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Absurdly Short Level

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A video game level which takes a ridiculously short time to complete when compared to others in the game. In most cases, it will take no more than a few seconds. May often apply to tutorial levels if they are supposed to teach you just a single mechanic of the game. A Boss-Only Level featuring a Zero-Effort Boss may be this.
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It can sometimes induce the Empty Room Psych effect, if the player can't immediately accept that there's really nothing more to this level. On the other hand, sometimes there is something more: such levels may feature secret or optional areas far more extensive than the mandatory part.

Note that this only includes levels which are intended to be that short in normal gameplay. Levels which can be bypassed by glitches, optional secrets or cheating (including foreknowledge of door codes, passwords etc.) do not count.

Compare Rush Boss. Contrast Marathon Level. See also Press Start to Game Over for a different kind of absurdly short gameplay. A Boss-Only Level counts as this if the boss is especially short. For the music equivalent, see Miniscule Rocking.


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Examples:

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    Action Games 
  • The first Ecco the Dolphin game had The Open Ocean, a level that consisted of only a straight scroll to the right as you swam past dozens of sharks. That was it, no islands, no elaborate underwater caves, nothing else, just you and a bunch of sharks you needed to get past.
  • Enter the Matrix: One level in the vampire mansion, "Return to the Great Hall", consists of walking three steps from one door to another in the same room.
  • Honkai Impact 3rd: The last level of Chapter 12 only has story cutscenes in it and has no gameplay at all.
  • Nuclear Throne: The Pizza Sewers is smaller than the game's other secret floors, and it doesn't contain much other than four turtles, a rat, and some pizza boxes.
  • Due to NeuroVoider's RNG structure, it's entirely possible for one of these to spawn every once in a while (made of less than 10 squares). Whether they are easy or not is a different story, though.

    Action-Adventure Games 
  • Chapter 4 of StarTropics is the only chapter without any dungeon segments, and the only overworld navigation is going through a maze inside of a whale, so it doesn't take very long. However, it's still an infamous roadblock because finishing the chapter requires a code hidden on one of the game's feelies.

    Fighting Games 
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • In general for all games, ending a match with a tie with your opponent will result in a Sudden Death match, where both of your damage is amped up to a whopping 300% and even the weakest of attacks will send you flying off the stage, essentially making both of you One Hit Point Wonders. These matches are intended to be short to decide the victor, and should you stall for time, then Bob-ombs will endlessly rain down on the stage to even the playing field, as there's no way you or your opponent can dodge them all.
    • Super Smash Bros. Melee has the Event Match "Seconds, Anyone?", where the objective is to KO Captain Falcon in seven seconds or less. Both you and Captain Falcon will start at 100% damage by default to make things a bit even, so the only thing you'll have to worry about is the clock.
    • Super Smash Bros. Brawl has the co-op Event Match "Fastest, Shortest, Sudden Death", which only lasts for 10 seconds and asks your team to defeat an enemy without either member of your team dying, when everyone begins at 300%.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has the Buzz Buzz spirit fought in "World of Light". You fight a tiny Mr. Game & Watch (a light character made even lighter) who begins the fight with 300% damage, making it easy to end the battle in less than 5 seconds (the difficulty being actually finding him, since G&W is so ridiculously tiny, he's almost invisible). Similarly, the Sandbag spirit match, where you're given 10 seconds to knock a white, motionless Samus, off the map (like how you have 10 seconds in the Home-Run Contest mode to rack up damage before sending Sandbag flying).
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    First-Person Shooters 
  • Doom 3 has Delta Labs Level 4, which only has a short hallway with two zombie enemies before a fight with two Hell Knights, after which the level immediately ends with you being teleported to Hell.
  • Doom mods:
    • Echelon's first two maps. "Overslept" consists of a single small room: just step through the door and you're done. "Richter Scale" is slightly larger, but still can be easily completed in less than half a minute. Neither levels have any enemies.
    • Absolutely Killed's level E1M3 ("Call Apogee Say Aardwolf") starts directly in front of the exit, allowing you to complete the level immediately. On the other hand, if you want to find all the secret areas in the level, it'll take you quite a bit more time.
    • The Talosian Incident has the Secret Level "Portals" which begins near three portals... one of which is the level exit, immediately accessible. It's even marked with the words "BAD", to indicate that you shouldn't enter it if you want to explore the level.
    • The first level of Crumpets, "Earl Grey", is a single platform floating in the void. Just shoot a switch (finding it in the darkness may be the only part of the level that will take you some time) and grab the now-accessible coffee cup to end the map.
    • Taken to an extreme with the first map of NoYe, aptly named "Win", which ends as soon as you start it.
    • Batman Doom has the Batcave levels, which serve solely to replenish your supplies a bit and brief you on the next villain you'll be up against. You can complete each of these levels in seconds by approaching the Batmobile. However, there's an unique secret hidden in the Batcave each time which can take more time to find.
  • Half-Life: The opening chapter of the Xen areas, aptly named "Xen", is the shortest of the final chapters, consisting of straightforward platforming in a low-gravity environment and little combat. And once you're inside the main island, a simple puzzle to activate the teleporter is all that's needed to enter the next chapter, taking you no less than three minutes on average. The proceeding chapters after that are far longer, with Interloper being a Marathon Level that can take over an hour to get through.
  • PAYDAY 2:
    • The third and final stage of "Rats" can be cleared in less than 30 seconds at the cost of not grabbing the optional loot, as the only requirement to unlock the escape zone is the death of the gangsters on the bus, who are unarmoured, don't have a lot of hit points, and can easily be killed from afar with a few well placed explosives.
    • "Ukrainian Job" can be completed in well under a minute on most difficulties so long as at least one member of the crew has Shaped Charges, since the target loot is stored in one of two safes that can be blown open. There's even an achievement to complete the heist in under 35 seconds. Averted on higher difficulties, where the safes are upgraded to "Titan" versions that have to be drilled.
    • The first stage of "Election Day" can be finished in under a minute, complete with an achievement for doing so. Doing so, however, turns completing the heist "properly" into a Luck-Based Missionnote .
    • The second and final stage of "Biker Heist" can be completed in under two minutes (yet again rewarding an achievement for doing so), as it's a short train robbery with only a horde of cops and bikers (most of which can simply be run past), a few minor obstacles, and a short boss fight against an Elite Mook standing between the start of the map and the target loot, followed by a run back to the start.
  • The level "Illumination" in Unreal takes place after Prisoner 849 blew up the Skaarj Generator. It's comprised of a set-piece which leaves the area almost empty, after which the only thing to do is to proceed to the next level.
  • Unreal II: The Awakening:
    • The initial level, "Avalon (preface)", is about John Dalton receiving a briefing of the situation and then departing to either the first planet or the Video Game Tutorial.
    • The "Atlantis" intermission levels usually consist of Dalton going through the ship, receiving the briefing from Aida, and then departing to the next mission. However, the ship itself holds countless of easter eggs and key conversations for both the main plot and Character Development, as well as some cutscenes depending which levels have been finished.
    • "Polaris (Entrance)" is only a mid-sized passage leading to a cargo room with several Elite Mooks.
    • The first level of NC962VII (Suspicion) is just Dalton entering into the base in order to recover the last Artifact. Likewise, the final level of the planet (Solitude) is just a big dome, but in this case it holds one enemy: the Drakk Caretaker.
  • The first three floors in the third episode of Wolfenstein 3D are surprisingly short, as their map designs are more compact. The 17th floor in the sequel Spear of Destiny is brief as well, so much that you can clear it well before the PAR time (earning a huge bonus score as a result).
  • Shogo: Mobile Armor Division: taken Up to Eleven with the level "Baku" which is just a short elevator ride where, after a few seconds, a really easy boss shows up, and, as soon as you kill him, the level just ends (the cutscene at the start is probably longer than the level itself!.)

    Platform Games 
  • A Hat in Time: The sixth and final act of the second chapter, "Battle of the Birds", is just one room where there's an awards ceremony for the director you got the most points for, who flat-out gives you a Time Piece as agreed. You are told right afterwards by a mysterious voice that there is a true final act for the chapter if you revisit the first act. It turns out to be the losing director who tells you that the winning director has one more Time Piece and plans to use it for his own gain.
  • Crash Bandicoot (1996): The penultimate level, The Great Hall, only consists of a short hall with a Bottomless Pit you have to jump over, after which the finish is a few steps more. The twist, however, is that there'll be an alternate branching path if you've collected all of the gems in the other levels. The secret finish leads to another ending scene.
  • Stronghold Showdown in the SNES game Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest is around two screens long. Diddy and Dixie enter the room, see Donkey Kong, and then exit. Averted in the GBA remake, which adds a boss battle to the level.
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby Super Star: In the sub-game "The Great Cave Offensive", the Old Tower area can be skipped at the cost of missing a quarter of the mode's treasures. In the Video Game Remake Kirby Super Star Ultra, a new sub-game, "Meta Knightmare Ultra", takes Meta Knight through most of Kirby's sub-games, and it blocks off the Old Tower's entrances, leaving it as nothing but a multi-screen fall to the next minecart transition hallway.
    • Kirby: Squeak Squad has several of these:
      • Prism Plains Stage 5 comprises a single room with a few barrels and one treasure chest. This one can be done in about 10 seconds, including collecting the chest.
      • Nature Notch Stage 4 is just two rooms involving dodging some rolling rocks, which is beatable in about 40 seconds.
      • Jam Jungle's EX Stage is an Empty Room Psych one; the majority of the level is accessed through a door hidden off of the top of the second room. However, there's no hazards before you fly up to that door, and the big door that marks the end of the level is visible right in front of you in the same room as soon as you enter, so if you ignore the hidden door, this level can be done in around 10 seconds by just walking right for a bit and entering two doors.
      • Secret Sea Stage 5 is another standard short level. It's one room of decent length that you're intended to use the fast-moving Wheel ability to zoom through, while racing a Treasure Chest to the end of the level. It's okay if you lose the race, because the level is about 20 seconds, so hopping back in is quick.
  • Levelhead:
    • "9 Second Marathon" usually takes as long as its name implies. All the player has to do is grab the package and use Ripcord's hover ability and then a bomb will send GR-18 to the goal.
    • "Boombox Wonder" showcases the game's music-making features, and then gives GR-18 the package at the goal.
  • Mibibli's Quest's "Monday" has only two rooms, with the closest thing to an obstacle being a few ledges to jump past. There's also a humorous gravestone NPC and a collectible hat, but that's about it.
  • Frore Ciele in Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is a Disconnected Side Area of Sacred Ordalia Grove, the first area of the game, but it's counted as a separate level. It's smaller than every other area, the only major item of interest is one of the four Crest Fragments, and it doesn't have a boss or warp point.
  • Sonic 3 & Knuckles: Knuckles' version of Hidden Palace Zone is around 13 seconds long, and consists of him running to the teleporter that takes him to his version of Sky Sanctuary Zone (a Boss-Only Level against a surviving Mecha Sonic).
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom: "Here You Go" is unquestionably the easiest Golden Spatula in the game. Yes, even easier than the tutorial. There are no environmental hazards, no enemies, and no shiny objects or platforming skills are required to pass. You just walk up to Patrick, interact with him, and he'll give you the Golden Spatula. That's it.
  • The Sponge Bob Movie Game has the final Combat Arena Challenge, which contains only a single Jellyfish to fight. What makes it even funnier is that the game hypes it up to be the "ultimate challenge", and it takes you less than three seconds to win if you just make a straight beeline to the Jellyfish without stalling for time.
  • Every homeworld in Spyro the Dragon (1998) is the size of a full level except for Gnorc Gnexus, the homeworld of Gnasty's World. It's a single round island containing a balloonist dock, some harmless fodder enemies, and portals to the final two main levels, the final boss, and the secret 100% completion level. Despite the size, it's the only level that can't be fully cleared in one go, since some of the gems and one dragon are hidden until you beat other levels in Gnasty's World.
  • Stage 5 in Super Castlevania IV is just two screens long, a minute-long stroll without many enemies, coming after one of the longest levels in the game. It's the only stage without a boss, and the last one before Simon enters Dracula's castle.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario World:
      • Star Road 3 provides the page image. The main exit can be reached in roughly five seconds with little difficulty. Reaching the secret exit only takes a few seconds longer, as both the key and keyhole are just out of sight above the start of the level and can be reached by flying as Cape Mario or by knocking a Lakitu off its cloud by throwing a block at it.
      • Top Secret Area is essentially a standalone Bonus Stage that is only one screen long and can be "cleared" at any time by walking off the screen. It exists to give players quick, reliable access to power-ups, Yoshi, and extra lives.
    • Delfino Airstrip in Super Mario Sunshine is an offshoot area of Delfino Plaza (it shares the same 100-coin Shine). It has two Shine Sprites, one for the game's intro level and another for collecting eight red coins, and only one Blue Coin to find (even Corona Mountain, a lava-filled corridor, has ten Blue Coins).
    • The cannon "levels" in New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii only have one point of interest: a huge cannon in the center. All Mario has to do is enter the cannon and the level is finished, and it takes him a few worlds ahead. New Super Mario Bros. 2 expanded the cannons into auto-running levels.
    • Super Mario Galaxy has galaxies that only contain one Power Star, which are mostly opened by feeding Hungry Lumas or by returning to earlier parts of the Comet Observatory with enough total stars. Some of them have good length to their missions, but ones like Flipswitch Galaxy (a single three-sided planet made entirely of flipswitch panels), Hurry-Scurry Galaxy (a short intro path followed by a planet made entirely of vanishing platforms), Drip Drop Galaxy (a shallow water planet where the only goal is to defeat three Gringills), and Snow Cap Galaxy (Mario starts on a tiny glass bubble, with the actual mission being on a pill-shaped planet he launches to) don't take much more than a couple minutes to explore and complete.
    • The level The Great Goal Pole in Super Mario 3D World is a subversion. When you start the level, you'll see the Goal Pole right away, but approaching it will make it grow some wings and flee, forcing you to chase it. Even if you manage to catch it, it's not recommended to do so until you've gotten all Green Stars and the Stamp along the way.
    • The Cloud Kingdom and Ruined Kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey. Each one is a Boss-Only Level at first, but they can be revisited afterwards for a few more Power Moons, and have Moon Rocks that can be broken in the post-game. Even after unlocking the extra content, they have a much smaller surface area and less total Moons than the full-fledged kingdoms, and lack unique Captures or regional coins/shops. While both areas have more Moons than the Darker Side, neither are a Marathon Level like it is.
    • Super Mario Maker 2: A few Story Mode levels are quite short.
      • "Piranha Creeper Squash" only has one enemy and the goal right after it. You have to defeat the Piranha Creeper, but it doesn't take very long.
      • "Target: A Single Pom Pom" has Pom Pom as a boss, and then the level is over. Pom Pom can be defeated in around 30 seconds.
      • "Head in the Clouds" has Mario fly around two columns of spikes and then reach the goal.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Chip's Challenge has two such levels: the 31st (Knot) and the 39th (Glut). In the former, the objective is to collect all 118 computer chips present in only 29 seconds (it's not as hard as it sounds once the collection pattern is figured out); in the latter, you have to collect 29 chips (out of 880) in only 20 seconds.
  • Lemmings: "All or Nothing", six levels from the end of the game, takes all of ten seconds to assign all the skills you need, and then it's just a matter of watching the lemmings file in. The only difficulty to the level is that you have to assign to a lemming facing the correct direction in a very tightly packed crowd.
  • The Room Two: While most chapter offer about 45 minutes of complex puzzle solving, the chapter "The Crossing", set on a rowboat, consists of literally one puzzle (pick up a crank, insert it into the slot and turn). It can be completed in less than 45 seconds, including the closing cutscene.
  • SpaceChem: The tutorial level that teaches players that pipes can cross has no reactors. The entire point of the game is to program reactors, so the level is solved very quickly.

    Rhythm Games 
  • BEMANI:
    • "Thank You For Playing", the Game Over jingle of GuitarFreaks V3 & drummania V3, is an unlockable song in the console version that is only five seconds long, in a series where songs typically last two minutes each.
    • For an example available in arcades, "Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen" in jubeat takes all of 45 seconds.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: In all three stories, the last world, Keyblade Graveyard, is made up of three straightforward rooms, only one of which contains enemies, and then the Final Boss of the story.
  • Mother 3's Chapter 6 has no enemies or obstacles and consists entirely of walking in one direction for a minute or two.
  • Neverwinter Nights is subdivided into levels - one such level is a guard post between the Noble district of Blacklake and "No Man's Land", a peasant area that fell to the plague. It consists of one screen with 6 guards, and that's it.
  • Paper Mario series:
    • Creepy Steeple, the main dungeon of Chapter 4 in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, is much smaller than earlier dungeons like Hooktail's Castle and the Boggly Tree. It has one main room and a few side rooms, and a simple switch puzzle to reach the boss. It's deliberate, as with the rest of Chapter 4 being so short; after the fake chapter ending, Mario has to backtrack through the Steeple a few more times (and visit an underground section) to finish Chapter 4 for real.
    • Poshley Sanctum, also from The Thousand-Year Door, is a two-room dungeon in Chapter 6 with one enemy type and an unguarded Crystal Star at the end. You've already fought the chapter boss by this point (and gone through a proper dungeon, Riverside Station), so Poshley Sanctum is just there to cap things off.
    • Chapter 6 in Super Paper Mario is supposed to be as long as the others, but story reasons change that. Chapter 6-1 has the Duel of 100 get cut short when the Void starts to consume Sammer's Kingdom, so 6-2, which would've been another round of Sammer Guy fights, becomes just a short walk and a fight with Mimi. Afterwards, the party gets kicked out of the world, and returning to Chapter 6 shows it as a white void with nothing but a path leading to Mr. L and a petrified Pure Heart. Chapter 6 ends after that, aside from an early visit to the Underwhere (an area in Chapter 7) that Mario gets sent to. The chapter can only be done in its full length in the post-game.
    • Bowser's Sky Castle in Paper Mario: Sticker Star consists of three short hallways and the final boss fight. The developers wanted to add mini-games to the castle to lengthen the trek, but ran out of time.
    • Chateau Chanterelle in Paper Mario: Color Splash. It's just a Toad house and a barn, and you can finish your first visit in a few minutes. Later visits consist of mostly talking to an NPC or solving an easy puzzle.
    • Also from Color Splash, the first Mini Paint Star in Toad Trainworks. You enter the train repair station and the foreman simply gives you the Paint Star. While you do return to this level later, the initial visit can be over in three minutes.
  • While some Pokémon Gyms can be fairly quick, Gen 2’s version of the Cinnabar Gym stands out, being around the same size as the Game Boy screen, and Blaine being the only Trainer to fight. The remake subverts this, by expanding on the Gym, with a maze and some actual Gym Trainers to fight.

    Stealth Games 
  • Chapter 10 of Hitman: Absolution, around the game's midpoint. The entire level is a small section of desert and it can be completed just by getting in the car nearby. It does contain the game's most well known easter egg, which is slightly more involved.

    Visual Novels 
  • Virtue's Last Reward's last escape room sequence. It is a revisit of an earlier escape room. In this case, you have to "cheat" by re-entering the exit password you've already learned during your previous visit, thus completing the room instantly. If you instead try to "honestly" solve the puzzles again, your companion will yell at you for wasting time.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney:
    • The first case in the original game is this not only compared to the rest of the game, but also compared to every other game's first case in the series. Typically, a game's first case takes about 2 to 3 hours to complete and features just as many witnesses to cross-examine. "The First Turnabout" can be completed in about a half-hour, and you don't even need to press the only witness at all.
    • A few games in the series have testimonies or arguments consisting of a single statement that contains an obvious contradiction. (Such as "Their Connection" in Investigations 2 Case 3) There are often in-universe Schmuck Bait by the trials' prosecutors designed to lure the protagonist into a trap, but they still fall into this trope regardless.

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