Ruby and Sapphire games offer a harder Nuzlocke than most games, only topped by HeartGold/SoulSilver, or the very old games like Red and Blue. This difficulty mainly comes from the fact that the vast majority of the common Pokemon hardly learn any offensive attacks early on. The gym leaders have hard-hitting Pokemon like Slaking, Overheat Torkoal, Magneton, Altaria, and Milotic. Also, there is a lack of good grinding spot before lv30+. The game was also made before the physical/special move split, meaning that some very good Pokemon like Absol are near useless without proper TMs.
Torchic: Even though it is at a disadvantage against the first gym, it gains a type advantage as soon as it evolves into the Fire/Fighting type Combusken. It has advantages against the following gyms:
- 1st: Rock (Double Kick)
- 2nd: Fight (Peck)
- 3rd: Electric (Double Kick/Ember against Magnemite/Magneton)
- 5th: Normal (Double Kick)
- Sidney: Dark (any fighting type move)
- Glacia: Ice (any fire or fighting type moves)
- Steven: (any fire or fighting type moves)
Fighting types are uncommon in Hoenn, so it is recommended to chose Torchic if a fighting type is an absolute must. Torchic is arguably the easiest starter for the early game and the Elite Four.
Mudkip: Mudkip stands apart from the other two starters thanks to its Ground typing, as Ground types are less plentiful during the first half of the game. While its Water/Ground typing makes it very vulnerable to the many Grass types found throughout the game, it is also granted invulnerability to electricity, making it particularly valuable when preparing for the 3rd gym. In addition, Swampert only have one weakness, grass (though it is *4). Mudkip has advantages against the following gyms:
- 1st: Rock (any water type move)
- 3rd: Electric (any ground type move)
- 4th: Fire (any water or ground type moves)
- Steven: Steel (any ground type moves).
Mudkip is at no significant disadvantage (other than the solrock w/ solarbeam in the 7th gym) when facing any gym, making it a reliable ally. Swampert is also incredibly tanky, and able to hang on after any grass attack short of a petal dance, meaning if you get hit with a surprise grass attack, you should survive.
Treecko: Treecko may be harder to utilize than the other two starters on a Ruby/Sapphire run. While Combusken and Marshtomp gain access to Double Kick and Mud Shot, Grovyle gains a less reliable move, Fury Cutter. After that, players will be waiting for Leaf Blade, as it is one of Treecko's very few hard-hitting moves. Treecko has type advantages against the following gyms:
- 1st: Rock (any grass type move)
- 3rd:Electric(resistance to electric)
- 8th: Water (any grass type move)
While Treecko does not have many type advantages against gyms or the Elite 4, Hoenn is rife with Water types; perfect for the Grass type starter. Be sure to take advantage of grinding levels near the water!
Once Anorith learns Protect, it can prove very useful against Norman's Slakings, however due to its strange movepool of varied low damage moves, it won't be too useful afterwards. Almost all of its attacks are low damage, and it barely gets any STAB from any of them. Its stats aren't anything special either, and its typing won't do you any favors. One thing it has going for it however, is the fact that if you have the patience and knowledge to EV train it for Attack or Special Attack, it can prove to be a good clearer for new routes, Aqua/Magma grunt areas, or gym trainers before the leader due to its vast movepool and high Speed stat.
Cradily is a very good tank if you have the patience to train Lileep all the way up to Level 40. While it depends mostly on TMs, such as Giga Drain, for decent attacks and has four weaknesses, it has great bulk that makes it difficult to kill without crithax. Amnesia can turn out to be a great asset, as it turns Cradily into a tremendous wall that can't survive anything. However, although it has great stats (except for an awful Speed), it severely lacks any useful level-up moves (with its only damaging attack after evolution being Ancientpower at Level 48), and its slow growth makes it difficult to use for Nuzlockers without turbo.
They are everywhere. They are probably the main reason for the "No duplicate" clause in Hoenn. But even so, they are great for two things: Pickup and HMs. In Ruby/Sapphire, Pickup is not nerfed like it was in Diamond and thereafter. Get a single Zigzagoon on your team, and you'll no longer have to buy Potions for the rest of the game. Get two and you'll have a nasty bag of Rare Candies. However, any more than two becomes redundant and useless since they don't tend to do very well in battle. They can learn Cut, Rock Smash, Strength and Surf, which is about everything you could wish for in an HM slave.
Allows you to get Gyarados early on. Although training it can be time consuming, you can get it in dewford as soon you get the old rod at level 10, where its almost guarenteed to appear. With how easy it can be to obtain, a pokemon with 125 base attack at level 20 with good base stats may be too good to pass up. Keep it away from the 3rd gym and be careful around electric types.
If you manage to catch a Nincada and let it evolve don't hesitate to use this Pokemon. Its Ability makes it very useful against Gym Leaders Brawly, Wattson and Norman. Brawly can't hurt it because it's a Ghost. The only Pokemon of Wattson that can hurt Shedinja is Voltorb with it's Rollout. Just make sure you dont use Shedinja as an attacker against his Magnemite and Magneton. Just use him as a substitute to make sure you can easily recover your Pokemon and after switch it out again. In this way you can beat both of the Steel types, even if you are playing with Grovyle and your Ground and Fighting Pokemon are dead or not in your team. Against Norman, you can use it quite easy against the Slakings. The only move that he has that damages Shedinja is Faint Attack. As long as you make sure you have a Pokemon that is okay against Dark (Fighting or Dark) you can beat them quite easily. Just keep it away from his Vigoroth.
You're guaranteed to get either of these in New Mauville, so that's a good bonus especially if you never caught an Electrike. The two Pokemon have different strengths and weaknesses. Magnemite is bulky and resists a lot of attacks, earns Cut, Fly, Rock Smash, Strength, and Flash, so it's great to bring along to Victory Road to help team synergy. It's not anything you'll use against the Elite 4, but there is no better HM Slave, except maybe Zigzagoon.
One of the greatest early catches. It's powerful against Bug-Types, which will be prevalent throughout early-game. It kills Brawly, who is extremely difficult in a Nuzlocke without a Flying-Type. It's fast and powerful, and after you beat Norman you can teach it Facade, and after a Guts boost, Facade will do a ton of damage. While it loses to a few of the gyms, there's no denying the sheer power Taillow brings to the team.
Maybe not as good as Taillow, but decent anyway. It's much bulkier than Taillow is and has about the same offensive presence, and it has dual STABs with great coverage. While its subpar attack makes Flying-Type attacks somewhat useless, its Water-Type STAB is especially powerful against many opponents, since Water isn't a type that's likely to be defeated sometime soon in Hoenn. While it should be kept far away from Wattson, it is very helpful against many opponents and handles Steven quite nicely.
Again with the Water-Types. Marill is one of the game's most powerful Pokemon with Huge Power, and is not to be taken lightly. It has an awesome Physical movepool with moves like Double Edge, Return, Iron Tail, and many others. While Surf isn't too strong on it because of its lackluster Special Attack, it is otherwise decent at using it and can even use Ice Beam against Winona and Drake. It also handles Steven very well thanks to Surf destroying Claydol, Armaldo, and Aggron, and Iron Tail dispatches of Cradily. It can then Double-Edge anything that doesn't resist it and it's bound to do tons of damage.
This one arrives early, packs a punch, and evolves pretty early too. It also gets Spore, which is very useful against many opponents, and Mach Punch to remedy its poor speed. It has a very high Attack stat capable of wrecking apart many unprepared opponents, and it handles Norman with ease. It can also be taught Facade in case it is ever afflicted with status, and Focus Punch + Substitute to deal incredible damage. Just please, don't bring it anywhere near Winona.
Basically any underwater catch, with the exception Clamperl, is a good underwater catch. Chinchou, as an electric/water-type is great for all around coverage, and can help fill the void of electric-types in Emerald. Relicanth, is pretty rare, however if you do manage to catch one, you will not only have a pretty decent pokemon, but also have a shot at catching all 3 regis. These three give you a HUGE advantage at the Elite Four, as they give you a steel type and an ice type, both of which are very scarce in the game.
A guaranteed catch if you are patient enough. Simply use Rock Smash repeatedly on the rocks in Route 111 near the Winstrate house, and eventually a Geodude will appear. Geodude evolves early into Graveler and benefits from double STAB coverage. He absolutely dominates against the next two gyms, Flannery and Norman, and is a useful addition to any team even after that due to his immunity to electric types and ability to tank against physical attackers.
The first two gyms are quite easy. Every starter is strong against Roxanne (with the exception of Torchic, though it evolves at Lv. 16 into Combusken, and will learn Double Kick) and any bird or Wurmple will blast Brawly. The difficulty however increases at the third gym.
Wattson (Electric Gym)
Wattson has a Magnemite, a Magneton and a Voltorb. He leads with the Magnemite, and follow up with the Voltorb, which knows Selfdestruct. His Voltorb usually explode as soon as it takes damage, so you can just poke it with a Pokemon, and then switch to anything that can endure Selfdestruct. The real problem is his Magneton. Combusken and Marshtomp are the best against it, but if you took Treecko as your starter, it will be a real challenge to beat. The only other Pokemons that can reliably beat Magneton are Hariyama and Graveler, both of which can be found in the entrance of Granite cave (50% encounter rate and 10% respectively). If, however, you are not lucky enough to get one, then get a Loudred (100% in Rusturf tunnel), go to Mauville's Game corner and buy TM 35 Flamethrower. It's freaking expensive (80.000$), but it's always better than to get stomped at the 3rd gym.
Flannery (Fire Gym)
Remember the overabundance of water types in Hoenn? Forget it. Being the 4th gym leader, Flannery is present at the exact time in the game where fire types are not underpowered. You can't go in the desert, so no easy access to ground Pokemons, and the only water Pokemons at this point of the game are Gyarados, Pelliper, Tentacool and Lombre (Sapphire). Out of those, Gyarados doesn't learn any water moves before a long time, Lombre's grass type means he won't survive a full power Overheat and Tentacool is too frail to survive a Body slam. The best bet is to find the two breakable stones north of Mauville and Rock smash them until you find a Geodude, but this will also count as your catch for the desert, so no sweet Trapinch or Sandshrew in this case. Otherwise, the other alternative is to crash through the gym with a Gyarados with Strength, and Dragon rage to deal with the Torkoal. Not very elegant, but it gets the job done. Or, if you have caught a Numel, you can Magnitude through the Gym. Since Numel is a Fire-type it won't take too much damage from other Pokemon, though it's weak to Ground-type, so no Numel vs. Numel battle.
Norman (Normal Gym)
Norman has two Slakings and a Vigoroth. Each of his Pokemons requires a different approach to beat.
- Leading Slaking
Slaking has the Truant ability, which means it will attack only every other turn. There is not that much good pokemon that can take advantage of this through Protect: there are Dustox (lv17), Pelliper (lv25), Volbeat (lv 29), Torkoal (lv27) and Anorith (Lv31). Out of those, there is only Anorith you can be assured to catch, but by the time you level it up to lv 31, any other pokemon with the same Exp investment would be able to beat that Slaking (as a comparison, a lv 31 Anorith requires the same amount of Exp as a lv 36 starter). If you are lucky enough to catch one of the Pokemons previously mentioned, go to the Fiery path and get TM 06 Toxic. This will deal with the first Slaking fairly easily. DO NOT use toxic if you don't plan to use Protect, because you will receive a full powered STAB Facade in the face, which will kill even a Graveler.
- Second Slaking
Compared to the first one, the Slaking no2 is really easy. Here is the trick: the Slaking will only do Focus punch if your Pokemon is weak to Fighting type moves. Just put a normal type, rock type or steel type, and you'll be free to do any offensive attack without consequences. Just be sure to kill the Slaking before it runs out of PP (20), or else it will change attacks.
Arguably Norman's best Pokemon. Again, DO NOT inflict status on it, as a full Facade from it can cut anything that isn't rock or steel type. Try to hit it on its special defense. If you still have that Flamethrower Loudred from Wattson, now is a good time to pull it out. Otherwise, grind your starter and hope for the best.
Winona (Flying Gym)
After defeating Norman, meet Wattson in Mauville City. He will give you the key to New Mauville, home to a couple of new Electric-types. Completing New Mauville, you will get TM24, Thunderbolt. Since Winona's a Flying expert, this will get you prepared for the 6th Gym.
Winona's opening Pokemon will be the speedy Swellow. It's Double Team and Endeavor might be troublesome, but nothing an Electric type can't do. Pelipper is weak to Electric (x4), so no problem here. Though Skarmory is bulkier than the previous two, it's still weak to Electric, and Fire as well. Her last Pokemon is Altaria, a Dragon/Flying type. It's no longer weak to electric, plus, it has Earthquake, so don't try to use an Electric-type. Especially if it has set up Dragon Dance. If you had luck by catching a Trapinch, and had the patience to level it up to Lv. 45, where it evolves into a Flygon, you can take hits from Altaria's DragonBreath. Or simply, go to the Abandoned Ship, get TM13 (Ice Beam), and teach it to a Water-type. Altaria has a x4 weakness to Ice.
Tate and Liza (Psychic Gym)
The 7th gym is a double battle, which is pretty dangerous in a Nuzlocke, so you've got to be careful. Luckily, in Ruby and Sapphire they only have two Pokemon, Solrock and Lunatone (both at Lv. 42). They are weak to Bug, Ghost, Steel, Water, Grass and Dark, so it's guaranteed you'll have someone on your team who can hit them pretty hard. However, both Solrock and Lunatone have move combinations that will screw you.
Want to use a Water-type? Well, (unless it's a Tentacruel, a Pelipper, a Gyarados, or a Lombre) Solrock will make you regret that choice. First it will set up Sunny Day, which will reduce Water-type attack, then hit with Solar Beam, probably OHKOing, or doing tons of damage to you. Grass, Bug and Steel-types are also dangerous to use, since it has Flamethrower.
In battle, Lunatone is pretty annoying. It has only one attack (Psychic). It's remaining moves are Hypnosis (which will annoy the hell out of you), Light Screen (halves damage taken from special attacks) and Calm Mind (which raises it's Special Attack and Special Defense by one).
Their combinations will mess you up, but here's a good tip. Use Dark-types! This will prevent Solrock and Lunatone from using Psychic (Lunatone won't be able to do attack you). Use a Sharpedo, has a 40% find rate found at Mossdeep and the nearby routes using a super rod, a Crawdaunt which can be found at Petalburg City using a Super Rod, or even a regular Mightyena. All of these pokemon will learn Taunt, so if you Taunt that Lunatone, it won't be able to do anything. Then you can Surf it to death. But I recommend taking Solrock out first, since it's the bigger danger. Use Absol next to Sharpedo. If you use Bite, you can take that Solrock out pretty quickly, thus protecting Sharpedo.
Another way to deal with them is with a rain dance team. In you have two or more of the water types that don't get owned by solar beam (Tentacruel, Pelipper, Gyarados, and Lombre), teach one of them rain dance, and you will demolish the competition. Lombre also has swift swim and rain dish as abilities making him 10 times better in the rain
(If playing Emerald, keep in mind there are trainers with wobbufetts, so when clearing our the pre-gym trainers, use the shuppet or dusclops with curse to deal with them)
Wallace (Water Gym) (Or Juan in Emerald, still Water Gym)
The last and final Gym, which, to be honest, won't be too much of a problem. If you have a Manectric, Magneton or Electrode, or a Grass-type, you'll have a guaranteed win.
Wallace's first Pokemon is seriously a joke. A Luvdisc. You can OHKO it with pretty much any move you use. He also has a Sealeo, which is part Ice-type, so no Grass-types here. But Electric and Fighting types can get the job done. Seaking is also easy, just make sure you take it out quickly, since it has Horn Drill (which is insta-kill). Make sure you have a Grass-type, because his Whiscash is no pushover. It has Earthquake and Amnesia, so if it raises its defense multiple times, it's a pain to knock out. But it's weak to Grass-types (x4), so that's that.
His last Pokemon is really hard though. Annoyingly good Sp.Atk. and Sp.Def., Recover, Ice Beam and Water Pulse (which can Confuse you), you'll have trouble with this. But if you have a Magneton, you can resist most of its attack. You can poison or paralyze it, though it has Marvel Scale (powers up Defense if there is a status problem).
Note: Like any game of Pokemon, the number of trainers is exactly enough to curve 3 or 4 Pokemon perfectly through the game without grinding. This doesn't mean it's a good idea to train only 4 Pokemon. It just means that grinding is an important part of a Nuzlocke, and more precisely of any rotation team. If you plan on EV training see the link below.
Lv 5-15: Petalburg Woods. There is not much choice this early in the game. Zigzagoon give Speed EV though. Bring Antidotes!
Lv 10-15: Route 110. Just outside of Slateport, there is a small patch of grass. It's near the Pokemon Center and the Pokemon give some good EXP, especially Minun and Plusle. The only downside is your Pokemon will get paralyzed often due to the Static ability.
Lv 20-30: Fiery path. Koffing and Torkoal give great EXP in Ruby; Grimer a bit less in Sapphire. The Koffing in Fiery path are one level short of learning Selfdestruct, so there is nothing to fear there. Just stay away from the Slugma. The EXP they give is so-so and their Magma Armor ability is really annoying.
NB: Do not train in the desert! Trapinch's Arena Trap ability will prevent you from switching in a crisis; Baltoy know Selfdestruct; 90% of the Pokemon know Sand-Attack, and the Sandstorm will gradually eat your Pokemon's HP. The only Pokemon that can safely train in this area are Wingull/Pelipper since they avoid the Arena Trap, their accuracy can't be reduced, they have type advantage against everything, and Pelipper has enough defense to survive a Selfdestruct.
Lv 30-40: Magma Hideout. In Emerald, the magma hideout has Torkoal and Graveler both yield great amounts of exp. The only downside is graveler know Selfdestruct; however, this isn't much of a problem if you have a pokemon with a grass or water type attack, due to their *4 weakness, and really bad special defense.
Lv 35-45: Mossdeep City. Fishing with the Super Rod. If you wish to train a Pokemon that knows a Grass, Electric, or Fighting move, this is the way. Wailmer and Sharpedo give huge amounts of EXP and vary between Lv. 25-45 and Lv. 30-35 respectively, giving between 500-700 each depending on the level. It's also near the Pokemon Center for easy PP recharging. Even with an EXP. Share, an average Pokemon will go from Lv. 30 to 31 with about 8-9 Wailmers. If it's a Pokemon that was lagging behind, 4 Wailmer are enough to go from Lv. 20 to 21. This is a great way to level any team member that was left neglected before and complete your rotation team.
Lv 40+: The "Interview Circuit." Starting on Route 111, you first meet Interviewer Gabby and the Camera guy Ty in a double battle; they use a Magnemite and Whismur. They next reappear on Route 118, east of the water. Finally, they reappear on Route 120, east of Fortree. They continue to reappear in this order, getting stronger until both Pokemon are fully evolved and level 39. Each of your pokemon will receive ~1500 EXP after this battle, and it can be repeated endlessly. The $4000 prize every time is also not too shabby.
Lv 50+: Sky Pillar. Beware of training here! Pokemon can reach Level 50 in this area, and the Claydol know Selfdestruct. Both versions have Claydol and Golbat. Ruby also has Dusclops and Mawile, while Sapphire has Banette and the weakness-free Sableye.
You can get this vital item by returning to Rustboro City after delivering Steven's Letter in Dewford. Go to the top floor and talk to Mr. Stone, and he will give it as thanks. It's essential for training weak members of the team.
This item doubles the money you get in trainer battles if a Pokemon in battle is holding it. You can get it by talking to your mom in Littleroot Town after beating the 5th gym.
Whether you plan on EV training or not, receiving double the EVs from every battle should not be overlooked. Slap this on a weaker team member and watch as their sub-par stats become usable, possibly even helpful. You can receive that macho brace after beating the Winstrate family on route 111 and talking to the mom inside the house.
Received when you arrive in Mauville City, this bike allows you to hop in one spot when holding the "B" Button; using this technique and item at the edge of any patch of grass will count as one step and will help towards grinding, in addition to being immediately safe to the road to any nearby town.