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I played a Pokemon Soul Silver Nuzlocke challenge after a decade of not playing any mainline Pokemon games

I stopped playing the series after I managed to catch every Pokemon and their variants up to the 4th generation. I was always a step behind everyone because my parents wouldn't get me games as frequently as others, so I would inevitably get hand me downs. My journey started on Sapphire and it scratched that collecting itch I had. It led me to having to ask friends frequently to find their copies of Ruby to obtain the missing entries in my Pokedex. I gathered as much as I could even after the DS games had started coming out, but I managed to catch up by the time Platinum hit shelves. I learned about Event exclusive pokemon, so I quickly grinded through the game, slowly transferred all the pokemon from my older cartridges, and I finally completed the Dex. Then Black and White were announced and I knew it would be a never ending climb to collect them all. The series just felt so bland to me that I began to get bored of it. I put the game down and hadn't touched it in quite some time.

Fast forward to this past January, when I decided to try out a Nuzlocke challenge that I had heard so much about. For those unaware, its a self-imposed challenge where you can only catch one Pokemon per area, and if that Pokemon faints, it is dead forever, and is now unusable. There are more rules that you can add as well as other variations, but I was going to make it a bit vanilla to not be too extreme for me. I picked Soul Silver since it had been on my shelf for a while and I heard there was quite a bit of content in it.

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This run through has reminded me why I loved Pokemon so much as a kid. I had to really rethink strategies, I had to actually use items instead of hoard them forever, I was forced to make difficult choices and sometimes even sacrifice a team member to give the others a fighting chance. It forced me to start looking up stats, moves, abilities, and all sorts of combos (while simultaneously reminding me how terrible a trainer I was a decade ago). I began looking up gym leaders and other major boss battles ahead of time to make sure my team was well prepared for it, but still provided a challenge for me. It got to the point where I had an excel sheet of date keeping track of so many things like areas where I already caught something as well as what was available in areas I hadn't yet, TMs that could be useful, teamsets of gym leaders, probability of certain moves landing, etc. For me personally, I love a game even more if I end up doing extensive research to figure out an optimal strategy. Being forced to think outside my usual comfort zone made this one of the most fun experiences I've had in a while. There were many times where I was so sure that my team was ready only to be devastated as some of my favorites were taken out.

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It took 4 months for me to beat every major challenge: gym leaders, rival fights, double battles, team rocket, rematches, the elite four and champion, as well as their rematch. I finally got to the most difficult battle: Red. I made sure my Pokemon were at an equal level to his team, and I could feel my heart beat faster. Some of the team I had since the beginning of my journey, and the thought of losing any terrified me. Despite the odds, my final team not only defeated Red, but there was not a single casualty. I hadn't felt this happy defeating a final boss in such a long time. It truly felt like I tested everything I had learned up to that point and won the highest stake gamble in the game.

The game certainly has its flaws (the level grinding, the RNG being brutally unfair at times, the tutorials taking forever, etc) but the Nuzlocke challenge made this one of the most fun experiences I've had in such a long time


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