Nuzlockes have become one of the more popular ways to enjoy your replay of a Pokemon game. For the uninitiated, Nuzlockes are a set of self-imposed rules to make the game more challenging, as many fans have grown tired of the child-friendly nature of Pokemon games. While there are many variants, and new ones are being made up daily, the core Nuzlocke rules are simple.
On each new route or location, you’re only allowed to catch the first Pokemon you encounter. That means you can’t search for the Pokemon you need and are stuck with what lady luck gives you. When a Pokemon faints, it’s considered dead and must be released or boxed permanently, and if your whole team dies, you’ve lost the Nuzlocke. Nuzlocke’s are challenging for sure, but some items can make your time quite a lot easier.
10/10 Life Orb
Life Orb is a very useful item, giving your damaging moves a 30 percent buff in exchange for losing 10 percent of your Pokemon’s HP with each hit. The damage buff is great, potentially turning a two-hit KO into a single-hit kill.
While great offensively, it really hurts the defensive capabilities of your Pokemon. Unlike competitive Pokemon, it’s important to keep your whole team alive in a Nuzlocke, as once they faint, they’re gone. With that being the case, a passive self-damage is not the best option, even despite the sizable damage increase.
9/10 Damage Reduction Berries
If you’re interested in competitive Pokemon, you’ve probably seen a few berries in action. These berries halve the damage of an attack that’s super effective against the holder of the berry. They are type-specific, such as Yache Berry for Ice-type moves and Chople Berry for Fighting-type moves.
While they’re one-use and semi-situational, they can absolutely turn the tides of a battle. Assuring you can live a critical hit or take more attacks from the ace of a trainer is invaluable in Nuzlockes. These are especially useful on Pokemon with four-times weaknesses, like pseudo legendaries such as Tyranitar and Salamence.
8/10 Air Balloon
Keeping in theme with the defensive items, Air Balloon makes your Pokemon float and become immune to Ground-type attacks completely. It’s not persistent, though, as it pops when the Pokemon gets hit eventually. Still, gaining immunity to a type, and a very common and strong one at that, is an amazing utility.
When you consider how common Ground-types are, both in terms of regular trainers and bosses like Gym Leaders, this item shoots up in value. Depending on the game you’re Nuzlocking, it can be a hassle to get one, but will be worth the effort if used correctly.
7/10 Expert Belt
Expert Belt is an offensive item with no drawbacks whatsoever, making it a very useful way to increase your Pokemon’s damage output. It boosts the holder’s super-effective attacks by 20 percent. That’s not a bad boost at all, almost being as good as Life Orb without the HP loss.
Expert Belt only boosts super-effective damages, but that shouldn’t be too big of a problem. Super-effective moves should already be what you’re striving for if you want to win the run. Many problem trainers are also Gym Leaders, so it shouldn’t be hard to guess what moves will work against them, even if you’re not looking up their teams beforehand.
6/10 Focus Sash
It must be obvious now that defensive items are great in Nuzlockes, luckily Focus Sash is just as good as the other options, if not better. This item only works if your Pokemon were to be OHKO’d (one hit knock out), and it instead keeps it alive on one HP.
This can be a run saver, especially in dire situations where you have to take a hit that can kill your Pokemon. You could also use it to set up for a sweep without risking a loss. Gaining an extra chance to attack is usually the difference between a loss and a victory in Nuzlockes, and Focus Sash is one of the best items to do so.
Type Gems are single-use consumed items introduced in Generation Five. They boost the first attack of the corresponding type by 30 percent or even more in earlier generations. Despite their one-and-done nature, gems are extremely strong, especially if used at a critical time to take out a Pokemon you couldn’t deal with otherwise.
You can even take advantage of the item loss with abilities like Unburden and moves such as Acrobatics. While not the most consistent items to give your Pokemon throughout a playthrough, gems can easily allow hard KOs to become reality and prevent a battle in which you might suffer some losses yourself.
4/10 Choice Items
There is a set of items in Pokemon called the Choice Items. They consist of Choice Belt, Choice Scarf, and Choice Specs. The common effect of these is they lock the holder into the first move they use when in battle, unable to change their move unless they switch out. While that’s limiting, the upside is amazing.
Each choice item increases the stat of your Pokemon by 50 percent. Band for Attack, Scarf for Speed, and Specs for Special Attack. These items are amazing at giving your Pokemon that extra power or speed to hit fast and hard in close battles. After all, you don’t have to worry about an opponent killing your Pokemon if they’re defeated on turn one.
3/10 Assault Vest
Assault Vest is a unique item. It boosts the Special Defense of a Pokemon but prevents it from using any non-damaging move. That means no status effects, no setup, or no recovery moves. However, the boost is so great that it’s still worth using.
Assault Vest can easily give your hyper-offensive sweeper enough bulk that it doesn’t get OHKO’d. Or you can put it on a tankier Pokemon like Steelix to make it even harder to kill. Assault Vests can be hard to find in some games, but it’s absolutely worth using if you do get your hands on one.
Eviolite is one of the best items you can get in a Nuzlocke in terms of defense. It only works on non-fully evolved Pokemon and boosts both Physical and Special Defense by 50 percent. That is an amazing boost, and it has no drawbacks at all.
Many non-fully evolved Pokemon are already quite useful too. Pokemon like Scyther, Doublade, Chansey, and Gurdurr are amazing Eviolite users, as their stats are already so high that evolution is not necessary. Eviolite is accessible in many games, too, making it a must-use. It’s even great in the early game to slap onto a Pokemon that’s not reached its evolution level, no matter their stats.
1/10 Leftovers And Black Sludge
Nuzlockes are all about keeping your Pokemon alive as you’re making your way through the region. With that being the case, passive healing on any pokemon is appreciated. Both of these items restore the holder’s HP by 1/16th of its maximum each turn, with Black Sludge only working on Poison-types.
This recovery is amazing, especially on more bulky Pokemon. When combined with other moves like Protect, Fake Out, and Leech Seed, you can easily stall a problematic Pokemon without much risk. They’re usually quite easy to get from wild Pokemon too, so there really isn’t a reason not to use them.