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A point within the action of a video game to which the player can return after play has been interrupted, especially by player character death.

Consoles made this method popular in the dark ages when they only had a few megabytes worth of flash storage (if that) and so couldn't do proper save/load like hard-drive-equipped PCs could. Nowadays we have consoles with hard disks and cheap flash memory, but checkpoints are still alive as an efficient method for enabling savegames without spending lots of resources implementing a dynamic save system, or for simply challenging the player.

Checkpoints may either be explicit, in the form of some sort of door the player must pass through or a station he must touch, or can occur implicitly as the player reaches some point in the narrative or geography of the game. Sometimes, more often in older games, the player isn't informed at all when they reach a checkpoint. One of the more common forms of check point is a flag.

Games can include several classes of checkpoint which vary according to which sorts of play interruption return the player to that checkpoint. For example:

  • A Save Point is a checkpoint the player can return to upon loading a saved game.
  • In games which allow the player to stockpile extra lives, there can be minor checkpoints to which the player returns if he has lives in reserve, and less frequent major checkpoints to which he returns when he exhausts his stockpile. Returning to a major checkpoint having exhausted extra lives is often called a "Continue". Continues may be unbounded, or may have their own stockpile independent from extra lives. On arcade machines, continues can often be purchased for more coins.
  • A game may set independent checkpoints for player death and for failing to complete some task (as in Super Mario Bros., where death returns the player to a minor checkpoint, but running out of time returns him to the beginning of the Game Level. Versions of the game which allow continues return the player to an even more senior checkpoint, which occurs at the beginning of each "world" grouping of levels).
  • In racing games, checkpoints split the course into separately-timed sections, and if there is a time limit involved, it usually extends the time limit.

Generally, in games which are organized into levels, a checkpoint occurs at the start of each level. Minor checkpoints may occur within the level. In such games, the Game Level checkpoint is usually a Save Point.

Checkpoints are often coincident with a change of scene or location, as this is a technologically convenient place from which to restart the action of the game.

Often, checkpoints will fill up your Life Meter, Mana Meter, ammo, or otherwise replenish your resources; this is what we call a Healing Checkpoint.

Game Shows in the Millionaire style have a similar mechanic. Getting a question wrong will send the contestant back to the last check-point's winnings; the difference is that in most cases, the contestant's run will end there.

A subversion is a Treacherous Checkpoint. Also see Checkpoint Starvation, when checkpoints are few and far-between or nonexistent. Compare Autosave and Death as Game Mechanic.


    open/close all folders 

  • In games which do not scroll (that is, each screen is a set piece, a discreet chunk of game, where the player transitions from one to another atomically), each room serves as a checkpoint. Examples include The Adventures of Lolo, Bubble Bobble, and Berzerk.

    Action Adventure Game 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: The N533 springs are established as checkpoints once activated. In other areas where Jos van Corn is selling items before a major fight is applied one as well.
  • Kid Baby Starchild has checkpoints consisting of a golden statue of a winged one-eyed egg on a pole. Little Dude will respawn at one when he loses all health.
  • Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas: Checkpoints in this game are old computers left over from the Arcadian era. If you die, you respawn near one.
  • Ōkami has the occasional golden gate, usually located just before difficult encounters. Amaterasu can continue from the gate if she dies. Unlike the mirrors, the player cannot resume the game at these gates after quitting to the title screen or shutting the console off.
  • The PS2 game Primal used teleportation gates called "rift gates." These were a last resort checkpoint only. How it worked was that if Jen (the main character) ran out of energy gems and health in a monster form, she'd revert back to human form. If she ran out of health as a human, she'd be put into a "near death" state in her physical body (the game was taking place in a spirit world). At that point, you, as Scree, would have to race to the nearest rift gate to bring her back. Although there was no visible clock, this was a Timed Mission, so if you didn't make it, Jen died. (If you did, then once Scree brought her back through, he'd admonish her, "Take better care of yourself!")
  • Before Raz undergoes the climactic battle with the brain-tank and then with his own subconscious in Psychonauts, the game automatically saves itself as a check point, and its location is listed as "The Point of No Return". Justified in Black Velvetopia: Getting caught by the Bull in the street effectively knocks Raz back to the previous checkpoint.
  • Tomb Raider: Legend and Tomb Raider: Anniversary had lots and lots of checkpoints.

    Action Game 
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo, there are the save checkpoints typically in the middle of levels and a few feet before bosses.
  • Nelo: You know you've reached one when you see "Checkpoint" flashing on the bottom left corner of the screen.
  • Rad Rodgers: The game has checkpoints in the form of floppy disks.

    Adventure Game 
  • The entire Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People series has only one point in which Strong Bad can die, but in order to reach this point, you have to touch a check point (as video game reality has merged with the main Homestar Runner world), so his death isn't even permanent. However, he can't keep any items he picked up between touching the check point and dying, so the puzzle is how to get the item he wants safely across - which involves having Strong Mad throw the check point to various locations. Twice.

    Beat 'em Up 

    First Person Shooter 
  • Both Halo and its fan game Halo Zero use this.
  • In Battlefield-type shooters, you often have check points on the map that can be captured by either team. When a player's character dies, he can respawn in any of the captured check points. This allows players to jump back into the action instead of having to run all the way from home base to where they died. Naturally, sometimes you must spawn at the home base anyway (especially if there are vehicles there that you wish to pilot). This works in Star Wars: Battlefront as well.
  • In Borderlands, saving is handled through passing by New-U stations. Bigger ones offer the Fast Travel function, and it's in them that you'll spawn if you exit and re-enter the game.
  • Call of Duty used checkpoints in the form of auto saves since the beginning, but this had the problem of occasionally putting you in an Unwinnable situation if this was your only save and the game decided to save right before you died. Later games went to a checkpoint-only system.
  • Disruptor placed a checkpoint about halfway through most levels. These weren’t visible, but a computer-like female voice would announce “Continue point reached” when you reached one. At that point, however, a three-lives system came into play, in which you could only retry from the checkpoint three times before having to restart the level altogether.
  • Prodeus has nexus points that revive the player on that spot if active. This allows players to continue just where they left off.
  • ULTRAKILL has checkpoints that help to continue the player mid-level upon dying. Layer 4 introduces reusable checkpoints.

    Platform Game 
  • Assassin's Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles: These appear in the form of circles of light on the ground.
  • Ayo the Clown: These appear in the form of giant flowers holding a pie. They bloom, splat Ayo in the face with said pie, and activate when he gets close.
  • Castle Of Pixel Skulls: Torches. Lighting them up activates them, giving the skeleton a place to respawn upon dying. Interestingly, activating another torch causes the previous one to go out.
  • Crossbow Crusade: Coffins act as checkpoints from which the Player Character can respawn should he die. They're activated when the cross on the front is white.
  • Daze Before Christmas has Christmas bells as checkpoints. Touching one makes it ring for you.
  • Double Pug Switch has these in the form of flags on poles.
  • Electronic Super Joy uses flags as checkpoints that emit "Oh yeah" every time they're activated or used to respawn the player.
  • Flippin Kaktus: Dripping faucets serve this purpose in the game. A fireworks display will go off it the kaktus] gets to one.
  • Frogun features checkpoints marked with a flag.
  • Fox N Forests: Retro the Badger serves this role. If you give him a set amount of coins, he will activate the checkpoint for you.
  • Lizard: These take the form of blue "save stones". A face starts glowing on them when they've been activated.
  • Mail Mole: Checkpoints in this game are indicated by a giant envelope.
  • Pankapu: These appear in the form of a collection of yellow pieces that, when the checkpoint is activated, come together to form a circular ring connected by magic lines. When activated, they restore Pankapu's health, and act as respawn points when he's out of health.
  • Panky the Panda: These take the form of a circle above a white triangle. They're blue when inactive, an red when active. If Panky dies, he respawns at the currently active one.
  • Pitfall! II was one of the earliest examples. Player deaths slide the player back to the last checkpoint they crossed, shown as little red circles on the ground.
  • Primal Light: Bonfires serve as checkpoints in the game. Lighting them up activates them.
  • Red Goddess: Inner World: These take the form of some sort of floating stone sigil. They start out red, but turn green upon being activated.
  • Stitchy In Tooki Trouble: Poles with red cloths on them serve this purpose in the game. The red is swapped out for blue when Stitchy gets to them.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The original Super Mario Bros., as well as The Lost Levels and the first Super Mario Land, have each an implicit minor checkpoint about halfway through each Game Level (except the last level of each world, every level in the last world, and all bonus worlds in the second game).
    • Super Mario Bros. 2 provides a checkpoint every time the player enters a door, reaches a new area after boarding a rocket, or enters a boss room upon entering the Mask Gate's mouth.
    • Super Mario Bros. 3: Compared to the previous games as well as all of those released ever since, this installment shows a notable aversion of the trope because it has no checkpoints in any of its 90 levels (though it's hardly a problem since the levels themselves are usually short). The game does provide a checkpoint after the player clears a fortress. Beating the fortress unlocks the door on the world map, allowing access to pipes that skips over parts of the map. This is very helpful, because getting a Game Over resets all of your progress, including all of the levels your previously beaten.
    • Super Mario World: The concept of checkpoints evolved into a gate through which the player has to run to activate the checkpoint — if the player misses breaking the tape across the gate, death will return them to the beginning of the level.
    • Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins has a bell that has to be rung for its midway checkpoint (which is not to be confused with the bell at the end that triggers a bonus game if rung).
    • In the New Super Mario Bros. series, the checkpoint has the form of a flag that turns from a Bowser icon to a Mario/Mushroom one when activated (and acts as a Super Mushroom if Mario is small). Interestingly enough, Super Mario Galaxy 2 became the first 3D Mario to use this kind of checkpoint (without the Power-Up effect).
    • In Super Mario Maker, the sixth delivery of new game features includes an Arrow Sign. Shaking it turns it into a Checkpoint Flag. Up to two of these flags can be placed onto the course. Uploading courses with Checkpoint Flags requires you to clear them from the flag(s) onward. Note that the ability to turn Arrow Signs into Checkpoint Flags wasn't present when the game was originally released, but it (among others) was added in a free software update released on November 4th, 2015 (the 3DS port, as well as Super Mario Maker 2, have them present in the base content).
    • The Yoshi's Island series uses star-made rings that not only provides a respawn point in case of demise, but also offer ten stars to the health gauge.
  • Metroid Dread has invisible checkpoints just before and after entering E.M.M.I. Zones, before and after boss rooms, and after travelling between regions, in case the player hasn't used a Save Point in a while.
  • In the Crash Bandicoot platformers, checkpoints come in the form of boxes with yellow C's on all sides. You activate the boxes by attacking them, and should you die, you will be returned to the last checkpoint you activated. The Checkpoints in the original game had a crucial flaw however: they wouldn't remember the boxes you hit, meaning to get the Gem you'd have to break all the boxes without dying (this was fixed in the second game). The games also feature distinct Save Points; Checkpoint Boxes only appear in the levels, Save Points only occur in the Warp Rooms (or, in the original, during Bonus Rounds or when getting a Gem/Key).
  • Twentieth Anniversary Pac Man World, a 3D platform game for the original PlayStation featuring Pac-Man, had a shiny Pac-Man icon as level checkpoint.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog once had a standard lamppost-style checkpoint in his levels. Moving into 3D, the two Adventure titles turned this into a similarly-looking gate (which returned in the 2006 game). Other games throughout the series have used similar objects, but the limited 8-bit games instead depicted checkpoints as breakable computer monitors (like the items throughout the series). Also, if you made it to the checkpoint in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with enough rings, the lamppost-thing would activate a bonus stage, necessary to collect the chaos emeralds and become Super Sonic.
  • LittleBigPlanet has an interesting variety of checkpoint. Walking by one activates it, and each checkpoint has a set number of lives. If a player dies and uses all the lives, they have to restart the entire level. The life count is reset after activating a new checkpoint. Also, the game has not one, but four types of checkpoints: Entry Barrel (also the initial spawn point; four lives), normal Checkpoints (also four lives; not as fancy-looking as an Entry Barrel), Double Life Checkpoints (Exactly What It Says on the Tin; eight lives, and has two glowing rings instead of one. All Checkpoint types have one (or two) rings around them that show the number of lives. When it's flashing red, you're on your last life and must get to a new checkpoint or reach the Scoreboard fast!), and the Infinite Life Checkpoint, which has one ring but allows infinite respawns, and has the infinity symbol on it. Another interesting twist is that (in local multiplayer at least, possibly also in online multiplayer) players share lives. Each player death means one less for the whole group. But there is a bit of a breather: If all but one player dies when a Checkpoint is flashing red, but the last player reaches a new one, all players respawn. Prize Bubbles (the items that hold new collectibles, like stickers and objects to use in level creation) are stil retained even if the player has to restart a level. The Try Again action (which sends a player back to the last Checkpoint by literally popping the Sackboy) uses one of the available lives. All Story mode (and most player-created) levels, excluding Survival Challenges, have a "No Lives Lost" prize if a player survives a whole level without dying or resetting. (Survival Challenges don't have this because to finish the level, the player must die.)
  • Klonoa features them in the form of floating clocks in bubbles that the player must burst to activate.
  • Jazz Jackrabbit had literal check points: yellow signs with red checks on them that changed to white with Jazz's face on them when shot. Jazz Jackrabbit 2 replaced these with jack(rabbit)-in-a-boxes (with red checks on them).
  • Check points in Purple usually take a form of purple hexagon signs with a question mark. Touching these would replace the question mark with an icon representing the level and can be turned back off by attacking them.
  • Bug featured unique checkpoints for each level. Insectia used a flower that opened, Reptilia, Splot and Quaria used signs, Burrubs had a snowman who raises a flag, and Arachnia used a pillar that lights up on fire.
  • Adventure Island has checkpoints in the form of numbered signposts, of which there were four in each level. They were absent in Adventure Island II and III, though.
  • The Lion King had these in the form of fingerpaint images of Simba.
  • In Aladdin (Virgin Games), checkpoints took the form of blue vases that flipped around to reveal the Genie's face.
  • In The Jungle Book, checkpoints are marked by Junior (the son of Colonel Hathi). When you arrive he is holding a flag, which he then plants in the ground and starts dancing.
  • The checkpoints in Donkey Kong Country are barrels decorated with stars in the SNES trilogy, and spots occupied by Professor Chops in subsequent games.
  • Toy Story has flags as checkpoints.
  • Vivid Conceptions: Every time the protagonist collects three seeds and gains a new power, it counts as a checkpoint.
  • In The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, checkpoints take the form of the Nerd's Nintoaster. On Hard as Balls difficulty, they're invisible. On higher difficulties, they're not there are all.
  • Being that it is an Endless Game, Smurf: Rescue In Gargamel's Castle has your next Smurf start at the beginning of whatever territory you lost your last Smurf in.
  • In the Gameboy Advance port of Infogrames' The Smurfs (1994), due to Checkpoint Starvation in the Super NES and Mega Drive versions, golden Smurf hats are added into the levels to serve as check points.
  • In The Adventures of Lomax, crossing a rope hanged between two sticks saves your progress on a level.
  • In New Adventure Island, checkpoints take the form of flags of the Hudson Soft bee.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Pumpkin King, a video game Prequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas, has Jack save his progress by talking to pumpkin-headed scarecrows.
  • Shovel Knight has glass globes as checkpoints; when you die, you respawn at the last checkpoint you touched, or the beginning of the level. The twist here is that you can break checkpoints. You get treasure for doing so, but you can't respawn at a broken checkpoint. There's a Feat for completing a stage after breaking every checkpoint, and another for breaking every checkpoint in the game.
  • Kao the Kangaroo:
    • The first game is unusual in that checkpoints are collectibles, and you can set them up yourself anywhere in the level.
    • The second game has more normal checkpoint in the form of bells that save your progress when you pick them up. Same goes for the third game, but in the form of tents that Kao goes into to take a nap.
  • Garfield's Nightmare: The poles that have barber-styled stripes serve as respawn points in case Garfield loses a life.
  • Gizmo: The Player Character will occasionally run into platforms that have holograms of himself on them. They serve as these.
  • Ginger Beyond The Crystal: These take the form of a circle of light with an intricate pattern inside it on the ground. They're activated when a little blue creature settles in them.
  • Tamarin: These take the form of little flags. They're usually black with a bug face, but turn orange with the Tamarin's face once they're activated.
  • Tiny Hands Adventure: The checkpoints in this game are purple crates with "Safe Zone" written on them. They can be activated by breaking them.
  • Raccoo Venture: These are indicated by a specially-marked crate that activates once it's broken.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Ballance has checkpoints in the form of round bowls flanked with a pair of torches, which light up with purple flame when your ball passes through. If you lose a life you respawn at the checkpoint, but if you lose all lives you need to restart the level. (Extra life bonuses DO respawn when you lose a life, thus theoretically allowing you to remain immortal if you are careful.)
  • Gruntz has usually several per level. You must have the required number of gruntz with the appropriate tools/toys to progress. Otherwise, it's unwinnable...

    Real Time Strategy 
  • StarCraft II has checkpoints after each objective is accomplished.

    Role Playing Game 
  • Demon's Souls has one checkpoint that spawns at the end of every boss fight, dividing each level into 3-4 sections.
  • Tofu Tower (Naka): After completing an interval of 20 floors of the tower and exiting the tower undefeated, when entering it again, Tofu can skip to the 20 x Number floor instead of starting from Floor 1.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • Moon Dancer sends you back to a checkpoint every time you die, and any points since that checkpoint are rolled back, to prevent players from abusing checkpoints for score. That said, because this game also has point-based extra lives, dying right before the threshold for an extra life can give you what's basically unlimited retries until you make it to the next checkpoint.
  • Touhou Kanjuden ~ Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom has frequent checkpoints under the justification that the characters have been granted Combat Clairvoyance. This is somewhat necessary as the game is incredibly hard.

     S Imulation 
  • In APICO, beds and benches serve as spawn points, and holding R (or any button that you reassign this to) for 5 seconds teleports you to the last bed or bench you used.

    Survival Horror 
  • Arizona Sunshine: Sometimes, the words "Checkpoint Reached" will show up on the bottom of the screen.
  • In BioShock, you can save everywhere, but that didn't stop it from having numerous checkpoints that the player would respawn from after dying. BioShock (and its predecessor, System Shock 2) is notable in that there's an in-universe explanation of how the checkpoints work.
  • Today Is My Birthday: The indication that you've reached one is the word "Checkpoint" appearing in the bottom right corner of the screen with a circular arrow spinning above it.

    Third Person Shooter 

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Minecraft: Although there's technically no progress or game "levels", beds function as checkpoints in the Overworld. If you right-click a bed, it will set your new spawn point next to it, if there's nothing blocking it in. If the bed is destroyed or obstructed by something, you'll respawn in your original default spawn. Respawn anchors function the same way as beds do, but in the Nether. However, unlike beds, they have to be charged up with glowstone blocks (to a maximum of four), and it depletes a charge with each respawn. If you attempt to use a bed or a respawn anchor in the wrong dimension, they'll explode.

    Non Video Game Examples 
  • Ender's Game describes the checkpoint system of a Fictional Video Game:
    On his first death, his figure would reappear on the Giant's table, to play again. On the second death, he'd come back to the landslides. Then to the garden bridge. Then to the mousehole. And then, if he still went back to the Giant and played again, and died again, his desk would go dark, "Free Play Over" would march around the desk, and Ender would lie back on his bed and tremble until he could finally go to sleep.