You're out for the count. You exhausted your last life or last ounce of energy and your character is done. Game Over, dude. Have a Nice Death! No problem, you'll just continue and try again, right? Not quite! The challenge is beefed up even more and the game is even harder than it was before you were defeated, whether it is starting without power ups or the like. This trope usually applies to games that use a health bar system or life count. If this gets bad enough, the only way to beat the game might be to start all over and do it without a game over.
Despite the high cost, this is still an example of Death Is Cheap in games where loss equals death, since it means that returning from the dead is nearly guaranteed despite its disadvantages.
The opposite of Death Is a Slap on the Wrist. Contrast Anti-Frustration Features, where dying makes the game lower the difficulty for you.
Dying in Minecraft is both inevitable and incredibly painful. Everything you had on hand gets scattered around your corpse and you always respawn at a specific location, which can be quite far away from your corpse...and your shelter. Compounding this is that you are most likely to die at night, when all the monsters are out in full force; meaning that you are now naked and unarmed, far from your shelter and out in the open, where monsters are spawning and actively searching for you. God help you if you have not left yourself some kind of trail or created some kind of viewable-at-night landmark to help you get yourself back to your shelter, or you might just end up dying a few more times as you blindly thrash around in the dark.
This also gets bad if you died while exploring deep underground since caves tend to sprawl out every which way and it's easy to get lost. Strongholds and mineshafts are no exception either.
God forbid you die by falling into/getting hit by lava. Lava instantly destroys all your items, which means even if you could find your way back to your death place, you could never recover those tools. Goodbye, diamond pickaxe!
Beds can change your spawn point so the next time you die, you spawn by the bed. Most players tend to build their shelter with a bed in it and store their things in a chest. However, if something is blocking the bed or the bed gets destroyed and you die afterwards, you get booted to your default spawn, which means you could wind up being miles away from your shelter and get lost trying to find your way back.
Also, any items that lie on the ground for five minutes simply vanish. Hope you're good at maintaining a sprint.
And even if you do reach your old gear, it's still vulnerable to the same kinds of danger that killed you only a few minutes ago. There's no feeling like running all the way back, across land and through winding caverns, finding your hard-earned gear & loot lying about, and then watching a stray Creeper blow it all up before your eyes.
With the addition of experience points to the game that serve as skill points for enchanting tools and armor, dying also means you lose all the experience points collected. Have fun Level Grinding!
In the recently-added "Hardcore Mode", continuing isn't difficult — it's impossible. If you die in this mode, the game world you were playing is permanently deleted. Even worse, it doesn't do this automatically; it forces you to click the "Delete World" button!
This gets even worse in the Skylands adventure map because the easiest way to die is to fall off one of the Floating Continents, and if you do that, you have no way of retrieving your items. Add to this the fact that there are plenty of surprise holes in the ground of the Floating Continents and there are also big swaths of gravel and sand that plummet into the void if you try to build on or gather them, and losing all your stuff becomes a very frequent occurrence.
Terraria is similar to Minecraft, with differences between difficulty levels:
Softcore mode: You only lose half the money you're currently carrying. It's quite easy to avoid this, by keeping all your money stored in a chest or a safe, as your money isn't needed when you're exploring.
Medium-core mode: You lose everything you're carrying, including items. This can be problematic if you managed to die while deep underground, as the items might be very difficult to reacquire (or might be even lost forever if you happened to drop them in lava).
Hardcore mode: Final Death. Everything you were carrying or wearing, everything in your safe and piggy bank, and all your mana and health upgrades are lost forever. However, you can create a new character in the same world, and retrieve anything you had stored in a chest.
After hitting level 10 in Dark Age Of Camelot, you tend to lose a good chunk of EXP for every death.
Border Down, an arcade/Dreamcast horizonal shooter, did this very, very purposefully with the Border System. When you start the game, you are given a choice of three difficulties: Border Green for easy, Border Yellow for medium, and Border Red for hard. Choosing a harder difficulty allows for a higher score, but there's one special mechanic complicating things. If you're on Green and you die, you Border Down to Yellow. If you die on Yellow, you Border Down to Red. And if you die on Border Red, it's game over.
Inverted, on the other hand, with actual continues because you keep your score, keep your progress on the Stage Norm meter*
Filling it lets you Border Up at the start of the next level
, and you start at Border Green regardless of what border you started the game with.
In Breath Of Fire III a character killed in battle will automatically be revived if you win. However, that character is thereafter penalized by having his/her maximum HP reduced. This effect is temporary (resting at an inn removes the penalty), but for much of the game, every HP tends to be precious, and inns can be a long distance away.
Wild Arms 3 does the same, but you can use a Nectar right away to restore your lost HP.
The original Romancing Saga doesn't use LP system and HP isn't healed up after a battle like its sequel. If you're running low on potions and have a few friends getting knocked out, it's painful to move on since there like 10 more enemies troops on the screen approaching you.
Romancing Saga 2's LP does not replenish by staying at the inn. It's not okay to have a lord running low on LP during an important mission which can sometime render the entire quest uncompletable by the next lord.
In Yggdra Union, retrying a map lets you to keep your card's power and character experience, but it disables you from getting +2 MVP which is more important that your levels. Also, it prevents you from getting a nice item later on.
In the original The Legend Of Zelda, and several others, continuing will result in Link's life only being 3 hearts full for the next round. Time to go search for hearts in the grass!
...and you've gotta restock potions and/or fairies, since you'll have used those up during whatever battle killed you. And you have to find your way back to where you died from (often) somewhere outside the dungeon. The dungeons are structured so that it's not as painful as starting at the beginning of the level in a more linear game, but death can be a real nuisance.
In Zelda II The Adventure Of Link, noted to be the most Nintendo Hard of the series, you respawn in the temple in which you begin the game. This means it's a long and tedious walk, sometimes through several un-bypassable mini-levels that will chip away at your health and magic, to get back where you were. Also, fairies, potions, etc. are all one-time-use items that cannot be stored. However, cleared palaces remain cleared, and within the level you were playing, any needed items, keys, etc. remain in your inventory.
Averted in the seventh and final level, the Great Palace, where getting a Game Over there simply puts Link back at the start of the Great Palace instead of all the way back to the Northern Palace.
The original Metroid does the same thing: no matter how many energy tanks you've found, if you die (or even if you start an old game by putting in a password), prepare to hunt down some health, as you only start with 30 HP. (Technically this doesn't even count, since regaining the health is trivial. It's almost the same thing but with Fake Longevity substituted for actual difficulty.)
Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: Wand of Gamelon have this, too. Whenever you die, you waste the lantern oil and ropes you used before.
It's a rare occurence, but a case of this trope can occur in Ocarina of Time if you get killed by a Like-Like. Normally, if a Like-Like eats your shield or tunic, you can just kill it to get them back. If the damage from the Like-Like kills you though, those items are Lost Forever. Shields are easy to buy back, but the Goron and Zora tunics are stupidly expensive. In fact, there's no way you can afford a replacement Zora tunic without the Giant's wallet upgrade. Lose the one King Zora gives you and don't have the upgrade? Have fun completing the Water Templewithout the Zora tunic!
The final dungeon includes a section with many invisible bridges over a Non Lethal Bottomless Pit. One of the solid platforms has a Like-Like, and if it hits you, it can spit you out into the pit. Not too bad, you only lose one heart from the fall, but go back and kill the Like-Like...and your tunic and shield are gone, even though you didn't lose all your health. The only bright spot is that at that point in the game, you're past most of the situations where those items are really needed.
In fact, at that point in the game, you SHOULD have the Mirror Shield, which CAN'T be lost anyway, as it's a unique item. Generally, Like Likes are best handled by equipping Link with unique equipment (like the Mirror Shield if you have it, and the Kokiri Tunic) as Like Likes can't consume anything you can't buy another one of.
Super Smash Bros does this for single player mode by cutting your score in half if you continue after being defeated. This can be extremely devastating to players who are aiming for the best score. Melee and Brawl used this trope again AND took some of your coins if you continued (except Brawl's Adventure Mode, where you lose half of the stickers you collected in the stage instead). On top of that, you'd get a Game Over automatically if you didn't have enough coins to continue.
If you used a continue in Brawl, you'd get a 20,000-point penalty IN ADDITION to getting your score cut in half, making it a more serious blow to anyone going for a high score.
The game also gives you one point for every continue, so that the high score keeps track of how many times you continued to get it in the 1's place.
Kid Icarus Uprising also uses the 'cut your score in half' mechanic (which is really annoying if you're going for the high score challenges) but what's even worse is that dying automatically bumps your difficulty down. Why is this such a bad thing? Because higher difficulty means better loot, which you will need if you ever want to stand a chance in multiplayer or later levels on Intensity 9. And the lowered difficulty even de-powers the loot you already obtained before dying! Not only that, some levels have seret areas hidden behind "Intensity Gates", gates that will only open if you play on a specific difficulty. Playing on Intensity 8 and die just before the 8 marked gate? Sorry, you're on Intensity 7 now, no gate for you!! And then, of course, there are the challenges that require a specific intensity level...
EarthBound penalized you for continuing after a defeat by sapping all your PP. Not only that, but also whatever quantity of money you have with you in the moment of your death is cut by half. Also, the continue only revives Ness, and you have to carry the ghosts of the rest of the party to the nearby hospital to be revived. HOWEVER, for all the penalties the player suffers for continuing, there is an easy fix: The ATM system means that no amount of money needs to be lost. Also, consider that you restart in Ness's house, where you can talk to his mother to recover all HP and PP, not to mention that it's right up the road from the first hospital in the game.
Still, the most painful thing about continuing was that you resumed the battle that killed your party severely handicapped (no PP, only one character that has to recover himself AND revive everybody else, the items you used didn't respawn). Seriously, if you couldn't beat something when fully equipped, reset was your only option. It's not as if continuing would have helped you anyway.
In the sequel MOTHER 3, death is not nearly as painful as, although you lose your location and any items you used since the last time you saved, your entire party regains all their HP and PP, and you keep any EXP/levels gained and any money earned in storage with the save frogs, and owing to their abundance you have little excuse for keeping and subsequently losing significant amounts of money on your person. This makes running into enemies with reckless abandon a profitable way of both Level Grinding and earning money.
Especially true for hardcore Super Monkey Ball players. Want to reach the expert extra stages? That's completing anything from 30 to 100 difficult levels without using a single continue (the last ones of which get insanely hard).
The epitome of this trope is Super Monkey Ball Deluxe's "Ultimate" Mode. Normally, this mode only contains 210 stages (yes, "only" 210 - all 40 beginner, 70 advanced and 100 expert stages) but has a real total of 300 if you factor in all the extra stages. Even if you choose to start with 99 lives, it's a huge challenge reaching the last set of stages, Master Extra, which begin at stage 291, and this is only because the last 100 or so stages in the game will eat up your lives like no tomorrow. And even if you do reach stage 291, it's not unlikely you'll lose more than 396 lives on the following Master Extra stages.
The Pokémon games used to take away half your money when you lost a battle, even when you reach the money cap of $999,999. It was a pretty good reason to agree to have your mom save a quarter of the cash you earn in the second-generation games. Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen removed the "lose half your money" punishment and instead made you lose money based on the strength of the Trainer or the level of the wild Pokémon, which carried on into future games. Not only that, the game actually says how you lose your money and how much you lose. Losing to a Trainer made you lose your money to the Trainer as their prize money, while losing to a wild Pokémon has your character drop some of his/her money as they ran away from battle.
In Salamander (Life Force) and Gradius V, you at least get the chance to respawn in place without having to go back to a previous checkpoint. This even allows you to get your Options back, if you can catch them before they float away.
R-Type also costs you all your power-ups if you die, though it's more minor since the maximum you could have in the first place is six plus speed boosts. And it's even worse than Gradius, difficulty-wise. In R-Types Delta and Final, at least, you get a first-level Force device awarded automatically on the lowest two difficulties. If you lose all your lives and continue, your score gets flushed.
Almost EVERYShoot-Em-Up resets your score back to zero if you continue. This is to encourage you to survive longer on one credit instead of just credit-spamming to the end of the game.
Actually, it's a trend to make all points scored multiples of ten, with the number of continues used (up to 9) appended to the end of your score. So a score of 400,001 would reflect the player's score having used one continue.
In Einhander, playing as the secret Schabe fighter allows you to collect gunpods to upgrade your weapons from a single machine gun up to a far more powerful quad machine gun with extra missile shots. However, since you cannot choose any gunpods to start with, ANY time you die, your weapon level is reset to 1. This can be quite problematic in later levels. And in those later levels on hard mode? Good luck...
Dead Frontier is relentless to you if you're not a gold member. You walk out deep into the city for a loot run. You got beaten pretty bad, so your health is at critical. You've accumulated $1,000 worth of loots. Suddenly, a zombie spawns behind you and slaps you upside the head, killing you. After waiting two tedious respawn minutes, you awake at the outpost. You find all $1,000 you had with you gone, your health is still at critical, and you're starving. Walking back out into the city is basically suicide, since one more hit by a zombie will kill you. Need to buy some medicine and food to get you going again? Better have a few thousand dollars on you (medicine is EXPENSIVE), oh wait, you don't, because you lost all your money when you died. Oh well, better start hours of looting again to get that money back.
Amiga game Project X did this, with a Gradius-style powerup system. Dying halved all your powerups, which could mean a single death removed over forty hard-earned powerups from your stock. It didn't help that the mid-range ship started out with a gun so weak you had a hard time killing anything at all.
In Doom, after you respawn, you will start the level with only what you have at the beginning of he game - the weak pistol and some ammo for it. On some bad custom levels this is as good as a death sentence, as there are numerous monsters between you and some new weapons.
The same is true for other games on the Doom and Build engines. It's especially painful in Blood, the only one on either engine where you don't spawn with a gun.
However, several console versions averted this by letting you respawn with all of your weapons. This may be to do with the lack of game saving, not only mid-level but in general - essentially, it automatically reloads from the start of that level.
In the old DOS game Descent, when you die, all of your nifty lasers and missiles you spent so long collecting are left over where you died. If you planned for this, there will in almost all cases be a clean path from your starting location to your death spot, but in multiplayer it means that whoever killed you takes your stuff. Also, concussion missiles and energy powerups will disappear if you don't pick them up quickly, although other stuff won't.
If you fail to escape a mine in time, or die while escaping, you lose all your powerups and have to start the next level from scratch. If this happens on one of the later levels...
Grand Theft Auto II let you save in churches whenever you wanted, so long as you could pay the church 50.000 dollars. Bearing in mind that it takes a LONG time to accumulate that much money, and money is the only way to clear a stage. Either way, you would lose all your weapons every time you died or got busted, which led to lots of reloading. San Andreas averted this by letting you keep your guns if you dated certain girls.
Grand Theft Auto IV lets you keep your guns unless the cops arrest you, in which case they realistically disarm you as part of police procedure. The cops are not very likely to try to arrest you past the first star though, and half the time you can escape the hold-up. Since you are not disarmed if you go to the hospital, it's to your advantage to always go out in a blaze of glory if possible.
Grand Theft Auto San Andreas has respawning guns right outside your door, if you do certain fetch quests. Relatedly, you could save after the accomplishment of any difficult task, but too much saving in San Andreas creates a "can't beef up my stats by exercising" glitch. Sigh. Luckily, recent patches corrected this.
There was an option in Grand Theft Auto Vice City Stories where after respawning at the hospital, there was an option to buy back all the weapons you lost for about $1500. Because of your businesses automatically giving you money each day, it meant you didn't lose much if you were making enough money.
Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars, when you're arrested, has the police confiscate all your guns and the drugs you have on you (which might represent thousands of dollars of in-game money.) Since guns are relatively hard to acquire, and getting killed features neither of these penalties, it leads to an odd situation where, when in danger of being arrested, the smart thing to do is try to get killed instead.
Which, oddly, makes it more tempting to cause more ruckus around the city, since police will be more likely to try to kill you than to arrest you at 4 stars or higher. So in summary: it's more dangerous to go around with 2 stars and get busted than to get 6 stars and get blown up by a goddamn tank. Blaze of glory indeed.
Baldur's Gate, whilst when your main character dies, it's an instant game over (he's child of a god of death, soul goes into big essence jar where your teammates can't get at it to revive you because of that, you're up to date.) but if your mates die, you have to find a shrine, and fork over the dough to resurrect them. This is quite cheap (relatively) at first, but the cost increases with each level.
NetHack, normally a textbook case of Final Death, has the Amulet of Lifesaving, which is an automatic continue if you had the foresight to actually wear it (which randomized appearance complicates). The problem is, it crumbles to dust when you're revived, and that gnome with the wand of death is about to zap you again—-many players advocate saving the amulet slot for a source of reflection or other ways to avoid death in the first place instead, especially due to paranoia about the Random Number God.
In the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, if you, your partner or any special NPCs in your party die and you have no Reviver Seeds (the in-game equivalent of the aforementioned Amulet of Lifesaving) on hand to save you, you will be forcibly teleported from the dungeon you were in. This not only forces you to start from the first floor but you will lose all the money you carried and some of your inventory items, usually the best ones.
Likewise, losing in any of the Chocobo's Dungeon games boots you out of the dungeon, and all of your cash and items on hand that aren't equipped or stored away are lost.
In the original Diablo, dying in multiplayer to a monster (rather than a player) would result in you dropping all your equipped items. When fighting a particularly mean boss monster, that would get painful even if another player didn't come across your gear and steal everything in the meantime.
Made easier in the sequel, where your stuff is "stored" in a corpse that only you can loot—plus you can simply quit and your corpse will be moved to town (unless you're playing hardcore).
On higher difficulties, dying also levied experience penalties, 5% of the experience towards your next level in Nightmare difficulty and 10% in Hell difficulty, which would be halved if you later retrieved your corpse. These ranged from negligible (most of Nightmare difficulty, especially if you got your corpse) to the obscene (a character approaching level 99 who dies in Hell would lose a month or more of experience grinding if they retrieved their corpse; if not, it could easily be enough to just give up on grinding that character, taking the 98 and being satisfied with it).
The old space shooter Stargunner decreases your weapon power every time you die. Powerups aren't very common, and generally whatever killed you was strong enough to do it again, only better thanks to your steadily diminishing damage output (as if the game wasn't hard enough already).
The Arcade modes in Tyrian behave the same way as Stargunner, although replacing the lost level of firepower is easier due to a good portion of the enemies dropping purple balls that power up your front cannon if you collect enough (and some of the big enemies drop lots of them). Note that this only applies to the arcade modes and that getting killed in Full Game mode means you'll have to retry the level from the start, but you won't lose anything (the exception being that most of the secret levels kick you out if you die in Full Game mode, robbing you of the opportunity for a retry).
In the MMORPG Plane Shift, death was originally a slap on the wrist, with the only penalty being a run through the Death Realm and starting back at your race's spawn point. Some people were abusing this by using death as a shortcut to get back to their spawn point quickly, so they added a new penalty, Dakkru's Curse, which cuts all your stats in half for 30 real-life minutes. If you have too much stuff you might not even be able to move at all.
In World of Warcraft, using a spirit healer means losing 25% durability to everything both equipped and in inventory (meaning LOTS of gold in higher levels), and a resurrection sickness penalty for up to 10 minutes depending on level, during that time in which your combat skills are heavily reduced (Player groups typically kick out anyone with resurrection sickness rather than wait for it to expire, since they're essentially useless while suffering from it). If you just look for your corpse (or are revived by a friendly healer), death is just a slap on the wrist of 10% damage to equipped items only, with no further penalty.
Just an interesting note, during the beta test of World of Warcraft, you suffered a 100% loss in durability to all of your items when you used a spirit healer.
The default 10% don't apply if you die to another player though, probably to lessen the frustration when you get killed by much higher level characters (or ambushed by another player while low on health from fighting monsters). Some classes can also kill themselves to avoid that penalty. Finally, you automatically revive at the graveyard without penalty under some circumstances (namely, when developers foresaw possibility to die in a place you wouldn't be able to get to on foot).
One of the new guild perks can lessen the amount of durability damage by a small amount.
In Runes Of Magic, dying is an automatic 10% durability penalty, as well as 1/20 of your total XP needed to reach the next level in debt and 1/200th Total XP as TP debt, starting at level 10. While in debt, 70% of ALL of the XP/TP you earn goes to paying off the debt. Debt can be reduced if you have a Priest or Druid in the party to pick your sorry ass off the ground. Durability loss is still crippling to your ability to fight after one or two deaths if your gear is all overdura (101+ base dura), more so if it slips into the -20% power boost range (at about 50% durability). God forbid you slip to -80%, in which case it is absolutely impossible to kill ANYTHING at your level, as even the stats Lv50 people put on their gear is outclassed by stuff a Lv25 can get via random monster drops.
Inverted in Triggerheart Exelica, where the bosses tend to be easier, with only one form, if you continue. 'Course, it's because you forfeited your score and medals gained when you do so.
Continuing in various Shoot 'Em Ups (among other arcade games) will often implement a scoring penalty. Your score will reset to zero. Or, you will get a "mark of shame" on your score, adding 1 to the ones digit in your score. e.g. a score of 500,250 means you did not continue, while a score of 2,145,233 means you continued three times. Some games, like Ikaruga, do both.
In the original Gauntlet, your score is cut in X+ 1 when you continue (or otherwise get health from a coin), where X is the number of times you continued. e.g. if your score is 200,000 and you continued 3 times, your final score is 50,000.
Some games will let you enter your name/initials if you achieve a high score on any credit, and some others will only allow name entry on first-credit scores. Yet more games will rub salt in the wound by either nullifying scores earned up to your current credit or recording those scores anyway but under a preset name, preventing you from marking your high score with your name.
Similarly, some other games, like the House of the Dead series and Confidential Mission will dock you points for losing a life, and even more for continuing. In fact, in the latter, your score can drop into negative numbers, and when it does it will turn red to emphasize how much you suck.
This has continued even in modern Dragon Quest games, with many of them also only resurrecting one party member and making you pay full price to get the rest back, meaning you'll lose even more money if you can even get your whole team back. On the plus side, you get to keep all the experience you got so far, which is unusual in RPGs. There's also the fact that if you accumulate a lot of gold, you can store it (in multiples of 1000) in a bank, which is unaffected by your untimely death. Dragon Quest IV also features the Iron Safe in Torneko Taloon's chapter, which prevents him from losing money when he dies (it is unfortunately lost after his chapter is over).
Final Fantasy VI actually inverts this trope: you're bumped back to the last point you saved, and you lose any money or items you've gained since you last saved, but you get to keep all your experience gained. On the other hand, you don't keep level-up bonuses from Espers, so if those are important to you, it might be better just to reset.
Wizardry. Did a character die? It's going to cost a ton of cash to revive that character at the temple, and it will permanently lower their stats, and on top of that it can sometimes fail, reducing the character to ashes (Final Death).
Oh, it got even worse than that. Before any of THAT could happen, your surviving characters (or a whole new party, in the case of a Total Party Kill) had to wander into the maze that killed your former badasses and retrieve the bodies!
What's more, if you take too long doing it, the bodies will have disappeared. The manual says monsters drag them away and eat them.
Continuing in a Touhou game is bad. It invariably flushes your score, frequently adds a mark of shame in the form of a +1, and almost always locks you out of the good ending (only averted in the Phantasmagoria games). And in 10 through 12 it sends you back to the start of the stage with two lives in stock. Since the games are generally based on saving up lives for the final boss...
The eighth game, Imperishable Night, is even worse for this. Continuing costs you Time, and taking too long automatically earns you the Bad Ending. Continue once before the end of Stage 5 and you can't access Final B, the game's true final stage. Oh, and if you run out of lives in Final B you don't even get the chance to continue - you just get the bad ending by default.
On the other hand, the Touhou games are a bit forgiving: in all but one of the games that feature power and in-place continuing, after losing your last life a bunch of full-power icons fly out of you. You can grab them after expending a continue (Ten Desires just sets you to full power as soon as you continue instead). Subterranean Animism takes the concept a step further and does this when you lose your last reserve life (so you're still alive, but one more hit is game over).
The exception is the second game, which sets you to zero power. The second game also makes gathering power difficult, and makes being at full power especially important. Continuing just isn't worth trying.
In most cases death and resurrection in Guild Wars punishes the player with a cumulative 15% Death Penalty to health and mana. This means that with each subsequent death the character becomes easier and easier to kill, leading to him (and in some cases, the entire party) being unable to finish the mission.
In hard mode, if the entire party (Including AI-controlled henchmen and heroes) all achieve the full 60% Death Penalty each, then the entire party is then sent back to the previous outpost they visited, and all progress towards vanquishing every enemy in that zone is then reset. Ouch.
That being said, killing enemies allows you to work the Death Penalty off, and some items remove Death Penalty (candy canes take away 15% of your DP, while Four-Leaf Clovers randomly remove 5-15% DP from the entire party).
Many Korean RPGs give you a painful exp penalty for dying, making the level grind that much more annoying. Some even strip you naked, leaving you to run around in your underwear.
In Steel Battalion, if you lose a VT but manage to eject, you have to buy another VT. If you can't afford one, you are fired and the game deletes your save. It also does this if you fail to eject before the VT blows up.
The eject button is actually a dedicated Big Red Button under a flippable plastic cover. The designers' original intention was to replace the plastic cover with a glass pane you'd have to smash - making this trope literal.
In Phantasy Star Online, if you died you would be stripped of your current weapon (normally your best) and all the money you were carrying. So you would have to travel through the whole level (thankfully the enemies remain dead after you kill them) to collect your items, hopefully you had a backup weapon handy. This became doubly annoying with online play as people would wait for you to die, steal your best weapon and your money, then disappear.
Or they would hack the game to kill you and steal it.
And what's even worse, if you were playing the Dreamcast version, and the power went out....
In Maximo: Ghosts to Glory, the titular hero's got a deal with The Grim Reaper. Every time Maximo is killed, Grim appears to claim his soul. Paying Grim a death coin allows you to continue. Unfortunately enemies seem to become more numerous, and armor powerups/potions become scarce. And Grim will start demanding more death coins to continue if you happen to die a lot. When he cannot pay the toll, it's curtains for Maximo.
In Gothic, death is permanent, but NPCs who are not inherently hostile but whom you've managed to annoy will generally knock you out instead. This reduces you to one hit point, and if you're wielding a weapon at the time, you'll drop it - and they'll steal it, along with half your money.
In the second game, Gothic 2, you lose all of your money instead of just half. Since these fights can be quite predictable if they're part of the story, they can be rendered painless by sheathing your weapon and dropping your money on the floor before engaging.
Bomberman games. You die at least once, all of your power ups. GONE!
Hell, even continuing to the next level after beating the last takes away some of your best power ups, though technically that takes the sting away from this trope.
In multiplayer games, dying usually causes your power ups to appear randomly throughout the stage for the remaining players to collect. As some later entries in the series give you a chance to return to the game (with no power ups) by tossing bombs from the sidelines and taking out another player, this somewhat fits the trope. Of course, the player you just killed drops all their power ups...
Of course, all powerups are destroyable. This means you may accidentally destroy some of your old powerups in the process of killing someone to get back into the game. This also means if you don't intend on getting back, you can deliberately destroy your old treasures to ensure no one gets them.
The NES Ninja Gaiden games are very cruel about this. If you die while fighting a boss, you get knocked back to the beginning of the previous level. If you lose yourlastlife while fighting the boss, there's a good chance you'll get booted all the way back to the beginning of the act.
Worse, dying on any of the final bosses automatically boots you back to Act 6-1.
Cinematic introduction of bosses refill your life bar. Facing the same boss again after a previous failure does not.
The Darius series is especially painful to die in. In games where you have gauges showing how many times you've powered a weapon, dying will reset these meters back to zero. For example, the shield powerup starts at "Normal" level, and takes 5 shield upgrades to get it to "Super". When you die at the highest level at "Normal" (as in, one more will get you to "Super"), the counter resets, and you need to collect them all over again. And in Darius Gaiden, dying powers your shot down immediately to the previous level, and to the initial popgun when you die again, and the later levels become Unwinnable if you lose your wave shot. This means doing well in the initial stages crucial to survival
Most Darius games however, make it easy for you to keep your dumb bomb upgrades, which, in Darius Gaiden, becomes a homing missile in the top level (and actually does contain quite a wallop). Also, in G-Darius, when you continue, the powerups given alternate between regular powerups and full-bar powerups for ALL upgrades. Not to mention that the shot is also given a bar powerup unlike in Gaiden, which means once you get the wave shot, you will never lose it no matter how much you die.
The original Castlevania is rather nasty with this trope. Each area is divided into three stages, and dying takes you back to the beginning of the current stage. Losing all your lives makes you restart the area from scratch. Both situations have their disadvantages; continuing means you have to retrace all those steps while preserving your life count, however this is also required to gain certain advantages. In most areas, the Game-Breaking, boss-slaughtering Holy Water only appears in its first stage. This is especially horrible in the fifth area (Stages 13-15), where dying on Stage 14 or 15 means you'll have to fight Death the hard way. Also, your whip gets downgraded back to the weak leather whip, and while the normal-length chain whip is usually in the first candle you destroy, you need to rack up 8 hearts again just to get the long chain whip.
While Castlevania II Simons Quest allows you to literally respawn in the same spot you died, it also drops your heart count to zero. This can be a real pain in the ass when you're trying to save up for a whip upgrade, since hearts are used for currency and ammunition. Especially so if you're trying to get all the endings, since they're determined by how much time passes. Having to re-grind for an essential item or whip upgrade can potentially break your chances should night fall, forcing you to wait until the stores re-open. Luckily, this is much less of a problem when it happens inside one of the mansions, as the In-Universe Game Clock only runs when outdoors, giving you as much time as you need to regain your hearts until you exit.
The final level, however, is a bit of an interesting case: While Holy Water and the Boomerang (and as such, Sypha's corrosponding helpful spells) are rare in this game and dying takes them away from you, the final level is a subversion: when you die against Dracula, you are sent back to the second section, before the pendulums and the Goddamned Bats. However, the only subweapon available in the third section is a knife, but Trevor can pick up an axe before the pendulums, an almost Game Breaker against Dracula's third form.
Some games that make you respawn in place if you continue make you restart the level instead at certain points in the game, such as the last stages of Aero Fighters 2 and 3 or the last 3 stages of Varth: Operation Thunderstorm.
And then some games will outright disable continue after you meet certain conditions, like Salamander 2 (after the first loop), Mushihime-sama (Ultra mode), and Darius (on the last zone).
killer7 somehow straddles the border between Death Is a Slap on the Wrist and Continuing Is Painful: When one of the Smiths is killed, you start over at the nearest Harman's Room, with no penalty apart from not being able to use the same Smith again - unless you pick Garcian, the 'cleaner', and trek back to where you died to pick up their body. This is particularly irritating, because Garcian is armed with a dinky pistol that can't be upgraded at all, and if he goes down, the game is over for good. Thankfully, playing as Garcian makes fewer enemies appear, but it's still easy to make a level unwinnable in killer8 mode if a character dies behind an enemy that only that character can kill with ease.
In Too Human, it first appears that Death Is a Slap on the Wrist. Although your current equipment is damaged, the penalty is rather trivial as you can always switch them or warp to the Hub Level for repairs. Losing your combo level leaves you less powerful and isn't as easily remedied, but isn't insurmountable, either. Then the realization sinks in that the dying animation with the Valkyrie coming down takes a good 45 seconds and can't be skipped, so if you die a lot, it actually starts to make you not want to play anymore. There is actually an Achievement for dying 100 times, a testament to the fact that you've wasted over an hour repeatedly watching your corpse being carried off.
Sub Mission, a 1986 submarine game from Mindscape, pit you against an underwater warlord holding two hostages. If you failed, one of the hostages would be deleted from the disk - PERMANENTLY. Continuing Is Not Only Painful, but very quickly Impossible.
In the Mega Man games, dying during a boss battle would mean respawning right there (assuming you've got extra lives)...minus the special weapon ammo and Energy (or Sub) Tanks that you had used, reducing your chances of success by a lot. It became really annoying if you had a lot of lives stacked, as you had to lose them all in order to regain your powerups and get a fighting chance.
True for every one except Mega Man 8. Dying would send you back to the tunnel before the boss with all weapons fully restored. Additionally, the game didn't have E-tanks, but did have two Rush modules that could be used to restore life during a battle (one which dropped healing items for a limited time and one which gave one random item that ranged from virtually useless to full restoration - if it gave anything); these could be used once per life and were restored upon the next life.
On the plus side, while restarting here didn't give you back your weapons energy, many players found it advantageous to die intentionally, using only the Mega Buster, when first fighting the boss so they could A. see the tactics it uses and B. make sure they've got a full health bar going into the fight.
As additional punishment, you lose points not only for the retry, you lose points for damage and the time spent getting back up to where you were. If you were going for the EX Skills, you've got a lot of ground to make up after you die.
Even if you don't care about your rank or EX Skills, dying can still be a problem for new players because the game overs in the Zero series are handled differently compared to other Mega Man games. If you lose all your lives, you don't get booted back to the stage select screen with a new stock, you have to restart from your last save. If you saved with no extra lives, the game could get much harder since you then couldn't rely on in-stage checkpoints until you got more, and the series is hard enough as it is. Sometimes, even if you still managed to beat a stage, if you died a lot and had no extra lives left, it would be better to simply reset and try to beat it again with more lives than to save and continue in that predicament.
In Baroque, when you die, your level is reset to 1, you lose all your inventory items, you lose any brands or parasites applied to your character, and you lose any stat gains from sources other than level-ups. All you get to keep is any items you had the Collector hold and the Angelic Rifle. And you'll die. A lot. How much? Much of the game's plot is told to you in conversations and cutscenes that are triggered by your character dying.
The real kicker? This happens if you succeed in clearing the dungeon as well, which you will have to do at least a few times to get to the story's end. After a while, the game starts to feel like some Groundhog Day Loop that only applies to you.
The Wizards And Warriors series for the NES had fun with continues. The first game allowed you to continue indefinitely, at the cost of losing all your points. The second game completely shifted that, by only giving you two continues for the entire game, although you could collect addition lives to prolong that inevitable game over. In addition, once you reached the halfway point in the game, you immediately lost one of your continues if you had two remaining. And the last level did not allow continues at all. The third game was by the far the most sadistic: three lives for the entire game, at fifteen or so hours for a first playthrough. No continuing allowed. Which makes it particularly frustrating when you're at the final boss with one life remaining, and the boss kills you, forcing you to start from the very beginning.
Super Valis 4 on the SNES. Your life meter increases with your score, as though it's Experience Points. Sensible enough by itself. Continuing reduces your score to zero. Sensible enough by itself. But when you combine the two ...
The PC EngineValis games can suffer from this in their later levels, owing to the increasing scarcity of power-ups.
The CS (PS2) version of Beatmania IIDX 7th Style had a Master Mode, which challenged the player to play through the entire songlist except for murmur twins. This is a feat that takes roughly 3 hours to complete. However, failing any of the 89 songs marks your Master Mode save data as "Failed", and the only thing you can do with it is to delete it and start over.
Dungeons & Dragons has several different ways of penalizing characters for being brought back from the dead, depending on which edition is being played.
2nd Edition had a "limited continues" system in that, short of direct divine intervention, someone could not be raised more times than their Constitution score. Period. End of story. The 5th level "Raise Dead" spell also cost a point of Constitution (permanently), required a relatively intact corpse, left the patient only barely alive (i.e., don't cast it in combat) and couldn't be used on Elves (canonically because they didn't have souls); the 7th level "Resurrection" did not cost Constitution, could be cast on virtually any remains, brought you back at full strength, and could be used on anyone - the only real penalty (aside from the "limited continues" issue) was that the spell could be very expensive to cast (or have cast).
"Raise Dead" also required a character to roll against his "System Shock" score, and "Resurrection" required a roll against the character's "Resurrection Survival" score (both scores were determined by a character's Constitution score, Resurrection was always the better of the two).
In 3rd Edition, when a character dies, he can be brought back with a simple raise dead spell, available as early as 9th character level to divine casters. However, doing so means the dead character loses a level, death being traumatic and all (i.e., there's signal loss between here and the afterlife). If the character is 1st level, they lose a point of Constitution instead. Resurrection is no better for this, though it does allow one to work with things other than relatively well-preserved mortal remains. Only true resurrection can bring a character back without some sort of issue, and that's a spell requiring either an exceedingly powerful magic item or a 17th-level caster...and 5,000/10,000/25,000 gold pieces' worth of diamonds for each spell, respectively. To put this into perspective, an average person (a 1st level NPC) in this world has about 25 gold pieces of wealth, in total.
This can be sidestepped though as the game contains a spell called 'Revivify' which is a level 5 spell like Raise Dead, but only costs 1,000 gold worth of diamonds to cast and doesn't make you lose any levels or stats. The catch is it must be cast within a round of death, and you come back close to dying again so unless healed quickly that's exactly what you'll do. It also contains a spell called Revenance which is a level lower and doesn't have any cost. It brings the target back with half HP (but you can just heal them) and they will get minor bonuses against whoever killed them. The window is wider for this spell, at a round a level (a round is six seconds). The catch? A minute a level later, they die again. But as nothing stops you from bringing them back, most forms of death can be efficiently dealt with via Revivify and possible Revenance. This actually isn't a Game Breaker as by the time you can reliably use these, you'll mostly be dying from things these spells can't bring you back from such as instant death spells and having your body vaporized.
The official Living Greyhawk campaign for third edition Dungeons & Dragons incorporated various player screws involving death. The harshest was unintentional. To promote fairness, missions gave set xp and gp rewards. Also, again for fairness, groups had to jointly pay for a fallen party member's Raise Dead (the idea being that they get rewards as a group for success, they should be penalized as a group for failure.) But, what this actually meant is that if your companion died and you did not, you lost significant gp which could not be regained. You were forever behind the curve on equipment capability.
4th edition just applies a -1 to almost all rolls until the character reaches 3 "milestones" (basically, six encounters, including noncombat ones). There's also a cost for materials, which gets more expensive for higher level characters (500 gold pieces for levels 1-10; 5,000 for 11-20; and 50,000 for 21-30).
In Ultima Online, when your character dies, you have to wander around as a ghost until you find a shrine, player, or NPC who can resurrect you. When you get resurrected, you would generally have none of the inventory you were carrying when you died (i.e. armor/weapons/spell reagents), be at very low health, and if you wanted to get your stuff back you would have to return to your corpse before it rotted away over the course of fifteen minutes. If you died alone in an isolated or dangerous area or got killed by another player, you usually wouldn't be able to make it back in time, would simply die again before you could recover your possessions, or would return to find your corpse looted of all its valuables. Thankfully, there were a few exceptions - "blessed" items would stay with your ghost instead of your corpse, and the game more recently implemented "item insurance" that made items temporarily blessed in exchange for being a gold sink. (Coincidentally, this happened about the same time that they ramped up the importance of having high-end equipment a lot.)
Korean MMO driving game Drift City inverts this: missions become slightly easier if you fail them. A time limit adds an additional second or two, number of crashes permitted increases by one; whatever the conditions are change slightly in your favor.
Death in MUDs places you back at a spawn point in your character's home town, which could be far, far, far from where your corpse, and everything on it, will be left. This is accompanied with a loss of about half the advancement made since last level, which may be bad enough, and of course, all gold. Even in MUDs with a storage system for contingency equipment, it's not going to be your optimal equipment, because that's what you'd be sensibly wearing at the time you risked your life and lost it. If no storage, then you go scrambling naked, perhaps across deserts and swamps for double the fatigue cost and half the movement speed, along the path you'd cut earlier when you set out which is now peppered with random threats, and back into the maw of death that had already gobbled you up when you were in top condition with your best equipment. And who would you expect to find standing over your remains, should you survive to make it back, but the same damn bastard who killed you? This is assuming the area isn't populated with corpse eaters to eat your corpse and scavengers to collect all your inventory and scatter it all four corners of whothefuckknows. Yeah, continuing is painful.
Depending on the MUD, death can range from this to a slap on the wrist, and on some MUDs, it can vary even depending on the situation of your death. On Discworld MUD, for example, you get 7 lives (any more you have to buy, with the price for the first rather high and growing quickly), you lose all the unused experience (big problem if you've been numberchasing and lose all those hundreds of thousands of XPs just as you're about to go advance) and your stats get big penalties (for weaker characters, this might mean that you're not strong enough to get everything from your corpse). On the other hand, you can get your fairy godmother to transport you and your corpse to a safe place before reviving you (although she won't do it for free for more experienced characters), there are ways to restore your stats quickly and even get some of your experience back (although that depends on your fellow players' goodwill and skill). Unlike other MUDs, you also don't usually have to worry about looters (unless you're a playkiller).
This has spawned one of the most useful player organizations, the Rescue Recovery Unit (RRU), who upon death, can be called to retrieve your corpse, rez you with a specialized priest spell (basically, you get back some of those unused XP) and some are powerful enough to retrieve you from even a dangerous zone.
In the MUD Tibia, the penalty for dying is ten percent of your cumulative experience, as well as your backpack, which probably contains thousands of gold worth of runes and loot, as well as having a ten percent chance of losing each item you're wearing. This can be avoided by wearing a one-use amulet that probably costs more that any one thing you're wearing anyways. Oh, and every single one of your skills also decreases. At higher levels, players can watch half a dozen levels and a month of their lives go to waste in a single moment of lag.
In the MUD Retro MUD, this is both averted and played straight. Usually, death only penalizes you up to a maximum of 500k to 1 million experience and an easily removed scar. For comparison, a high level player will have probably spent 150 million or more over their career. The "usually" is because that minimum only applies if you don't have enough for your next level, which means that if you have a lot of experience on hand, you can lose much more. Also, you also have a chance to take statistic damage (or lose training, which costs even more experience and gold), which is greater if you have a lot of scars. The damage is easily treatable...but if it's not, your next death may make it permanent. Finally, it's possible to lose levels from experience loss, and if you lose three levels you are force reincarnated. This starts you over and forces you to choose a new race and class, although you keep most of your experience. The tax for the force reincarnation is extremely high: that 150 million you spent? Cut about 15 million off that, and reduce that by a third. NOW it's hurts.
ThunderDome has always been proud of it's brutal difficulty, and death is no less easy. Death can result in permanent Constitution loss, until your character has too little Con to even log in; Con-death. The chance and amount of Con-loss increases with age, as does the cost of buying back that Con, to the point that after buying up to maximum at great expense your next death could still be permanent. Without Con-death, continuing leaves you naked to run through hazardous mobs and hostile environments to retrieve your gear. But mobs can loot your corpse themselves, meaning you'd sometimes have to gather groups of high level players to help retrieve it. Other mobs can eat your corpse, leaving your gear scattered and unidentified for other players, or scavenging mobs; if you die around both wandering carnivores and scavengers, no-one would be able to find where all your gear could possibly wander. Then there are Death Traps that make your corpse completely inaccessible, since you'd die again entering the same room. And then dying in a river could wash your body all the way out to the ocean, where even players with the vast-and-difficult-to-acquire skillset and equipment to survive deep sea diving wouldn't be able to guess where to start digging.
In the Metal Slug series, you lose credit for any Prisoners you rescued beforehand.
Continuing doesn't directly reduce or reset your score, and that for once isn't necessary; missing out on prisoner and huge finish-stage-with-a-Slug bonuses are big enough penalties. And then at the end of the game, you're shown how many continues you used up.
Dying in Contra made you lose your current gun. This is bad if you've been running around with the Spread Gun and have to rely on the pea shooter to kill the boss. Luckily, the pea shooter became more powerful in Contra III. Additionally, being able to switch between two weapons meant that if you swapped out the weapon you wanted to keep before you died, you could have it on your next life.
And worse, Super Contra (arcade) had the weapon upgrade system, where you must collect two of the same gun to get its full power, and the powerups were fewer and farther between.
Newer installments of the Thunder Force series have a similar penalty. Amongst veterans of the series, switching to a less useful weapon in a near-death situation isn't just a trick; it's common sense.
Soul Blazer takes away all of your gems (MP) when you die. This is very minor until the very end of the game, where you can't hurt the final boss without magic.
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.
Flash game Monsters Den and its semi-sequel Book of Dread penalizes players who let their whole party die, by removing an item from their inventory and the least expensive item from each character's equipment. At early points in the game, and depending on your luck and resource management, enough deaths can make the game absolutely impossible to progress further in.
If you die in EVE Online, you lose your ship, all modules fitted into it and the cargo, and then you are thrown into a defenseless pod. If you die in a pod, you lose your implants and your clone. With expensively fitted big ships and good implants, the total cost is measured in billions and that's only on a personal level. Losing an inter-corporation war is even more costly. You'll also lose skills that you've trained, and re-training them can take months. If you had all your eggs in one basket, it's almost as if you had to restart the entire game. However, if you took precautions and flew a cheap, insured ship, didn't use implants and kept your clone contract up-to-date, then Death Is a Slap on the Wrist.
You only lose skill if your ship gets blown up, and then your escape pod gets blown up, only if your clone is not updated. (And this can only happen through PvP, as NPCs will not attack pods.) Even then, if you get to the wreck of your ship within about an hour, and it hasn't been looted, you can get about half your cargo/modules back.
Still hardly a slap as it can take a good long while to get a new ship, all the modules, rigs, and consumables back together.
And if you are flying a Tech-3 ship, you will lose from 1 hour to 5 days of skill training, even if your clone is perfectly up-to-date.
When your ship or pod is blown up, the attacker of your ship gets a detailed report on everything that was on your ship or pod, called the killmail. The killmail is often posted on a public killboard for bragging rights. Every killmail bleeds valuable intel out to the enemy that are simply looking for easy targets to hunt down(on a personal level/small scale), or trying to develop countermeasures to your new ship fittings and tactics(on a larger scale). If the enemy pays attention, continuing the fight does become harder on top of your material loss.
O Game is similar. People sometimes spend months building fleets only to wake up with the entire thing destroyed.
Toyed around in Super Robot Wars. In one post-interim save skit (which gets you to quit the game), Shu Shirakawa tells the player that the more they save, the game will get more difficult, as in encouraging you about "Next time, finish the game in one go, if you lose or even screw up, restart from the beginning". It's a lie.
The trope plays straight in latter games where Mastery system exists. Failing a mission strips off another opportunity to get a mastery, and thus going to the Hard mode. In some of the games, they leave you with any experience and gold you've gotten, but in some games they don't.
In Maple Story, once you leave Maple Island, dying takes off 10% of your EXP bar. This is not to be taken lightly, as you need massive amounts of Level Grinding just to gain one level.
There's a 10% EXP loss (which becomes 8% after level 24 and caps at 2400 per death) when you die after a few levels in when playing Final Fantasy XI. Lose enough EXP, and you can level down. Considering all equipment, abilities and spells are based on levels as well as having Clothes Make the Superman in this game, losing a level at certain points can cripple your character. It's easier to get EXP in this game compared to before, but the threat of leveling down means one thing: learn to play this game, or pay for it.
However, the above is what happens if you choose to NOT continue (return to homepoint). If you are revived or use a Reraise effect, you regain a value of exp and can regain levels (50% restored for Raise 1, 90% restored for Raise 3). However, upon being raised, you are Weakened, and your HP and MP are at fractional maximums for five minutes. If you are killed and raised again while weak, you go into an unnoted Double Weak status, which applies further penalties. Recovering from Weak can make or break some major fights (though some strategies in longer fights actually have scheduled party wipes at the battlefield entrance to buy time to reraise and full heal for the second half).
It's probably worth noting that, if the current system would bother anyone, the original system in FFXI would leave them choking on inchoate rage. Originally 10% of the maximum exp for the next level would be lost at any death and the benefits of resurrection were substantially lower. Further, this exp loss was not capped. This translated to a player at level 75 losing (44,500 * 0.1 = 4,450) exp in a time when, with a full party of players, gaining anything over 2,000 exp per hour was considered reasonably good, with legendarily good parties making up to about 6,000 exp per hour. This system essentially led to most players being unwilling to attempt even moderately challenging content without proven competent players and a person's reputation and gear becoming extremely important as one death fest could result in hours and hours of mindless exp grinding.
The last mission of X-Wing Alliance has you flying through the framework of the second Death Star. Not only is this the hardest stage in the game (flying and tight spaces don't mix, people), but the obstacles randomize every time you restart.
The Darker and EdgierBomberman: Zero Hour had a 100-level single player mode, where you, in each level, effectively played Bomberman-style deathmatch against various other AI-controlled Bombermen/women, but you had a health meter. You could regain health, but ONE death alone would be enough to send you back to the title screen with no saves whatsoever.
The MMORPGFlyff takes a few percent off your experience whenever you get killed. Very off-putting if you get killed while trying to level-up, especially when you end up losing everything you gained in the last hour. Not only that, but you're almost certain to have a long trip back to wherever you were fighting monsters (and have to deal with loading times if you died while underground).
Every single Sonic game since Sonic Adventure 2 (except for Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations) will reset your score to zero every time you die. To add insult to injury, every level is ranked at the end, so if you die at any point past the first checkpoint, expect an infuriating "E" rank as you reward for getting to the end. Dying close the beginning of the level gave you enough time to make up your score, but dying near the end (or even worse, at the last checkpoint) would make sure you got nothing but an "E". A "D" if you're lucky. The time bonus and ring bonus simply aren't enough to make up for the raw score you get over the level.
In Sonic Heroes, nearly every level in the game is a 10-15 minute marathon (one of the Chaotix missions approaches 20) — sure none of the jumps are individually particularly hard, but you have a good chance of messing up one somewhere along the line. Good luck A-ranking the Hard mode, where each level is 10-15 minutes of raw Platform Hell where you can die if your Light Dash causes you to Blue Tornado instead. It gets infuriating trying to complete such long levels without dying (AND making sure you're doing well enough to get the A Rank you're trying to preserve).
However, Sonic Heroes has the clearest example of this trope in the series— As you progress through levels, hitting checkpoints and killing enemies, your teammates will gain levels, up to level 3. When you've got a full team at level 3, destroying enemies is a joke and platforming can be done quickly and smoothly. But if you die, you are sent back to your last checkpoint with all three of your team members at level 0. If you couldn't do it at level 3, be prepared to try again with the clunky, slow and weak abilities of a level 0 team.
In the nighttime stages, score is even more important than usual. Sonic is slow as a Werehog, which means your time bonus is pretty useless. A death takes such a heavy toll on your score, that most levels in the game can be S ranked purely by not dying, regardless of any other effort placed on killing enemies or getting score. On top of that, dying will bring you back with an empty unleash meter.
Dying in Sonic Generations negates you from earning an S rank in that stage, plus keeps whatever time you had when you died. In the challenge acts, while time is the only factor for S ranks, you'll likely have to start over from the beginning to get them, since you probably won't make it in time.
What's worse is that, in order to get to this boss, you have to go through a long stage, then fight a boss which utilizes a frustrating gimmick that can take some time to get to work. What makes this a problem? The timer doesn't reset. Have fun beating that boss with ten seconds left on the clock. It's not a problem with the True Final Boss though.
Neverwinter Nights (D&D again) likes to punish you for kicking the bucket with a significant portion of your wealth and XP subtracted on your return to life. You henchmen could regularly drop dead with no problems however.
The first add on pack had a magic ring that consumed special gems instead in the first act, but after that...
The second add on had a similar idea with the 'relic of the reaper' both of these could become expensive if you died to often.
Although not in the second expansion Storm of Zehir. A teammate that suffers a Non-Lethal K.O. will bleed out and die if left untreated, whereupon if you don't have a divine spellcaster who can revive them, you have to take them to a temple and pay the priest to do it.
One of the Xanth novels involved a video game, and it used this trope. When you play the game a second time, there's no way to avoid whichever threat wiped you out the first time you played.
Later instalments in the Might And Magic series uses this trope. After your entire party dies or is knocked unconscious, you "narrowly escape death" by waking up in the starting town with 1 HP, 1 Mana, and all the gold you had on your person gone forever. Of course, since its a PC game and you have unlimited saves, you can always load a recently saved game instead of continuing to save yourself the hassle. In the early instalments, it was simply an end-of-game situation.
Runescape's penalties for death used to be brutal for the unprepared. Upon death, you'd lose all but your 3 most valuable items (the item's worth was not determined by its Grand Exchange ("street") price, but by the amount you'd get by selling it to a shop. For example, most high level items sell for a very small amount of coins in the shops, but their street price are often in the millions). This was made even worse by the fact that a stack was not counted as a single item when being kept on death, so if you died with a million coins and nothing else, you'd respawn with 3 coins, dropping the rest at the point of death. Some items were also never kept on death, and if you were "skulled" (recently attacked another player in the wilderness or entered the Abyss), you'd drop ALL of your items on death. To remedy this, gravestones were added. They last for up to 15 minutes unless blessed by a player; once blessed, they last for an hour. In addition, the process for determining which items to drop upon death was changed. Not only is the item's value determined by the street price, the player can choose which items he would like to keep, and some items will never drop on death.
In Spider Man vs. The Kingpin, using a continue caused the in-game clock to fast-forward two hours, giving you less time to get all the keys needed to disarm the bomb. If you lose all of your health, and continuing would put you over 24 in-game hour time limit, you don't get to continue: it's Game Over.
A glitch in the final boss of Jak II: Renegade meant that, though the game was saved when you reached the third phase, dying would take you back to the first, with all the ammo you had when you started that phase. Thus, every time you die on the third phase, your ammo would deplete for further attempts. Only one kind of ammo can be restocked during the fight, and it is for a generally weak gun, thus the boss gets increasingly difficult the more you fail at it.
Everquest has one of the hardest death penalties ever. Experience loss (although that could be lessened with help of a cleric), plus, every piece of equipment and inventory remained with your corpse, forcing you to recover it while naked or using sub par secondary equipment. Furthermore, if you failed to recover your corpse within 3 hours, all of the equipment vanished forever (this was later eliminated with the addition of a graveyard zone, where old corpses appeared after vanishing regularly). What makes this especially harsh is that you need a decently geared group to even deal with minor monsters in the dungeons, and, in some cases, not even invisibility allowed you to go through them, meaning you had to recruit help from other people just to recover your corpse. Fortunately, it was possible to recover corpses with the clever use of invulnerability spells and with some creativity (and re-dying a few times in the process).
Exception to this: dying in lava. Unless you could recruit the help of a necromancer - which was frequently expensive - your corpse was just lost.
Exception 2: Dying in some high tier zones (Plane of Hate, for example) virtually meant you had lost your corpse, since there was almost no way to survive entering it without dying, if naked. The only possibility was to use a two minute window to resurrect a couple of people, and try to hold out against three minor enemies (every single one capable of destroying an unprepared raid), while resurrecting the rest of the people. The problem is that you have no way of knowing when that two minute opening occurs, so this was mostly a luck-based mission.
Veeshan's Peak was even worse, since not only could all the aforementioned problems happen, Verant Interactive deliberately upped the difficulty by disallowing the Game Masters and Guides from helping in any way. Bugged mob? Corpse stuck inside the background? TOUGH SHIT.
Everquest's penalties for dying slowly got less severe until they finally did away with corpse runs all together. The exp loss can still be pretty painful, though.
In Everquest 2, there was originally a variation on corpse runs for "life shards". You would slowly regenerate 50% of your lost exp, but to regenerate the other 50% you had to go retrieve your life shard from where you died. This mechanic was removed fairly early on, some time between the first and second expansions. Now all that happens is a rather pitiful 0.5% regenerating exp loss per death and damaging your armor by 10% forcing you to pay to have it repaired.
Super Mario Bros 3 resets all the stages you cleared in a world if you lose all your lives and continued, forcing you to do them all over again. However, mini-fortresses cleared (and the doors that clearing them unlocked) and rocks smashed on the map stay cleared.
In 2-player mode, when someone loses their last life, only the stages cleared by that player will have to be done again. This can lead to some interesting situations.
Super Mario Bros has you start at the very first level of the world you are in should you lose all your lives. Died at World 8-4? Have fun getting back there from World 8-1!
Any character using the Blaster in the Super Star Wars games will lose the upgrades for it if a life is lost. This can make completing the level much harder since the default Blaster is extremely weak.
In Shinobi for the Sega Master System, dying would cause your life meter (which could be extended to almost insane lengths) to reset back to its default, and you'll also lose any weapon power-ups you've obtained. This can be particularly annoying in the levels with the bottomless pits. Good luck fighting those dive-bombing enemies in level 5-2 with a crappy life bar!
Couldn't you just float mana for combat tricks though? It seems impractical against rush decks, sure, but against something like old school control which relies on usually one creature as a kill condition, this is pretty darn good. And it practically murders combo decks, since they rely on some sort of one shot (damage or mass decking).
You could float mana, but given that you're most likely to die on someone else's turn, you might get off one instant if you're lucky. The problem is, as stated above, aggro just swings again, control just laughs (having spent most of the game trying to keep you more or less in the position you just put yourself in), and combo can probably still aggro you to death if it's done right.
Inverted with Karn Liberated. His ultimate ability literally restarts the game. However instead of causing an endless loop of the same thing, he puts anything he exiled under your control, including other people's creatures, enchantments, artifacts and so on. If you did a good job of protecting him while he was exiling stuff, you can end up with anything from a decent advantage to an army that can beat your opponent's face in during the same turn.
Demon's Souls punishes a player death by turning them into "Soul Form" if they were in Physical form when they died, reducing the players life from that point to ~50% of their life while alive. The player loses all the souls (the game's currency, as well as the only means to level up and strengthen the character) they had collected up to that point if they are unspent. As a final kick to the pants, if the character was alive when they died, the world they were in shifts towards "Black World Tendency", which makes the enemies and bosses more aggressive and have more HP, as well as (at near to pure black WT) causing "Black Phantom" enemies, which are harder versions of their standard counterparts or Evil versions of human NPCs, to appear in various parts of the worlds. The only silver lining is item drops are better and more souls are earned per kill, but good luck.
You can get your souls back if you can reach your original corpse on your next life, but if you die AGAIN before reaching it, they are gone for good.
Demon's Souls is both this and Death Is a Slap on the Wrist at the same time depending on how much you risk; since the main loss is souls, if you use them up when you can to keep your count relatively low, death loses you little (outside of the tendency change if you are in body form), and, as you never lose anything else, if you found valuable items and opened some shortcuts death can even be a net gain for you. On the other hand, in the worst case scenario you could lose tons of souls, waste most of your consumables pointlessly and need several minutes of gameplay against tougher enemies to get back to where you were.
City of Heroes has a slap on the wrist version with XP Debt, which can be seen as your "hospital bill." Until you earn enough XP to pay it off, you only keep half of the XP and the other half goes towards paying off the debt. However, there is no XP debt before level 10 or in certain areas, and deaths inside missions give only half the debt that you'd get dying outdoors. Also any Patrol XP that you've earned while offline will pay off the debt passively, and Patrol XP that you already had saved up will pay off the debt before you even get back up. Originally, XP Debt was cumulative, so each death would increase the amount of debt to the point that XP Debt could be equal to your current level, and further deaths felt like a step backwards.
Star Fox 64. Get killed by a boss even when you have full upgrades? Well, get ready to fight him again, but with half your lifebar and one-third your firepower. That oughta help! Star Fox Assault was guilty of this as well.
Of course, that's assuming you didn't come into the fight with only one wing and on your last legs. In certain highly difficult levels (such as Area 6) you might be in no shape to fight the boss anyway the first time you get there, so dying just gives you a refill.
Continuing is especially painful when facing the improved Star Wolf on Venom. Couldn't beat them with the best firepower upgrade? Try doing it with your weak default laser. It doesn't help that you are immediately thrown into the fight.
In some of the Boktai games, you can continue by taking out a 200-SOL loan from Dark Loans. Of course, Dark Loans charges 800% interest...
In The Elder Scrolls games you can't continue after you die, but there's a lesser outcome: you are caught by the guards doing something illegal and get sent to prison. That leads to the loss of some stats (which may or may not be a problem, there are a lot of stats and you usually don't use them all) and the loss of all your stolen items (which may be a much bigger problem).
You can get the items back, though, from the "evidence" chests scattered throughout the various Legion garrisons in the world.
In Oblivion, you could actually use this to raise the level cap. Losing points didn't change your level but regaining major skills would allow you to level up. Once you max your skills, it's the only way to level anymore.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors does this for passwords. As you progress, you gain a password to use to continue from that level if you decide to play later. However, continuing from a password won't keep all the guns and items you collected, so the only way to make some real progress is to start from the first level each time you want to try to beat the game. The game also has 40+ levels for you to clear. Good luck!
After continuing in Alien Soldier, any increase of maximum ammunition and health goes away. You pretty much need the extra capacity in order to survive.
And don't even think about resetting in 6, 7, or 8 in order to try and save that character. Since the game auto-saves after each combat result (including the random number seed), you'll just end up watching them die the same way all over again. The only way to save them is to restart the entire level from scratch.
Both Left 4 Dead games do this when you die and come back in a closet or in the next map. When you die and come back, you have a weak tier 1 gun, a pistol, and only 50% of your health. This is generally not too crippling since the game usually has guns and ammo all over the place. However, the sequel randomly inverts this in The Passing, where players respawning in closets occasionally get a free M60.
But Left 4 Dead 2, on the other hand, also has defib units which, despite all logic, revive dead players no matter what killed them. In Campaign mode, they're good to have around. However, after a recent update, using them in Versus mode costs your team a 25 point penalty, regardless of whether or not you actually make it to the saferoom, in addition to the reduced health defibbing normally gives (your end-of-level score is partly determined by total health).
This isn't technically correct. In the original game, score was based on total health. If both teams made it to the saferoom the one with the highest health, including first aid kids and pills, would get the highest score. In the sequel, score is based on distance and the tie-breaker being which team did more damage as the Infected. It's possible for a team to reach the saferoom with less health than their opponents but still win if they took most of that damage from Common Infeceted (which haven't been summoned by a Boomer), Friendly Fire etc, and not directly from the other team.
In Resonance of Fate, if you are defeated, you can chose to "continue and restore HP" (which costs you some money), or "continue and restore Hero Gauge" (in case you were foolish enough to enter a serious battle with a less than full gauge — and, of course, it costs significantly more). The price of these ressurections go up as the game progresses, but never really become crippling...unless you entered the wrong Danger Zone. Those are areas with challenging monsters that you cannot escape from, so if you find yourself severely overmatched, you might end up having to continue a LOT of times, which winds up as a pretty steep bill...
In Cho Ren Sha 68k, dying makes you lose all your powerups (and resets your bomb counter to 3, which is good if you have less than that but bad if you have more), not to mention your score is reset if you continue. Worse, lives, bombs, and your shield all count for points at the end of a level. Worse still, while in the earlier levels the triple-item trick (sit in the middle of a small ring of three items for a few seconds to get all of them) is simple, doing this without using a bomb or your shield in later levels is all but impossible. The levels are already hard enough when you have sufficiently upgraded, but the powerups (which are much less frequent now) are much harder to get to without dying and losing them, thanks to your weaker gun and lack of a shield.
Originally Star Trek Online had no death penalty at all. Your ship blew up or you were incapacitated on the ground, and just respawned. Players complained. So, they implemented a Damage/Injury mechanic. On Advanced and Elite difficulty you have a good chance of getting one of three levels of Damage/Injury that can make continuing much more difficult unless you have Regenerators/Components suited to the Minor/Major/Critical level they can get. This can be anything from losing a few points in your Shields power levels to a completely disabled system, or worse.
In The Lord of the Rings Online, dying does not cost you your valuable XP, but causes a significant amount of wear down on your equipment (at least 15% of total durability) and inflicts Dread, which will reduce your maximum HP, MP, DPS and Defense depending on the severity of the curse.
Chicken Invaders (like Space Invaders, only with a really silly plot involving chickens) causes you to lose all powerups when you die.
In both the original and the newDonkey Kong Country games, everything is easier when both Kongs are free. However, when you restart from a checkpoint, you start off with only one Kong. Unless they were generous enough to place a DK Barrel right next to the checkpoint, you're gonna have to grin and bear it and try making it through the difficult segment again with just the one.
The Golden Sun series can make continuing a bitch if you lack the proper items, spells, or money after you suffer a loss in battle. When you are defeated, you are thrown back to the last town you passed through, which can mean lots more annoying Random Encounters on your trek back to the dungeon you were in previously. Your main character is the only one standing with one HP while the rest of the party is still at zero HP. If you lack any Water of Life or your party does not have the Revive spell, you will have to "donate" money to a healer (since resting at an inn does not revive fallen allies) so he can revive a fallen ally. Not only does the price scale with the party's level, a battle loss results your current coinage being cut in half. If you combine all these factors in the game's beginning where you usually don't have the right spells or items to revive the party and lack money and goods to sell for a quick buck, the game can become Unwinnable.
Even worse, in the first game, at a point where you will only have one or two Waters of Life (assuming you've been searching all the random boxes and barrels you come across), you can die and get sent back to a fairly out of the way village. While this usually wouldn't be too much of a problem, as reviving is fairly cheap at that point in the game, everyone in the village, including the healer, is currently a tree. So you'll have to trek a loooooong way back to get those characters healthy again. You better hope all the enemies you encounter are willing to let you run on your first attempt...
But to be fair, you can just reset the game, and since you can save anytime and anywhere, it's pretty much always the better choice. Unless you forget to save often, but one could say you deserve it then.
Die in Raiden, and you lose all your power ups unless you find a pixie, who gives some of them back upon death.
Depending on your general experience level in Faxanadu, death can carry a very stiff penalty. When you die, your HP and MP are fully restored, but you lose all of your experience points and Golds up to a certain point, which is determined by your title. If you've earned enough experience to receive a promotion, but get killed before you reach a guru to promote you, all of the extra EXP is lost.
Example: A player with the title of "Fighter" has 5000 EXP, a little bit more than enough to earn the rank of "Adept". If the player loses his/her life at that point, their EXP level would reset to 3500, the minimum required to reach the rank of Fighter.
This is particularly evident in Warblade, an obscure shmup. Players will often survive for many hundreds of levels, and then lose all their lives at once. This is mostly because some powerups, including the ultra-expensive Super Autofire and Alien Lock, are destroyed, your weapon is downgraded one tier, and all of your other stats (except, oddly, Bullet Speed) take a minor beating. It's no wonder that, even though it's certainly not Bullet Hell, shields are the items you buy more than anything else.
Oh, Henry Hatsworth. As if it wasn't enough that you only get checkpoints when the game loads a new map (and these maps can be LONG, people), the game resets your Super Metre to 50%, a decent (but not remarkable) amount and gives you a new Puzzle Realm board on the bottom. So, all those items (including hearts and even 1-ups) you collected on the top screen but forgot to activate on the bottom screen? They're Lost Forever! Did you enter a new map with a full Super Metre ready to unleash Tea Time on all the pathetic mooks you could get your hands on? Too bad, sucker! This kind of dickishness is indicative of how the rest of the game treats you too.
Even the Harvest Moon series dabbled in this (thankfully, only once). In HM DS, if you passed out from exhaustion - this usually happens in the mines where creatures attack you and the best weapon against them eats lots of energy - when you woke up the next day half your gold would be gone, and your fatigue gauge would be half-gone.
Getting killed in The Goonies 2 makes you lose keys and bombs. They are randomly dropped from enemies after you first get them, so, you'll definitely be grinding some more for them.
In Mount & Blade, one defeat could mean the extermination of your whole army, and the loss of some or all of your equipment and a good chunk of your money. Depending on whether you had a castle with reserve troops, money in the bank or replacement weapons in a chest, this mean being set back from some hours to the whole damn game.
In the Free to Play MMO Spiral Knights, if you die you have three options: get resurrected by having another party member sacrifice half of their HP to give to you, spend Energy (which can be bought with real money but slowly regenerates naturally) or just give up and return to the Lobby. Spending Energy seems okay for the first 2 or so deaths, but each time you die, the cost doubles...the decision to turn back after already spending lots of energy on multiple revives during That One Level is a difficult one, indeed.
In Wolfenstein 3D, if you die, you lose all of the points you accumulated in that level, and any weapons you had beyond your pistol. Also, your ammo is reset to 8 bullets. Hope you saved.
Duke Nukem 3 D is slightly more forgiving—you're only reduced to 48 rounds of ammunition for the weakest weapon in the game. Though on a more serious note almost every level contains every weapon in the game somewhere, usually at least a few close to the start, and enough ammo to kill everything in it. That doesn't stop it from being much harder than your first try.
Unlike most Shoot 'em Up games where your Smart Bomb stock got refilled when you died, Heavy Weapon makes you lose all your Nukes on death. Good luck fighting a boss without them...
Even worse was when you got destroyed via a One-Hit Kill when you had full shields. You also had to collect those back too!
In the NES adventure game Nightshade, continuing the game is a puzzle in itself. If Nightshade gets knocked out, the villain ties him up in a Death Trap, and you have to figure out how to escape before Nightshade gets killed. Lose the game too many times, and Nightshade gets stuck in a completely inescapable trap.
In the NES version of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, if Indy dies after collecting the Sankara stones, he will lose them and have to track them down again before he can move on to the next level.
Losing a life in Thunder Cross and its sequel makes you lose ALL your options, firepower, and speed ups. At least it doesn't kick you back to a checkpoint.
In Wai Wai World, it costs 100 bullets to revive each dead character. This isn't too much of a chore unless everyone dies, and continuing only gives you Konami Man, Konami Girl, and half the bullets you had. (Much like hearts in Castlevania II Simons Quest, bullets function both as currency and secondary weapon ammunition.)
Super Star Wars is Nintendo Hard to the extreme so dying will set you back a lot. Death means any blaster upgrades and health upgrades are lost.
Dying in Dark Souls without a Ring of Sacrifice equipped means respawning at the last bonfire you visited, reverting to Hollow, and losing all of your souls and humanity. You can get it all back if you collect the bloodstain that appears where you died, but if you die again before reaching it, it's gone for good. And getting there usually isn't easy, since most enemies respawn when you rest at a bonfire, meaning whatever killed you the last time is more than ready to kill you again.
Final Fantasy The 4 Heroes Of Light can be either this or Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, depending on your party setup and plain old luck. When your party gets wiped out, you return to the last place you saved, even keeping things like found items and experience points. However, unless you have a freelancer in your party (and you're not likely to unless you're in the very early game and haven't gotten any crowns yet, or are grinding for gems) you lose half of a randomly selected category of gems. Losing a fairly common gem, such as rubies or emeralds, isn't too bad, especially if you don't have much of it. Losing rare gems like Amethysts or Diamonds? That hurts.
Urban Dead is an odd case where death can be either meaningless or excruciating. Die as a survivor, and you have to play as a zombie until you can be revived by another player. For players who like playing both sides this is no problem. For others, depending on the climate of the place where you died you may be able to walk two spaces to a designated revive point and be up in a few hours or you may have to trek across two suburbs, spending two AP per move since you're probably a low-level zombie.
Zombies used to have an extremely nerve-wracking one—high level survivors got a skill called "Headshot" which originally made you lose all your unspent experience points when they killed you. On top of the normal 10 AP penalty for standing back up, equivalent to a fifth of your day's actions. Due to the nature of the game it is nearly impossible to actually reduce your odds of being killed once every night as a zombie (it's all a matter of how populated your current location was with each side), at least without fleeing to an area with no survivors (and thus no XP). Combine this with game mechanics that quickly sap all your AP while searching for survivors (and the aforementioned AP penalty for dying) leaving you with little to actually attack with unless very lucky, and the result wasn't pleasant. Eventually the game's creator reduced the penalty on low level zombies, then changed Headshot to an extra 5 AP penalty instead of experience points (more immediately useful for the survivor, less painful for the zombie), and added a skill for zombies that reduced the base AP penalty for death by 90%, greatly relieving the pain.
In Tera, dying takes a huge hit to your stamina — which is strongly tied to your combat effectiveness and can generally only be replenished with downtime in appropriate locations — and has a chance of destroying one of the enhancement crystals slotted to your weapons and armor. An EXP penalty would arguably be less painful.
Strike Gunner (SNES): Your main weapon on hard mode is a single Vulcan that fires so slowly that your chance of getting a Game Over in the first few seconds dramatically rises to 95%. And when you die once, all the main weapon upgrades that you collected are lost and you go back to using that weapon.
In the unlicensed NES game Crystal Mines, your miner robot starts off with a blaster that can only fire one shot and has a very short range. There are upgrades in the game which you can collect that permanently increase the blaster's range and amount of shots it can fire as well as bombs that can destroy obstacles and enemies. However, as soon as you die once, all those upgrades and bombs you collected are lost which leaves your robot in worse condition than if it hadn't been killed.
In Gears of War 3 Horde Mode, you can continue at the current wave after a Total Party Kill. However, it resets to the condition that your defenses and money were at the time you died, so each time you are spending a little more money and starting off a little less defended. On any wave higher than about 25, surviving more than one restart is nigh-impossible.
In Adventures Of Dino Riki, Dino Riki's primary weapon is throwing rocks which are unreliably slow but can be replaced, via weapon upgrade, with Tomahawks, Boomerangs, and finally Fireballs. Unfortunately, dying reduces him back to using rocks which leaves him at the mercy of fast-moving enemies.
Kid Icarus: Uprising is a borderline case. Dying bumps your difficulty level down (and you loose some hearts, but they're really easy to get anyway), which would normally be considered Anti-Frustration Features... except that higher difficulties mean better loot, and any loot you found before you died decreases in power to match the new difficulty. Not just that, but some challenges have a difficulty cutoff, meaning die too much and you'll have to start over if you want them.
In Forza Motorsport, if you spin out, good luck trying to catch up with the competition. Even better if simulation damage is enabled and you plow into a wall, wrecking your engine.
Track Mania - If you fall off the track or get stuck somewhere, you can respawn at a checkpoint, but your race time will be worthlessly slow, forcing you to restart at the beginning of the track. Thankfully, it takes 3 seconds top to restart a track.
In The Binding of Isaac you can get an item called "Dead Cat." This item gives you 9 lives. 9! In a game where getting one extra life is pure luck! The only catch? Your health is reduced to one heart after every respawn. Good luck getting through the later levels, where damage takes an entire heart!
In Mario vs. Donkey Kong, all normal levels are split into two stages, and dying takes you back to the beginning of whichever stage you were on. However, upon beating the first stage, your leftover time is added to the time you have on the second. Unfortunately, if you die even once on the second stage, that time bonus is eradicated, which effectively means you cannot reach the score goal. Worse yet, the game docks you another life when you quit to try the whole level over again.
What happens when your character dies in Crusader Kings usually depends on a variety of factors, including your inheritance laws, the number of relatives with claims on your title(s), the stats of your heir and so forth. If you're lucky, you can placate your rivals with gold or land, imprison some of them and redistribute their land or fight down a minor rebellion and be on your way as the new ruler of your dynasty. If you're unlucky your country is plunged into a decade long succession war, several of your vassals will declare independence, and neighbouring rulers will take the opportunity to invade provinces you are no longer able to defend.
In the Retro Game Master TV Show, continue limitations are one of the biggest problems Arino might face in games.
In a fresh level of Windmill Software's Digger, the monsters (similar to Pac-Man's ghosts) move predictably around a series of pre-dug tunnels, in which you can camp for them and drop gold on their heads with relative ease. But once you've lost a life, they roam freely around the mess of dug-out holes that you've made for them, with few gold bags left with which to trap them, making it much harder for you to clear up those last few gems.