Check Point Starvation occurs when in a Video Game, the player must go for an extended period of time without Check Points or Save Points. Its purpose, when done intentionally, is to add difficulty to the game.
In the most extreme cases, the player may be required to beat the entire game with one life, though going that far with this trope is mostly unheard of. Outside of Roguelikes, one-life marathon games are almost exclusive to the 8-bit era, and even then it was pretty uncommon — except as a Self-Imposed Challenge or the highest difficulty level.
This can occasionally slip in very story-heavy games, possibly by accident. It's particularly common in the introduction for the game, as Exposition can be interspersed with tutorials or gameplay without a save function.
Not to be confused with Save Game Limits, when the game imposes limits on when and where (and how) you can save the game, though these two sometimes overlap.
Compare Marathon Level, Marathon Boss, and Final Death Mode. Contrast Death Is a Slap on the Wrist and Respawn On The Spot. Often causes poopsocking.
Cave Story: Sacred Grounds. Not only is the level Nintendo Hard, but the player is required to do it all in one go, including its two bosses, one of which has four forms. (On the plus side, the level is entirely optional.)
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: After the opening cinematics, the player must go through the first path as a Deku until they finally reach the Clock Tower, which for a beginning player can take around 15 minutes, and is then followed by a segment which, due to the nature of saving in the game, lasts another 60-72 minutes.
It is possible, however, to drastically shorten the second segment by dancing with the Scarecrow until the Night of the Third Day, though it's quite likely for a first time-player to miss this feature.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has no mid-level checkpoints whatsoever and levels can take over half an hour on the first playthrough. However, the game itself is not particularly difficult, health restoring hearts are plentiful, and if you manage to find the golden dog bone in each level then a ghostly Polterpup will revive your body on the spot.
Also, it's a 3DS game, so simply closing the the system will automatically pause the game and put the system into sleep mode so you can pick it up later at your convenience.
Metroid Prime: The beginning of Phazon Mines, generally referred to by the fanbase as "The Gauntlet". There's a save station near the entrance. It's the last one for a long time, and getting to the next one requires getting past a gauntlet of shadow troops, mega turrets, wave and ice troopers, and two mini boss battles against an elite pirate and a cloaked drone. The entire segment usually takes an hour or more to complete. If you happen to not realize that there was one there (and is completely possible since it is tucked away in the opposite side of the entrance), then the last save point would be Samus' ship (or the south-east corner of the Chozo Ruins).
Metroid Prime 2 Echoes is infamous for having few life-restoring save points and a dark world that actively drains your life for much of the game. You can restore your life at the Light Beacons, but some areas like the Ing Hive/Sanctuary Fortress distance these ridiculously.
Metroid: Fusion has this before Yakuza, the giant spider boss. The power in the station goes out, so the only save point is your ship. The boss is fairly tough and requires navigating a maze full of Space Pirate disguised X parasites. There are also two power ups in the area. Dying at any point means traveling halfway across the station and collecting everything again. Less frustrating than most examples here, but definitely qualifies. Particularly bad because there is a checkpoint nearby, it's just useless because the power is off.
It is by far the worst section of the 1% run, which basically means having to avoid picking up any extra missile/health tanks throughout the game. The previously mentioned obstacles are now major obstacles. One of, if not the, hardest boss in the game is capable of killing Samus in one hit, and even if you manage to somehow defeat the boss, the enemies in the very next room, between you and the save point, are the first mooks that can kill Samus in one hit without any extra energy tanks.
Milon's Secret Castle: Subverted. It appears, at first, that dying once sends you back to the beginning of the game. However, you actually can continue: with a code (although you can only do this if you've defeated the first boss (!)). It's also the same way in the Game Boy port, but instead of a cheat code, the game gives you a password immediately after a game over.
Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones had a platforming sequence, a chariot sequence, and then a long boss fight with nary a checkpoint; a death meant replaying all of the above over again.
The first save point in Sphinx And The Cursed Mummy is a remarkably long ways into the tutorial. The problem with this is not in the time it takes to get to it, however, but the fact that the Noob Cave is actually filled with surprisingly dangerousMooks that are very likely to make mincemeat of someone playing the game for the first time. Dying boots you back to the last save. No save? Have fun going through the 45-minute-long tutorial dungeon again!
The motorbike levels in Tomb Raider Legend are this. The levels loop until you kill a certain number of enemies. Combine the fact that on the harder difficulty levels some enemies can knock off half of your life bar with one shot, and that Lara apparently took shooting lessons from the Empire's finest, and it becomes clear why these sections are an exercise in keyboard smashing.
An Untitled Story: on regular mode and higher, one save point is cut from BlackCastle. On masterful mode and higher, another one disappears. This means you need to complete a good three quarters of this incredibly lengthy area without saving.
Bomberman: Act Zero's single player campaign had 99 levels with no save points whatsoever. If the player dies or shuts off their Xbox 360 at any point in the game, they have to start the whole thing from the beginning.
In the doujin game Crescent Pale Mist, checkpoints only appear BEFORE a boss fight, meaning that dying before reaching the boss results in starting the Chapter all over again. Have fun not dying in Chapters 3 and 4.
Dead Rising features a little of this in its main scenario (there are no soft checkpoints between going between sections of the mall or before fighting bosses), but Infinity Mode does not feature a single checkpoint nor way to save your game. As the sole objective of Infinity mode is to survive as long as you can, this can lead to trouble. One achievement requires you to stay alive for the real-time equivalent of fourteen hours - and when the game was released, the Xbox 360 was going through incredibly high rates of getting the RROD. Thankfully, its sequels fixed this problem: Dead Rising 2 introduced checkpoints before going into different areas or fighting bosses, and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record changed Infinity Mode to Sandbox Mode, adding the ability to save as well as checkpoints.
Devil May Cry: In the first three games, check points must be bought in the form of yellow orbs. They are quite expensive in the first playthrough, and if you run out, any death will send you back to the beginning of the mission.
Checkpoints in God Hand are invisible, so you can't tell if there are any in a level until you die. Generally, they're where the game loads a new screen (but not always)... which means that any level where the game doesn't have to load a new area, like "Flying Pyramid", has to be done in one go.
Ninja Gaiden for the NES sends you back to Stage 6-1 if you die on any of the final bosses.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 has a few passages involve several long and tough fights without the possibility to save in-between. Most notably the last parts of chapter 13 (including the very grueling stairway fight), 14 (the graveyard fights), and the first half of chapter 16 (a long straight corridor). The latter two have an appearance of Recurring Bosses out of nowhere without the usual auto-save. These passages are stressing in Normal but get really sadistic in Master Ninja.
Nightmare Mode in Aliens Vs Predator disables the checkpoint system, meaning you get bumped back to the very beginning of the mission if you ever die (which, given the enemy's increased damage output, happens a lot).
Battlefield 3 has a few levels with a severe lack of checkpoints. The worst few involve playing a cutscene or introductory section before the actual combat.
Bioshock Infinite relies entirely on autosave, and while it does save fairly often early on, the further into the game you go, the fewer save points there are. Not always noticeable on a regular playthrough, but on 1999 mode? Frustrating to all ends.
The original Call of Duty did not have checkpoints nearly as often as its later sequels, which made things all the more difficult considering it was also before the series used Regenerating Health. Fortunately, the first game also still allows you to make traditional saves and quicksaves whenever you want.
Far Cry featured large, open levels — with checkpoint saves! That means that if you wandered off the beaten path or took a route other than the one the developers expected you to take, then it was entirely possibly to miss the save point.
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter can have rather long times between checkpoints, along with some of the levels being very long in themselves. This is especially painful on Hard difficulty, where nearly all enemy shots are a One-Hit Kill to the player.
Future Soldier has checkpoints that, while perfectly fine for the lower difficulties, are spaced out just far enough to make things potentially tedious for those playing on Elite difficulty, especially if the level has a tactical challenge that requires playing on Elite. Unlocking the "Fixed Stock" attachment for singleplayer is considered one of the hardest things to do in the game, mostly because you have to go through nearly all of the final mission without being detected on Elite difficulty, with only one or two checkpoints to fall back on if you screw up at any point during it.
Enforced with the Iron Skull from Halo. It's an Easter Egg that, if activated, forces the player to start the whole level over if they die, or sometimes just at when you last received a new directive. This holds true still for co-op mode, which normally respawns a dead player at his partner's location, but with Iron on forces them both to restart.
Brought back for a while in the sequel for the "Iron Man" mutation. Not only is the game under Realism rules (no glows, no respawning in closets, Witches kill instantly), but if the whole team wipes out, the team is kicked back to the lobby.
The first three Medal of Honor console games had no in-level checkpoints. This was a major problem with the longer levels in Frontline.
In Rising Sun, you often go two or three whole levels between checkpoints to save the game.
Perfect Dark Zero has only 2 checkpoints per mission; one at the very beginning, and one about 3/4ths through or before the end level boss fight. This is fine for the shorter missions, but very noticeable on the longer ones. Dark Agent difficulty completely disables checkpoints.
Resistance: Fall Of Man: each level only had 1 or 2 checkpoints, with many major firefights between each checkpoint. Given how quickly you can go from full health to completely dead in this game, it's very common to get booted back 15-20 minutes of progress just as you're about to hit the next checkpoint. The sequels used a much more conventional and forgiving checkpoint system.
Tron 2.0: Autosaving only occurred at the start of a level, no matter how large said level was. Saving did not exist at all during the lightcycle matches.
None of the Action 52 games have checkpoints, so you start from the beginning of the level if you die.
Plenty of the old 8-bit games on the ZX Spectrum and the like had no save points (48K was barely enough RAM for the game, never mind save states, and saving on the tape was normally impractical). Most egregious in the space shooter cum word puzzler cum history lesson Starion, a 243-level (counting each time zone as one level, a fair measurement) marathon with, in the original version, a Game-Breaking Bug somewhere around the 200th. Allowing five minutes a zone - easy when the cargo is "D", more difficult when it's "OBERAMMERGAU" - you're still looking at the better part of a day's solid play. With no saves.
Adventure Island II and III had no checkpoints within stages, in contrast to four for each level in Adventure Island I. However, the stages are shorter.
The first Captain Comic game has no ability to save. Fortunately, it can be finished in under an hour. The sequel isn't much better. You can save your game, but it only has two locations to reappear at on load, requiring lots of backtracking.
Donkey Kong Country Returns has a level (Muncher Marathon) that has an Advancing Wall of Doom made of spiders. Once you hit the checkpoint, you can finish the level in 10 seconds. Everywhere before that, if you die, you are back to square one. Near the end of the game, level 8-5's first stretch is quite a long and difficult one.
Taken Up to Eleven in the Temples. There are no checkpoints. For any of them. And the majority of them are 5-8 minutes of pure old-school platforming. And when you get to the Golden Temple....
I Wanna Be the Guy: The only difference between difficulty levels is how far apart the save points are. "Impossible" mode requires you to beat the entire game without save points.note There actually is a way to save on Impossible. The "evil" save point (a Chest Monster) that appears near the end of the game is still there on Impossible, and due to a glitch you have exactly one frame of animation to save on it after its death.
MapleStory: Loves to do this with some particularly nasty Jump Quests, especially the higher level ones (such as the Zakum party quest) which tend to involve roughly five minutes of jumping on platforms barely large enough to walk on, all while dodging falling rocks, poison clouds, energy blasts, indestructible monsters, and the occasional bit of lag. If you fail/fall? Congratulations, you get to slowly walk through lava back to the start of the area.
Due to a bug, if you die against the first Fortress Boss (Mothraya) of Mega Man 4, Mega Man will restart not at the Boss Corridor like every other level, but at the level's midpoint, making the player run through it again.
The checkpoint in Plant Man's level in Mega Man 6 is placed before the first of twoMini Bosses, which is soon followed by a much-dreaded lengthy spring section up to the Boss Corridor.
The fan game Mega Man Unlimited is pretty stingy with checkpoints, and some of the ones that are there are badly placed (for example, right before a Mini-Boss).
Oddworld, especially the first game, combined this with Nintendo Hard to produce severe cases of controller-snapping frustration. The developers added more frequent check-points and the ability to quick-save from the pause menu in the second game in response.
Averted with the Atari 2600 classic Pitfall in that you have a total of three lives. Word of God is that the game was originally conceived as only allowing you ONE life to complete the game, yet play testing revealed that it made the game difficult.
Plok: Not one single level in the game has a checkpoint. If you die, you go all the way back to the start of the level you were on, and while this might not seem that bad at first, Plok also has the distinction of being one of the most deceptively and unfairly difficult games on the SNES, with levels that get progressively longer. If you're lucky enough to even so much as GLIMPSE the Flea Pit, good luck having to adjust to a completely new way of playing the game on EACH LEVEL.
Prehistorik and its predecessor Titus The Fox give you a code for each level that lets you continue from that level. However, they don't give you that code at the beginning of the level: instead, you have to find it, somewhere in the middle, and quite often hidden in some hard-to-find area. If you almost complete level 4 without finding its code, well, back to level 3 for you.
Saru Ga Daisuki has no save points whatsoever, since the author had no time to implement them (the game was made for a 24-hour competition) and later lost the source code. And it's not a very easy game, or one that's a lot of fun to repeat over and over.
Sonic Unleashed: In the HD versions of the game, one mission involves getting to the end of Eggmanland, a Nintendo Hard stage that is by far the longest in the game, with the time limit for the first Hot Dog trial being 75 minutes. It has to be done THREE TIMES in order to get the trophy/achievement. WITH the time limit decreasing after each succession up to 45 minutes. Did we mention that you get no checkpoints at all and dying at any point forces you to restart from the beginning?
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) has several stages that lack checkpoints until several minutes into a stage and have little to none afterward. Some, like The End of the World Stage, lack checkpoints altogether.
Star Light Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog had just a single checkpoint placed before the boss in act 3. Just to be even meaner, there were no rings near it and the end of the level is a Point of No Return. The checkpoints were probably removed after Sonic Team realized how much harder the zones before Star Light are.
And while other 3D Sonic games have checkpoints, if you die, your score resets to zero, and usually with not enough stage left to make up lost ground on your score. So if you want that A rank, you have to pretend those checkpoints aren't there, or just manually restart the level when you're about to die (but before the game prevents you from pausing).
Super Mario Bros.: Had invisible checkpoints near the middle of most levels, except for castle levels and all of World 8. In some later levels, these checkpoints could do more harm than good, as they were often located after the one power-up in the level and you couldn't backtrack.
Super Mario Bros. 3: In contrast to the previous two games, had no in-level checkpoints. However, the newly-introduced World Map allowed the player to use inventory items or sometimes choose a different level to tackle after losing a life.
Super Mario World: Most levels had one and only one midway checkpoint. They were actually visible, though some required the player to take hidden paths to reach them.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins: The levels for the most part have checkpoints (bells in this game). However, in Wario's Castle, not only is the level longer than any other with a 3-part boss battle against Wario at the end, but there is no checkpoint at all!
Some missions are rather long with no checkpoints in them at all, most notably the Daredevil missions, whose primary objective is to finish the stage as a One-Hit-Point Wonder. The two most infamous ones are for "The Sinking Lava Spire" in the first game, which requires the player to traverse the longest mission in That One Level; and "The Perfect Run" in the second, taking place in by far the hardest stage (Grandmaster Galaxy) in a game with a massive Sequel Difficulty Spike.
In both games, there's speed run challenges where you have to beat levels quickly due to a stingy time limit while (in the second) collecting stopwatches to add a few more seconds to your timer. None of these challenges have checkpoints at all, so if you screw up, you have to start over from the beginning. There is one exception; one of the speed run levels takes place in a Bowser level, which is naturally longer than a standard level. There's one checkpoint in that specific challenge because the level is simply too long for players to keep restarting if they fail every time.
Super Mario 3D Land has S8-Crown, which is even longer than Grandmaster Galaxy, and no easier (unless you bring in power-ups). Even the standard last level (at the end of regular World 8) has this; before the checkpoint is a fairly large castle stage, and after it is probably the longest fight against Bowser in the whole series, certainly the longest in 3D.
There are zero checkpoints in New Super Luigi U. Every stage has a very strict time limit, though, so it doesn't really matter.
Space Zone 2 in Super Mario Land 2. There's a checkpoint bell towards the end of the level. If Mario loses a life prior to reaching the bell, he'll have to start from the beginning of that level.
The Super Mario World hack Touhou Mario has to be pretty much the ultimate example of this trope, in that it has ZERO save points. Or checkpoints. And just one life before you get game over and have to restart EVERYTHING. Oh, and this is basically Platform Hell meets Bullet Hell in difficulty, every boss is a Marathon Boss, and one area has you beat the equivalent of four FULL LENGTH levels and FOUR Marathon Bosses in a row! The final bosses have between four and eight phases to them too. You can find it here.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: There are zero checkpoints in the sixth and final stage, the Technodrome. Losing a turtle at any point of the stage will restart you at the beginning of the level.
Yoshi's Island usually doesn't have this due to multiple middle rings, but there's one point in Endless World of Yoshis/Crazy Maze Days where this is a problem. You see, there's a long falling section with instant kill spikes, and after that, a checkpoint. Problem is, checkpoints work only once, leaving the player with a Sadistic Choice; use it straight after the spikes and then hope you don't mess up the next three or four rooms (and in that time, you have to dodge those spikes another two times), or use it after the tricky section has been beaten all three times and you've got the key, in which case once mess up will put you right at the start of the second area.
There's a few really good examples in Yoshi's Island DS. Best of all is 'Yikes! Boiling Hot!', in which the level has a stretch with THREE ROOMS with no checkpoints in between. Not short rooms, very long rooms equal to a Super Mario Bros 3 level in length. Including at least one seemingly blind lava trap. As well as both a finicky rope riding section and one where you to have navigate two lava spitting monsters (their attacks are instant kills, one spiky ball and chain, a sloped platform and instant kil lava in the space of less than a screen.
The Impossible Quiz: There are over 100 questions with no checkpoints or continues, meaning that a mistake sends the player back to the beginning of the game. The game contains a lot of Trial-and-Error Gameplay, and many of the questions are timed, with the timer running out on a question counting as a loss. The game does provide "skips" so that the player can get past any question that they think they cannot answer until the last question, where the player must use every skip that the game offered to pass the question.
The sequel goes out of its way to mock the player for even wanting Check Points.
Space Puzzle Bobble (aka Space Bust-a-Move)'s story mode: Unlike other Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move games, if you lose, you have to start over at the beginning of the group of five levels per stage all over again, and that means if you collected a Cosmo Bubble without popping it, you have to do that over again.
Alpha Protocol only saves at checkpoints, which can be few and far between. "Assault the Triad Hideout" is downright infuriating because of this: it seems to have exactly one checkpoint in the entire mission.
Dark Souls is downright brutal with bonfire (checkpoint) placement at times. You generally only get one or two per level, and some levels have none at all. While you can usually open up shortcuts on subsequent runs through areas and minibosses don't respawn, getting to some bosses can be incredibly difficult. Then after that, most bosses can kill you in one or two hits.
A particularly cruel example is the Taurus Demon, the second boss. There are no shortcuts to open up to reach it more easily, so you have to play the whole level again when you get killed by it. And this is at the start, so the dozens of relatively weak enemies you have to fight are all life-threateningly hard.
While you don't have to play through the whole Tomb of the Giants to get to Gravelord Nito, you still have to go through a large chunk with some Demonic Spiders such as the Pinwheel copies and skeleton dogs, which will take longer than actually fighting Nito.
In Quelaag's Domain and the beginning of the Demon's Ruins, there are 2 bonfires almost next to each other, which is rather pointless. On the other hand, New Londo Ruins (which is one of the hardest locations in the game, and has an even harder boss) has none.
Dragon Quest series allows the player to get saved only at a town church. Some towns don't even have one. You can't do a hard save in the field and in a dungeon, so this trope is pretty much in effect.
Final Fantasy III: The final tower. After the last save point in a small outdoor area after the third to last dungeon, there are 8 or 9 floors of the Crystal tower, followed by a boss, getting warped to the World of Darkness where there are 4 more tough minibosses, gaining equipment and experience for the final battle, the final boss battle, the entire closing sequence before the player is given another chance to save their game.
Final Fantasy IV: the beginning, which requires a lengthy cutscene, a non-controlled battle, another lengthy cutscene, some wandering around, another lengthy cutscene, and finally the prologue before being able to save.
The Northern Crater in Final Fantasy VII has no save points, but it gives the party one unique item that can create one. However, the item is glitched and can make the dungeon unwinnable, so it's just best to ignore it.
Earlier, the whirlwind maze: After the save point, you have a timing puzzle, a few long cutscenes, and a FMV before the next save. There's nothing particularly dangerous in-game there, but this area had a high crash rate in the PC version.
The entire Necrohol of Nabudis in Final Fantasy XII is devoid of save crystals. This is, shall we say, somewhat inconvenient due to charming things like Mana Burn monsters that turn up out of nowhere, a consistent baknamy Zerg Rush, and a surprisingly common "rare game" monster. And that's without the monsters from the Chaos/Medallions sidequest.
The initial save point vanishes once you choose to go to sleep, which kicks off a Dream Sequence, a Hopeless Boss Fight, loads of exposition, a tutorial fight, anotherHopeless Boss Fight, and still more exposition. Sleep to save time? Twenty-four minutes. You can even see the save point at around the 20-minute mark for an extra bit of cruelty.
Mass Effect 2 and 3 were good about giving you lots of autosaves (usually after every battle and important cutscene), but God help you if you didn't take the time to save obsessively in the first game. There was maybe one autosave per mission, two if the game was feeling merciful, so if you had shut down two of the three moon base computers and then died, tah-dah! You're back at the very beginning of the level, having just landed on the moon. Have fun!
The Mass Effect 3 finale is pretty bad at this, too. Starting at the moment you get hit by Harbinger's beam, manual saves are disabled, period, and the autosave after finishing the game overwrites any autosaves made during the actual finale. If you want to see more than one ending, better prepare for replaying through that whole section over and over again — complete with the ridiculously slow movement and long unskippable cutscenes.
Alt-Tab out of the game right after one of these autosaves, locate the ME 3 save folder, and copy the auto-save file. Paste and rename the file and you now have a functional regular save at the point you wanted. (You might have to quit the game to do it instead... been awhile since I did it)
The Paper Mario series has saving by use of Save Blocks, which you hit from underneath, thus activating them. So why can't I find a Save Block?
Paper Mario 64 does this at the beginning. You go from getting the invitation to going to the castle to finding Peach within the Castle to the Hopeless Boss Fight with Bowser to lying there near Goomba Village to waking up in a Toad House before you can go outside and find a Save Block. Contrast with the sequel, which has you receive the letter and go to Rogueport. You step onto the dock, and can immediately go over and hit a Save Block.
Super Paper Mario has multiple cutscenes and some gameplay lasting at least twice as long as Paper Mario 1's. Plus, you can even get a Non-Standard Game Over right as the Infodump is nearing its end. Genre Savvy players are expecting a But Thou Must situation when you're asked to save the world, but as they're sitting there hitting "No" and watching the characters' reactions becoming increasingly incredulous, they might hit "No" one too many times and have to watch all those cutscenes again. (Note that there are severalBut Thou Must conversations in the game that reward you for refusing to answer correctly with increasingly absurd conversations — including one that winds up discussing video game design and the concept of Event Flags.)
Persona 3 makes saving difficult because it requires exiting your current level of Tartarus to do so, which means you need to start the current branch over again. However, trying to push too hard could mean getting in over your head, dying, and losing quite a bit of progress. This was changed in the Updated Re-releasePersona 3 Portable: by walking up the staircase in the entrance lobby of Tartarus, the player will be given the option to start at the highest floor reached so far.
Persona 3 zig-zags this trope within Tartarus: you're more or less forced to choose to do a stealth run to the nearest boss floor, activate the terminal, exit, save, and then explore the floors in between for experience — or start hacking away and exit before reaching the next terminal. The trope is played completely straight with non-Tartarus boss battles, however, and it's possible to put the game into an unwinnable state before the third boss battle, which is when the game starts taking all agency away from the player on the day of a full moon. Were you hoping to upgrade equipment? Not so much. You'll be forced to go through endless cutscenes over and over again until you win.
It takes roughly 20 to 30 minutes from starting Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness before you are allowed your first save, not counting the fact that the pre-credit cinematic is unskippable the first time you boot up the game.
Pokémon Colosseum is the same way. You can only save at PCs, and it can get really annoying in long levels like Mt.Battle. Fortunately, Pokémon XD gives you the 'save anywhere' ability of the main series games.
This is a major part of the difficulty in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Save spots are plentiful, but are always set at extremely long distances between each.
Resonance of Fate features exactly one permanent save point - your base of operations - that quickly becomes prohibitively hard to return to during an outing. The player can place their own save terminals on the world map fairly easily (and they're encouraged to, as this forms the cornerstone of several other game mechanics) but this is little comfort during dungeons, which are nearly all long and resource-taxing by design. Fortunately, the "suspend" option common to handheld game is readily available, as long as one isn't actively being shot at.
Shin Megami Tensei IV lets you save and reload freely using the Gauntlet. Unfortunately, getting to the point where you gain access to said feature takes about twenty or so minutes of plot. More if you opt to explore Mikado at all.
Star Ocean: The Second Story and Star Ocean 3: Part of the difficulty of the Cave of Trials is the complete lack of save points throughout. Sometimes, you can go for literally over an hour between save points- this is particularly annoying when playing during a thunderstorm. Especially egregious in the second game, whose variant is far longer and filled with random encounters throughout.
The game forces you to play through the entire first twenty-minute (tutorial) chapter before it lets you save... and then for about another ten minutes before you can save freely.
It also features a number of difficult bosses at the end of the game with no opportunity to save in between, although if you die, you can try again without having to repeat battles you've already won. The character Neku Sakuraba remarks beforehand that there may not be any save points for awhile, thus Breaking the Fourth Wall.
In the Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Ys V, you have to fight three very tough bosses, with no save points in between. Unlike previous games where you could save anywhere, this one only allows you to save at inns in town.
The developers of Super R-Type did not put any checkpoints whatsoever in levels.
The final stage of the Famicom port of Gradius II has no checkpoints. The stage is a bit shorter than the previous ones, but it is still long and challenging enough that one death is a serious setback.
The ice cube stage in the arcade version of Gradius III also lacks checkpoints. If you die on the Cube Attack or the boss, it's back to square one.
In Animal Crossing series, the player can save sometime before halfway through the Justified Tutorial. Start a game, create a character, choose a house, and talk to all the villagers and the mayor, and this takes about 20 minutes on a new town file.
One of Cold Fear's most maligned features was the save system. The game could only be saved during an automatic prompt before certain plot-relevant scene transitions, with no manual way to save and no indication of when the next one would arrive. An inattentive player who accidentally declines to save won't get another chance to do so until the next prompt, potentially with a tricky puzzle or a boss between.
Dead Space 2: This trope is used deliberately in "Hardcore Mode". Specifically, it only allows the player to save three times in the whole game, and there are no checkpoints, other than at the disc change on the Xbox360 version.
Hitman: Blood Money: Depending on the difficulty level, you can only save a certain amount of times during a single mission. You get 3 different save spots and even if you overwrite the same save spot, it still counts as a save. The previous games allowed saving anywhere, or in the case of Codename 47, gave two extra lives for a stage.
Hitman: Silent Assassin limited your number of saves at higher difficulties (with none at the highest), but did avert this trope at one point: On the game's one Marathon Level, it awards you a free save halfway through, even on the highest difficulty.
Although usually averted in the Max Payne series thanks to Quick Saves, the console ports of the first two games were forced to use spaced-out checkpoints. In a game where a single shotgun blast can almost kill Max if you're unlucky, and explosions almost always kill you instantly. It gets worse in Max Payne 3 because not even the PC version has quick saves.
Taken to the logical conclusion with Max Payne 3's New York Minute mode, especially on Hardcore. You have to play through the entire game on a single life with a time limit ticking down; the main goal is extending the timer as high as you can through constant headshots and kills, and the cutscenes freeze the timer. But if you die even once, you have to start the entire run all over again.
That One Room in Resident Evil 4's castle is not only a fair distance from the nearest typewriter, but it has no checkpoints other than the entry point. If you fail, you start the battle from the very beginning. Worse is Chapter 4-1, which is not only extremely long with few checkpoints or save points, but has a larger amount of tough enemies as well.
The very first game only allowed you to save between levels. The first level, taking about an hour to complete was bad enough, but the final level takes 5-6 hours to grind enough points to complete. That's beyond "I'm going to play, I may be some time" and into skipping meals/sleep to get through in one sitting.
All of the games in the GTA 3 era had zero saving at all except for icons at safehouses, with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City being the first to incorporate the ability to purchase new ones to make saving take less driving time. In all of them, failing a mission required you to drive all the way back to the starting location and restart the entire mission; you rarely got the option to skip part of the long drive through the mission.
Grand Theft Auto IV introduces autosaves after missions, but if you happen to turn it off, you only have one safehouse in each borough (and you lose the Broker one early in the game and never get a new one), while the DLC only gives one or two safehouses for each protagonist in the entire city. Thankfully, the game introduced the ability to restart a mission via your in-game phone immediately after failing, but very few do anything but simply start the mission again from the beginning.
The Ballad of Gay Tony DLC for IV finally addresses the issue by adding checkpoints, they are still quite scarce, though, each mission usually having one checkpoint.
Grand Theft Auto V finally fixed the problem by introducing checkpoints for all missions, even short side missions that take a few minutes to complete. It also adds a quick save feature to your in-game phone, so you can save at any time (without the mandatory 6 hours of time passed if you save at a safehouse). However, random encounters (even if they include cutscenes) are always a one-shot deal without the option to retry again. Hope you didn't accidentally kill that potential crew member on the way to the goal.
Saints Row 1 had no checkpoints within missions. The hardest missions always, always, without fail, started out with a long, boring drive across the whole city before the action started. Have fun doing that over and over.