So, things are going pretty well for you. You've beaten your Rival Turned Evil
a few times, the Man Behind the Man
revealed himself when you killed off the Disc One Final Boss
and now you're ready to collect the Plot Coupons
and storm his Fortress Of Evil
But what's this? A Scrappy Level
where you must use the weakest character to defend
while he stumbles forwards blindly
(get ready to fail your mission objectives)? Did you just run into That One Boss
unprepared? Are those Goddamned Bats
fluttering around just out of reach, scratch-damaging
you? Did you step in a puddle
? Or are you
just out of your depth (wave good-bye to your health bar
)? All right, maybe you just made the wrong choice in some dialogue
, or it's the developer's fault
. Either way it's Game Over
for you. ("You have died" is the way Interactive Fiction
typically puts it.)
So now what? The nicest games might just let you off with a warning
, less forgiving games might make it so that Continuing Is Painful
or send you back to a checkpoint. If you're really unlucky
, then it's back to the start of level for you... or even the entire game
Of course if you're really lucky the Game Over
screen will simply read Fission Mailed
or the game will let you continue anyway
This is, at its most basic, the condition of having lost the game. Some text or animation appears to let you know you've lost, and there's nothing left to do but start over. You can achieve Game Over by:
- Running out of Hit Points or Video Game Lives. In a game with Final Death, this occurs if the main character or a plot-important character dies.
- Failing critical mission objectives (such as letting the target of an Escort Mission die)
- Certain circumstances (covered in Unwinnable) don't technically result in a Game Over, but prevent you from continuing further into the game.
- Games that are too lazy to give you a special victory screen will simply show you the standard Game Over screen if you just beat the game. Because of course, your game is over in that situation, too. Can be rather jarring to see a screen associated with failure being used to indicate success, especially if the music is still there...
In the earliest games, you had to start over from the very beginning, but later games provided a password so you could continue from a later spot, and eventually game saves to fulfill the same purpose more conveniently. Some games also let you 'continue' from the same level you were previously on. Indeed, the Game Over
has been such an Omnipresent Trope
that some games use the phrase whenever you have in some way failed, even if this failure does not in any conceivable way end your game.
Some games will even give you a Game Over
screen even if you complete the game, using "Game Over" in a literal sense, as since you've beaten the game, it is now over.
A Non-Standard Game Over
is a variant that occurs in special circumstances, when you've really
screwed the pooch.
Sometimes the screen is accompanied by a Game Over Man
(no, not Pvt. Hudson
Also the name of a single
by Club Caviar.
This trope is too ubiquitous for a proper examples list; we'd be here all month if we tried. Examples go in the Quotes section