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Meaningless Lives

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Yes, the game lets you go into negative lives and keep playing. Be glad it does.

In the beginning, there were Nintendo Hard games which you had to finish in a single sitting. To make these games more fair, creators implemented "lives" so that you wouldn't have to start all the way at the beginning of the game if you failed — only when you ran out of lives. It was a good idea, and it added an extra element of strategy to the game as it made characters collect these extra lives along the way to save them up for the harder levels near the end of the game.

Then came game saving, a feature that allowed the player to quit and start again later more or less where they left off. The Legend of Zelda and Metroid were among the first to do this, and note that they had no "lives", since the concept of having lives and the concept of saving are more or less contradictory. If you can save the game, it means the game can't force you to start at the beginning when you run out of lives, unless the designers are cruel enough to erase your save file. The farthest back it can take you is the last place you saved, reducing the ability of a Game Over to be any more damaging to the player's progress than any other death.

But some developers didn't care. They liked "lives" and wanted to keep them despite having save features. People expected them to be there. Hence Meaningless Lives.

This can be caused by the following, but not always:

  • Having the ability to use cheap tricks to get many lives near the start of the game. Or, even if it's not a cheap trick, just making the requirements to get an extra life so low and extra lives so common that a moderately skilled player should have dozens.
  • Having a "game over" serve no purpose besides making you lose your level checkpoint and returning you to the title screen, where you can simply re-load your game and pick up where you left off. (Basically any time Death Is a Slap on the Wrist.)
  • Resetting your lives to three or some other default value every time you re-load your game.
  • Having infinite continues (on console games that don't require money like arcade games).
  • Having the most difficult levels have an obvious, easy-to-obtain, respawning 1-Up which can be used to try the same level unsuccessfully forever.
    • Even worse, having two or more of these at the same place. Your continued failures will actually increase your life count.
  • Allowing — or even requiring — levels to be replayed, and saving the number of lives.
  • Having a game that is really, really, really easy.

Whatever the case, you never look at your life counter, because you just don't need to care. It only matters as much as Scoring Points — which is generally not much in the present era of video games.

May overlap with Grandfather Clause. Some Video Game Long-Runners began in the era when lives were meaningful, and have lasted into the age when they are not. If the 1-Up is a beloved part of a series' legacy, it will stick around, and fans won't mind that it is obsolete.

A Sub-Trope of Video-Game Lives. Contrast Continuing is Painful. May operate with Power-Up Letdown, in games that think lives are a bigger deal than they actually are.

Somebody who takes the trope name too literally is a Straw Nihilist.


  • Every Super Mario Bros. game since Super Mario Bros. 3. Nevertheless, the 1-Up mushroom (and triumphant melody when you get it) is iconic, and usually included by Grandfather Clause.
    • The original is the only one to truly avert this trope, to a borderline unforgiving degree: there are only a handful of extra lives you can pick up, the typical level has only 20-30 coins when you need 100 for a life, and running out of lives resets your progress entirely unless you use a cheat code that puts you back at the start of the current world. The only way to get this trope into play is to use the Infinite 1-Ups exploit.
    • In Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels you can max out your life counter in the first level, and still easily lose them all before beating the game. Extra lives are especially pointless in the Super Mario All-Stars version, which saves at every level rather than every world.
    • Super Mario Bros. 3 has two of the easiest spots to rack up Infinite 1-Ups in the first world. One is in the second level!
    • The SNES version of Super Mario World allows you to quickly rack up lives by replaying certain levels. (The life counter is not saved, however.) The GBA remake saves your lives and also extends the counter to three digits. It's not uncommon to accumulate hundreds of lives without even trying by the end of the game.
    • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island takes this even further, since it features bonus games which can reward you with dozens of lives each play. If you get exceptionally lucky at spinning the wheel in Roulette mini-game, these prizes might increase to hundreds of lives.
    • Yoshi's Island DS is a difficult game, but an actual Game Over is rare. By the last world you'll lose 50 lives per level, but that doesn't matter because you get 70 1-Ups in the process.
    • Super Mario 64: Most of the time, a game over means nothing except having to run slightly farther to get back to where you were - dying drops you at the level entrance, while game overs drop you at the front of the castle. You will lose out on any checkpoints, but these are extremely rare, and every stage with them can be breezed through in no time at all. It's not hard to get dozens of lives in one sitting anyway, and the reward for getting 100% completion is 99 of the bloody things.
    • Super Mario Sunshine has 1-Ups that respawn every time one enters a level and comes back. This means every time you die, you get that life back if you start near the 1-Up spawn.
    • Super Mario Galaxy is guilty of practically every single point listed above. The Hub Level has about 5 1-Ups scattered across, most of which are easy to reach (and of course, they are back every time you return), and you frequently get letters from Princess Peach with free 1-Ups attached. And most levels have 1-Ups as well, and you get them for every 50 Star Bits or coins collected. And of course, exiting the game resets your life count to 5 (and Peach's letter is almost always available when you reload). And the most difficult challenges (the comet missions) don't have checkpoints anyway. Strangely, Mario loses a life for losing races, as well. It gets to the point where on some levels, the number of lives you have is actually directly proportional to how badly you're doing, since you get more lives than you lose on the tough challenges.
    • Super Mario Galaxy 2 is this to about as much degree at the first game. The hub has the usual five odd lives, as well as an infinite supply in the basement via the Chance Cube in the casino (aka, about 20 possible lives to get for about a 100 coins apiece). And the standard five from Princess Peach's letters to Mario. And the Chance Cubes in most levels. And the fact unlike most 3D Mario games, you keep any lives you gain in a level if you exit without beating it, meaning easy 1-Up farming.
    • New Super Mario Bros. Wii and U have over a dozen intentional ways to get infinite (or high numbers of) 1-ups, and in Wii they're all documented in videos in the game. In other words, the game tells you how to get them. Although getting lives is trivial, losing them holds a little more weight as 7 deaths in one level (except on hard levels) makes the Super Guide block pop up which means your file can never have shiny stars. Also, in multiplayer there isn't time to collect as many 1-Ups unless everyone cooperates, and running out means you need to sit out the level until it's completed or everyone dies.
      • "Nabbit Mode" ups this even further - Nabbit cannot be damaged by enemies or hazards, but in exchange, most powerups he collects don't work and are instead converted into lives. Between the five or six powerups in every level, the naturally-given one-ups, and Nabbit's reduced deaths as a result of his invincibility, even a mediocre player can often have dozens of lives within a few levels. Needless to say, playing Nabbit in multiplayer tends to annoy friends, as Nabbit merrily converts valuable powerups into these things. (Then again, this is in-character...)
    • Super Mario 3D Land does things similarly to New Super Mario Bros. Wii, having a fairly easy infinite-life trick in the second level of the game. The game even rewards you for finding the trick by letting you get over the normal maximum number of lives. Just as in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, however, losing too many lives in a row causes the game to give you help and take away your Bragging Rights Reward of shiny stars.
    • It seems Nintendo simply doesn't care any more with New Super Mario Bros. 2 - the central theme of the game is collecting as many coins as possible and the game is filled with ways to collect massive amounts of them very quickly, including: gold fire flowers whose massive fireballs turn anything into coins, gold enemies that drop extra coins when defeated, blocks you can wear on your head for a steady coin output and even bonus levels that literally have coins raining down from the sky! In addition to this, the game is about as generous with the 1-Up mushrooms as Mario's other recent outings, so it's very easy to reach a life count in the triple digits without even trying. And in fact, maxing out your life counter is needed to earn one of the stars on your save file!
    • Donkey Kong '94 lets you play a minigame to earn extra lives if you collect Pauline's dropped items in each level, which isn't hard to do at all. Additionally, every 4 levels, you earn an extra life for every 100 seconds on the clock you had remaining across those levels, plus one more for any remaining time. The end result is a game where reaching the cap of 99 lives isn't just possible, but easy. As if all this wasn't enough, the game saves every 4 levels, and if you somehow manage to run out of lives, you just get punted back to the last Donkey Kong battle you beat.
    • In Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again!, which was the first game in the series to even HAVE lives (aside from the completely different original), losing all of them causes you to... gain five more. The original is just as bad. The only negative effect getting a Game Over will have is resetting your score when you're on the second half of a level. If you were aiming for a high score, this isn't any worse than dying normally — you lose the time you accumulated from the previous area, so your high score is now moot, meaning Game Overs technically have no consequences whatsoever. Of course, that doesn't stop the game from forcing you to play bonus games if you get all the presents to win... Get this... More lives.
    • In Mario & Wario, a Japan-only Mario Puzzle Platformer controlled with the SNES mouse, you can play the initial 8 worlds in any order and continue an infinite amount of times if you run out of lives. However, you still need to replay all the levels for any given world if you run out of lives and you need to beat last 2 normally unselectable worlds with a single set of lives.
    • Nintendo finally does away with the meaningless lives in Super Mario Odyssey, and replaces them with a mere ten coin penalty if you die. If you run out of coins, you still respawn in the same place you would normally. (Not that you ever will; the game isn't super hard and coins are very plentiful.)
  • In the Mega Man (Classic) platformers that aren't Nintendo Hard, losing your lives restarts the level. Big deal. Your life count is also reset every time you reload.
    • Mega Man Powered Up allows players to farm lives up to 9 and save quite easily in the new version. Beating the boss of the level the free life is in isn't even required (though Roll bugs you about being "a little fast"). These lives aren't totally useless, as Mega Man loves its cheap shots in jumping puzzles (see Guts Man's level).
    • Mega Man X5/Mega Man X6 were especially ridiculous, as getting a Game Over did not even make you lose your level checkpoint. Also, the littering of hostages in many stages, each of whom granted an extra life, meant maxing out at 9 lives was too easy, and since your only means of exiting an unbeaten level was a Game Over, they leaned toward Power Up Letdown.
    • The latter parts of the Mega Man Zero series, and the ZX series seem to have begun to find a nice balance. You can save, yes, but only at certain locations in the game world - the trans servers. Lives, on the other hand, return you to the last 'checkpoint' in the level; normally the point where the screen went black for a moment loading the next area. Given how hard these games can get, lives suddenly become valuable - they let you resume without losing all your hard work by being sent back to your last save.
    • The later NES Mega Man games didn't let you keep your energy tanks if you decided to go dancing on the spiky floor until game over, but not to worry: if you grabbed of a copy of Wily Wars back in the day, you'd find that it had not only forgotten that little downside and also gladly saved your tanks between plays.
    • A lot of Mega Man games don't restore your weapons when you die, but they do make sure to save which refills you've already picked up, so you can't pick them up again. They also love to have obstacles in the final sequence that require or are made much easier with specific weapons, so if you're out of that weapon, all lives are going to do is make it take longer to get Game Over.
    • Downplayed in Mega Man 8, where lives are meaningless up until the last level of Wily's fortress - running out of lives then and choosing to continue means having to start the level from the beginning. Since the final boss in Mega Man games is usually so challenging, that means this very last level is the only one that benefits from the power-up that gives you five extra lives.
  • In Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, you literally continue from the exact same spot if you lose all your lives. The catch is that you would lose all your hard-earned hearts, which are used both as currency and ammunition. Worse is that the game runs on a timer, and using a continue actually adds to it.
  • Kenny's Adventure: Considering you pick up so many lives and have a generous health bar, you're likely to have 20 lives by the end of the first world.
  • The original Tomba! had lives... and the game saved how many you had left when you saved the game. This could actually screw you if you ran low, as the game booted you back to the opening menu if you ran out. The sequel ditched it.
  • Donkey Kong Country
    • In the GBA remakes of the Donkey Kong Country games, the player can save anywhere on the level select screen, restart from a level checkpoint at any time, and keep all lives when saving the game; all these features were absent in the original SNES versions (the closest being a 50 lives code, and even then only the first and third games allow entering it every time you load your file; the second one only allows it when starting a new game), and they make lives largely pointless.
    • In Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, the Kong Temples are incredibly relentless, but they include millions of bananas and banana coins, meaning you get one extra life for every two halfway attempts, and enough coins to buy back all the lives you have lost and then a couple hundred more at Cranky's/Funky's shop. And the hardest challenges make sure to offer you a pretty obvious life-farming chance via bouncing on several enemies in a row- in the World 2 temple in Tropical Freeze, you can get half a dozen lives that way. And yet, some temples can still bring you down from 99 lives to Game Over.
  • The multiplayer-oriented The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures has fairies that can be collected, representing lives. The fairies are everywhere, and you get at least two just for beating a level. If you die, you lose one. It almost eliminates the need for lives altogether—especially in multiplayer, where lives are only lost if every player is down at the same time, which is an unlikely event as a downed character auto-revives after ten seconds.
  • Attempted subversion in Gex: Enter the Gecko, where running out of lives would erase all your progress and force you to start again. At least, that's the theory. The problem was that the game had to prompt the player to overwrite their save file, making it incredibly easy to avoid the punishment.
  • Conker: Live & Reloaded would reset your lives to 3 if you lost them all and chose to retry. You were thrown back to the previous checkpoint, but since literally every new room was a checkpoint this was not much of a penalty.
  • Stinkoman 20X6 gives you three lives, but the levels have no checkpoints and you can choose from any of the levels right from the start of the game. The only points at which lives matter are the boss battles, because if you have lives left when you die to a boss, you start at the boss rather than the beginning of the level. (And a glitch makes lives worthless against the first two bosses as well, since you respawn to instant death.) At all other times, you lose nothing but a few seconds of time by just refreshing the page and going back to three lives when you die.
  • Banjo-Kazooie: 1-Ups (Banjo trophies) are easy to find, and they reappear every time to return to their area (Spiral Mountain has two 1-Ups, for example). Of course, they serve little purpose, since if you lose all of your lives, you simply get sent back to the entrance to Gruntilda's Lair. However, death itself was far from a slap on the wrist, since the 100 musical notes in each level did not stay collected if you died or left the level, and the game only remembered the highest amount you had collected in one go. If you wanted 100% Completion, you had to get all 100 notes without dying, which was quite a challenge in a few levels. Banjo-Tooie ditched the lives completely and made note collection much easier to boot, and the Xbox Live Arcade port of the first game changed it so that the notes stayed collected.
  • Ghosts 'n Goblins (at least, the Genesis version) has infinite continues, making what was a near-impossible game merely really really hard.
  • Sonic Unleashed for the PS2/Wii does this one a little differently. You start with 2 retries, fair enough, but during the game you can get non-renewable 1up items that expand your stock on a permanent basis. Thus, you essentially have infinite lives; just a given number in any one stage. The 360/PS3 version is more in line with the trope, with extra lives lovingly scattered around the levels, many directly after checkpoints, all of which respawn when you die. Some of the Werehog sections, however, are so frustrating and so long, however, that those lives are far from meaningless.
    • Sonic Rush and its sequel, in modern 2D platformer fashion, still allow you to amass more lives than you'll ever need.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is a huge example of this. A mediocre player could end up with over one hundred fifty lives at the time of beating the final boss. Be honest, is anyone ever going to use up over 400 freaking lives?
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles made lives even more pointless with the introduction of save files. Every time you complete a zone and reach a new zone, the game is saved, so you can quit and pick up where you left off later. The only danger a game over brings is booting you to the level's start instead of a checkpoint.
  • Hell Platformer Syobon Action has the ultimate in meaningless lives: The game never checks to see if you run out of lives. So the lives-remaining indicator can start at 2, and be -52 by the time you beat the game.
    • Eryi's Action does the same, being a Platform Hell game that draws heavy inspiration from Syobon Action, however, after beating the game once, you unlock a mode with limited lives and losing all puts you back at the beginning.
  • Variation: Prince of Persia gives you infinite lives, but a limited amount of time to complete the game, and the timer does not reset when Death restarts you at the beginning of the current level. However, you can get your time back as well simply by saving at the start of every level and reloading whenever you die.
  • In the PSP game Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?, your character starts with 1,000 lives and the game consists of 10 levels. The game can be pretty hard at times, but you won't ever expend the 1,000 lives you start with, with most people losing somewhere between 100 and 300 over the course of the entire game. The game also allows you to learn an ability that allows you to attack enemies with your life stock (That is to say, launching the other Prinnies at them).
    • Prinny's sequel, which is leagues tougher, even has a New Game Plus option which carries over the score count and Prinnies remaining (which you need to use to acquire 6.66 Million score for an in-game award). To compensate, Prinnies remaining at the end of the game are worth a lot of score, and for Prinnies lost, if they managed to rack up a fair bit of score between losses, they can get ranked medals which are worth even more score. Finally, to throw something of a bone to the player, any Prinnies lost to a Bottomless Pit can be "rescued" with a Facility where they are converted to currency items, though they don't receive a score medal for falling into a pit.
  • Crash Bandicoot:
    • Lives are not quite as meaningless in the original Crash Bandicoot (1996) as they are in future installments. Loading the game or using a password resets your lives to 5, and you're going to need as many as you can get. To make up for this, the developers purposefully put a lot of lives in levels so when you did reload you could build another stock up, and collecting the green gem opens a shortcut in the level "Castle Machinery", which will take you to the exit in 10 seconds and give you 25 extra lives.
    • From Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back onward, most levels have a bonus section that will usually give you somewhere around 2 lives for successful completion. Besides that, the games begin saving your life count, so if you lose more lives than you care to, you can reload your game and try again. So long as you save regularly, Game Overs are inconsequential.
    • Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time adds Modern Mode, which doesn't have lives, but also features a Retro Mode which does have lives. In Retro Mode, lives are so incredibly abundant due to the sheer quantity of wumpa fruits and live-containing boxes that it is possible to die dozens, if not hundreds, of times (a real possibility, as the game is the hardest in the series) and still not be in danger of a game over.
  • The first Ty the Tasmanian Tiger game was pretty fond of this. Sure, lives weren't exactly dotted around like raindrops, but they were juuust frequent enough (that combined with the lax difficulty), that you were never really in any danger at all.
  • Glover. See, there was a cheat that turned you into a frog. In the hub, there were insects flying around. Eating them as a frog gained you an extra life. And they respawned. It's possible to break the life counter - it starts showing powers, then gives up and letters and symbols appear instead. In essence, you had infinite lives.
    • You didn't even need the frog code. If you were doing card runs, you'd start racking up obscene amounts of lives anyway, and you'd break the life counter about halfway through the game.
  • Jazz Jackrabbit 1 would reset everything (lives included) when a game was loaded and also if you selected 'continue' after game over.
  • Commander Keen invokes this trope starting with Keen Dreams (episode 3.5), which introduced the ability to save your game anywhere and 1UP pickups to the series. The first three episodes only allowed saving on the map and only gave you extra lives every 20000 points. Being able to save your exact progress anywhere in the second half of the series renders the three methods of getting extra lives meaningless, unless you are trying to play the whole game without saving. For the record, the methods are every 10000*2^N points, a 1UP pickup, and collect-100-for-a-life pickups (the latter being introduced in episode 4).
  • Star Fox Adventures not only has more extra lives than you need, but there are more lives available than you can carry (once you buy the holder, the maximum is ten). Aside from maybe one difficult sequence where slow reflexes may cost you a couple of lives, you're not going to be going long enough between finding health to lose more than two or three lives over the course of the whole game, even on your first play through.
  • R-Type Dimensions offers an "Infinite Mode" in which you have infinite lives and respawn in place (contrary to every other R-Type game in existence, save for R-Type Leo)...but you have a life counter that goes up every time you die, and the object is to complete the game with as few deaths as possible.
  • Older Than They Think: The NES version of Section Z gives you three lives every time you begin the game. You lose a life and five energy points every time you physically touch an enemy, forcing you to restart the current section. However, losing all your lives does nothing other than resetting your score, since you'll always restart from the same section no matter what. Thus, the only way to truly "lose" is to run out of energy, which happens every time you're hit by enemy bullets: in such cases, you simply warp back to the very first section of your current stage.
    • The Famicom version was actually released for the Disk System and thus had a save feature. Losing every life and getting a Game Over is the only way the game prompts the player whether he wants to continue or save his progress to resume another time.
  • RayCrisis's Special Mode drops so many extra life pickups, you practically have unlimited lives. However, picking up an extra life resets the point values of point pickups, so you actually want to avoid them if you're playing for score. In other words, coast through the game with a poor measure of play performance, or risk a Game Over trying to get a high score.
  • Monster Bash may not save your exact location in a level, but it still invokes this trope via the easy-to-remember cheat code in the registered version for full lives.
  • Spyro the Dragon has a fantastically superfluous bonus life system. In addition to a rather generous number of bonus lives scattered around as loot, you also get small orbs whenever you defeat an enemy you've already beaten. Ten of these makes a bonus life. Oh, and if that's not easy enough, sometimes an enemy will drop a full extra life instead of an orb. On the other hand, you might need them, depending how good you are at the game's jumping puzzles...
  • Street Fighter 2010 has unlimited continues that takes you the same exact stage where you died, which is no different from losing a single life. The game doesn't even have a scoring system to reset.
  • Wolfenstein 3-D likewise has lives, 1-up pickups, and score that gives you lives in a First-Person Shooter where you can save at any point. Apparently, Id Software needed time to shake off the platform game conventions while working on the predecessor of today's FPSs.
  • Serious Sam 2, a First-Person Shooter, released in 2005, that you can have as many saves at any moment as you want in, has lives. Possibly as part of its Denser and Wackier theme that also harkens back to the old console games of yore. Still a rather pointless feature.
  • The GBC version of Donald Duck: Goin' Qu@ckers rewards you with one life per 20 blue pegs collected as well as one per... well... "Donald". By the end of the game, you're likely to have stocked up on roughly 90-99 lives, making a desperate chase for more quite redundant.
  • There's no punishment at all for running out of Lives in Kirby Super Star. The score isn't even reset.
    • Also, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, and Kirby: Planet Robobot not only give eight lives at the start of the game, but you reset your lives by exiting out of the game's files.
    • Kirby Star Allies takes this even further by saving your lives in between sessions, and point stars are everywhere. These two combined make it very hard to reach the end of the game without an extra life count in the triple digits, giving you effectively infinite lives.
    • Much like Mario, Kirby and the Forgotten Land chucks this trope and replaces lives with a 100 Star Coin penalty if Kirby goes down.
  • In the Metal Slug games, the player character respawns immediately after dying, even if you needed to use a continue. You respawn with 10 grenades, which are rarely found otherwise, and continuing drops a Machine Gun powerup, making suicide a viable tactic against some bosses. Console releases generally have infinite continues available, with the game displaying how many were used on the ending screen. The only penalty for dying is losing credit for rescued prisoners.
  • In NES game The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout, 1-ups are very plentiful, and if you run out of lives, you are sent back to the title screen, but can continue playing where you left off. So this is possibly one of the biggest examples of truly meaningless lives in all of video games.
  • Rise of the Triad gave players an extra life whenever they collected 100 "life items". Each life let the player restart the level from the beginning with the default pistol... or they could take advantage of the save/quicksave feature and reload one of their savegames from before they died, preventing them from having to replay the level and letting them keep all their other guns. The only other use for lives and life items was the score bonus for collecting them.
  • Zig-Zagged in 1001 Spikes. You go from being confident when realising you have 1001 Lives, to realizing you don't nearly have enough, to the glee from the huge amount of 1ups you get from completing a chapter, to ultimately discovering due to the lack of checkpoints in levels, all a game over does is waste 20 seconds of your time.
  • I Am Alive has "retries," which are theoretically expended each time you die. But the game also has bountiful checkpoints, where your supplies (including retries) are recorded and saved.
  • Though it's health instead of lives, early in Hack 'N' Slash, one can obtain an artifact that allows the player to get an infinite number of health increases, bringing their max HP as high as they like. In a subversion, this is only a minimal help; the late-game enemies and traps either explicitly deal infinite damage or bypass HP completely.
  • The first Rogue Squadron game has a variation in which the player has three lives which are shared between missions, and can lose one if they fail a mission (in addition to dying, which is the usual way to lose one). But failing a mission is the same as a Game Over (since you have to start from the beginning either way), and even if you do get a game over, your overall mission progress is still saved, so there's nothing stopping you from picking up where you left off with three fresh lives. Later games in the series do away with this system and give you three lives which refresh after each mission, as well as an instant game over for mission failure.
  • Lampshaded in The Simpsons Game. The characters are aware they're in a video game, and the 3D Simpsons family eventually meet 16-bit versions of themselves who ask them how the game works. New-school Homer tells old-school Homer that the player can simply keep going no matter how many times they fail, to which the lo-fi version says "Aww, infinite lives? Then how is the game even hard?!?"
  • Run out of lives in Freedom Planet and... you respawn at the last checkpoint, like a normal death. On the other hand, Freedom Planet 2 does whatever it can to avert this trope. While lives can come and go as any platformer-slash-action game is prone to, a feature in the game allows you to expend a life to resuscitate a character with their Last Chance Hit Point at the site of their "death", provided there is a body left behind. This could make the difference between "making the next checkpoint" or "beating the stage/boss" and "redoing the entire section since the last checkpoint".
  • Although The Legend of Zelda games usually have limitless lives—respawning you at the last checkpoint-doorway after death with no consequences besides needing to walk back to wherever you died—many of the early 2D entries track your deaths in a counter on the menu screen. Some include an Easter Egg for beating the game with zero deaths; Link's Awakening has Marin flying around in the end credits if you do this. Of course, it's relatively trivial to pull this off if you just save the game frequently and reset whenever you die.
  • The first two Adventures of Lolo games gave you only five lives, but unlimited continues. Getting a Game Over and continuing was no different than just losing a life as even when you continued you'd be placed right back onto the level you died on with absolutely no lost progress. The third game just eliminated lives altogether.
  • Wizards & Warriors gave you only two lives, but all getting a Game Over did was reset your score to zero and remove your throwing weapon upgrades (but not the throwing weapon itself), meaning it was a minor setback if even that as the score didn't do anything (and wasn't even saved when you powered off) while the throwing weapon upgrades only gave you a minor range boost and could quickly be recollected. It's actually common practice to die deliberately in the game to silence the god-forsaken low health music when you're low on life.
  • Luminous Avenger iX 2 has a variation with a Meaningless Life Meter. You have access to the Healing skill to heal yourself to full at any time as much as you want. As long as you're watching your health bar, the only thing that will kill you are bottomless pits. The only downside is it resets your Kudos, so you have to avoid using it if you want a high rank. Fully averted in Hard Mode, which gives you limited lives per stage and disables Healing completely.
  • Cyborg Justice is an interesting case among many beat-em-ups released for Sega Genesis. Normally, the player has limited amount of lives; however, their count can be increased by ripping out enemy cyborgs in half and absorbing their torsos to gain energy. Mastering this technique is crucial when it comes to tackling the Arcade mode on Brutal difficulty.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is among the merciful titles on the list. Starting the Story Mode provides the players with standard count of 3 lives - the number increases with more Power Levels obtained by particular character. Fluid control and simple mechanics are among the many factors that can prevent Game Overs easily; starting any level reverts the player back to the max amount of lives. Averted in Arcade Mode; however, new lives can be gained after every 200 points.

Alternative Title(s): Bonus Life Loop