8 Different Ways to Play a Pokemon Game

So you want to do a new playthrough of a Pokémon game, but you don’t feel like you’ll enjoy playing it the way you normally would. Whether you want to challenge yourself or just change your team, here are several self-imposed rules to make your experience more enjoyable.

Whatever Pokemon game you want to play, here are eight ways to level up your next adventure.


Simple and familiar, the rules for “hard mode for Pokémon” are simple: when a Pokémon faints, it cannot be used again. You can only catch the first Pokémon you encounter on a particular route, and you must nickname your Pokémon due to emotional attachment. This adds varying degrees of difficulty and complexity to a playthrough, as you need a strategy to keep your best squad member alive. Since a player cannot choose which Pokémon to encounter, a team may end up very differently than expected.

The simplicity of these rules lends itself to various adaptations and variations such as hardcore nuzlockes, soul links, wonderlockes and more. The rules can even be applied to the rest of the entries on this list.

Monotype runs

If you find that a type is weak to many of the game’s bosses, or if there is a singular type that you usually ignore, it’s a solid rule to only be able to use Pokémon of that chosen type for a playthrough. Also familiar and simple, this type of running can present a variety of challenges, whether it’s not getting through the enemy team or running into a roadblock because the enemy is using Pokémon strongly against yours. Monotype runs are a solid way to add challenge to a playthrough.

Delete types

Do you think 18 types are too many, but just one general type is too restrictive? Then you can delete a certain number and make any Pokémon that possess the deleted types unusable. The openness of this rule allows for a variety of options: remove six types and let your six teammates have all the remaining 12 types, or remove half of the 18 types and limit yourself to the remaining nine.

If you feel like it, you can use a random number generator or a name wheel to remove random typing. This prevents you from picking out your favorites and removing your least favorite varieties.

Limit type overlap

It may be common practice to avoid as much type overlap as possible in a given playthrough, but one way to shake things up is to limit that method. For example, you can limit yourself to only being able to use Pokémon of one or two types and try to solve the team-building puzzle if you can’t have more than one of the same type at a time.

Limit catch

Another way to create difficulties is to limit where and when you can catch Pokémon for your team. For example, you can limit yourself so that you can only catch one after each gym you conquer, or even limit yourself to only Pokémon that can be found prior to the first gym. Another example is that you can only catch one Pokémon per island in ‘Pokémon Sun and Moon’ or ‘Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon’.

Theme teams

As the total number of Pokémon continues to grow, so does the sheer variety of themed runs. Let’s say it’s Christmas and you want to try to beat a game with a Delibird and multiple Stantler. You may want to do a run with only bird-based or maybe pet-based Pokémon. The possibilities are as limited as the player’s imagination.

Specific teams

For a tough challenge, try beating a game with a specific Pokémon or a set of Pokémon connected in some way. This is similar, but a little more technical and a little less open than theme teams. For this type of run, you can use only your starter, a set of starters, only baby Pokémon, Pokémon of a certain color, or just a few specific Pokémon. The possible combinations are only limited by what mechanically binds several Pokémon together.

Linked teams

If you want less control over how your team can look, a link between members can be a nice way to mix things up. These “links” can be anything, be it their typing (ie catch an insect and a poison type then a poison and grass type), a letter in their respective names (ie pick Mudkip, catch Poochyena, then catch Absol, then Lunatone), a move that both Pokémon may have in common at their current level or some other creative link.

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