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Checkpoint Starvation

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Check-Point Starvation occurs when in a Video Game, the player must go for an extended period of time without Check Points or Save Points. Its purpose, when done intentionally, is to add difficulty to the game.

In the most extreme cases, the player may be required to beat the entire game with one life, though going that far with this trope is mostly unheard of. Outside of Roguelikes, one-life marathon games are almost exclusive to the 8-bit era, and even then it was pretty uncommon — except as a Self-Imposed Challenge or the highest difficulty level.

This can occasionally slip in very story-heavy games, possibly by accident. It's particularly common in the introduction for the game, as Exposition can be interspersed with tutorials or gameplay without a save function.

Not to be confused with Save-Game Limits, when the game imposes limits on when and where (and how) you can save the game, though these two sometimes overlap. Use of the Suspend Save in particular allows a developer to enforce Checkpoint Starvation while still allowing the player to take breaks, by creating temporary save points that will get deleted upon resumption.

Compare Respawn Point, Marathon Level, Marathon Boss, Final Death Mode, and Point of No Continues. Contrast Death Is a Slap on the Wrist and Respawn on the Spot. Often causes poopsocking.


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    Action Adventure 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: The Consortium's underground base consists of four areas with multiple large sections with little save-points, while having to contend with Elite Mooks before facing against a major boss fight.
  • Cave Story's Brutal Bonus Level not only is Nintendo Hard, but the player is required to do it all in one go, including its two bosses, one of which has four forms.
  • The entire final section of ICO has to be played in a single sitting, since the save mechanic depends on Yorda and Ico holding hands, and Yorda has been petrified and spirited away by the Queen. This adds a sense of fear and urgency to the already dark and eerie sequence, and makes the player that much more desperate to find her again.
  • La-Mulana:
    • In the original version, the Grail Point in the Shrine of the Mother permanently disappears once it becomes The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. The remake makes players use a new checkpoint there.
    • Having no checkpoints is one thing that makes Hell Temple Hell Temple.
    • Using checkpoints at all requires you to buy a few items and explore the ruins to obtain the Grail. This makes the early game a bit frustrating.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: After the opening cinematics, the player must go through the first path as a Deku until they finally reach the Clock Tower, which for a beginning player can take around 15 minutes, and is then followed by a waiting period which, due to the nature of saving in the game, lasts another 32 minutes. Luckily, you can pass the time more quickly by interacting with one of the two dancing scarecrows, and in the 3DS remake, the Owl Statues activate simply by examining them rather than needing to be struck with Link's sword.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: In the Thieves' Hideout, unlike the other dungeons, you can't leave to save before the boss because the entrance closes shut when you pass by with the girl, which means if you lose to Stalblind, you'll have to do the Escort Mission all over again. And if you leave the dungeon with a Scoot Fruit, you still have to do the Escort Mission again.
  • Luigi's Mansion (Series):
    • Luigi's Mansion's fourth zone opens with the titular mansion getting plunged into a blackout, which not only brings the ghosts back and then some, but also drives the Toads, who save your progress, out of the house. Luigi needs to get the power back on before the player can save again normally, and due to the blackout, ghosts are now present in every room you've cleared, and respawn every time you reenter one. You are allowed one save, however, if you go into the Telephone Room and answer a call that turns out to be from Toad.
    • Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has no mid-level checkpoints whatsoever and levels can take over half an hour on the first playthrough. The game isn't particularly difficult, but if you're playing poorly and getting unlucky with heart drops...
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid: Since this game precedes the introduction of Save Stations in the series, there are five checkpoints in the entire game, and all of them are at the start of each area you enter.
    • In the first Metroid Prime game, there's the beginning of Phazon Mines. There's a save station near the entrance. It's the last one for a long time, and getting to the next one requires getting past a gauntlet of shadow troops, mega turrets, wave and ice troopers, and two Mini-Boss battles against an elite pirate and a cloaked drone. The entire segment usually takes an hour or more to complete. If you happen to not realize that there's a save point there (and this is completely possible since it's tucked away on the opposite side of the entrance), then your last opportunity is Samus' ship (or the southeast corner of the Chozo Ruins).
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is infamous for having few life-restoring save points and a dark world that actively drains your life for much of the game. You can restore your life at the Light Beacons, but some areas like the Ing Hive/Sanctuary Fortress distance these ridiculously. The worst one however, is in the submerged part of Torvus Bog where you have to open three locks to gain access to the lowest levels, where the Gravity Boost (and the Alpha Blogg) is. Opening the last lock makes it impossible to get to the save station without the Gravity Boost...and the Alpha Blogg is right between the Gravity Boost and the save station.
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has two areas:
      • The GFS Valhalla. The only save point is Samus's gunship, left at the docking area, so the entire area has to be explored in one run without dying.
      • Once you hit Phaaze, your ship locks you out, forcing you to finish the game in one go. Fortunately, there is a checkpoint once you reach the Final Boss, so if you die fighting it you go back to the start of the fight.
    • Metroid Fusion has this before Yakuza, the giant spider boss. The power in the station goes out, so the only save point is your ship. The boss is fairly tough and requires navigating a maze full of Space Pirate disguised X parasites. There are also two power ups in the area. Dying at any point means traveling halfway across the station and collecting everything again. Less frustrating than most examples here, but definitely qualifies. Particularly bad because there is a checkpoint nearby, it's just useless because the power is off. It is by far the worst section of the 1% run, which basically means having to avoid picking up any extra missile/health tanks throughout the game. The previously mentioned obstacles are now major obstacles. One of, if not the, hardest boss in the game is capable of killing Samus in one hit, and even if you manage to somehow defeat the boss, the enemies in the very next room, between you and the save point, are the first mooks that can kill Samus in one hit without any extra energy tanks.
  • Milon's Secret Castle: It appears, at first, that dying once sends you back to the beginning of the game. However, you actually can continue: with a code (although you can only do this if you've defeated the first boss (!)). It's also the same way in the Game Boy port, but instead of a cheat code, the game gives you a password immediately after a game over.
  • Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones had a platforming sequence, a chariot sequence, and then a long boss fight with nary a checkpoint; a death meant replaying all of the above over again.
  • The first save point in Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is a remarkably long ways into the tutorial. The problem with this is not in the time it takes to get to it, however, but the fact that the Noob Cave is actually filled with surprisingly dangerous Mooks that are very likely to make mincemeat of someone playing the game for the first time. Dying boots you back to the last save. No save? Have fun going through the 45-minute-long tutorial dungeon again!
  • The motorbike levels in Tomb Raider: Legend are this. The levels loop until you kill a certain number of enemies. Combine the fact that on the harder difficulty levels some enemies can knock off half of your life bar with one shot, and that Lara apparently took shooting lessons from the Empire's finest, and it becomes clear why these sections are an exercise in keyboard smashing.
  • An Untitled Story, on regular mode and higher, cuts one save point from BlackCastle. On masterful mode and higher, another one disappears. This means you need to complete a good three quarters of this incredibly lengthy area without saving.
  • You made it to the Final Boss of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed? Well then, you better not turn the game off until you've beaten him, that is unless you feel like replaying a tedious platforming section and the fight with the previous boss all over again on your next try.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories: Entering the Dark Shrine serves as a Point of No Return where you have to face the final opponents all in a row without any save breaks. The first opponent, Labyrinth Mage, can be skipped if the player defeated him and Seto earlier, but the remaining opponents, must be beaten in succession and are by far the most difficult bosses in the game.

    Action Game 
  • Bomberman Act:Zero's single-player campaign had 99 levels with no save points whatsoever. If the player dies or shuts off their Xbox 360 at any point in the game, they have to start the whole thing from the beginning.
  • The final stages of certain Castlevania games, such as Super Castlevania IV. The most notable offender is in the international versions of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, which if the player dies against Dracula, they'll have to restart from A-2 instead of A-3 (like in the Japanese version). Special mention goes to Castlevania 64's Duel Tower stage, where the developers forgot to add save points. Thankfully they fixed this for the sort-of-but-not-really sequel Legacy Of Darkness.
  • In the doujin game Crescent Pale Mist, checkpoints only appear BEFORE a boss fight, meaning that dying before reaching the boss results in starting the Chapter all over again. Have fun not dying in Chapters 3 and 4.
  • Dead Rising features a little of this in its main scenario (there are no soft checkpoints between going between sections of the mall or before fighting bosses), but Infinity Mode does not feature a single checkpoint nor way to save your game. As the sole objective of Infinity mode is to survive as long as you can, this can lead to trouble. One achievement requires you to stay alive for the real-time equivalent of fourteen hours - and when the game was released, the Xbox 360 was going through incredibly high rates of getting the RROD. Thankfully, its sequels fixed this problem: Dead Rising 2 introduced checkpoints before going into different areas or fighting bosses, and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record changed Infinity Mode to Sandbox Mode, adding the ability to save as well as checkpoints.
  • Devil May Cry: In the first three games, check points must be bought in the form of yellow orbs. They are quite expensive in the first playthrough, and if you run out, any death will send you back to the beginning of the mission.
  • Checkpoints in God Hand are invisible, so you can't tell if there are any in a level until you die. Generally, they're where the game loads a new screen (but not always)... which means that any level where the game doesn't have to load a new area, like "Flying Pyramid", has to be done in one go.
  • Metal Warriors: There are no checkpoints in any of the stages and the game only allows you five continues for the entire playthrough. Some of the later missions (particularly the sixth, which also has a high difficulty level) make this a major concern.
  • Ninja Gaiden:
    • The first NES game sends you back to Stage 6-1 if you die on any of the final bosses.
    • Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 has a few passages involve several long and tough fights without the possibility to save in-between. Most notably the last parts of chapter 13 (including the very grueling stairway fight), 14 (the graveyard fights), and the first half of chapter 16 (a long straight corridor). The latter two have an appearance of Recurring Bosses out of nowhere without the usual auto-save. These passages are stressing in Normal but get really sadistic in Master Ninja.
  • Fester's Quest sends you back to the starting point upon death, though you keep your equipment and bosses stay defeated. The only checkpoint is upon entering The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Downplayed in Strange Flesh: there are save points, but actually using any of them locks you into one of the two bad endings in which Joe loses his mind. To get the Golden Ending, you have to beat the game in one sitting.
  • X2: Wolverine's Revenge is notorious for not only being hard as hell, but for offering no checkpoints at all. Some levels can take a player around 30 minutes to beat and if you get killed at any point, or get spotted during a stealth segment, well it's back to the beginning of the entire level for you...

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Nightmare Mode in Aliens vs. Predator (2010) disables the checkpoint system, meaning you get bumped back to the very beginning of the mission if you ever die (which, given the enemy's increased damage output, happens a lot).
  • Battlefield 3 has a few levels with a severe lack of checkpoints. The worst few involve playing a cutscene or introductory section before the actual combat.
  • Bioshock Infinite relies entirely on autosave, and while it does save fairly often early on, the further into the game you go, the fewer save points there are. Not always noticeable on a regular playthrough, but on 1999 mode? Frustrating to no end.
  • Borderlands and Borderlands 2 have a variant. There are plenty of New-U auto save points, and if you die in combat you respawn at one of those. However, when you quit, you respawn at the nearest Fast Travel station, and there is usually only one per map. This can be annoying if you need to quit before finishing a mission. The Borderlands DLC campaigns have it even worse: there is only one single Fast Travel in the entire campaign, and it's typically set a ways away from the crossroads leading to other maps, so if you simply have to quit the game in the middle of a mission set far from the initial map, you'll be forced to slog aaaallll the way over to the mission objective's location again.note 
  • The original Call of Duty doesn't have checkpoints nearly as often as its later sequels, which makes things all the more difficult considering this was before the series used Regenerating Health. Fortunately, the first game also still allows you to make traditional saves and quicksaves whenever you want.
  • Dark Forces does not allow in-level saving that is common in first-person shooters. If Kyle gets killed, one extra life is consumed to respawn him at a Checkpoint, which is only as inconvenient as running back to the spot is. Lose all your lives or abort the mission, however, and you'll have to start the level all over again.
  • Far Cry
    • The original game features large, open levels with checkpoint saves and nothing else. Worse, if you wander off the beaten path or take a route other than the one the developers expected you to take, then it is entirely possible to miss the save point. The game contains a Dummied Out quicksave feature, presumably as a developer tool, which can be modded back in with a one-line config file tweak. Doing so (and using it) makes it very obvious how tightly the levels are tuned and paced around the save points, and completely changes the game balance, so the starvation is likely intentional even if it is annoying.
    • Far Cry 2 features no autosaves of any variety - the game only prompts you to save when you use a save point in either faction's headquarters or a cleared safehouse, if you pass the time by sleeping in a safehouse, or after riding between bus stations. This isn't restricting at all on PC, since there are also manual saves through the pause menu and a quicksave button. On consoles, however, this is a maddening restriction given the amount of time you need to spend even driving between save points and wherever a mission starts from, tells you to go, or ends at.
  • Ghost Recon:
    • Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter can have rather long times between checkpoints, along with some of the levels being very long in themselves. This is especially painful on Hard difficulty, where nearly all enemy shots are a One-Hit Kill to the player.
    • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has checkpoints that, while perfectly fine for the lower difficulties, are spaced out just far enough to make things potentially tedious for those playing on Elite difficulty, especially if the level has a tactical challenge that requires playing on Elite. Unlocking the "Fixed Stock" attachment for singleplayer, one of the best attachments in the game, is considered one of the hardest things to do in the game, mostly because you have to go through nearly all of the final mission without being detected on Elite difficulty, with only one or two checkpoints to fall back on if you screw up at any point during it.
  • Enforced with the Iron Skull from Halo. It's an Easter Egg that, if activated, forces the player to start the whole level over if they die, or sometimes just at when you last received a new directive. This holds true still for co-op mode, which normally respawns a dead player at his partner's location, but with Iron on forces them both to restart.
  • Originally, Left 4 Dead would have the players start at the beginning of a campaign if they failed. Yes, a usually hour-long campaign consisting of 3-5 sections and one Tank can send you all the way back. Thankfully, Valve caught on to how frustrating it was from play testing and added checkpoints at the beginning of each section.
  • Brought back for a while in Left 4 Dead 2 for the "Iron Man" mutation. Not only is the game under Realism rules (no glows, no respawning in closets, Witches kill instantly), but if the whole team wipes out, the team is kicked back to the lobby. The Swamp Fever campaign in the same game is the least played due to how long each map can be and even the final map has you going on a long trek before you can get to the finale. Dying here means making that long trek to the finale all over again. Thanks to the ability to create custom levels for both Left 4 Dead games, some user made campaigns can go on for far too long before you reach the next safe house and dying means having that entire run completely wasted as you're sent back to the start.
  • Medal of Honor:
    • The first three console games have no in-level checkpoints. This is a major problem with the longer levels in Frontline. In Rising Sun, you often go two or three whole levels between checkpoints to save the game.
    • In Medal of Honor: Vanguard, both of the levels in Operation Varsity ('Endgame' and 'The Crucible'), have very long intervals between checkpoints. Two sections in peticular are especially bad when it comes to checkpoints. The first is the Hold the Line section in 'Endgame', which is very long and does not have any checkpoints between the start of it and the end. The second is the Sniper Duel section in 'The Crucible', which is very difficult and long and does not have any checkpoints between the start and the end, what's worse is that the next section after it also doesn't have any checkpoints, meaning if the player dies there, they have to go restart from the beginning of the sniper section.
  • PAYDAY 2 had Pro Jobs, before they were removed with "Hoxton's Housewarming Party" in October 2016. They'd give increased payment and experience from normal heists, but with the caveat that failing any day of the heist kicked you back out to the lobby to select a new heist.
  • Perfect Dark Zero has only 2 checkpoints per mission; one at the very beginning, and one about 3/4ths through or before the end level boss fight. This is fine for the shorter missions, but very noticeable on the longer ones. The difficulty level will also determine the amount of mid-level checkpoints available for missions. All of them are available on Agent and Special Agent, Perfect Agent will have 8 out of 13 checkpoints removed and Dark Agent will have all but the one for the tutorial level removed. Dark Agent also removes Regenerating Health and all body armor pickups, which can make many missions that were already long and/or hard even harder than before.
  • Resistance: Fall Of Man: each level only had 1 or 2 checkpoints, with many major firefights between each checkpoint. Given how quickly you can go from full health to completely dead in this game, it's very common to get booted back 15-20 minutes of progress just as you're about to hit the next checkpoint. The sequels used a much more conventional and forgiving checkpoint system.
  • Shadow Warrior (2013): Heroic Mode is an optional hard mode which disables manual saves and limits autosaves to the start of each chapter.
  • Team Fortress 2: In the Player Vs Environment game mode, "Mann vs. Machine", the campaigns are divided up into waves (between 6 and 8), and if your team fails a wave, it simply kicks everyone back to the start of that wave (with the upgrades reset to what they were at the wave's start). However, the Ghost Town mission has only one massive wave that usually takes about 25-30 minutes to complete (although there are gaps between some robot hordes to give you time for upgrades), so if you fail, you go right back to the very start.
  • Tron 2.0: Autosaving only occurs at the start of a level, no matter how large said level is note . Saving doesn't exist at all during the lightcycle matches.
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus ups the ante with the Mein Leben difficulty setting. Challenge-wise it is about the same level as the next hardest modenote , but with the added catch of the player only having one life to try and beat the game without checkpoints or being able to save at all. Dying or quitting halfway boots the player back to the main menu and wipes their progress, essentially turning the whole game into a massive Marathon Level that must be beaten in one sitting.

    Miscellaneous Games 
  • None of the Action 52 games have checkpoints, so you start from the beginning of the level if you die.
  • Chimps On A Blimp: There are no save points at all, and every death sends the player back to the opening cutscene. Possibly Played for Laughs.
  • Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy has no checkpoints; if you fall, you fall, and must climb back up again from however far you fell - potentially as far as the very beginning of the game. At the very least, the game saves whenever you exit the game. That said, it also saves if you fall, too.
  • Plenty of the old 8-bit games on the ZX Spectrum and the like had no save points (48K was barely enough RAM for the game, never mind save states, and saving on the tape was normally impractical). Most egregious in the space shooter-cum-word-puzzler-cum-history lesson Starion, a 243-level (counting each time zone as one level, a fair measurement) marathon with, in the original version, a Game-Breaking Bug somewhere around the 200th. Allowing five minutes a zone — easy when the word to assemble is "D", more difficult when it's "OBERAMMERGAU" — you're still looking at the better part of a day's solid play. With no saves.
  • Superman 64: The maze levels have no checkpoints whatsoever; die at any point in a maze level and you must start over.

    Platform Game 
  • Adventure Island II and III had no checkpoints within stages, in contrast to four for each level in Adventure Island I. However, the stages are shorter.
  • In The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, Fucking Impossible and YOLO modes omit all checkpoints from the level, in addition to disabling saving, turning you into a One-Hit-Point Wonder, and limiting you to five lives and one life respectively.
  • Banjo-Kazooie: There are no checkpoints in individual worlds. If you lose a life, you return to the world's warp pad. Plus, if you left or died in a level without collecting all the Notes, you would have to collect them all over again including the ones missed in order to add to the Note score.
  • The first Captain Comic game has no ability to save. Fortunately, it can be finished in under an hour. The sequel isn't much better. You can save your game, but it only has two locations to reappear at on load, requiring lots of backtracking.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • Donkey Kong Country for the Game Boy Color has modes unlocked after beating the game that allows for playthroughs of the game with either the halfway point barrel or the kong barrels removed, and is needed to 102% the game.
    • Both Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! have cheats which remove all the Check Points in the levels.
    • In Donkey Kong 64, entering a new area within a world counts as a checkpoint, so it's normally not an issue. However, in Hideout Helm, because there are no indoor areas, you'll be sent to the beginning if you run out of health anywhere outside the Battle Arena. The time limit (which will be determined depending on how many blueprints were collected over the course of the game) further complicates this, because if you do die the time limit will not reset; and if it runs out it will not only send the player back to the start as well, but also will reset all the progress done. The trope only stops being an issue after you complete the world's mission, as it will eliminate the time limit and, after a bit more progress, you'll finally find a warp panel to connect it to the one from the start and thus enable the world's only shortcut.
    • Donkey Kong Country Returns has a level (Muncher Marathon) that has an Advancing Wall of Doom made of spiders. Once you hit the checkpoint, you can finish the level in 30 seconds. Everywhere before that, if you die, you are back to square one. Near the end of the game, level 8-5's first stretch is quite a long and difficult one.
    • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has the secret level 4-B, which is not only devoid of checkpoints but is an underwater maze with scarce supplies of air bubbles, meaning that the Kongs cannot get lost for too long. And once Hard Mode is unlocked, all levels are devoid of checkpoints as well.
    • Both Returns and Tropical Freeze also have the Temples. There are no checkpoints. For any of them. And the majority of them are 5-8 minutes of pure old-school platforming. Then there are the Golden Temple and Secret Seclusion levels, unlocked after conquering all Temple levels and defeating the respective Final Bosses, which lack checkpoints as well.
  • Juke's Towers of Hell is entirely based on this trope on this trope. The entire game is about climbing 10-floor structures, known as towers, that don't have checkpoints. And some of them are Nintendo Hard and over an hour long. note  Citadels make this even worse.
  • Frogger: He's Back! has a startling lack of checkpoints in its levels—when Frogger loses a life, runs out of time, or collected a frog, the player is sent back to the starting point of the level. Considering the levels are large and mazelike in their design and Frogger is a One-Hit-Point Wonder, this is a huge problem.
  • This is the most common complaint with Jak II: Renegade, and probably the biggest contributing factor to its difficulty. Most if not all of the city missions have to be done in one go, and platforming segments have unholy distances between the respawn points, so you might as well be forced to do those sections in one run as well.
  • The original release of In Between had no mid-level checkpoints whatsoever, which was a common point of contention, given how long some of the later levels became. This was eventually remedied in a patch.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy: The only difference between difficulty levels is how far apart the save points are. "Impossible" mode requires you to beat the entire game without any save points.note 
  • In Kero Blaster, every new screen is a checkpoint as long as you have at least one life. However, dying in the secret areas of Omake mode will take you all the way back to before you entered the secret area. For other games, this might not be out of the norm, but the usual generosity of checkpoints combined with these areas being Brutal Bonus Levels makes it hard not to feel a little checkpoint-starved.
  • The first two games in The Legend of Spyro series were terrible about this. Say you just got done fighting one of the game's most exhaustive battles (not counting the ten that came before it) and you're sure you're near the boss - then you get called away for dinner and have to shut down the game. It has no manual save feature, but that must mean that it saves your level progress on its own, right? Wrong, you have to start from the very beginning of the level again.
  • LittleBigPlanet has this in the community levels. Some of them only contain a few checkpoints, or sometimes just one Infinite Check Point at the beginning.
  • MapleStory: Loves to do this with some particularly nasty Jump Quests, especially the higher level ones (such as the Zakum party quest) which tend to involve roughly five minutes of jumping on platforms barely large enough to walk on, all while dodging falling rocks, poison butts, energy blasts, indestructible monsters, and the occasional bit of lag. If you fail/fall? Congratulations, you get to slowly walk through lava back to the start of the area.
  • Mega Man:
    • Due to a bug, if you die against the first Fortress Boss (Mothraya) of Mega Man 4, Mega Man will restart not at the Boss Corridor like every other level, but at the level's midpoint, making the player run through it again.
    • The checkpoint in Plant Man's level in Mega Man 6 is placed after the first of two Mini Bosses, which is soon followed by a much-dreaded lengthy spring section up to the Boss Corridor.
    • The fan game Mega Man Unlimited is pretty stingy with checkpoints, and some of the ones that are there are badly placed (for example, right before a Mini-Boss).
  • Ninja Senki. 16 pretty long stages and no way to save. There are continues if you run out of lives, sure, but the game has to be beaten in one sitting. The level select cheat does make a bit easier, though. Although doing that essentially prevents you from getting the good ending, as you wouldn't get enough points for it if you start at a level late in the game.
  • Oddworld, especially the first game, combined this with Nintendo Hard to produce severe cases of controller-snapping frustration. The developers added more frequent check-points and the ability to quick-save from the pause menu in the second game in response.
  • Averted with the Atari 2600 classic Pitfall! in that you have a total of three lives. Word of God is that the game was originally conceived as only allowing you ONE life to complete the game, yet play testing revealed that it made the game difficult.
  • Plok: Not one single level in the game has a checkpoint. If you die, you go all the way back to the start of the level you were on, and while this might not seem that bad at first, Plok also has the distinction of being one of the most deceptively and unfairly difficult games on the SNES. Fortunately, when you die, dead Fleas stay dead, so doing the level over isn't as bad as it could be.
  • Prehistorik and its predecessor Titus the Fox give you a code for each level that lets you continue from that level. However, they don't give you that code at the beginning of the level: instead, you have to find it, somewhere in the middle, and quite often hidden in some hard-to-find area. If you almost complete level 4 without finding its code, well, back to level 3 for you.
  • cactus' game Saru Ga Daisuki has no save points whatsoever, since the author had no time to implement them (the game was made for a 24-hour competition) and later lost the source code. And it's not a very easy game, or one that's a lot of fun to repeat over and over.
  • Shovel Knight allows you to destroy most checkpoints for some extra cash, inflicting checkpoint starvation upon yourself. On top of that, beating the game unlocks New Game Plus, which compensates for you getting to keep all of your upgrades from your first playthrough by making a number of changes to increase the game's difficulty, one of them being a reduced number of checkpoints per stage.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic Unleashed: In the HD versions of the game, one mission involves getting to the end of Eggmanland, a Nintendo Hard stage that is by far the longest in the game, with the time limit for the first Hot Dog trial being 75 minutes. It has to be done THREE TIMES in order to get the trophy/achievement. With the time limit decreasing after each succession, down to 45 minutes. Oh, and dying at any point forces you to restart from the beginning?
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) has several stages that lack checkpoints until several minutes in and have little to none afterward. The final stage, End of the World, takes the cake, however, being a grueling gauntlet of no less than seven previous levels played back-to-back with no checkpoints whatsoever, and instant-kill black holes popping up everywhere to make things even worse.
    • Star Light Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog has just a single checkpoint placed before the boss in act 3. Just to be even meaner, there are no rings near it and the end of the level is a Point of No Return. The checkpoints were probably removed after Sonic Team realized how much harder the zones before Star Light are.
    • While Sonic Frontiers is relatively good about averting this in its' cyberspace levels, the Another Story DLC experiences this issue full-force. None of the Cyberspace levels on the DLC's version of Ouranos Island have any checkpoints whatsoever. Meaning that you have to do each run-through of them all in one go when you try to do them for any reason.
  • Super Mario Bros. series:
    • Super Mario Bros. has invisible checkpoints near the middle of most levels, except for castle levels and all of World 8. In some later levels, these checkpoints do more harm than good, as they are often located after the one power-up in the level and you can't backtrack.
    • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels: Like the original, castles and World 8 have no checkpoints, and this time neither do the extra worlds after 8 (9 and A-D).
    • Super Mario Bros. 2: Doorways act as checkpoints, but they are scarce otherwise, which becomes troublesome when the characters have to take a key to a locked door while being chased by a Phanto.
    • Super Mario Bros. 3: In contrast to the previous three games, the game has no in-level checkpoints. However, the newly-introduced World Map allows the player to use inventory items or sometimes choose a different level to tackle after losing a life. Many of the levels are noticeably shorter as well compared to previous games.
    • Super Mario World: Most levels have one and only one midway checkpoint. They are actually visible, though some require the player to take hidden paths to reach them. Underwater levels, auto-scrolling levels, and the entirety of the Star World and Special World do not contain a checkpoint.
    • Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins: The levels for the most part have checkpoints (bells in this game). However, in Wario's Castle, not only is the level longer than any other with a 3-part boss battle against Wario at the end, but there is no checkpoint at all! There's also Space Zone 2, which is one straight Unexpected Genre Change.
    • Super Mario 64: With the exception of checkpoints right before Bowser fights (as well as bosses added in the DS remake) and a few other rare instances, there are no checkpoints. If you fall off the stage and lose a life, it's all the way back to the beginning of the level for you. If you travel into the volcano of Lethal Lava Land or the pyramid of Shifting Sand Land, you do begin inside the structures if you lose a life before getting a star.
    • Super Mario Sunshine: Losing a life in a standard level mission will kick you back to that level's entrance in Delfino Plaza. However, the game makes an exception with the obstacle courses (including those of the Sky & Sea variety): You can retry them as many times as lives you have left without needing to re-enter the mission where they're located, let alone having to reach them again. Another exception is made with the final battle (which comes off as a huge relief, considering the very difficult path in Corona Mountain).
    • Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2
      • Some missions are rather long with no checkpoints in them at all, most notably the Daredevil comets, whose primary objective is to finish the stage as a One-Hit-Point Wonder. The two most infamous ones are for "The Sinking Lava Spire" in the first game, which requires the player to traverse the longest mission in That One Level; and "The Perfect Run" in the second, taking place in by far the hardest stage (Grandmaster Galaxy) in the game.
      • In both games, there's speed run challenges where you have to beat levels quickly due to a stingy time limit while (in the second) collecting stopwatches to add a few more seconds to your timer. None of these challenges have checkpoints at all, so if you screw up, you have to start over from the beginning. There is one exception; one of the speed run levels in the second game takes place in a Bowser level, which is naturally longer than a standard level. There's one checkpoint in that specific challenge because the level is simply too long for players to keep restarting if they fail every time.
    • In New Super Mario Bros. Wii, 2-Castle, 8-4, the Ghost houses and all of World 9 lack checkpoints.
    • Super Mario 3D Land has S8-Crown, which is even longer than Grandmaster Galaxy, and no easier (unless you bring in power-ups). Even the standard last level (at the end of regular World 8) has this; before the checkpoint is a fairly large castle stage, and after it is probably the longest fight against Bowser in the whole series, certainly the longest in 3D.
    • There are zero checkpoints in any of the levels in Superstar Road in New Super Mario Bros. U.
    • There are zero checkpoints in New Super Luigi U. Every stage has a very strict time limit, though, so it doesn't really matter.
    • Super Mario 3D World has this with two levels from World Crown, Champion's Road and Mystery House Marathon. The former is a brutal six part Marathon Level, while the latter is another Marathon Level consisting of thirty ten second challenges in a row. Neither of them have checkpoints anywhere. Most levels from the Mushroom and Flower worlds, including the difficult Boss Rush level, are devoid of checkpoints as well.
    • Super Mario Maker at first did not have checkpoints to be placed in levels until a November 2015 update. The trope still applies to the pre-built sample levels, as all of them have remained unchanged since the game's release. The 3DS version has them within the base content, and most levels in the story mode (Super Mario Challenge) have them accordingly... except they're useless if you're aiming for the levels' extra objectives, as you won't be allowed to complete them if you respawn from a checkpoint after losing a life (this is done likely to prevent cheating, but it's still a problem if the level is too long).
    • There are no checkpoints at all in two of Super Mario Odyssey's post-game areas, "Arrival at Rabbit Ridge" in the Dark Side (a Boss Rush that pits Mario against the Broodals), and "Long Journey's End" at Culmina Crater in the Darker Side (which is also the longest of these final challenge type levels in a Mario game to date).
    • In Super Mario Maker 2, checkpoints are forbidden in levels with unique clear conditions, such as reaching a minimum or total amount of something (coins gathered, specimens of a certain enemy defeated, P Switches pressed, etc.), wearing a powerup or carrying an item in the hands, or preserving a delicate status like not taking damage or not touching the floor again after jumping. This becomes a problem if the level is too long, and this is indeed the case for certain levels in story mode.
    • A lot of Super Mario World ROM hacks contain this due to having Marathon Levels, since by default, Mario World levels can only have one Checkpoint. Of course, players who want to can always use save states, which some developers count on.
    • The Super Mario World hack Touhou Mario has ZERO save points. Or checkpoints. And just one life before you get game over and have to restart EVERYTHING. And this game is Platform Hell meets Bullet Hell in difficulty, every boss is a Marathon Boss, and one area has you beat the equivalent of four FULL LENGTH levels and FOUR Marathon Bosses in a row! The final bosses have between four and eight phases to them too. You can find it here.
    • Game Dot BPS has 1 life, no save feature or checkpoints, meaning that any death and it's back to the beginning of the hack.
  • Checkpoints are very rare to find in Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure. They are usually after Buster goes through a door that leads to a new part of the level. The final factory stages are a prime example.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989): There are zero checkpoints in the sixth and final stage, the Technodrome. Losing a turtle at any point of the stage will restart you at the beginning of the level.
  • In VVVVVV:
    • Getting the Shiny Trinket in "Prize for the Reckless" requires the player to refrain from using any checkpoint past the room the trinket is in.note 
    • The player level Bracketed Backslash subverts this with the Side Shaft, its variant of the Tower, which at first looks like a DTTHW clone, meaning it would be an entire dungeon of swerving to avoid spikes with no breaks in between, but it's not. There's still swerving to avoid spikes, there are just breaks in between.
  • Yoshi's Island:
    • The first game usually doesn't have this due to multiple middle rings, but it does in the first four extra levels, having no middle rings at all and all of them being quite difficult. The very first regular level doesn't have one either, but it's a relatively small and easy level so it's not a big deal.
    • There's one point in Endless World of Yoshis/Crazy Maze Days in the GBA remake of the first game where this is a problem. You see, there's a long falling section with instant kill spikes, and after that, a checkpoint. Problem is, checkpoints work only once, leaving the player with a Sadistic Choice; use it straight after the spikes and then hope you don't mess up the next three or four rooms (and in that time, you have to dodge those spikes another two times), or use it after the tricky section has been beaten all three times and you've got the key, in which case once mess up will put you right at the start of the second area.
    • Yoshi's Island DS has 'Yikes! Boiling Hot!', in which the level has a stretch with THREE ROOMS with no checkpoints in between. Not short rooms, very long rooms equal to a Super Mario Bros 3 level in length. Including at least one seemingly blind lava trap. As well as both a finicky rope riding section and one where you to have navigate two lava spitting monsters (their attacks are instant kills, one spiky ball and chain, a sloped platform and instant kil lava in the space of less than a screen.
  • Each of the special stages in the Battle Kid games have only one functional checkpoint; the one at the end before the stage's Optional Boss. The checkpoints in the middle of each stage are fake, with each one being unique in its own way:
    • In Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril's only special stage, the fake checkpoint simply rises up out of the room as you approach it.
    • In Battle Kid 2: Mountain of Torment's first special stage, the fake checkpoint simply changes position each time you approach and chase it. In the second special stage, it appears to work... and then shuts down with an "out of order" message. The third special stage's fake checkpoint is a Rickroll, complete with a "never gonna save your game" message.
  • Valfaris, like Shovel Knight, encourages the player to engage in self-inflicted checkpoint starvation. Checkpoints require Resurrection Idols to activate, and though there are more than enough Idols to activate every checkpoint in the game, holding onto them increases your max health and energy, and at the end of every level is a machine that spits out weapon upgrade materials in exchange for Idols.
  • Crescent Pale Mist lacks any form of checkpoints for its expansive and labyrinthine levels up until the boss area, meaning dying at at point before reaching the boss results in starting back at the very beginning of the level. This also happens with the final boss battles in Chapter 6, where dying at the later two bosses results at starting back at the boss battle with Elshiria.

    Puzzle Game 
  • The Dame Was Loaded only has one checkpoint in the main character's office. This normally wouldn't matter, but here the entire game is timed, and going to and fro to save wastes a lot of time, forcing you to be very economical with saving. Given that there are plenty of ways to either fail instantly or fail long-term by not getting the right item for progression in time, the game is quite hard.
  • The Impossible Quiz: There are over 100 questions with no checkpoints or continues, meaning that a mistake sends the player back to the beginning of the game. The game contains a lot of Trial-and-Error Gameplay, and many of the questions are timed, with the timer running out on a question counting as a loss. The game does provide "skips" so that the player can get past any question that they think they cannot answer until the last question, where the player must use every skip that the game offered to pass the question. The sequel goes out of its way to mock the player for even wanting Check Points.
  • OneShot: In the original 2014 freeware version of the game, you don't get to leave the game safely unless you find a bed for Niko to save at. There's only two beds in the entire game that function as a save point, and each of them can only be used once.
  • Space Puzzle Bobble (aka Space Bust-a-Move)'s story mode: Unlike other Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move games, if you lose, you have to start over at the beginning of the group of five levels per stage all over again, and that means if you collected a Cosmo Bubble without popping it, you have to do that over again.
  • Any Super Monkey Ball 2 ROM hack that has Ultimate mode in place of Master requires you to go through all difficulties without saving if you select Ultimate. Monkeyed Ball 2 is an example of this.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Alpha Protocol only saves at checkpoints, which can be few and far between. "Assault the Triad Hideout" is downright infuriating because of this: it seems to have exactly one checkpoint in the entire mission.
  • Arc the Lad II has a notable deficit of save points in some dungeons, with sometimes an hour between saving opportunities; occasional freezing can make things much more frustrating.
  • Breath of Fire III has an early example in the McNeil Manor interior, the second major dungeon of the game. It only has two rest areas, one on the first floor near the entrance, and one at the attic which is close to your goal by then. Between the two? A labyrinth with strong Random Encounters for that point in the game and 4 minibosses. Unless they properly stocked up on items note , players have to keep coming back to the first rest area to fully recover your party, which consists of only two members in this part of the dungeon.
  • Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter: This trope can be invoked with some discretion to the player, unless they are going for the highest D-Ratio, in which case the trope applies for the whole game playthrough.
  • Code Vein manages to avert this for the most part, especially as a Souls-like game (see the next entry), but the Cathedral Of Sacred Blood plays it infuriatingly straight: its one of, if not the largest map in the entire game and designed like a massive, convoluted maze in 3-dimensions that would take you hours to solve even if it wasn't filled with incredibly powerful enemies, Bottomless Pits, and various other ways to get killed unexpectedly. The various Mistles are not only spaced very far apart but are often hidden so they're easy to miss if you aren't careful; one misstep could find you re-treading an hour's worth of gameplay.
  • Dark Souls is downright brutal with bonfire (checkpoint) placement at times. You generally only get one or two per level, and some levels have none at all or have them all hidden. While you can usually open up shortcuts on subsequent runs through areas and minibosses don't respawn, getting to some bosses can be incredibly difficult. Then after that, most bosses can kill you in one or two hits.
    • A particularly cruel example is the Taurus Demon, the second boss. There are no shortcuts to open up to reach it more easily, so you have to play the whole level again when you get killed by it. And this is at the start, so the dozens of relatively weak enemies you have to fight are all life-threateningly hard.
    • While you don't have to play through the whole Tomb of the Giants to get to Gravelord Nito, you still have to go through a large chunk with some Demonic Spiders such as the Pinwheel copies and skeleton dogs, which will take longer than actually fighting Nito.
    • In Quelaag's Domain and the beginning of the Demon's Ruins, there are 2 bonfires almost next to each other, which is rather pointless (although the one in Quelaag's Domain is one of the few bonfires that can be teleported to using the Lordvessel). On the other hand, New Londo Ruins (which is one of the hardest locations in the game, and has an even harder boss) has none.
  • Dark Souls II:
    • No-Man's Wharf is a painstakingly long stage, with several deadly enemies that can easily overpower inexperienced players. There's only one bonfire too, meaning if you die, you'll have to start over.
    • The Gutter is a cross between The Catacombs and the dreaded Blighttown of the first game. It's essentially one large Bottomless Pit, with evil sentient statues that shoot poison darts at you. If you have a torch, lighting the sconces scattered about makes it significantly easier, but it's still a long trek from start to finish. There are only two bonfires.
  • Keeping a theme running, in Dark Souls III, you have to go quite a long way into the Catacombs of Carthus before you actually find a bonfire.
  • Dragon Quest series allows the player to get saved only at a town church. Some towns don't even have one. You can't do a hard save in the field or dungeon, just a Suspend Save. Every game since the first, however, has offered the ability to teleport instantly to a town that allows you to save as a relatively low level spell and a very inexpensive item, and also a spell to instantly evacuate dungeons. However, in the 5th game, Hand of the Heavenly Bride, the return-to-save-point spell isn't available until about the halfway point in the game, which can cause issues.
  • Survival difficulty in Fallout 4 disables manual saves besides a Suspend Save and only autosaves when you sleep in a bed. This effectively makes beds Save Points and since there's no Fast Travel, you may have quite a distance between saves in remote areas. There are also a few drawbacks to sleeping for more saves instead of because of exhaustion: Sleeping more spends more time, building up hunger and thirst, and lowers Adrenaline, a damage increase you get for kills. Dividing the same amount of sleep into shorter rests keeps you from restoring health and increases risk of disease.
  • Final Fantasy series:
    • Final Fantasy requires you to go through the Mirage Tower followed by the Floating Fortress with no chance to save in between, making both areas effectively one massive dungeon in practice. The PS1 remake averts it partially with RAM saves (which can be reloaded as long as you don't do something to clear the system's RAM, such as a hard reset), and later remakes avert it entirely by letting you save wherever you want.
    • The final tower in Final Fantasy III. After the last save point in a small outdoor area after the third to last dungeon, there are 8 or 9 floors of the Crystal tower, followed by a boss, getting warped to the World of Darkness where there are 4 more tough minibosses, gaining equipment and experience for the final battle, the final boss battle, the entire closing sequence before the player is given another chance to save their game. The Updated Re-release kept this in on behest of the fans.
    • The beginning of Final Fantasy IV requires you to watch a lengthy cutscene, a couple of non-controlled battles, another lengthy cutscene, do some wandering around, watch a third lengthy cutscene, and finally the prologue before you can start saving your progress either at the Overworld Not to Scale or at in-dungeon Save Points (the latter of which were introduced in this game).
    • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Final Fantasy V has one save point early on then none at all until a couple screens before the Final Boss, with roughly half a dozen bosses in between. Oh, and both save points are also guarded by bosses.
    • The Airship glitch in Final Fantasy VI requires a self-imposed version of this — it lets you have the Global Airship much earlier than you're supposed to, but to activate the glitch you have to get from whatever point you want to have it at, all the way to the Disc-One Final Dungeon, without saving even once in between. Which certainly explains why nobody found the glitch in testing.
    • The Northern Crater in Final Fantasy VII has no save points, but it does have a lot of tough enemies, the Final Boss and a long cutscene. It gives the party one unique item that can create a save point, but the item is glitched and can make the dungeon Unintentionally Unwinnable, so it's just best to ignore it. Earlier, the whirlwind maze: After the save point, you have a timing puzzle, a few long cutscenes, and a FMV before the next save. There's nothing particularly dangerous in-game there, but this area had a high crash rate in the PC version.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has several long cutscenes and two battles before the player can save the game.
    • In Final Fantasy X, immediately after defeating Evrae the party raids the wedding ceremony in Bevelle, going through waves of enemy soldiers and mecha. There is no save point during this assault sequence, and you are likely drained from fighting Evrae. Lose to Bevelle's military and you'll have to fight that giant dragon all over again.
    • The entire Necrohol of Nabudis in Final Fantasy XII is devoid of save crystals. This is, shall we say, somewhat inconvenient due to charming things like Mana Burn monsters that turn up out of nowhere, a consistent baknamy Zerg Rush, and a surprisingly common "rare game" monster. And that's without the monsters from the Chaos/Medallions sidequest.
  • Fuga: Melodies of Steel doesn't let you manually save, and only creates permanent autosaves at three areas: The start of a chapter, the intermission in the middle, and at the end right before the boss battle. The interval between the start, intermission and end gets longer in later chapters. It can really get demoralizing if you lose a battle right before the midpoint intermission and are sent back to the start, which may cost you 20-30 minutes worth of gameplay, maybe more. While it does create a quicksave if you quit anywhere in the chapter, unfortunately, the quicksave is deleted right after it is loaded.
  • Golden Sun lets you save freely in general, but when the characters are in conversation with each other, those conversations last a very long time. And since the game is for the Game Boy Advance, it isn't unusual for the batteries to run out while being caught in the middle of one.
  • .hack//G.U. Volume 3 has a Bonus Dungeon that subverts this. For the first 50 floors of the 100 floor dungeon, a player can use checkpoints to return to root town and return to the exact area in the dungeon. After 50 floors however check point starvation goes into full effect.
  • Jade Cocoon has you going through the 4th forest without being able to save the game nor fusing monsters due to story elements, namely that everyone in your village has been Taken for Granite. The king... sovereign... some-guy-who-seems-to-be-in-charge in the next hub comments on your endurance. The initial save point vanishes once you choose to go to sleep, which kicks off a Dream Sequence, a Hopeless Boss Fight, loads of exposition, a tutorial fight, another Hopeless Boss Fight, and still more exposition. Sleep to save time? Twenty-four minutes. You can even see the save point at around the 20-minute mark for an extra bit of cruelty.
  • Lost Odyssey: It is quite common for save points to be an hour or more apart in dungeons, most of which are awash with random encounters.
  • Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 are good about giving you lots of autosaves (usually after every battle and important cutscene), but God help you if you don't take the time to save obsessively in the first game. There is maybe one autosave per mission, two if the game is feeling merciful, so if you shut down two of the three moonbase computers and then die, tah-dah! You're back at the very beginning of the level, having just landed on the moon. The Mass Effect 3 finale is pretty bad at this, too. Starting at the moment you get hit by Harbinger's beam, manual saves are disabled, period, and the autosave after finishing the game overwrites any autosaves made during the actual finale. If you want to see more than one ending, better prepare for replaying through that whole section over and over again — complete with the ridiculously slow movement and long unskippable cutscenes.
  • The prologue of NieR: Automata consists of an Unexpected Shmup Level, a miniboss, an entire level, and a prolonged, multi-stage boss fight, all of which has to be done without dying before the player gets a chance to save (and if the player dies before saving, their save file is basically unusable and has to be deleted or overwritten).
  • Ni no Kuni usually averts this and lets you save anywhere except in dungeons where there'd usually be a number of save points that even heal you. However, the last three very difficult battles in the Final Dungeon has this play straight, where you have to do three battles back to back without saving. Fail even the final battle and you have to start the three battles over, plus a penalty deduction on your in game currency. The thing that really rubs the salt on the wound is that only two of the battles are against one foe, the third battle is technically a battle against a different enemy.
  • In Octopath Traveler, you have to fight your way through an eight-man Boss Rush to get to the True Final Boss, all without saving.
  • The Paper Mario series has saving by use of Save Blocks, which you hit from underneath, thus activating them. But they are very rare.
    • Paper Mario 64 does this at the beginning. You go from getting the invitation to going to the castle to finding Peach within the Castle to the Hopeless Boss Fight with Bowser to lying there near Goomba Village to waking up in a Toad House before you can go outside and find a Save Block. Contrast with the sequel, which has you receive the letter and go to Rogueport. You step onto the dock, and can immediately go over and hit a Save Block.
    • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Super Paper Mario: The Pit of 100 Trials, a 100-room dungeon that provides no way to save progress during an attempt at beating it.
    • Super Paper Mario has multiple cutscenes and some gameplay lasting at least twice as long as Paper Mario 1's.
  • The infamous Chrysler Buildings in Parasite Eve, which has no save points anywhere and you're forced to trek up every flight of stairs to progress. Every 10th floor has a boss fight which wins you an elevator key to that floor if you beat the boss. Since the trek to the boss' floor can take a long time, you're left with a tough choice; go back down the stairs to get to the front door (or to the last usable elevator) if you want to save or press on and hope you can beat the next boss without dying.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3:
      • The game makes saving difficult because it requires exiting your current level of Tartarus to do so, which means you need to start the current branch over again. However, trying to push too hard could mean getting in over your head, dying, and losing quite a bit of progress. This was changed in the Updated Re-release Persona 3 Portable: by walking up the staircase in the entrance lobby of Tartarus, the player will be given the option to start at the highest floor reached so far.
      • The trope is played straight with non-Tartarus boss battles, however, and it's possible to put the game into an unwinnable state before the third boss battle, which is when the game starts taking all agency away from the player on the day of a full moon. Were you hoping to upgrade equipment? Not so much. You'll be forced to go through endless cutscenes over and over again until you win.
      • The Answer is even crueler in this regard. In the base game, checkpoints can be found just before every Tartarus boss, allowing the player to go back down to the first floor to save and prep for the boss without losing their progress. The Answer puts these checkpoints not only after these bosses, but directly behind them, just to taunt you.
    • Persona 4 falls into this when confronting the Killer. The player needs to go through Magatsu-Inaba, which is technically a one-level dungeon, and then fight the killer. Immediately after this battle, there's several cutscenes, before the player is thrown into a battle against Ameno-Sagiri and further cutscenes, should that battle be won. Losing can result in a good 40 minutes of time having been wasted.
    • In Persona 5, this initially isn't much of an issue for the first third of the game, as Kamoshida and Madarame's Palaces have Safe Rooms be relatively close together. However, starting with Kaneshiro's Palace, Safe Rooms start to become incredibly spaced apart, meaning if the player is killed by a Shadow before making it to the next Safe Room, they'll be sent to the last one visited and end up losing all their progress. It's possible to circumvent this by returning to the previous Safe Room after making progress ahead and saving, but this not only requires a sizable amount of Backtracking, but also comes with the risk of Shadows respawning.
  • Pokémon:
    • It takes roughly 20 to 30 minutes from starting Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers before you are allowed your first save, not counting the brief unskippable cinematic.
    • Pokémon Colosseum. You can only save at PCs, and it can get really annoying in long levels like Mt.Battle. Fortunately, Pokémon XD gives you the 'save anywhere' ability of the main series games.
  • Quest 64:
    • You can't technically die in this game; upon defeat; you keep all experience, but you forfeit all of the items you may have used before you were knocked out. However, there are several caves along the way, which can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on your spirit levels. The Blue Cave in particular is a rather ridiculous exercise in patience. If you don't have the Healing spell from Water, your chances here are very slim.
    • The game starts you off at the top of a church. You need to make your way all the way through it, and into the first city just to save. This usually takes about 20 or so minutes, depending if you search for items/exposition.
    • The remake on the Game Boy Color Quest: Brian's Journey does it in a different way. You have to go through a very long extended cutscene, about 30 minutes or so. However, this is subverted since you can save at any time outside of a cutscene.
  • Resonance of Fate features exactly one permanent save point - your base of operations - that quickly becomes prohibitively hard to return to during an outing. The player can place their own save terminals on the world map fairly easily (and they're encouraged to, as this forms the cornerstone of several other game mechanics) but this is little comfort during dungeons, which are nearly all long and resource-taxing by design. Fortunately, the "suspend" option common to handheld game is readily available, as long as one isn't actively being shot at.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • This is a major part of the difficulty in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Save spots are plentiful, but are always set at extremely long distances between each.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV lets you save and reload freely using the Gauntlet. Unfortunately, getting to the point where you gain access to said feature takes about twenty or so minutes of plot. More if you opt to explore Mikado at all.
  • Star Ocean: The Second Story and Star Ocean: Till the End of Time: Part of the difficulty of the Cave of Trials is the complete lack of save points throughout. Sometimes, you can go for literally over an hour between save points- this is particularly annoying when playing during a thunderstorm. Especially egregious in the second game, whose variant is far longer and filled with random encounters throughout.
  • In the Tales Series:
    • The Bonus Dungeon in Tales of Phantasia is a long, difficult Dungeon Crawl with the only savepoints at the beginning and at the end.
    • Tales of Berseria is usually fairly liberal with its save points, but the Bonus Dungeon called the Heavenly Steppes has no save points at all, requiring the player to clear it all in one go. While a player can use the quick save option to stop and come back later, dying in battle means starting the entire dungeon all over again, losing potentially hours of progress. It's one reason why the Heavenly Steppes is a Brutal Bonus Level of the first order, as it's the hardest dungeon in the game with the most powerful enemies and the best equipment drops. At least there's the option of Bribing Your Way to Victory with Katz spirits to make the dungeon slightly easier.
  • The World Ends with You:
    • The game forces you to play through the entire first twenty-minute (tutorial) chapter before it lets you save... and then for about another ten minutes before you can save freely.
    • It also features a number of difficult bosses at the end of the game with no opportunity to save in between, although if you die, you can try again without having to repeat battles you've already won. The character Neku Sakuraba remarks beforehand that there may not be any save points for awhile, thus Breaking the Fourth Wall.
  • Xenogears: Save points are often found interspersed in close areas. Other locations, such as the Disc-One Final Dungeon, they're only found at the start and near the very last area.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon: Any dungeon that is not Yokohama and Kamorocho Underground Dungeon has no save point at all, meaning it needs to be done in one sitting. This is especially bad when inside The Very Definitely Final Dungeon as it can take over three hours to complete: fight your way to the top of the tower, cutscenes, penultimate boss, cutscenes, final boss, more cutscenes, credits, even more cutscenes, The End, now you may save.
  • In The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Ys V: Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand, you have to fight three very tough bosses, with no save points in between. Unlike previous games where you could save anywhere, this one only allows you to save at inns in town.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • The old Bullet grants you three lives by default and several credits, and you can collect extra lives along the way. But run out of lives and using a continue? It's back to the beginning of the stage for you. Even if you're this close in defeating the stage's boss.
  • The developers of Super R-Type did not put any checkpoints whatsoever in levels. This is, in fact, generous, as dying deprives you of all powerups, and your basic ship is woefully underpowered and poorly protected by default. Starting the level over give you a breather at the beginning to get your Force back up to par to give you a chance. On the downside, dying to a boss means having to work your way back to it.
  • The final stage of the Famicom port of Gradius II has no checkpoints. The stage is a bit shorter than the previous ones, but it is still long and challenging enough that one death is a serious setback.
  • The ice cube stage in the arcade version of Gradius III (and its PS2 and PSP ports) also lacks checkpoints. If you die on the Cube Attack or the boss, you have to navigate the Mobile Maze all over again.
  • Averted to the point of deconstruction in Touhou Kanjuden ~ Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom's "Pointdevice" mode which gives you unlimited extra lives and splits each stage up into several chapters; if you die you simply restart at the beginning of your current chapter... What that means in practice is that you have to clear a game that, even in Touhou's Nintendo Hard collection, is considered ludicrously hard, with only one life's worth of resources, as opposed to the replenishing Smart Bombs you normally get with each death. The effect is not entirely unlike playing a shump version of I Wanna Be the Guy, which incidentally was Word of God's inspiration for Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom.
  • Project Root, a Nintendo Hard free-roaming shmup reminiscent of the Strike Series, has no checkpoints at all during missions, which can be very lengthy, therefore you have to restart from the beginning of the mission once you run out of lives.

    Simulation Game 

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • Let's just say that as a rule, due to the nature of stealth games involving you having to get around and usually take down difficult enemies without being caught, and restarting if you do happen to get caught, it is typically in good form to provide the player the ability to save for themselves after getting past a certain point, so they don't have to sneak through the whole level again. The Assassin's Creed series does not allow you to save manually. If you need to go undetected for any reason, and the level is particularly long, good luck, as the Animus will not be giving you much reprieve.

    Survival Horror 
  • The Amnesia: The Dark Descent Downloadable Content Justine only lasts a couple of hours, but you cannot save anywhere, unlike the main game where you could. This is a problem, because the player character is a One-Hit-Point Wonder and there are three terrifying and dangerous puzzles you have to survive.
  • Alien: Isolation has autosaves only during certain level transitions and mostly relies on manual save points that take several seconds to use and do not pause the game while in use. This was done to add tension to the game, but players and critics are split; some think it improves the game, and some feel it only adds frustration through Fake Difficulty. Some missions are infamous simply for how far apart the save points are.
  • One of Cold Fear's most maligned features is the save system. The game can only be saved during an automatic prompt before certain plot-relevant scene transitions, with no manual way to save and no indication of when the next one will arrive. An inattentive player who accidentally declines to save won't get another chance to do so until the next prompt, potentially with a tricky puzzle or a boss between.
  • Dead Space 2: This trope is used deliberately in "Hardcore Mode". Specifically, it only allows the player to save three times in the whole game, and there are no checkpoints, other than at the disc change on the Xbox 360 version.
  • Autosaves in The Evil Within mostly occur after you've made a lot of progress in a level or before a boss fight. While some gamers consider this an Anti-Frustration Feature, given the game's difficulty, it still requires you to be extra careful with managing your ammo and health so you won't have to start over from the previous checkpoint. Plus, the only way to manually save the game is through the abandoned morgue which can only be accessed through mirror portals that, again, usually only appear after making significant progress or before a boss.
  • The Evil Within 2, averts this with checkpoints being much more common as well as more safe houses for you to regularly save. However, it's still played straight when playing the game on Classic Mode. There, the autosave function has been disabled completely and you're only allowed to save 7 times throughout the whole game.
  • Fatal Frame:
    • Fatal Frame I has a save point before enterting the Point of No Return. Before reaching the Final Boss location, the player has to walk through a long passage filled with enemies. If the player loses to the Final Boss, they have to start all the way back.
    • Fatal Frame II is a bit kinder by having a save point at the same place, but worse because of the lengthy passage. This passage is longer than the one in the previous game and filled with several Mourners, meaning the player has to choose between wasting film on defeating them or trying to weave past them, risking damage. The only upside to this is, if the player is on an ending where the final battle is against Sae, there's an autosave at The Abyss where she is fought.
  • Subnautica has no save points. At all. Instead, the player has a single save-slot per world, and needs to manually save. Frequent saving is recommended, as getting stuck somewhere and realizing your last save point was three hours ago is not fun. On the flipside, saving too often may result in getting stuck and not even being able to get out by reloading.
  • The first 4 Silent Hill games have a 10-star ranking challenge, which includes only being able to save once or twice. Losing progress wouldn't be the worst thing, as these games can normally be cleared very quickly - except that you also have to kill well over 100 enemies for this challenge, which turns it into quite the tedious grind. The first game combines this with an absolutely brutal time limit which doesn't stop ticking even when it's paused or playing a cutscene, demanding the player's undivided attention for very long periods.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Hitman: Blood Money: Depending on the difficulty level, you can only save a certain amount of times during a single mission. You get 3 different save spots and even if you overwrite the same save spot, it still counts as a save. The previous games allowed saving anywhere, or in the case of Codename 47, gave two extra lives for a stage.
  • Hitman 2: Silent Assassin limits your number of saves at higher difficulties (with none at the highest), but does avert this trope at one point: On the game's one Marathon Level, it awards you a free save halfway through, even on the highest difficulty.
  • Usually, losing a life in Jet Force Gemini puts the character's back into the start of the area where he or she was defeated (they all have only three lives each per level, however, so the player has to keep an eye on not dying too often). However, the Interior level of the eighth world (Rith Essa) only consists of one long, marathon-sized area filled with enemies of many kinds, so every time Lupus (the character designated for that specific level) dies he'll have to go all the way until the part of the area where the Drones who killed him are. Luckily, this is also one of the few levels that don't need to be revisited in the future (as long as all Tribals are rescued the first time), as it has no Ship Parts or even optional goodies for Juno or Vela.
  • Although usually averted in the Max Payne series thanks to Quick Saves, the console ports of the first two games were forced to use spaced-out checkpoints. In a game where a single shotgun blast can almost kill Max if you're unlucky, and explosions almost always kill you instantly. It gets worse in Max Payne 3 because not even the PC version has quick saves. It's taken to the logical conclusion with Max Payne 3's New York Minute mode, especially on Hardcore. You have to play through the entire game on a single life with a time limit ticking down; the main goal is extending the timer as high as you can through constant headshots and kills, and the cutscenes freeze the timer. But if you die even once, you have to start the entire run all over again.
  • That One Room in Resident Evil 4's castle is not only a fair distance from the nearest typewriter, but it has no checkpoints other than the entry point. If you fail, you start the battle from the very beginning. Worse is Chapter 4-1, which is not only extremely long with few checkpoints or save points, but has a larger amount of tough enemies as well.
  • Splatoon 3's Brutal Bonus Level, After Alterna, only has checkpoints at every quarterway mark, each one of which can take upwards of five minutes to complete.
  • One of Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain's scrappy mechanics is that unlike previous games, the level remains in the same state when you respawn at a checkpoint, and there's no way to save mid-level either, so if you screw up a mission objective, you have to restart from the beginning of the level.

    Tower Defense 
  • Bloons Tower Defense:
    • The 5th game has the extreme tracks, which prevent you from saving at all unless you're playing the mobile version.
    • In the 6th game, while you can still save your game on CHIMPS difficulty, loading a save and completing the map with it will tarnish the map's border and the medal you earn. The map must be completed in one go to earn the black medal and/or the black border.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • The Grand Theft Auto series has a lot of this, though it gradually got better.
    • The very first game only allows you to save between levels. The first level taking about an hour to complete is bad enough, but the final level takes 5-6 hours to grind enough points to complete. That's beyond "I'm going to play, I may be some time" and into skipping meals/sleep to get through in one sitting.
    • All of the games in the GTA III era have zero saving at all except for icons at safehouses, with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City being the first to incorporate the ability to purchase new ones to make saving take less driving time. In all of them, failing a mission requires you to drive all the way back to the starting location and restart the entire mission; you rarely get the option to skip part of the long drive through the mission. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas incorporates Vice City's purchasable safe house system but still lacks actual checkpoints within the missions except for the finale.
    • Grand Theft Auto IV introduces autosaves after missions, but if you happen to turn it off, you only have one safehouse in each borough (and you lose the Broker one early in the game and never get a new one), while the DLC only gives one or two safehouses for each protagonist in the entire city. Thankfully, the game introduced the ability to restart a mission via your in-game phone immediately after failing, but very few do anything but simply start the mission again from the beginning. The Ballad of Gay Tony DLC for IV finally addresses the issue by adding checkpoints, they are still quite scarce, though, each mission usually having one checkpoint.
    • Grand Theft Auto V finally fixed the problem by introducing checkpoints for all missions, even short side missions that take a few minutes to complete. It also adds a quick save feature to your in-game phone, so you can save at any time (without the mandatory 6 hours of time passed if you save at a safehouse). However, random encounters (even if they include cutscenes) are always a one-shot deal without the option to retry again. Hope you didn't accidentally kill that potential crew member on the way to the goal.
  • Minecraft has hardcore mode. While technically the game still saves constantly and in real time, the entire world will be deleted if the player dies in hardcore mode.
  • Saints Row had no checkpoints within missions. The hardest missions always, always, without fail, started out with a long, boring drive across the whole city before the action started. Have fun doing that over and over.

    Web Comics 

Alternative Title(s): Start To Save