"Two minutes into the game and you're already dead! Is there something in your family tree that causes dysfunctional locomotion?"
— Space Quest II
, if you walk off of the space station into deep space
These are games that can be lost on the very first turn or two, or very shortly after you begin a level.
This can be deliberate through a Kaizo Trap
, Schmuck Bait
like a suicidal dialogue option or Press X to Die
, or an "Impossible"
difficulty level; and may or may not result in a Nonstandard Game Over
. It can also be accidental, due to a Game-Breaking Bug
, bad starting positions in Randomly Generated Levels
, or simply taking an action that the designers never accounted for
Note that it's always
possible for extremely contrived stupidity to result in a player death - mundane cases like failing to properly jump or steer your vehicle around elementary obstacles don't cut it. In the same vein, unwinnable
user-created content isn't worth mentioning unless the deaths are funny or interesting.
- Stuart Ashen has two separate videos on the subject.
- In Takeshi's Challenge, if you choose to PUNCH the man who asks for your name at the very beginning, you'll get a game over before the game itself even started. Funny, yet also quite bitchy.
- Uninvited starts you off inside a car on fire. You have only a few moves to open the door and get out before the car explodes with you inside.
- In The Colony, the first thing you need to do is turn on the lights on your crash-landed ship. The light switch is one of two identical unmarked buttons on a console. What does the other button do? Blows up the planet.
- Karateka: At the beginning, get into a fighting stance, then stand back up. You fall off the ledge behind you. Game over.
- In NetHack it's possible to die on your first turn. There's even a special message for it: "Do not pass Go. Do not collect 200 zorkmids."
- Slouching Towards Bedlam lets you jump out the window as your first command. Depending on your point of view, this is the best ending, and definitely one of the best two.
- In the Kongregate Game Don't Shit Your Pants, you normally type in "play" to start the game. But instead, you can type "shit" to immediately soil yourself. There's an achievement for that.
- In Super Paper Mario, repeatedly declining Merlon's offer at the start of the game will result in a Non-Standard Game Over.
- Red Faction: Guerrilla has one where if you attack your brother in the first mission, you get a game over screen complete with "WTF, you killed your Brother!?!?!?!?!"
- In Suspended, selecting the Impossible difficulty level causes the sun to go nova a few turns in, destroying the planet.
- In the original Wing Commander, when you started the game, you immediately, and without warning, found yourself in the cockpit of a starfighter, with cheezy arcade-style music playing. No matter what you did, you died within seconds, only for the game to reveal that this was your character messing around in the flight simulator.
- In Grand Chase, one PVP map has a layout where, if you're unlucky enough to be in a certain position, you lose a life immediately after spawning. (You still have 4 lives, but you're at a serious disadvantage.)
- In King's Quest I, it's not unusual to die by falling into the moat on the first screen because you can't navigate the small, wooden bridge properly while adjusting to the controls.
- Akalabeth, the spiritual precursor to the Ultima I series of games, begins with your main character in a general store and enough gold to equip him. If you decide not to purchase any food - which is necessary for all movement in the game - your character drops dead from starvation instantly as soon as you leave.
- Pretty much everyone who tries Don't Shoot The Puppy for the first time is going to Shoot the Dog almost instantly.
- In Jet Set Willy 2, most first-time players inspect the toilet they start right next to, and promptly find themselves Down the Drain in an inescapable Death Trap.
- Subverted in Bastion. If you fall off the path in the opening level the Lemony Narrator will say "...and then he fell to his death... only foolin'" before The Kid lands nearby and takes damage from the fall as would happen at every other point in the game.
- In Elite and its Fan Remake Oolite, beginning players must dock with space stations manually until they can afford to buy a docking computer for their ship. The catch is that all orbital space stations rotate, making said docking a hair-raising experience at best the first time it is attempted and causing a number of new pilots to plow into the station instead of flying into the docking bay. Engaging pirates before being upgraded with advanced weapons, armor, scanners, or fuel injectors also tends to lead to disastrous results.
- The dark colors of Another World's first screen, in which the protagonist suddenly appears in a body of water inhabited by an unseen, tentacled monster, does not make it at all clear that the best choice of action is to immediately swim upward to safety. (In fact, it doesn't make it clear that the opening cutscene has ended.) If you don't move quickly enough, you'll be killed within the first five seconds of game play.
- Succeeding in that, if you don't leave the second screen immediately, the monster will reach up and snatch you back down, killing you anyway.
- In Dragons Lair, every room is basically Press X to Not Die, so one's demise can occur in a hurry—even if you DO start out with three lives.
- In Sonic Heroes, certain stages start with your team falling onto the first platform. If you try moving in a direction before the team hits the ground, you can miss the platform, keep falling and die.
- This can also happen in the bug-riddled Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). Protip: If you don't start a level already on the ground, don't touch anything.
- King's Field The Ancient City: Walk forward for about five seconds from the start.
- Action 52 had one—in StarEvil (a vertically-scrolling shoot-em-up), there's a Deadly Wall at the very start of the game. Not dodging it might seem like People Sit on Chairs—except it's so close to the start that you literally have less than one second from exiting the title screen to dodge it. The game also has Hambo's Adventure, which has randomly generating enemies and only one life. So it's possible for an enemy to generate right by Hambo, resulting in a game over in less then a second.
- The first Leisure Suit Larry game: Walk south on the road. You become an instant pancake. Game over. Walk into the alleyway to the west, get beaten to death by a mugger. Game over.
- The first Space Quest (original) game on a modern computer: Set speed to "Fastest". A few seconds later, the Arcada explodes and it's game over.
- In the second Space Quest game, you can die earlier than shown above: Walk east on the first screen and fall in to Xenon's atmosphere. Naturally, no one helps you and you are DEAD.
- In the third game, you can die on the first screen by cutting yourself on a piece of metal trying to pick it up, or fall into the shredding machine shortly after by not jumping off the Conveyor Belt-O-Doom in time. In the fourth game, you may run into the Cyborg and subsequently suffer Droid of Death on the first or second screen; both also randomly appearing based on hardware speed. Another hardware-based Timed Mission is the formatting sequence at the end of the game, which expires in about two or three seconds on modern computers.
- In the second Police Quest game, you can die in a similar fashion as Leisure Suit Larry above by crossing the road in front of the Lytton PD.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, at the beginning of the game you can try to head directly north to New Vegas from Goodsprings. Just ignore the signs and warnings from the townsfolk that the area is infested with deathclaws and cazadores and that you should stay away. You'll probably make it just fine.
- At least one of the Kaizo Mario World hacks tries to kill Mario in the opening scene. This naturally started a trend of Platform Hell Mario hacks doing likewise. It's almost mandatory at this point if you're making a Platform Hell hack to try to kill the player in the opening.
- OMGWTFOTL always gives you to the option to [X] GENUFLECT. Even when you're on the title screen.
- In Jak II: Renegade you can fall off the catwalk to your death in the first area within 5 seconds of taking control of Jak.
- Volt Kraken/Squid Adler's level in Mega Man X5 starts with an auto-scrolling jet bike segment with a hole so shortly into the level, you can fall into it before the "Ready" on the screen has even disappeared.
- In Steamshovel Harry, the tutorial takes so long, by the time you begin the game, it's too late: the world's destroyed just shortly after you can even do anything.
- Unsurprisingly Ancient Domains of Mystery, which already has Everything Trying to Kill You. Through a combination of poor character design, bad luck and starting on a Monday, it is actually possible to enter the game with 0HP and die without taking a single turn.
- In LIMBO, virtually every player who isn't Dangerously Genre Savvy will be snapped up by the bear trap which appears extremely quickly in the game and blends in with the grass.
- The first chance you get to die is a very small, shallow ditch, that happens to have spikes in it. They look just like grass and the bottom of the screen is very dark.
- Tomb Raider III begins with Lara standing at the top of a gigantic mudslide, with pits of spikes and boulders strewn along the way. Which sets the tone for the rest of the game quite nicely.
- If you somehow fail the first tutorial battle in Infinity Blade, you unlock the Negative Bloodlines, an easter egg that apparently sends your point of view back in time. You even get an achievement for doing do.
- Both Iji and Hero Core have the impossible hidden difficulty "Reallyjoel's dad". The first just overpowers enemies and locks a door, making it impossible to leave the first area. The second locks you in a room with every boss in the game (though with certain late-game upgrades, and free healing if you can kill a boss). The boss room has been completed but only on a tool-assisted run or by Reallyjoel's dad.
- It is reportedly possible, if you're seriously unlucky, to have all your dwarfs be thralled or otherwise rendered non-viable for a working fortress before you even unpause after embarking in Dwarf Fortress. In some particularly old versions, bottomless pits sometimes inexplicably spawned with a huge glob of magma hanging over them, and that magma could instantly kill your embark party.
- Super Pitfall: The very first ladder in the game? Instant death trap.
- In some versions of Minecraft, it's possible to spawn inside a hill, causing you to immediately suffocate. In the Xbox 360 version, it's possible to spawn underwater.
- In FTL: Faster Than Light, it's possible to suffocate your entire crew by opening all of your ship's airlocks. There's a special message for doing this during the tutorial.
- In the Advanced Edition, it's possible (though unlikely) while piloting one of the Stealth Cruisers (ships with cloaking and high dodge rating but no shields) to make your very first jump, and then get your oxygen hacked by an enemy (sucking all the air out of your ship), or a drone fires a lucky shot and destroys your weapons (leaving you defenseless) or engines (which tanks your dodge rating, the only way you can avoid enemy fire due to having no shields).
- The Engi B cruiser has only one crewman to start with. The first jump point you visit can result in an event where you lose a crewmember. You don't get immunity from this if you only have that one crewman as such, they will die and the game will end after 1 jump.
- It's also possible to die in the Roguelike Ragnarok without taking a single turn, though this requires you to be exceptionally unlucky. Not only would you have to spawn on a stun gas trap, but you'd have to start near enough to a monster so you could be killed before you can regain control of your character.
- In Max Payne 3, if you don't immediately haul ass off the soccer field at the beginning of Chapter 3, you will be One Hit Killed by sniper fire. Earlier, the first chapter has enemies fire on you immediately after the mostly-unskippable intro cutscene. If you're on Hardcore or Old School (no pauses for tutorial steps) and not paying close attention, kiss your ass goodbye. The fourth chapter opens with a barroom quick draw duel.
- Level 7 in Prince of Persia, and Level 10 in the SNES remake, both start with the Prince in mid-fall. If you aren't holding the Grab key, you'll fall to your doom.
- At the start of the Infocom text adventure version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you'll die after about your first 20 moves if you don't get out of your house (which isn't exactly straightforward, either).
- Border Down has a unique take on the Video Game Lives system. At the beginning of the game, you can choose one of three "Borders": Green, Yellow, Red. Getting hit on Green demotes you to Yellow, getting hit on Yellow demotes you to Red, and getting hit on Red is a Game Over. Additonally, the lower your border, the higher the difficulty. Which means it's entirely possible for someone to choose Red border at the beginning of the game and, either through deliberate action or getting overwhelmed, get hit by one of the first enemies, causing a game over in record time. In the arcade version, this amounts to throwing away money for nothing.
- RefleX has a special version of the player ship that is used in the last stage and a half and can be unlocked for use in stage select by completing the game. Said ship is a One-Hit-Point Wonder. This is a game that does not offer multiple lives.
- The early Sierra adventure game Wizard and the Princess has you immediately searching for rock to kill a snake. Which one is the wrong one has a scorpion under it that kills you instantly. You have to be on the exact screen which the game doesn't tell you. (The Roberta Williams Anthology manual outright tells you the answer being so brutal.) This puzzle was so infamous, it was referenced in the episode "Ultra Sheen" from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.
- In the original Rayman you could become accustomed to Rayman's Super Drowning Skills within 10 seconds of starting the first level. This should give you an idea of what kind of game it is.
- FEAR's Interval 4 starts with you under fire from all sides on the helipad, which can mean death in two seconds on the Hard and Extreme difficulties. Worse, the Instant Action version has one of the starting mooks spawn with a instant-kill rocket launcher.
- In Dark Souls, it's technically possible for that to happen too, albeit a little later during the tutorial, than the sequel. The very first enemy you're introduced to in the first game is a Wake-Up Call Boss, who is next to impossible to defeat without a weapon. Said weapon, you first get it after fleeing the boss and completing the rest of the tutorial.Although...
- In Dark Souls II, taking the wrong path at the very beginning of the game will lead you to a tough mini-boss type of enemy before you have even gone through character creation, meaning you're still a Featureless Protagonist wearing rags with no way to attack but their bare fists.
- The "Reluctance" ending in The Stanley Parable HD Remix is simply gotten by staying in the starting room despite the Narrator's request to get on with the story.
- In the unreleased Sega CD game Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors, playing on Impossible prompts Lou Reed to kill Penn and Teller and explain what impossible means.
- Tetris clone Nullpo Mino has several rotation rulesets in which pieces lock upon falling onto the floor or a block. In addition, there are modes in which pieces drop instantly, and are designed for rulesets in which pieces have a delay upon landing on something before locking in place. Selecting any of these instant-drop modes (e.g. Speed Mania) using a ruleset with instant lock (e.g. anything with "Nintendo" in the name) results in a scenario where you are unable to do anything as the pieces stack to the top, resulting in a Game Over.
- Corrupting ROM files can lead to situations that kill the player immediately, if they don't crash first. Examples include your vehicle exploding in five seconds in F-Zero and Mickey Mouse falling through the floor and dying before you can even control him in Disney's Magical Quest.
- In Beneath a Steel Sky you can die with the very first click. Walking down the stairs will get you shot.
- In The Witch's House, you can die within the first minute of playing by stepping on the bloodstain in the house, which causes the walls to close in and kill you. This is a very good descriptor of what the rest of the game is like.
- The Matrix: Path of Neo has before the first level if you pick the blue-pill, instead of the red-pill.
- Five Nights at Freddy's gives you a debug "Custom Night" mode for beating all five nights and the bonus sixth night; it lets you set the speed of the four monsters from 0 to 20. If you set the monsters to "1, 9, 8, 7" respectively, it won't load up the level; it'll just flash Golden Freddy's Jump Scare on the screen and the application will force-quit itself.
- Player characters in Happy Wheels are so fragile they can sometimes die from accelerating too quickly at the start of a level.
- Not responding to Illias in the beginning dream of Monster Girl Quest will have her fry you with lightning even before the Good Morning, Crono sequence.
- In Point Blank, some stages have "don't shoot!" targets that cost one life each if shot. As a result, it is possible to hit enough targets to end the game on the first stage out of 16 even if you otherwise clear the stage; you would have to take your time failing three whole stages otherwise. "Don't shoot!" targets are irritatingly common, and it's possible that your first set of four stages will have only stages that feature such targets.
- MechWarrior Living Legends has several starting-tier BattleMechs capable of nuking themselves via Over Heating before even leaving the hangar. The Osiris, for example, has a variant that mounts two very hot particle projector cannons and a Jump Jet Pack; using both simultaneously will often result in the 'Mech going flying up into the air while its arms melt off at the apex of the jump. There's also a host of - mostly amusing - bugs like pilots occasionally gibbing themselves by touching their battlemech's legs while trying to get in, or causing their Sparrowhawk Space Plane to explode by running into it.
- If Mario somehow dies during the Super Mario World title/demo screen (such as if the game is hacked,) it's an instant Game Over before the player can even press a button, followed by the player getting trapped in the title screen level with no way out.
- In chess, the Fool's mate ends the game in two moves, the Scholar's mate in four.
- The Dungeons & Dragons module Tomb of Horrors places its first inescapable Death Trap at the entrance door, so a lot of parties die by TPK before they even manage to enter the dungeon. You should probably take the hidden real entrance instead.
- Likewise in some first-level Pathfinder modules, the very first combat encounter will be against a caster who will knock one or more P Cs unconscious with a low-level spell like Sleep or Color Spray, followed by the enemy melee fighter moving in for a Coup de Grāce.
- In Traveller, character generation is done in stages. The first part of each stage is rolling to see if your character is still alive. Yep, your character can die before the game even starts.
- This measure, apparently installed to weed out characters too weak to survive the actual game, is optional in the most recent editions of the game, in which it is called "Iron Man Character Generation".
- deadEarth seems to follow a mechanic where you have to roll for "Radiation Manipulations", which can actually kill you or cripple your ability to use certain skills before you even start playing. You roll for the manipulations after you've done the rest of the character generation work (i.e., after you've rolled your stats and skills), so you can't create your character in anticipation of how badly he/she will be affected. And depending on how strictly the rules are followed, you might only get three character sheets ever. As seen here.
- Combinations that cause this appear in Yu-Gi-Oh! on a regular basis. Luckily, however, any consistent examples get banned on the next banlist.
- Early Magic: The Gathering sets included Game Breaker cards that can let you win the game on your first turn. (There's even a specific combination of cards that, if your opponent went first, lets you win the game before your first turn.) Most tournaments do not allow players to use those cards, and those that do restrict them to one copy per deck. There are other examples that allow you to kill yourself on the first turn or two, such as dumping Phage the Untouchable into your graveyard and reanimating her.
- Defied in Illuminati: New World Order. You can't win on the first turn. Many decks, however, are designed to win in two turns.
- Pandemic can be lost on the first player turn with a combination of bad luck: the starting 3-cube cities being adjacent to each other, most of the starting cities sharing their color, and a first-turn Epidemic draw. The starting cities outbreak into each other, and you run out of disease cubes before the second player even gets a turn.
- In Cthulhutech, playing as a Para-psychic sees you start the game with a random mental disorder. Rolling 100 on the mental disorder table leaves your character comatose.
- BattleTech is generally forgiving, though city, canyon, and water maps have the amazing capacity to kill or cripple your BattleMechs within two turns due to copious amounts of Piloting Checks, and god help you if there's a city map with a lake. Turn 1: your Fragile Speedster starts to run down the city street, takes a corner, fails a piloting check, causing it to topple over and blow off its arm and knock out the pilot, before sliding into the ocean and drowning the pilot.