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8 different ways to play a Pokémon game

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

No matter what Pokémon game you want to play, here are eight ways to enhance your next adventure.


Simple and well-known, the rules for “Hard Pokemon Mode” are simple: if a Pokemon faints, it can no longer be used. You can only catch the first Pokemon you encounter on a given route, and you must nickname your Pokemon for emotional bonding. This adds multiple levels of difficulty and complexity to a playthrough, as you’ll need strategy to keep your best teammate alive. Because a player can’t choose which Pokémon they encounter, a team can end up very differently than expected.

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

Monotype running

If you notice that a type is weak against many of the game’s bosses, or if there’s a single type that you tend to ignore, then being able to only use Pokemon of that chosen type to apply to a playthrough is a solid rule . This type of run is also familiar and straightforward, and can present a variety of challenges, whether you’re unable to fight your way through the enemy team or face a roadblock because of the enemy’s powerful Pokemon against your team uses. Monotype runs are a solid way to challenge a playthrough.

remove types

Think 18 types is too many but just one common type is too restrictive? Then you can remove a designated number and render all Pokemon possessing the removed types useless. The openness of this rule allows for a variety of options: remove six types and let your six teammates fill all remaining 12, or remove half of the 18 types and stick to the remaining nine.

If you want, you can use either a random number generator or a name wheel to randomly remove types. This prevents you from picking your favorites and removing your least favorite types.

Restrict type overlap

It might be common to avoid as much type overlapping as possible in a given pass, but one way to shake things up is to restrict this technique. For example, you can limit yourself to only being able to use Pokemon of one or two types and try to solve the conundrum of team building when you can’t have more than one of the same type at a time.

restrict catch

Another way to create difficulty is to limit where and when you can catch Pokémon for your team. For example, you can limit yourself to only catching one after each conquered Gym, or even limit yourself to only Pokemon that can be found before the first Gym. Another example is that in “Pokémon Sun and Moon” or “Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon” you can only catch one Pokémon per island.

theme teams

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

Specific teams

For a solid challenge, try beating a game using a specific Pokemon or set of Pokemon linked 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 just your starter, a set of starters, only baby Pokémon, Pokémon of a specific color, or just a single specific Pokémon. The possible combinations are only limited by what mechanically links multiple Pokemon together.

Linked Teams

When you want less control over how your team can look, providing a connection between members can be a fun way to mix things up. These “links” can be anything from their typing (i.e. catch a bug and poison species and then a poison and grass species), a letter in their respective names (i.e. take Mudkip, then catch Poochyena, then catch Absol, then Lunatone ), a move that both Pokémon might have in common at their current levels, or some other creative connection.

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