Pokemon always took great interest in my life. I remember waiting in anticipation all night for my alarm to go off at 8:30 Saturday morning so I could catch the newest episode of Pokemon whilst playing the game in bed. As I got older and continued to play Pokemon over and over again, I began to grow a little bored. Playing through the same versions, capturing almost the same teams, beating the Elite 4 and training them all to level 100 got stale and repetitive.

I learned of this new way to play Pokemon that makes it a bit more difficult and much more interesting. It’s called the Nuzlocke challenge. I’m sure a lot of you are already familiar with it, but I’ll give a brief explanation for those who don’t. There are three basic rules you have to follow:

  1. If a Pokemon faints it is to be considered dead and can no longer be used.
  2. You may only catch the very first Pokemon encountered in a new route.
  3. You must nickname your Pokemon to strengthen the bond between you.

I took instant interest in this new way of play, to learn a bit more I watched people play the challenge on YouTube. After understanding the basics of how it worked I decided to give it a try.

I had recently bought a Gameboy Advance recording setup from a guy on ebay because I needed to record some gameplay for a school project. I haven’t used it since because making YouTube let’s plays were of no interest to me, but considering how popular these Nuzlocke runs were I decided to record my first experiences for the world to see. I decided to play the original Red version first. I popped it into my Gameboy Advance SP, plugged the GBA SP into my computer using the special cable, loaded up the program and began my brand new Pokemon Journey.

The game began exactly as normal, I was recording, but I didn’t have too much commentary being it my first time recording a let’s play. I began my journey with Charmander. It is my all time favorite Pokemon. Usually if I have a chance to choose one I will. I normally name my Charmanders, Charcoal, but considering that nicknames should be original I decided to name it something different. After a while of thinking I decided to name it Carsix. It has no special meaning, I just thought it sounded cool. I had no problems catching Pokemon. I caught a Pidgey named Juvey on route 1, a Rattata named Buck on route 2, a Mankey named Sir Spanks on route 22 and a Caterpie named Freedom in Viridian Forest. After catching all these new team members, I decided to do some grinding to level them up. I learned quickly that crits happen and it was a critical hit, or lack thereof, that caused the nightmare that I’m reluctantly about to share with you.

Playing through the game I noticed that Carsix, my Charmander, was getting an awful lot of critical hits, to the point where I could expect one to happen at least once every match. It was this extreme luck with critical hits that allowed me to defeat Brock with ease. I continued on to route 3 and to my surprise Carsix wasn’t criting any more. Fighting the trainers on this route became much more of a challenge than I’d hoped, but we were able to pull through. This was until we faced a certain bug catcher. I know this particular bug catcher as bug catcher Greg from Fire Red version, even though he has no official name in this one. He has a Weedle, Kakuna, Caterpie and Metapod. Having Carsix up front he faced off against his weedle, unfortunately unable to defeat it with one ember. Based on the amount of damage it did, I would need three turns to kill it without a critical hit. It attacked with poison sting and poisoned Carsix. Now I was worried, Carsix was already damaged from previous battles and I was out of potions and antidotes. I calmed down a bit once I realized that I could still survive long enough to defeat it, then I could switch out and still make it back to Pokemon Center before he fainted.

<Carsix used ember>

<Carsix’s attacked missed>

My heart sank. At this rate he won’t survive another turn with both the poison sting damage and poison...unless I got a critical hit. I could always switch out, but my other Pokemon are weaker and probably won’t survive either. I didn’t know what to do. I thought about it for a while, Carsix hadn’t had a crit in a long time, he’s long over due for one. Knowing the great risk I was taking, I attacked...

<Carsix used ember>

<It was super effective!>

No Crit...I could only watch in dismay as events unfolded, thinking to myself “maybe he won’t use poison sting, maybe there’s still a chance.”

<Enemy Weedle used poison sting>

Still trying to convince myself everything will be fine, I thought, “Maybe the poison won’t kill and if I’m really careful with my steps I can make it to the Poke Mart first and buy a potion.” I watched as the poison damage took the last of Carsix’s HP.

<Carsix Fainted>

Upset at the first loss of my Nuzlocke career and the fact that it was my starter I threw caution to the wind and sent out Juvey, my Pidgey. Lucky enough for me It was able to defeat the rest of his team without much issue. I walked back to the Pokemon Center, released Carsix and healed my team. At this point I paused the recording. I spent the next hour thinking about all the different ways I could have handled that. I could have switched into Juvey from the start and saved him, I could have made sure I restocked on items before continuing to fight trainers. That was one risk I will regret taking for the rest of my life.

I continued the recording. I beat the rest of the trainers on route 3 and made my way through Mt. Moon, catching Rocky the Geodude in the process. After reaching the end, my Pokemon were all around level 17. i was going to need to do some serious grinding if I hoped to defeat Misty without Carsix, come to think of it, I don’t think he would have helped too much ,but he still would have come in handy. I trained in the little patch of grass just west of Cerulean City until all of my Pokemon were level 25. I failed to capture a Pokemon in this route. Juvey was now a Pidgeotto, Buck was now a Raticate, Freedom was now a Butterfree, Rocky was now a Graveler and Sir Spanks was still a Mankey. With no further delay I challenged Misty’s gym, but to no avail. I watched one by one, my Pokemon get destroyed by her Starmie. First Buck, then Freedom, then Sir Spanks, then Rocky, and finally Juvey. I had lost the Nuzlocke challenge. I had no more Pokemon to fight with and no other means of obtaining more. I didn’t expect my first Nuzlocke run to end so quickly. It was very discouraging. I decided not to delete the save file, I didn’t even release the other Pokemon. I wanted to always be able to go back and remember my first Nuzlocke challenge.

It took some time, but I decided to give Nuzlocking another go. This time I was going to play the Gen 1 remake, Fire Red. I popped the cartridge into my GBA SP, plugged it in and started up the program. It took some time to load up so I decided to open up that old failed attempt and reminisce. I decided to keep it open in the background for good luck. Then something caught my eye. I noticed that the GBA SP charging light had turned on, this never happened before. I thought that maybe it was supposed to, but never did because the cord was damaged. I did buy it used off of ebay after all. It stayed on for about 10 seconds before turning off again. i let it roll of my shoulder as nothing more than a technical difficulty.

I started my new adventure. I chose Charmander again and in remembrance of Carsix, I name him Carsix II. I played through the game super cautiously, not wanting to lose anyone. When I got to the battle on route 3 with Bug Catcher Greg, I silently cursed at him, the same with the fight against Misty. Alas, I made it through unscathed and reached the elite 4. My team was Carsix II the Charizard, Doro the Nidoking, Kraken the Gyarados, Ivictra the Crobat, Beetbeet the Vileplume and Rocky II the Golem, I was able to trade with a friend to get him to evolve. I beat the elite 4 and entered the champion’s chamber.

I was met with my rival’s sprite, but nothing happened. This was weird, he was supposed to initiate the dialog and battle as soon as I entered the room. I also noticed that the music stopped playing; dead silence. I also now had control of my character. I walked up to him and pressed “A” but nothing happened. I walked around the room, inspecting what I could, but once again nothing happened. I tried to leave through the door I came in and was met with a text box.

<Leaving so soon?>

This was definitely not part of the game, I’ve played through it enough times to know that something was horribly wrong. I lost control of my character as he walked back to his normal position across from the rival. I was met with more text.

The screen faded to black for a split second and when it came back instead of the normal rival sprite, there was the overworld Charmander sprite. He spoke again.

<Why...why did you let me die?! You could have saved me!>

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I kept slapping myself over and over again hoping this was some kind of sick dream, but I was awake, very awake.

<There were so many things you could have done to prevent this...All I did was give and how do you repay me? By gambling my life away. I thought we were friends. I thought we were gonna be the very best together. But I see now that I was nothing more to you than a pawn...Someone whom you could easily replace...>

I was screaming at my screen. “No! it wasn’t like that! I didn't mean for it to happen, I swear!”

<There’s nothing you can say now...Just do what you do best and kill...>

Tears were streaming down my face. How was this happening? How could a Pokemon from a completely separate game enter this one and mess with the code to mentally torment me. It’s nothing more than data, it’s not sentient. Then I remembered how the charge light turned on when I loaded up the program. Could that have been Carsix somehow transferring himself over to this game? I desperately wanted to believe that he couldn’t, that he was just data, but the proof was on my screen. A battle had begun.

<Lost Comrade Carsix wants to fight>

I saw as the Charmander sprite scrolled across the screen just as a trainer sprite would. The normal champion battle music was playing, but it was playing really slow so there was a good second between each note of the main melody. He had six Pokemon. I watched in complete fear as he sent out his first Pokemon, a level 100 Graveler named Rocky. He took out each of my Pokemon with ease, switching each time one of my Pokemon fainted. His other Pokemon were a Butterfree named Freedom, a Raticate named Buck, a Mankey named Sir Spanks and a Pidgeotto named Juvey. My team when I lost the first Nuzlocke challenge. After defeating five of my Pokemon I had one left, Carsix II. He sent out his final Pokemon.

<Lost Comrade Carsix sent out Carsix>

He then slid onto the screen just like a trainer sprite would at the end of the battle. This time he was different, His sprite showed his arms pointing downward, his fingers looking far sharper than usual. His eyes were now black with red pupils and he had noticeable fangs coming from his mouth. His overall color was dimmed to a dusty orange. I tried to sent out my last Pokemon, but couldn’t and was met with more text.

<You’d like to use him wouldn’t you, use the one who didn’t fail you to destroy me. Pff! Fat chance YOU’RE fighting ME now!>

The emphasis on “you’re” and “me” sent a shiver down my spine. Before I had the chance to do anything, he attacked.

<Enemy Carsix used Revenge>

His entire sprite leaped at mine and after hearing an unusually loud Charmander cry, the screen went black.

I was brought back to the load up screen, but instead of the normal Charizard, there was the demented Charmander sprite from before. I pressed start and was back at the selection menu. I tried clicking continue...

<There’s no point...You can’t win>

I tried new game...

<Why? so you can start over and kill more of us...>

No matter what I tried I could not continue. I closed out of the program hoping to end the nightmare. As soon as I did my GBA SP loaded up. There was a text box.

<No...I won’t let you escape that easily.>

I turned off the system. Nothing happened.

<Nice try, but that won’t work.>

At this point I’d had enough. Material possessions meant nothing to me. I took the GBA SP and broke it in half. In doing so the same message from before popped up on my laptop screen. I then took that and broke it in half over my knee. At last it was over.

I was leaving for college soon so I was getting a new laptop in the upcoming weeks. I didn’t want to be around electronics anymore anyway. As you can assume the video of these events that were recorded were lost when I broke my laptop, it’s probably for the better. If he was able to transfer from system to system on its own, he could probably transfer himself to other places in the internet and continue to haunt me, or worse, other people.

In the end Carsix the Charmander got what he wanted, to get vengeance and to be remembered, not forgotten like many Pokemon who died in Nuzlockes before him. I will always remember Carsix. To me he will always be

The one that didn't die...

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