than your opponent and absolutely steamroll them, which is also very fun. It’s just a matter of taste, eh?

Written by Cian Maher on behalf of GLHF.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *