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To a Challenge Gamer, merely beating a game is not enough. Such players will want to play on the highest difficulty level and beat the Superboss while imposing all sorts of strict limits upon themselves.

Game developers know this, and may choose to suggest to players a Challenge Run. This can range from an Easter Egg or Video Game Achievements for those who beat a game while respecting certain conditions, to entire game modes that the player must pick at the start of the game, which automatically enforce the rules of the challenge. If the game allows the player to select which level they want to play, it may be possible to fulfill the Challenge Run on each level one at a time; if not, the player may have to play through the whole game under these rules.

The important distinction between this and a Self-Imposed Challenge is that here, the game acknowledges the challenge, while a Self-Imposed Challenge is, well, imposed only by the players themselves.

Unlockable Difficulty Levels is one of these challenges. May also be presented in the form of an Arrange Mode. Hard Mode Perks may or may not apply. There's a very high chance that the challenges lack any form of Anti-Frustration Features. Beating these challenges, however, usually reward the players with a Cosmetic Award for bragging rights.

Games with their own pages:

Other Examples:

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    Action Games 
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening and Devil May Cry 4 encouraged players to take on self-imposed challenges in the form of getting the "S" and "SS" after-mission rankings in order to collect bonus artwork completely unnecessary for gameplay. In DMC3, the most difficult-to-get one required a No-Damage Run on top of making the time limit, collecting enough "Red Orb" currency, getting enough "style" points and using no items.
  • Fate/Extella Link has the "Bond Challenges", where you accept challenges from up to 5 of your Servants in order to increase their bond points; the challenges here are various, from "taking over a number of sectors under certain seconds" to "scoring enough numbers of K.O." to "keeping your HP over certain percentage for certain seconds".
  • Early in God Hand, the hero has a "Kick Me" sign slapped on his back, which makes enemies stronger. It will fall off if he uses the God Hand or God Reels. Finishing the game with the "Kick Me" sign still in place (that is, never using those powers) unlocks a bonus: a music CD.
  • Honkai Impact 3rd: The first time you play a story mode stage, there'll be "medals" that you can obtain by doing challenging tasks, such as "doing a number of combo hits", "finishing the stage under a number of seconds", "not taking more than X amount of hits", etc. Successfully getting the medals would give you a few Crystals each, and in story mode and Chronicles mode, getting enough amount of medals from a cluster of stages will give you some more rewards.
  • Naughty Bear: After beating the "story mode" level of an episode, the player can unlock three "Challenge" missions that involve playing through the original level while satisfying a unique condition, such as killing everyone present in the level without letting anyone escape, gaining a certain number of points without being seen five times, or not being hit once. There are also a series of "Challenge Challenge" achievements which require the player to complete these missions with an additional restriction, such as not being seen once during an Invisible Challenge or completing a Timed Mission with one second left on the clock.
  • Versus Umbra: Each level (except for the final one of each campaign) has a challenge in which you beat the level while satisfying a condition like not jumping or only using the starting weapon. Clearing a challenge grants a part of the secret schematic.

    Action/Adventure Games 
  • On a New Game Plus, Blasphemous lets you activate one of three Penitences. The Penitence of the Bleeding Heart makes your Life Meter segmented and your healing items gradual, with enemies respawning every time you leave a room; the Penitence of the Unwavering Faith cuts your sword damage in half and has you lose Fervor as well as health when you get hit (but has your Fervor automatically regenerate over time); and the Penitence of the True Guilt has you lose all your Tears of Atonement (money) when you die, inflicts the maximum punishment for death from the start, and replaces your healing items with ones that restore Fervor instead. Beating the game with a Penitence active gives you a new Palette Swap on your next run, as well as an accessory that inflicts that Penitence's rules on you while equipped.
  • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin and Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia have Hard mode, which is unlocked by beating the game once. On top of making certain enemies stronger, the mode imposes a strict level cap (including an option to set the cap to level 1). Beating the game in these modes earns special rewards: Portrait of Ruin grants special items that give a large permanent stat boost, while Order of Ecclesia has the Queen of Hearts, a special helmet with very strong stats and which reduces heart consumption when equipped.
  • Cave Story:
    • In the various updated rereleases, the Hard Mode removes all but one of the Health Capsules (and palette-swaps your character) but otherwise leaves the game the same. Thus Hard Mode is just an game-enforced low-health run.
    • Clearing the Brutal Bonus Level in less than three minutes unlocks a special song heard nowhere else in the game.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Clearing The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening without dying once causes Marin to appear in the sky after the credits.
    • The Oracle games feature the Cursed Ring, which halves your sword damage and doubles the damage you take; it seems to have been made for the purpose of giving hardcore players an extra challenge.
  • The Metroid series has always encouraged challenges like Speed Running or 100% Completion with special endings. Enterprising players have come up with other self-imposed challenges, like low-percent runs, which later games in the series also added bonus endings for.
  • Solatorobo invokes this in-universe, thanks to the Duel Ship Tournaments that you can participate in. One of the rules states that if one of the fighters declares a challenge, then it is imposed onto the current round, with the caveat of instant disqualification should they fail to complete it. Red learns this the hard way when he was trying to act tough in front of a Fangirl. Though it's also revealed that the challenger doesn't even need to declare the challenge themselves, as third-parties like Cyan or the announcer could easily throw in different winning conditions on a whim, such as needing to perform a triple-throw combo a certain amount of times or enforcing a No-Damage Run during the match.

    Fighting Games 
  • Super Smash Bros. Melee gives you points for certain accomplishments in battle, and in single-player mode, it even lists all these accomplishments for you; naturally, some have become fodder for challenges. For instance, you can lose points for relying too much on a single move, but you get a lot of points for only using a single move. Some challenges are a lot harder in certain modes; a No-Damage Run is a lot easier in All-Star Mode (but it's brutal everywhere else), and "Switzerland" — i.e. win around without ever attacking or taking damage — is pretty easy to get on Adventure Mode stages where you don't actually have to attack anything to win.

    First-Person Shooters 
  • A "No Bullet Time" run of First Encounter Assault Recon earns you the "Real Time" achievement.
  • Half-Life:
    • Half-Life 2 has the "Zombie Chopper" achievement, which challenges you to complete "We Don't Go to Ravenholm" using only the Gravity Gun, of which the whole level revolves around with all the stuff the Gravity Gun can toss. Gets EXTREMELY difficult when you're on the rooftops; circular saws will pass right through zombies (especially fast zombies) and go clattering into the streets. Even if you carry a cinder block with you everywhere you go, there's still about a 50% chance that it will bounce off any given zombie and go flying over the edge. It helps considerably if you just run like hell through most of the level.
    • Episode One ups the ante with "The One Free Bullet", an achievement which challenges you to fire one bullet throughout the entire game: to shoot a lock off after you get the pistol. Thankfully, the achievement allows you to use Gravity Gun, Rocket Launcher, SMG, and hand grenades, the Crowbar (when you get it), and auto-mounted guns left by the Combine. That being said, finding things that you can toss with the Gravity Gun will be hard, especially against the antlions and zombies.
    • Episode Two has "Little Rocket Man": find a garden gnome in the first map, carry it with you for most of the game, and drop it into a rocket.
  • In most of the Halo games, you have the option to turn on various "skulls" for the campaign mode (in some games you have to find them before you can use them, in some games not) which effect the gameplay in various ways. There's one that causes your shields to recharge only upon meleeing an enemy, one that causes every enemy's health to double, one that removes your entire first-person HUD and arms, leaving you with no way to tell what gun you're currently using unless you fire it or tediously look at its shape with your own shadow, one that causes you to restart the whole level if you die on solo or revert to the last checkpoint if ANY player dies on co-op, and those are just a few. Some skulls are actually helpful (though those are mostly just in Halo 2 and Combat Evolved Anniversary), but in most cases, they greatly increase the games' difficulty in many unique ways.
  • Left 4 Dead and its sequel have Video Game Achievements for accomplishing certain challenge runs. These include completing a campaign without any survivor getting incapacitated (Stand Tall), using pistols only (Akimbo Assassin), using melee weapons only (Confederacy Of Crunches), finish a game without ever causing friendly fire (Safety First), etc.
  • Left 4 Dead 2's Mutation gamemode adds different mechanics for players to tackle. Challenges include the whole team being forced to use swords only (Four Swordsmen), doing a solo run with the Magnum only (Lone Gunman), playing a VS game where all special infected are buffed up Jockeys (Riding My Survivor), and many others. With the Workshop also allowing for mutation add-ons, you have a whole gamut of options.

    Idle Games 
  • The Incrementali Tree: The environment layer has two of these: "Volcano" and "Depths". In the former the exponent for incrementali self-boost exponent is divided by 25, in the latter all shrine god effects are disabled. Both can be beaten up to 25 times with an increasing incrementali goal, the first completion unlocking a new layer and subsequent ones boosting offerings/singularity power respectively.
  • In Synergism, you can start one of several challenges which require you to reach a certain resource total without helpful things, like Multipliers, Crystals, or things making the game harder like higher costs. Depending on the tier, the challenge will force you to Transcend, Reincarnate, or Ascend beforehand. Beating a challenge gives a boost to the main game.
  • The Tree of Life: A bunch of layers have challenges where you have to reach a certain resource with a restriction and get a reward for doing so. The Life layer even has challenges where you need to select a number that applies multiple challenges at once (so C72 would apply C7 twice and C2 once), providing respective Gems if you do well enough.

  • City of Heroes has the Flashback system. A character can revisit old or outleveled story arcs and complete them with various restrictions, including a time limit, powered-up enemies, or only certain powers and abilities allowed.
  • Dofus has been adding more and more challenges like this, and two in particular have become ubiquitous - every dungeon includes a success for beating them:
    • The "Duo" challenges require players to beat bosses with only two characters - dungeons are designed for teams of 4 to 8 characters, as the number of enemies is tied with the number of characters with a minimum of four. While this is fairly easy with overlevelled characters in basic dungeons, it can become absurdly hard in dungeons for levels 190-200 (200 being the max level in the game).
    • The "Score 300" challenges require players to beat bosses using idols to multiply their score (and, as such, their XP and loot) by a factor of 300%. The catch being that those idols tend to make the fights significantly harder - they can progressively increase enemy damage, increase enemy movement, half your health if you finish on the same line as an enemy, etc... 300 requires you to use five or six of them, which can make an already very difficult fight hellish.
  • Guild Wars has two notable challenges which were so impressive the developers eventually commemorated them with in-game titles.
    • Legendary Defender of Ascalon required the player to reach maximum level in the Forced Tutorial of Prophecies. Because the monsters stopped giving experience well before that, players resorted to getting themselves killed by monsters, which caused them to level up and be worth experience.
    • Survivors reach the maximum level without dying once, while Legendary Survivors gain ten times that amount of experience. Nerfed when the developers allowed the title to reset on death rather than being permanently removed.
  • Wynncraft: When starting up a new character, the player is given the option to place the character into four different gamemodes, like an Ironman mode ala Runescape or being permanently locked into Player Versus Player as a few examples. These gamemodes are unlocked when another of the player's character has met a certain criteria like reaching a specific level or having a certain quest completed. These gamemodes can also be stacked, meaning the player can be under the restrictions of two gamemodes at once. This led way for the HICH gamemode, where the player is under the restrictions of every gamemode.

    Platform Games 
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt: The Kudos System is where you score points during each mission, and then get ranked by the end; higher rank will give you more chances at opening random gift boxes which contain rare materials. You score points by doing things like killing more than 1 enemies at the same time, or scoring a kill while airborne, etc. The challenge part comes in how the points will be reset to 0 when 1) it's banked (by using the more powerful Special Skills or touching a Checkpoint), 2) you get hit (depending on the setting, the points will only get reset when you get hit the third time). A common way to maximize the point you get, thusly, would be a special skill-less (at least before the boss fight), no checkpoint, No-Damage Run so that all of the points are only "banked" at or near the end.
  • Celeste: Collecting the 200th strawberry requires you to complete the first chapter without dashing at all, which requires plenty of skill and knowledge of advanced movement techniques like spike-dashing that the game never directly teaches you. Of course, getting this 200th strawberry is completely optional; you only need 150 strawberries to get the game's best ending.
  • Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped: When you re-enter a level after you collected its Crystal, there'll be a floating clock near the start. Pick it up to activate Time Trial mode where a timer starts ticking. Some of the crates are changed to "time crates", which, when broken, will stop the timer for a few seconds (depending on the crate's number). As you'll be put right at the start if you die in a Time Trial, taking the trial would thus be not just a Speed Run but a No-Damage Run as well. The rewards for finishing quickly are Time Relics, which comes in grades (in order): Sapphire, Gold and Platinum. These are required for 100% Completion.
  • Dino Run has several, which can be enabled in the settings. These include a continuous meteor shower, a lot more Ledge Bats, or shrouding the level in perpetual darkness. Completing them earns you bonus points.
  • In Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, inputting B, A, RIGHT, RIGHT, A, LEFT, A, X (BARRAL AX) in the cheats menu makes all DK barrels disappear.
  • Iji has several such challenges:
    • The hardest difficulty, Ultimortal, limits you to only upgrading your health - meaning you'll have to stick with the first weapon, the shotgun, for the entire game until the final boss.
    • The game encourages a Pacifist Run, as morality plays a large part in the story.
    • There's an optional timer for speedruns.
    • Right before the final boss, if you've already beaten the game at least once, there's a computer that supercharges him, giving him loads of health, increasing the rate and power of his attacks, the number of projectiles and the size of their hitboxes, and so on. You are specifically warned that doing this is a very bad idea if you don't know what you're doing.
  • Kero Blaster requires some challenge runs for the in-game achievements, such as beating the two main modes of the game without upgrading health, beating them without getting a game over, and beating the final stage of all three modes while wearing the jacket (which breaks after Kaeru takes any damage).
  • Mega Man 9 and 10 both have an item called "The Book of Hairstyles" that can be bought for the ever-so-low price of 20 screws. This item removes Mega Man's helmet, revealing his hair. But wait. Without his helmet, Mega Man takes MORE damage, and if he loses even ONE life, his helmet comes back, thus requiring the item to be bought...AGAIN. If you're looking to obtain the achievement for beating all 8 bosses without your helmet, expect your screw expenses to overflow to be screwed over. There's also the Mr./Ms. Perfect trophy run is a No-Damage Run through the entire game. If you're going to do this, you might as well combine it with the No Helmet Run mentioned above.
  • The "EP" in the title of Rockman 7 EP can stand for one of two things depending on your performance. If you manage to beat the game with a very minimal number of exhausted lives and Tanks used, Mega Man refers to "EP" as "Expert Player". Otherwise he calls it "Economic Power".
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Galaxy has Prankster Comets, which modify a level in one of five ways: Daredevil Comets turn Mario or Luigi into a One-Hit-Point Wonder for the duration of the level, as well as cutting it down to a Boss-Only Level in all but one case. Speedy Comets turn the regular level into a Timed Mission while replacing some enemies. Cosmic Comets make you race to a Power Star against a clone of yourself. Fast Foe Comets speed all the enemies and environmental hazards up, and Purple Comets spawn 100 purple coins that need to be collected, usually within a time limit. Super Mario Galaxy 2 retires the Cosmic and Fast Foe Comets from the original in favour of four new challenges: Clone Comets spawn a set of Cosmic Clones that mimic your every move, Romp Comets require you to defeat 30 enemies with a power-up while on a timer, and Double Time Comets quadruple the speed of stage hazards while leaving enemies as they are. Finally, Green Comets appear only after defeating Bowser for the first time; they create Green Stars in hard-to-reach areas of normal levels, which need to be collected for 100% Completion.
    • New Super Mario Bros. U has the Challenge Mode, with challenges in 4 categories: Time Attack, Coin Collection, 1-Up Rally, and Special. Time Attack challenges have you race against the clock to get to the flagpole, Coin Collection challenges are either about collecting all or most of the coins in a stage, or making it through a stage without collecting too many coins. 1-Up Rally challenges feature bouncing on enemies repeatedly to get 1-Up bonuses, and Special challenges can range from dodging the attacks of 2 Fire Bros. on a single block surrounded by spikes, to making it through Pendulum Castle on Donut Blocks without dashingnote .
    • Super Mario Maker: In the 3DS version, the Super Mario Challenge levels have optional objectives like reaching the goal after collecting all coins, defeating all enemies of a particular kind, or never pressing or tilting left. Two levels even encourage the player to not touch the floor again after the first jump. Completing such feats grant medals, which can later be used to unlock the secret World 19. A similar idea reappears in Super Mario Maker 2 with mandatory clear conditions for certain Story Mode levels, but the game also adapted so players can also make their own levels requiring clear conditions.
    • Mario Party Superstars: Some of the achievements that make stars glow up in Kamek's crystal ball require performing difficult feats like reaching Level 99 in Stick 'n' Spin (which is also time-consuming) or winning all minigames in a party playthrough.

    Puzzle Games 

    Racing Games 
  • In Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, the Grand Prix includes tasks such as winning on certain tracks either without using the boost pads lying on the track, or without using any power-ups. One more unique challenge requires the player to win a race while driving backwards for the entire last lap, which slows the kart to a crawl, forces the player to avoid any source of boost, and has "Wrong Way!" flashing on screen the entire time.
  • Metropolis Street Racer lets you choose your challenges, such as lap times or giving an opponent a head start in duel. The more challenging, the more kudos.
  • Need for Speed
    • Need for Speed: Most Wanted introduced the "Challenge Series", a set of pre-conditioned events separate from the main story for the player to complete. A total of 70 events exists, one of which is unlocked with a cheat code and the other being a bonus exclusive to the 'Black edition' version of the game. Completing 69 events unlocks two extra cars and special performance parts for use outside of the story mode.
    • Carbon refined the Challenge Series, which organized the events based on their type and expanded them with sequential tiers of difficulty; completing all tiers merely unlocked cosmetic rewards but two of the three challenge tiers exclusive to the Collector's Edition unlocked new vehicles. Additionally, Carbon introduced "Reward Cards", which are a collection of cosmetic items and cars that can be unlocked by completing certain criteria either inside or outside of the story.
    • Undercover and The Run also include the Challenge Series within the games and as additional DLC for both, but otherwise provide no rewards to players upon completion.
    • Autolog introduced in Hot Pursuit (2010) onwards can count as one, since it encourages competition between friends.

    Rhythm Games 
  • beatmania IIDX has the Hard modifier, which starts your gauge at 100% and removes the requirement of ending with 80% or higher to clear the song, but it makes your gauge drop much faster with each missed note, and it fails you if your gauge hits zero at any point. This can actually make certain songs easier if their difficulty is concentrated at the end of the song. If you're a good enough player to hold your own until the ending massacre, the fact that a Hard gauge removes the 80+% requirement can make songs easier to pass than on the regular bar. The EX-HARD modifier, introduced in IIDX 19: Lincle, makes the gauge drop even harsher.
  • DanceDanceRevolution, in a similar vein, has similar self-imposed customization options for the absurdly hardcore. Would you like to play this dance backwards with no visible steps at several times the normal step speed?
  • Some cheat codes in Guitar Hero activate certain modifiers, some of which make the game harder. These include Performance Mode (hides the fretboard, meaning you can't see the notes at all) and Precision Mode (which makes the lax timing window for hitting notes much tighter).
  • BMS player Lunatic Rave 2 has a secret option called "Extra Mode". You know all those notes in the background channels? expect to play a lot more of them. To put this in perspective, Scripted Connection (Long Mix) normally has 4459 notes in it. If you're playing an accurate BMS of it in Lunatic Rave 2, Extra Mode increases the number of notes to 6118! (This has the side effect of making some songs nigh-impossible)
  • Newer installments of Popn Music have "Challenge mode," which is essentially the game's normal mode, but after picking a song, you can choose up to two objectives to complete within the song for extra "Challenge Points." These challenges range from the tame (such as scoring x points or getting less than y misses) to the not-so-tame (having the scroll speed of the notes multiply or notes do spiraly animations at regular intervals) to the insane (having song characters go into "Dance Ojama" mode and block your view of the notes or completing the song with a perfect score). If you get enough Challenge Points, you'll get an extra stage. Should you desire even more challenge, there's the Cho-Challenge Mode, which is the same as Challenge Mode but with the "Cool" note judgment (in addition to Great, Good, and Bad), which makes scoring brutally hard.
  • Rock Band 4 has Brutal Mode, in which the notes turn invisible before they reach the end of the highway. The higher your Health Meter, the sooner the notes vanish. Getting a good score in this mode will mark the song with crimson stars.

  • The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth and its expansion packs Afterbirth and Afterbirth+ feature Challenges that disable treasure rooms, but give you a specific set of items, and an end boss to defeat. These challenges unlock something in the main game once completed. For example, the "Suicide King" challenge tasks you with beating Isaac as Lazarus with Ipecac, Mr. Mega,... and My Reflection. You need to careful with aiming your shots, lest you blow yourself up with your own explosions. There's also the "Purist" challenge, where you need to beat Mom's Heart as Isaac with nothing.
  • Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead has various starting scenarios that make early game harder in exchange for more skill points. The best would be "Challenge: Really Bad Day", which only lets you choose from two professions: Tweaker (suffers from meth addiction) or Shower Victim (has only a wet towel and a bar of soap, and as the towel lacks storage space, they can't even hold that bar of soap until they find something better). Additionally, the starting building is on fire, surrounded by zombies, your character has the flu (penalty to all stats) and depression (cannot craft, also penalizes stats), and an infected bite wound. That last one is the nastiest, as it regularly causes nausea, so you cannot eat or drink most comestibles, and will kill you shortly if you cannot find some rare antibiotics. The best hope is to start in a house, immediately rush to the bathroom before it burns down, check if there are any antibiotics, and restart if there aren't.
  • The Drop lets you choose up to two challenge traits when creating a custom character. The game offers three types of them: hiding item effect icons (so you aren't told which item does what, and many of these are Poison Mushrooms), making your character have fewer inventory slots than normally (or none at all, which also makes you unable to throw items), or constraining your vision to the character's line of sight.
  • Elona lets you play as a snail. They're as weak as you expect, and salt kills them instantly.
    • Regarding character classes, the Tourist class starts with no useful skills at all.
    • And for the truly masochistic, you can choose both at the same time.
  • The Pact of Punishment from Hades. It functions similarly to the Gods mechanic in Bastion or the Beast Signs in Pyre in that you give all enemies bonuses or implement hostile mechanics against yourself in return for a reward each time you defeat a boss. The Pact operates on a 'heat level' where every debuff or enemy bonus adds one 'heat', and in order to get more rewards you need to play with a higher heat level than the last time you beat the game with that weapon.
  • NetHack features a bevy of conducts, i.e. voluntary challenges, including a Pacifist Run, an "atheist" run (not using the "pray" command to ask favors from the gods, or dropping anything on altars to test for alignment, or chatting with priests, or...), an "illiterate" run (not reading anything, and not writing anything beyond the letter X), a "foodless" run (not eating anything, including non-foods), and for the truly psychotic, combinations of any or all of the above resulting in things like "wishless genocideless polyitemless polyselfless illiterate atheist weaponless vegan" (actually achieved). You get nothing for completing these other than satisfaction, but the game will keep track of what you've accomplished. Nethack is already Nintendo Hard of itself, so these challenges add replay value only for the truly hardcore. The config file also lets you make your character blind. This makes the game extraordinarily difficult for obvious reasons and also because, as a traditional roguelike, Nethack involves a lot of painstaking item-identification, and being permanently blindfolded makes this nearly impossible (you generally can't read scrolls, see what potions look like, etc.).
  • Revita has Lucent Shards, earned after winning a run and which can be added before a run to add preset modifiers that increase the difficulty. Getting to shard 5 lets you unlock Custom Shards, where you can change the points assigned from these shards to other modifiers up to the highest shard you've beaten, similar to Hades' Pact of Punishment.
  • Custom Mode of Slay the Spire allows for the player to mix-and-match a variety of game modifiers. Many of the game modifiers are a mixture of bad and good, acting similarly to a hard mode with Hard Mode Perks. A few modifiers are bad without any redeeming qualities, but the sting of those can be lessened by using them along with purely good modifiers, allowing the player to choose precisely the degree and type of challenge they want.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Bravely Default has customizable difficulty settings allowing you to turn off EXP gain, money gain, and set the random encounter rate as high or as low as you want. Combine this with Hard mode, and you have a Challenge Gamer's paradise.
  • Coromon has difficulty settings that let you enable permadeath, limit the number of items you can use in battle, make it so you can only catch one Coromon of each evolutionary line, and make it so you're only able to capture Coromon from other trainers' teams. All of these, as well as the base difficulty setting, can be readjusted by returning to the game's starting area and accessing a computer terminal.
  • Dark Souls: The "No-Bonfire Run" challenge - a.k.a. completing the game without ever using a Save Point - became so popular that the developers added the Illusionary Sword in the game as a reward for completing it.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: Near the end of the main quest line, a player can bypass one minor quest to complete the Path of Blood if their character has never killed anything, stolen anything, or taken Source. It's a Guide Dang It! requirement that's far more difficult than just doing the quest, but it nets the character a permanent buff and a bit of unique dialogue.
  • Dragon Quest XI has the option to enable any number of Draconian Quests when starting a new game. They cannot be turned on afterwards, but can be disabled at any time. They are as follows:
    • Increase the health and attack power of all enemies.
    • Enemies which are lower level than the party provide less experience points, or none if they are far lower.
    • No one in the party can equip any armor.
    • The player cannot buy anything from shops.
    • The main character will sometimes fail to act during battle.
    • Removing the option to flee from battle.
The Nintendo Switch version drops "No running" from the list but adds three new ones:
  • "Super Shypox", any party member will sometimes fail to act in battle.
  • Game Over if the Hero falls in battle.
  • Allowing the townsfolk to lie to the player or tell useless information to them.
  • The Epic Battle Fantasy series has Challenges, available in the fourth and fifth games, which make the game more difficult in various ways. Beating a boss on Epic difficulty with all Challenges enabled will mark the associated Medal with a gold star.
  • Fable allows you to bet your money for one or more "boasts" before quests, which include a mix of standard challenges (such as wearing no armor or killing no enemies) and quest-specific ones (such as perfectly defending all civilians). Following them earns you extra cash, while breaking them forfeits the bet.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has Hardcore Mode. In this mode, ammo has weight, players must eat, drink, and sleep, stimpaks only heal over time, companions can die, and crippled limbs can only be healed with a doctor's bag or the addictive drug Hydra.
  • Kingdom Hearts series:
    • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days features an item called the Extreme Ring, which puts your HP down to one.
    • Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix adds trophies for doing a few basic challenge runs. You get one for finishing the game without using any continues (you are allowed to die, but if you do you have to select "Load Game" rather than "Continue", which usually results in losing a lot more progress) and for completing the whole game without changing Sora's equipment (which includes both keychain and accessories). Extra challenge can be gained from not changing Donald and Goofy's equipment, doing both at once, or doing either (or both) on Proud Mode.
    • Beginning from Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, the games have added a recurring ability called either EXP Zero, Zero EXP, or No Experience, preventing the protagonists from ever gaining experience or leveling up. This ability makes it possible for daring players who want to play the games at level 1. Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage- instead implements an option called EXP Gain, which functions similarly to EXP Zero.
    • Kingdom Hearts III: Re𝄌Mind introduces PRO Codes, which makes the game harder by adding up to 13 restrictions: the party's stats are reduced to Level 1, their defense is reduced to 0, their health and mana are constantly draining, they cannot use battle items, Cure magic, Attractions, or Team Attacks, playable characters cannot use Shotlocks, Formchanges and Grand Magic, Kupo Coins in Sora's possession won't work, Sora can't use Links, and Sora can only equip up to 30 abilities. Players can obtain merit points by defeating certain bosses with PRO Codes on; mercifully, the PRO Codes only need to be on while fighting these bosses, so players who dare accept the challenge can simply play the rest of the game without those restrictions.
  • Fan-game Pokémon Uranium offers the option to enforce a Nuzlocke run (originally a Self-Imposed Challenge), where all Pokémon defeats are permanent, and only the first Pokémon encountered in each area can be caught. Along with additional options to limit when you can heal.
  • Romancing SaGa: After completing the game once, you are given the option to power up the final boss using however many Cosmic Keystones you have collected. Five or fewer means only his HP will increase, while six or more (up to ten) means his other stats will increase as well. In all cases he becomes more powerful and hits multiple times in one turn.
  • In Save the Light and Unleash the Light, the Crying Breakfast Friends (CBF) Badge halves the entire team's stats. The description even recommends it to be worn for a big challenge. The latter game also adds the Hard Mode Perk in Rose's Room, which does the same as the CBF Badge in exchange for increasing the Rank and Neato EXP gains by 50%.
  • Star Ocean:
    • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time's Battle Trophy system actively encourages this. You get in-game rewards for beating bosses in under a minute, for beating them without actually moving the player-controlled character, for beating the optional bosses with only one character, for a Low-Level Run, for beating the entire game armed with the game's weakest weapon, et cetera.
    • Star Ocean: The Second Story has an option to turn the final boss into a God-like being with insane amounts of HP and spells capable of killing your entire party in a single hit. The game also provides a dungeon specifically designed to help train your party to a high enough level so that this battle won't be completely impossible. But, even at level 255-highest possible level one can achieve-this battle is ridiculously hard.
  • Titan Quest: The Steam version adds some, like "Less than 100 recorded kills by game's end, speedrun the game in under 20 hours, etc.
  • Undertale actually acknowledges the player doing certain challenge runs - you get a special message if you manage to complete the game under a certain restriction. These are: no saving, no using healing items, finish the game wearing the Bandage (the weakest armour, which turns into a healing item when removed, meaning you can't re-equip it), finishing the game at level 1 (easier than it sounds, as killing enemies to gain EXP is actively discouraged in this game for spoiler-intensive reasons) and finishing the game with a Snowman Piece in your inventory (a healing item that you can get early in the game that heals 45 HP, in a game where if you play "normally" (i.e., as you would a standard RPG) you'd have about 35 HP by the time you fight the pre-final boss). You can do many or all of them at once; Doing "No Healing Items", "Bandage", and "Level 1" all at once even gets its own message saying "You really like to challenge yourself, huh?"
    • In fact, since Undertale is a game that actively deconstructs many standard gaming tropes, the Genocide/No Mercy run could be considered a deconstruction of this. When you gain enough LOVE, most bosses die in one hit, but there are a couple of bosses whose difficulty level is far above anything you would encounter on a Neutral or Pacifist run. The latter, Sans, even explicitly says that you know you won't gain anything from doing it, and the only reason you are doing it is to prove that you can.
  • Vagrant Story has an in-game list of challenges, most of which can only be completed in New Game + mode. These range from using a specific weapon type thousands of times, to finishing the game in less than 10 hours, to doing each block puzzle in record time, to completing the bestiary, to getting the ultimate sword from one enemy in one room of a mapless dungeon, to playing the whole game without saving.

  • Ikaruga, or at least the Xbox 360 version, actually provides for a scoreboard for "Dot Eater" play - meaning you don't fire a single shot, collecting points by surviving and by using your shield to absorb every last bullet you can. This is much harder than you may think, as there are points throughout the game that are literal walls. Without the ability to fire and destroy these walls, you have to align the Ikaruga just right to slip through the single pixel holes in them.
  • R-Type skill runs generally involve non-use of the Force Device or Wave Cannon, not killing anything but bosses that would kill you and things that directly obstruct your progress, or some combination of the above. The games appear to have anticipated this, since in III, Delta and Final the game will give you a Force Device for the final stage of the last boss if you don't have one. Delta and Final also keep track of various handicaps you might impose on yourself, like beating the game without Force or Wave Cannon.

    Stealth-Based Games 
  • At the beginning of Dishonored 2, Corvo is subjected to a De-power. He later meets the Outsider, as he did in the first game... but this time, the player has the option of rejecting the Outsider's deal and playing through the game without any powers.
  • Metal Gear Solid and beyond was made with this sort of thing in mind, with various ranks and accomplishments. There is the Pacifist Run (which nets you at least a Pigeon rank and is needed to get higher ranks), the Stealth Run (which nets you at least a Chameleon rank and is needed to get higher ranks), and a no-kill no-continue no-Alert Speed Run on the highest difficulty will get you a suitably heroic title, usually Big Boss. There's stranger challenges (like eating all possible animals in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater which nets you the Markhor rank). There's also some very bizarre bonus titles that take a strange mind to get or see the worth of getting - ending Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty with a Ration-eating sea louse in your inventory nets you the Sea Louse rank, and ending Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater with a Stamina-sapping leech attached to your body gives you the Leech rank. Kojima has claimed the reason he included the Naked camouflage in Metal Gear Solid 3 was to "make players want to finish the game without using clothes".

    Strategy Games 
  • BattleTech lets you adjust a number of settings during campaign setup to noticeably increase the challenge. Options include a reduced chance for special pilots to appear for recruitment, reduced cash rewards for completing missions, incapacitated pilots always dying from their wounds, and requiring up to 8 'Mech parts to reassemble a new 'Mech (the standard value is 3). Completing a pretty large number of 'Mechs with that last option enabled awards you an achievement.
  • Civilization:
    • Civilization IV has the "Always War" challenge, where you are perpetually at war with every other civilization. On the other hand, there's also "Always Peace," which is also Exactly What It Says on the Tin: No A.I.s will declare war on you, but you can't declare war on anyone.
    • Civilization Revolutions has a few Achievements for this. For example, "Absolute Power is Kind of Neat" means playing the whole game under a Despotism (the simplest and worst form of government, by near-universal consensus).
  • Europa Universalis allows you to play as any state at any date of the Renaissaince/Enlightenment era, even if it's a vassal or backward tribal nation. Playing as small German/Russian city-state next to powerful and ambitious countries is not easy. This, however, isn't considered hardcore in the community: the real challenge is playing as a minor Native American (weak, decentralised, and technologically inferior to Europeans who will inevitably invade with fancy guns), African, or Asian state. There's even achievement for conquering the world as Ryukyu — an almost impossible goal.
  • Jurassic World: Evolution: Update 1.4 saw the addition of a Challenge Mode with four different difficulties, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Jurassic. Each functioned in a similar vein to the game's story mode and requires the player to unlock all of the dinosaurs and research items as they progress by pursuing a higher star rating for the island being played on. The requirements to successfully reach a five starred park obviously increase with each difficulty, but despite the "par time" for each island, there's no time limit to achieving it and acquiring a new skin for one of your dinosaurs, and each island offers two new skins as rewards (one for getting 5 stars on any difficulty, and another for getting 5 stars for Jurassic Difficulty. Successfully achieving the five star rating within the par time does, however, reward the player with an Achievement as well as one or both of the skins.

    Survival Horror 
  • There's the "One Gun" challenge (and achievement) in Dead Space, requiring beating the game using only the Plasma Cutter. The catch? It's actually a pretty viable strategy, especially on higher difficulties.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • The last night of the first Five Nights at Freddy's is Custom Night, where one can adjust how difficult each animatronic is. It can be used to make them super easy and give you a relatively relaxed night... or you can crank the AI up to make it harder for yourself. The most difficult is '4/20 Mode', where you set the AI of all four animatronics to 20, which is the maximum. It's insanely difficult and only beatable by really skilled power management, reflexes, and a lot of luck and perseverance. Not even the creator of FNAF has been able to do it.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 2 ups the ante with 10-20 mode, with both the old and new animatronics (including Golden Freddy and BB) set at 20.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 3 has no Custom Night, but it does have Aggressive Nightmare Mode, consisting of playing Nightmare Mode (the 6th night) with the Aggressive cheat (which makes Springtrap more... well, aggressive).
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 4 includes two difficulties from previous games: Nightmare Mode and 4-20 mode. The DLC introduces a new difficulty called Blind Mode, in which you are not allowed to use the flashlight.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location brings back Custom Night, with the ultimate challenge (all animatronics, including ones unique to this night, at max level), being Golden Freddy mode, though confusingly enough Golden Freddy does not actually appear.
    • Ultimate Custom Night takes this up a notch with 50/20 mode. And yes, once again Scott can't beat it, though he did program in a victory screen, labeled 'UNBEATABLE!'.

  • Flight encourages beating it as fast as possible with several in-game achievements, such as clearing England in 8 days or under.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse has "Advanced" rules for each playable villain, which adds a stipulation that makes the game against them harder. There are also official "Challenge" rules, posted online and included in the video game adaptation, that range from making the villain mildly more annoying (Deadline's equipment becomes indestructible) to making things quite a bit tougher (the Dreamer becomes a One-Hit-Point Wonder, and if she dies, you lose) to making things ridiculously hard (Baron Blade is now a Timed Mission on both sides). Playing with both Advanced and Challenge rules active at the same time is called "Ultimate".
  • The Who's Tommy (a pinball machine) has "Tommy mode", where blinders obfuscate your view of the lower flippers (thus emulating the eponymous character's blindness). In ordinary gameplay, it only activates during a specific mode; however, holding a button when starting a game can enable it for its entire duration.
  • Another pinball example: Total Nuclear Annihilation ordinarily makes the player destroy nine reactors to complete the game. An operator setting allows this to be lowered; the creator suggests that a one-reactor game would make for a different competitive experience, prioritizing jacking up the reactor's value and destroying it on one's first ball. This is because completing the reactor(s) drains the current ball, invalidates every ball the player has, and awards a hefty bonus that increases depending on the number of balls they had left to play.
  • The Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory pinball machine has secret "Candy Kodes" that (among other things) can reverse the flipper controls for the duration of the game.

Alternative Title(s): Game Imposed Challenge