A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

8 different ways to play a Pokémon game

Lucas Cadigan-Carranza
There are many ways to spice up the next playthrough of a Pokémon game, such as only using the Pokémon available before the first gym in “Pokémon Black Version.”

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

No matter which Pokemon game you intend on playing, here are eight ways to enhance your next adventure.


Simple and well known, 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 given route, and you have to nickname your Pokémon for emotional attachment. This adds several layers of difficulty and complexity to a playthrough as you need strategy to keep your best team member alive. Since a player cannot choose which Pokémon they encounter, a team can end up much different than expected.

The simplicity of these rules lends itself to several modifications as well as 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 notice that a type is weak to many of the game’s bosses, or if there’s a singular type you tend to ignore, then only being able to use Pokémon of that chosen type is a solid rule to apply to a playthrough. Also well known and straightforward, this kind of run can provide a variety of challenges whether it’s not being able to power through the enemy team or facing a roadblock due to the enemy using Pokémon strong against yours. Monotype runs are a solid way to add challenge to a playthrough.

Remove Types

Do you think 18 types is too many but only one common type is too restrictive? Then you can remove a set number and make any Pokémon who possess the removed types unusable. The open-endedness of this rule allows for a variety of options: remove six types and have your six teammates be required to fill all remaining 12, or remove half of the 18 types and limit yourself to the remaining nine.

If you’re feeling like it, you can use either a random number generator or a wheel of names to remove types at random. This prevents you from singling out your favorites and removing your least favorite types.

Restrict Type Overlap

It might be common to prevent as much type overlap as possible in a given playthrough, but one way to shake things up is to restrict that method. For example, you can limit yourself to only being able to use either single or dual-type Pokémon and try to solve the puzzle of team building when you can’t have more than one of the same type at once.

Restrict Catching

Another way to create difficulty is to limit where and when you can catch Pokémon for your team. For example, you can limit yourself so you can only catch one after every gym you conquer, or even limit yourself to only Pokémon that can be found prior to the first gym. Another example includes only being able to catch one Pokémon per island in “Pokémon Sun and Moon” or “Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.”

Themed Teams

As the number of total Pokémon continues to increase, so too does the sheer variety of themed runs. Say it’s Christmas, and you want to try to beat a game with a Delibird and multiple Stantler. Perhaps you might want to do a run with only Pokémon based on birds or maybe house pets. The possibilities are as limited as the player’s imagination.

Specific Teams

For a solid challenge, try to beat a game with a specific Pokémon or a set of Pokémon connected in some way. This is similar, yet a tad more technical and slightly less open-ended than themed 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 single specific Pokémon. The possible combinations are only limited by what binds multiple Pokémon together mechanically.

Linked Teams

If you want less control over what your team can look like, then providing a link between the members can be a fun way to mix things up. These “links” can be anything, whether it’s their typing (i.e. catch a bug and poison type and then a poison and grass type), a letter in their respective names (i.e. pick Mudkip, then catch Poochyena, then catch Absol, then Lunatone), a move that both Pokémon might have in common at their current levels or any other creative link.

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About the Contributor
Lucas Cadigan-Carranza
Lucas Cadigan-Carranza is in his fourth semester at The Oak Leaf. He has been at SRJC for much longer, having already earned his degrees in English, game programming and humanities. While not usually an overachiever, he has decided to go for the journalism major as well due to the subject providing a much greater interest. He has enjoyed his time as The Oak Leaf's Theatre Arts reporter but also very much enjoys talking about video games.

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  • W

    WestSep 19, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    If you want a game that’s like Pokemon but more geared to adults try a game in the Shin Megami Tensei line from Atlus. The easiest to get into is probably SMT V for the Switch, but my personal favorites are SMT IV (not Apocalypse) and Devil Survivor Overclocked for the 3DS.

    Also Digital Devil Saga is a fun title if you can configure a ps2 emulator.