The Pokémon games are designed with accessibility in mind. While there are deeper elements to each installment, exploring these intricacies is optional. The basic experience is a rather balanced one that anyone, regardless of age or familiarity with RPGs, can enjoy. As long as you can read, you can play a Pokémon game. Which probably explains the popularity of Nuzlocke runs. By adding self-imposed rules to the experience, you create an additional challenge. And, when it comes to facing a Nuzlocke challenge, Pokémon Yellow might be the perfect game to take on that journey.
First, let’s begin with a brief explanation of the Nuzlocke challenge. People going through a Pokémon game with these optional rules have to follow certain guidelines. To start, only the first wild Pokémon you encounter in an area may be captured. If it faints, you can’t catch any from that area. You must also nickname every Pokémon you catch, to make things more personal. Finally, any Pokémon that faints is dead and must be released at the next Pokémon Center you visit. This means if you run out of Pokémon, your game is over. There are other possible clauses that can be included, such as one that allows you to catch any shiny, should you find one, another that allows you to take a mulligan if the first Pokémon you encounter in an area is a duplicate of one you already own.
All of these rules help make it easy to see why Pokémon Yellow would be a good choice for a Nuzlocke run. This is a classic entry; it’s part of the first generation. The Kanto region is a memorable one. Given the age of Pokémon fans and the series, there’s a very good chance you experienced it in Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow, Fire Red or Leaf Green already. We know the lay of the land. We’ve seen it all before. The Pokémon there are recognizable. There’s a certain sense of comfort that comes from going to the original.
Yet, Pokémon Yellow is also distinct enough from Blue and Red to keep things interesting. The sprites for Pokémon and trainers are different, so it looks different than it did last time. Pokémon may even learn different moves than they did in the other games from this generation. There are more references to the animated series, with different Pokémon available and characters like Jessie and James making appearances. The gym leaders and some trainers have different teams. The alterations are mostly minor, but enough to require different strategies and make someone thinking about using Pokémon in different ways.
The biggest change is with the starter, who happens to be Pikachu. That’s all you get in Pokémon Yellow. It’s a character that’s pretty much useless against the Pewter Gym, since Brock uses all rock-types, but becomes far more useful as the game goes on. It can’t evolve, but offers an edge in early challenges. Plus, it being the starter means you get to acquire the other three standard starters, Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle, from tasks. This means you’re guaranteed strong grass, fire and water-type characters for later in your adventure. You won’t miss out on them. You’ll definitely have a team with electric, grass, fire and water-types at one point in your game, provided you keep them all alive, which gives you a wonderfully balanced team.
Pokémon Yellow also means fewer Pokémon to deal with, which is even better for a Nuzlocke challenge. There are just 151; you don’t need encyclopedic knowledge of the Pokedex to survive. The originals are the only ones you have to worry about. It also means fewer types to factor in, as there were 15 in this entry. There weren’t as many dual-type Pokémon. It’s far less complicated than more recent games. This also means you have a better idea of what you could possibly catch in each area, having a better idea of what your team could and should look like and what challenges you may face. Especially since Pokémon like Electabuzz, Magmar and Jynx don’t naturally appear.
There’s no way to determine an absolute “best” Pokémon game to use for a Nuzlocke run. There are too many factors to consider. But, there are many things about Pokémon Yellow that make it one of the best games to consider when attempting a more challenging Pokémon playthrough. Keep it in mind, should you ever decide to test yourself with a more difficult adventure.
And remember, don’t forget to watch Michibiku’s Nuzlocke Legacy run!