The challenge (original known as Pokémon Ruby: Hard-Mode) was started in the winter of 2010 by Ruby/Nuzlocke who created a new save file on a old copy of Pokémon Ruby to pass the time. As he played the game, he realized that they had become boring and repetitive; so he created two rules that he would follow to make the game harder:
- He could only capture the first Pokémon he encountered in each new area.
- If a Pokémon fainted he would consider it dead and release it.
Instead of just increasing the difficulty, the rules caused him to care for his Pokémon more than before. It allowed him to appreciate new Pokémon he might have never used and it made him care for his team.
Wanting to share his experience with others, he drew some comics of his adventure and posted them on the 4chan /v/ board, where they were met with surprising approval, especially towards the Nuzleaf that used the face of John Locke from Lost; giving the challenge it's name, the Nuzlocke Challenge (a combination of Nuzleaf and Locke).
After the success of Pokémon Ruby: Hard-Mode, countless other people attempted their own Nuzlocke challenge, some posting it in comic form or on video form and it has become a popular challenge in the Pokémon community.
The Nuzlocke Challenge started off with two basic rules: you may only catch the first Pokémon on each route, and if a Pokémon faints, it is dead and you must release it/store it in the PC.
Additional rules have been added by fans once the challenge picked up a following, this is a list of some of those "un-official" rules:
- Limiting the use of the Pokémarts and other stores within the game, or not using them at all.
- Limiting the use of the Pokémon Centers, or not using them at all.
- Limiting/preventing the use of items, or sometimes just healing items.
- Limiting the amount of Poke Balls the player is given. Sometimes, the player can only use the first five he or she is given.
- Dupes Clause: If the first Pokémon that has appeared one that the player has already caught, the player can find a new Pokémon in that Route.
- Nicknaming your Pokémon so you form a deeper bond with them.
- Limiting what Pokémon can or can't be caught and used. Legendary Pokémon and Starter Pokémon are mostly affected by this.
- Limiting the Pokémon that you can catch to only that Generation.
- Randomizer Nuzlocke Challenge: Each Pokémon on each Route is random.
- In any Nuzlocke challenge, you must follow the original two rules (you can choose wither or not to use any additional rules).
- Nuzlocke/Ruby has gone on to create two other Nuzlocke comics once his Ruby series ended, Pokémon FireRed and White.