Sunday, April 1, 2012

Webcomic Review Month 2012: Pokemon Nuzlocke Comics


So yesterday I promised one more set of reviews and I said they would be on Nuzlocke comics. So what is a Nuzlocke comic you might ask? Essentially a Nuzlocke run is a a play through of a pokemon game with special rules, the main two being that all the pokemon caught are given nicknames and any pokemon that is knocked out in battle is considered dead and cannot be used for the rest of the game. A lot of players add in additional rules, one of the most common is that you can only catch the first pokemon encountered in any area so it takes a while to flesh out your team, some prohibit using healing items or Pokecenters, some don't even let you buy items, and a few people don't even switch out pokemon in fights. In short, it's creating a hard mode for the game and makes it more fun to replay and a lot of people like to make records of their run in both prose or comics. I don't follow any of the prose runs but the comics are done in every style imaginable (from stick figures to screenshots to some really nicely drawn comics) and it's interesting to see how different all the runs can be from each other (also interesting is how so many comics start off happy and a bit sloppy in the artwork and by the end it's dark and much better drawn). So, for the sake of brevity (or it's gonna take me three hours to write this review) assume unless noted otherwise that each comic starts out with the protagonist, generally a teenager, has just gotten their first pokemon and has set out to take on the League. Oh and pokemon talk in a lot of these comics for the sake of making the comic more interesting (which is creating some interesting problems for the Black/White games).
 
 Generation One (Red/Blue/Yellow/Fire Red/Leaf Green): 
 Landwalker’s Yellow
After the death of his first Pokemon Red completely emotionally shut down and hasn't been the same ever since. But some of the people in his life think that it's time he got a pokemon again so he's paired up with the pikachu Apollo and so far this adventure does seem to be helping Red. I'm curious to see if this comic gets any darker than it's sober premise, especially since this person has done another Nuzlocke which had a classic case of Cerebus Syndrome. This is one of the comics where the pokemon talk, a good thing since the main character is mute, and the pokemon are really what make the comic work so far. I also like how the story is drawing inspiration from other pokemon media although updates for this comic are sadly about to get a bit more sporadic (the artist is Israeli and about to start his three years mandatory military service). 

 Shiro’sPokemon Adventure LeafGreen edition
Starting with either foreshadowing things to come (or perhaps a retcon of a previous, failed Nuzlocke), Shiro is pumped to start her pokemon adventure, with some snarking of course. This comic is a bit on the darker side, some of Shiro's pokemon aren't fighters and some of them are not happy to be caught, and there is also some foreshadowing that higher powers are at work in this story. It's not all dark, I'm amused by the idea that all of the trainers spare pokemon are stored in their room and I'll confess that as a Whovian I really liked the Blink reference. Among the Generation one comics here this one not as humorous/snarky of Yoroshii's and not as dark as Landwalkers and occupies a nice middle ground there.


 Yoroshii's LeafGreen
One of the cuter Nuzlocke's around, Pencil is excited to get her first pokemon and start her adventures in a rather light hearted comic. Even the various pokemon deaths are played for comedy, a nice change after you try half a dozen more somber comics in a row, and the art really is adorable. So if more "darker and edgier" stories about people fighting with monsters aren't you thing give this one a whirl instead.


Generation Two (Gold/Silver/Crystal/Heart Gold/Soul Silver): 

 Death’sNuzlocke by Protocol00
 Another comic that hints at something darker going on behind the scenes, Ethan, erm, Shini, erm, James sees pokemon as his ticket out of New Bark Town but once he gets to Cherrygrove he goes through a personality shift of sorts (at first I was convinced that another comic got linked instead of the next page, especially since it's not addressed for a while) and as his journey continues there are a few more mysteries brought up about this trip. Honestly I'd like to see those things addressed, I didn't really get into the comic until really recent pages which did so, but it's not a bad comic so it's certainly worth a shot.

This is actually far from the only gijinka nuzlocke comic I've come across but this one is a bit more unusal in that there are no humans in it. Diego is a cyndaquil in danger of being deported along with his family when he's offered a way out, beat the league and they'll be allowed to stay. So he's off on his journey, finding teammates, and trying not to let his family down. I have to admit that part of the reason I like this gijinka challenge is because it's not gijinkas that are owned by human trainers (which simply gets a bit too creepy for me) and it's different from other nuzlockes and where everyone is making a story based on the same source material you gotta be different to stand out.

Soul Silver Game of Chance by Nonparael
 In the beginning I mentioned that some people add additional rules to their Nuzlocke run to make the game extra challenging and this is the most insane run I've seen yet. Edge is given a challenge by his friend Lyra to take on the Leauge but with a twist, only normal type damaging pokemon moves can be used, which moves are used are determined by card draws and switching out pokemon is determined by dice rolls. Frankly for that reason alone this comic is worth a look, Nonparael has completed two other runs so he knows by how to tell a story and the insane nature of the rules this time around make this one of the most interesting Nuzlockes around.

Pokemon Crystal Double Nuzlocke Challenge (Miizj), crossovers with Lad’s Nuzlocke,currently a double nuzlocke for both runs.
A nuzlocke with simpler art than most on this list, although as I've said so before I'm a sucker for pen and ink comics, what makes this one interesting is that it started out as a regular Nuzlocke but the artist's friend, who was also doing one, ran out of time to keep working on theirs and the comic became a double Nuzlocke which I think is unique. It's nice to have a comic with a bit more human interaction and I think it's just rather fun to see the similarities and differences between the two runs.


Generation Three (Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald):   

Third Generation is my favorite so I'm sad that I only have two comics on my list for it but glad that they're at least two strong ones. Alexial is a headstrong, to put it mildly, young lady starting her adventure and is starting to get a bit fed up at how she has to deal with all of Team Magma and Team Aqua's plans. There's a lot of emphasis on Alexial's relationships with the other characters (and oddly enough one of the only nuzlockes I've seen with a love triangle) and the characters feel really human because of it. So for this one I'm reading the story less for the plot and more for the characters which is rather unusual for me and kudos to making me actually care about something more than the plot.

Summersof Our Youth An Emerald Nuzlocke Comic Run by Umbrielle
A comic with rather adorable art, June is excited to start her adventures in a more light-hearted run which matches the art well. Frankly June is adorable, the cutest protagonist out of all of these comics and probably the youngest as well. It's funny that Third Generation is my favorite yet I like the comics set in it not for it's setting or plot but for the characters in it. 

Generation Four (Diamond/Pearl/Platinum):

Tales of Sinnoh, Ky-nim's Diamond Nuzlocke (complete)
If third generation is my favorite then fourth generation is my least (no real reason, I simply don't like it as much) and perhaps it's a lot of other people's least favorite since I haven't come across that many nuzlocks and the only two I liked are both now completed. This one is more humorous than dark, although I didn't recall that the final death count was so high, the art here is on the more simple side but the humor makes it worth following regardless. Ky-nim has a really good knack of pointing out some of the things that seemed off in the games (such as Cynthia stalking, I mean popping up quite often) and it's quite fun to read. 

Ara's Nuzlocke Run Pearl by Nonparael (complete)
Starting with an accidental gender-bend (some people try to incorperate the games opening monolouge into the comic and I'm surprised that this is the only one where it's led to a gender bend), Ara is certainly not going to let that get in the way of an adventure and beating the league. It's hard to believe that Nonparael also did this comic, the art style is pretty different from Game of Chance and much more of a "normal" run and it's worth a check. 

Generation Five (Black/White):

In Black and White by Wasserbienchan
As odd as it sounds I think the Nuzlocke comics have really improved the plotline of Pokemon Black/White since when you have a story about pokemon battling to the death suddenly Team Plasma makes more sense. And that's what's going on here, in one of the darkest comics I've come across all of the official pokemon battles are to the death and young trainer White was alright with this idea until she saw the toil it took on her pokemon and has slowly started to question which is right, the extremism of the gym leaders, the extremism of Team Plasma or a third option all together? N also gets really fleshed out in this story, he and White are truly dual protagonists, and the story is all about the gray and grey mortality that their world is created and I'm curious to see if there is going to be a happy ending or a sad one when this is all done.

Myths of Unova  by Ky-nim
Unrelated to her earlier comic, Myths of Unova follows Nina, an upbeat girl starting out on her adventure who can understand pokemon. She and N are unique, this isn't one where everyone can, and the story here is going for the "N is a creeper" interpretation which I haven't found in as many comics (although that was certainly my impression of him in the Pokemon Special manga) so that's different. Also different is how much improved the art is from Ky-Nim's previous run, here all the lines are clean, the comic has shifted from black and white to full color and it's a really great looking comic worth checking out.
 
Ara's Nuzlocke Run Black by Nonparael (complete, sequel to pearl run)
I've come across a few Nuzlocke runs which are sequels but this is the only one on my list this year. A quick gender bend back to normal and Ara is up for more adventures, more pokemon, and possibly an unexpected final challenger to this story. There is some ret-con for events in Pearl, and it does explain why Ara is doing this all over again, and you should really read the Pearl run first but they make a nice pair of comics and since both are complete you can easily breeze through them in a few days.

Pi & Pea’s Nuzlocke Adventure by Piyostorra
The cutesist comic out of the Black/White ones, and the most light-hearted, this is a fairly straight forward run without any big twists or deaths so far. It's portrayal of N seems to be more in line with how the fandom views him (ie, more sympathetic than creepy) and with the more simple art it's a good one to pick up if the other comics come off as too dark. 

Reign: A Pokemon Black Nuzlocke by LemurTail
Starting off with a radically different setting than these other comics, Team Plasma has come to power and pokemon battling or even owning is strictly forbidden across the region. Touko seems to be an ordinary trainer but she bears a deep grudge against Team Plasma for the death of her boyfriend a few years earlier and N has nightmares of a mysterious girl named "White" who kills him in his dreams for revenge. The comic is still pretty short but I'm a sucker for these darker pokemon stories and the setting is just so different from every other one that I can't help but be excited about what it's going to do next.



And if you want to start a nuzlocke of your own:











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