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Minimalist Run

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"Odd. No stink of Olympus on you, this time. Have you truly come all this way without assistance from your relatives?"
Hades, Hades

Variation of the Self-Imposed Challenge. The goal is to complete the game while collecting as few extraneous items as possible.

Often overlaps with a straight Speedrun, but not always. Sometimes it's quicker for a Speedrunner to do some judicious Level Grinding or go out of his way to pick up a Game-Breaker — sacrifice a little efficiency in the short-term to pick up a lot of time later. A player on a Minimalist Run will never do that. If he doesn't need it, in the strictest sense of the word, he skips it.

Sometimes called a "low%" or "0%" run, but not to be confused with a Low-Level Run (though in some games it's possible to do both). Sometimes overlaps with the Pacifist Run. Contrast with 100% Completion. Compare Instant-Win Condition. See also Minimalism in general.

Video Game Examples:

  • Alien: Isolation: it's possible to ignore every single item except those you are forced to take up, and even then, it's possible to never use them except when you are forced to use them. You can even win without ever using the flamethrower!
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: It's actually entirely possible to finish the entire game without buying or upgrading any hero's equipment. Unfortunately, this makes the game much more difficult as even fodder mooks will require precious skills to survive and bosses become far more dangerous, or even mathematically impossible with poor leveling. You'll likely build up all the bad end scores and hit a minimal heroes rank from more frequent unit retreats and taking thrice as many turns to cautiously clear a level, but it is entirely doable and makes a tense challenge.
  • Most games in the The Legend of Zelda franchise allow players to skip Heart Containers, allowing for challenging three-heart runs. Any% speedruns usually skip most or all of the hearts, especially in 3D games, mainly because picking one up activates a cutscene that wastes a few precious seconds.
    • The first game can be completed without picking up the sword, except for the final boss.
    • A Link To The Past normally does not allow skipping the boss heart containers, but a skilled speedrunner can glitch them away.
    • The bare minimum items it is possible to complete Ocarina of Time with is just three: The bottle (to do a glitched warp to the final Ganon fight), either the Deku Shield or the Megaton Hammer (the hammer allows you to skip the "2-3-1" room at the bottom of the Deku Tree, which is currently the only needed use of the shield in-game), and either the Deku Stick or the Kokiri Sword (the stick can be used to skip Mido, who requires you to get the sword and shield before he lets you on the path to the Deku Tree). It involves some intense use of glitches, but it is possible. If you happen to get really lucky with cartridge-tilting mechanics, it's theoretically possible to skip the Deku Shield/Megaton Hammer as well, going in with only a bottle, a Deku Stick, and your wits.
    • Breath of the Wild allows players to skip everything after the Great Plateau and just go straight to the final boss. Tears of the Kingdom follows suit, although it requires the player to pick up a Heart Container in order to leave the Great Sky Island this time around.
    • Cadence of Hyrule's has various achievements in this vein.
      • There's the "Minimalist" achievement, where you have to beat the game collecting no permanent items other than your starting weapon (meaning no Lute, special moves, or items like the Bow and Hookshot), but allows the use of glass weapons, bombs, and scrolls.
      • "The Lowest of the Low%" requires you to beat Dungeon Mode with permadeath on without the use of any A/B/X/Y buttons.
      • "No Steps Wasted" and "Brainiac" require you to beat the game or a specific dungeon (respectively) under a certain number of steps.
    • Twilight Princess is probably the ultimate example of the minimalist run being the furthest thing from a regular speedrun as you can get, with the Low% world record clocking in at a blazing fast 16 hours. That's 10 hours longer than the 100% world record. It's all due to an improperly looped Item Get! animation that causes Link to inch backwards at a torturously slow pace while also disabling his collision, as explained in this video.
  • The Metroid series.
    • In Super Metroid, it is possible to beat the game with only 14% of the items, dictated in part by the amount of damage that must be done to Mother Brain's first form with only missiles. Two variations exist; one involving the Ice Beam and the other involving the Speed Booster, with the former being the easier to execute. Tool-assisted speedrunners, however, have knocked down the completion rate to 2%, completing the game in a mere 2 minutes (by the in-game timer) by corrupting the game's memory and executing arbitrary code to make the game skip to the ending.
    • It's possible to beat Fusion with none of the collectables that count towards percentagenote , by way of using a glitch to bypass needing the one "mandatory" missile tank (known by speedrunners as "Bob").
    • Zero Mission can be completed with only 9% of item collected, with the only combat upgrades being the Ice Beam, Plasma Beam, and a single pack of Missiles. At least, in the European version. Due to a design oversight, the North American and Japanese versions bottom-out at 10%, as there's a set of missile blocks at the end of the game that can't be bypassed without getting either the Screw Attack, the Super Missiles, or an additional missile pack. Either way, the game rewards you with unique ending pictures for both Normal and Hard difficulties if a player manages to complete it with under 15% completion.
    • Other M outright enforces a no item expansion run in Hard Mode, keeping the player locked at 99 energy and 10 missiles, and even removing the Last Chance Hit Point mechanic. As a side effect, since doing so requires 100% item collection, you cannot face the True Final Boss in Hard Mode.
  • Cave Story can be completed with only 3 weapons and 3 HP. This means that damn near everything one-hit kills you, and you don't have much to use in killing them back.
    • It's also possible to complete the game with 2 weapons and 3 HP, but this involves picking up an upgrade that merges two of the three weapons and in some ways makes a "true" Minimalist Run easier. (The weapon, for those who haven't played the game, is the Snake, a weapon that can shoot through walls.)
  • In Freelancer completing the game using your starting ship.
  • Doom has the "Tyson" speedrun category, which allows using only the fist, chainsaw and pistol.
  • Most Roguelike games (notable Roguelikes: NetHack, Angband, Ancient Domains of Mystery, Moria, and the original Rogue) have variations called "challenge games" in which a player imposes limitations on himself. For example, in NetHack, one such challenge game is to complete the game without ever eating any food; in ADOM, one might try to complete the game without ever picking up more than the essential "quest artifacts". When you consider that Roguelike games, for the most part, do not allow you to restore from a save file after you die, those who complete challenge games are usually both very good and very obsessed. In NetHack, the challenges (called 'conducts') you stick to are recorded by the game and included in the character dump at the end, whereas in Angband and its thousand variants, challenge modes (such as Ironman, where you cannot use up stairs, as well as others to make monsters smarter) could be set in options.
  • In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, the only way to aquire the blue gem is to beat the game's first level without destroying a single crate. This was surprisingly tricky to many players, given the fact that there's an impassable chest-high wall past the halfway point of the level (the trick is to jump on the bouncy crate, which doesn't break with the first jump).
  • This is occasionally done as a Meta Game in World of Warcraft. 'Nude Runs' consist of players leveling normally but without the use of any equipment aside from innate abilities.
    • An similar example is a Hogger raid, an unusually strong but ultimately low-level enemy encountered very early in the game, where large amounts of extremely low level players gang up on him in a kind of false raid.
    • Also done with the game's PvP, there have been instances of people going out and deliberately getting the poorest-possible gear before heading into Battlegrounds to test their skill or the power of the class (considering that this gear inevitably has no stats other than an incredibly minimal amount of armor or some very low damage on weapons, against people usually wearing equipment designed to combat other players, this can get a bit embarrassing... to both sides, depending on how they do)
  • Resident Evil 2 (Remake): The "Minimalist" challenge and achievement requires the player to clear one scenario without ever touching the item box, which is harder than it sounds considering how one will need to leave room for key items in addition to their own resources. Such runs will therefore involve players only picking up certain items in a strategic manner, and in very specific orders. On Hardcore, the amount of inventory expansions is slashed by half, further ramping up the challenge.
  • Resident Evil 4
    • There are the minimum shots fired challenge, all-grenade challenge, handgun and knife challenge, and no merchant challenge. Combining the last two results in the handgun and knife no merchant challenge, in which the player must complete the game using only the combat knife and unupgraded basic handgun; in this challenge, boss fights can take upwards of two hours each. Interestingly, the Final Boss seems to have been specifically designed to be beatable using only the handgun and knife.
    • At the end of each chapter the player's accuracy and kills are tracked by the game. This has led to both 100% and 0% accuracy runs, along with minimum and maximum kills.
  • Resident Evil Village sees the return of "knife runs" being an achievement in the game with the "Knives Out" achievement/trophy given for completing the game using only the knife to kill enemies and bosses, with guns only being allowed on certain setpieces.
  • It is very well possible to play all of Dead Space using only the starting weapon, the Plasma Cutter. This leaves more than enough power nodes that you'll pick up along the way (they'll be right on the main path most of the time) to fully upgrade that one weapon and your suit, plus you will likely earn enough credits to buy all of the suit upgrades from the stores.
    • It's beyond possible, it's encouraged: there's an Achievement for it. In fact, it's actually easier to use only the starting gun on the highest difficulty, to allow you to concentrate all upgrades on it and your armor.
  • Fallout games lend themselves well to this as long as you stick to the main questline rather than Take Your Time.
    • Fallout 3 is especially good for this because you can outright skip much of the main storyline if you know where to go, and it is possible to only fight one battle in the game.
  • Final Fantasy X may have the king of this trope: the NSGNSNCNONENNENBB Challenge. If you were wondering, that stands for No Sphere Grid, No Summons, No Customization, No Overdrives, No Escape, No No Encounters, No Blitzball. Basically all you can do is equip weapons and armour you find in its natural state, attack with anything the character started with, and use items. Needless to say, Rikku is the key to this challenge with her Steal ability.
    • There's another challenge that replaces No Overdrives (NO) with No Items (NI).
  • In X-COM: UFO Defense, it is possible to beat the game by doing a single mission besides the final one. Attacking a battleship on the ground and capturing the aliens inside can provide all the research and materials needed to unlock the final mission. All you can do to keep from being fired is shoot down UFOs and researching alien technology. You will end up horrifically underfunded, underweaponed, and on the brink of being fired, but it is very possible.
  • In the original Diablo game, this was played to the extreme by Beyond Naked Mages. Players looking for extra challenge not only would ignore beneficial items, but would actively seek out cursed and damaged items which lowered the player's stats.
  • In Hades, it is possible, although very difficult, to reach the end without getting any boons from the gods. This will prompt some unique dialogue from the titular Final Boss.
  • Iji lets you upgrade no stats except health on its hardest difficulty—and since upgrading skills is necessary before you can acquire any new weapons, you are effectively limited to the puny starting shotgun, the resonance detonator, and the kick—but since your strength is also locked at one, the kick and the detonator will only affect turrets and weak doors (and the detonator is basically a longer-range kick), so you're really left with only the shotgun. You are still handed a resonance reflector right before the final boss that you can actually use so that you can damage him.
    • The true Minimalist Run on Iji is to upgrade no stats at all, not even health. Normal difficulty is recommended for this one.
  • Luigi's Mansion keeps track of how much money you earn; at the end of the game, you get a mansion whose size depends on how much money you have, becoming higher quality the more you have. The minimalist run aims to get Ending H (where your total money is between 5,000G to 4,999,999G), in which Luigi ends up with a tent. This is even harder to obtain than the best mansion, as you deliberately have to avoid collecting any kind of money other than the one treasure Luigi automatically collects (King Boo's Crown, worth 5,000G) to get it.
    • The 3DS remake was apparently designed with this type of run in mind, as in addition to tracking your high score, it also keeps a record of your lowest score.
  • A variant exists in some Castlevania games, where players go through while refraining from using weapons or armor.
  • Ace Combat games allow you to go through them with only the starting plane.
  • Shadow Complex features two different levels of this challenge - there is an Achivement for finishing the game with 13% or fewer items, and a 'Master Challenge' for only collecting four percent - which doesn't include a gun.
  • Despite being a newer game, Batman: Arkham Asylum is already building challenges, starting from things like no detective vision (meaning you have to be much much more observant), to no upgrades during the main game.
  • Any Super Mario Bros. game (SMB 1, Lost Levels, SMB 3, SMW, SML, New SMB, New SMB Wii, etc.): No power suits. Still too easy? No mushrooms.
    • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. It's possible to beat most levels in the game with a grand score of zero — a challenge which is much harder than finishing with 100%. This is only possible in the GBA Updated Re-release, however; in the original, your health (which is part of your score) regenerates between hitting the exit and and the level actually ending.
    • Most of the Mario games have "ascetic" runs, where you can't touch any coins or gain any points during a stage. (Points that you gain for completing a level are excluded.) A Super Mario World hack that enforces this rule (instantly killing you if you break it) is also available.
  • Bunny Must Die can be completed with 12% items. This foregoes every ability except for stopping time for about 1 second. This includes wonderful things like turning to the right. <15% (one additional item allowed) is required for an achievement.
  • There's at least one Let's Play of someone trying this in Mass Effect 2: not doing any of the character-specific sidequests (or any sidequests at all) and just going through the main game. Tragedy ensues. note 
  • It's possible to play various Grand Theft Auto games equipped with only one weapon at a time.
  • In Aquaria, it is possible to explore The Abyss without gaining the Sun Form (which gives you light) first. It might be even possible to reach the final boss without gaining the sun form at all.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, it's possible to go through the game without using items that restore health or energy or Praxis points (how you activate augments). It's also possible to complete it without using any weapons, using tricks to defeat the mandatory bosses: the first boss can be killed by throwing barrels at him, the second can be killed by items brought into the boss area with you, the third by using a takedown at the right time, and the fourth by entering a code and waiting for the boss to die. This allows what one called an "Absolute Zero run".
    • The Missing Link DLC has an achievement for not using any weapons, explosives, or Praxis Kits throughout the entire add-on; your only means of offense are takedowns. Since the boss is Burke (who can be defeated with a takedown) and several of his men, a no-weapon playthrough is possible.
  • BioShock Infinite has, as a slight variation, an achievement for completing 1999 Mode (an insanely difficult variation of gameplay) while purchasing nothing from any vending machines - everything must be scavenged from the surrounding environment.
  • Shovel Knight has the achievement "True Shovelry" for completing the game without buying any of the relics, which are various forms of ranged attacks and utility items. There is also "Penny Pincher" for not buying anything, but the difficulty is mitigated since it can be gained in New Game Plus after buying everything in the first playthrough.
  • Giga Wing 2 as well as spinoff Mars Matrix start the player off with a score multiplier of 0, which is raised by picking up gold items. By never collecting a single one of those, it is possible to do a non-pacifist playthrough while maintaining a score of 0 points, despite the games focusing on reaching scores that would easily break any conventional calculator.
  • Ratchet & Clank has some variations, ranging from No armor, no bought items except for those that are necessary to proceed (and sometimes, not even them). A very interesting one is the "No Clank run" in the second game; This however requires a lot of game- and sequence breaking.
  • Rabi-Ribi has achievements for skipping out on items, including skipping the Piko Hammer you get early on, and for never picking up a single non-consumable item, and will recognize a "Low Item %" run if you go long enough into one. This is made possible with hidden techniques that you are unlikely to discover by chance, one boss battle being tweaked so that the boss automatically loses all of their HP in seconds (as said boss becomes your partner and only source of non-melee damage afterwards), and the game altering some areas to accomodate your reduced mobility.
  • Splatoon:
    • In the base campaign of all installments, you can simply forego leveling up your Hero Gear, though it is impossible to beat any of them without collecting any Power Eggs, which is the currency needed to do so in the first two games, and which you receive dozens (if not hundreds) of as a reward for beating a stage.
    • Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion has 80 missions/tests, but your main goal is to collect four "thangs". The fastest route to get all the "thangs" only requires you to complete 21 of these missions before granting you access to the final section of the campaign, but doing that would still be a standard speedrun. An actual minimalist run means using Mercy Mode to outright skip not only those levels, but also the various sections of the escape sequence, and even the Final Boss itself. Granted, since this means repeatedly killing yourself at the start of each level until the game pities you enough to let you continue on, as opposed to actually playing the game, it isn't the most fun example of this trope by any measure.
    • Splatoon 3's main campaign has 65 kettle levels and 4 boss battles prior to the final segment of the main campaign (that being the Space Center climb and the Mr. Grizz fight). While all the boss fights are mandatory, the same can only be said for four of the standard kettle levels: the four Crater levels. Fuzzy Ooze is the only thing impeding progression across the main overworld of Alterna, with the boss kettles in that region not requiring the player to beat all the other levels on their respective islands like in previous games. Eggs collected in the Crater don't carry over to Alterna, so you may think that this means a minimalist run has you playing and replaying the first Alterna level ("Get to Know Alterna, Your Only Choice") to get the necessary 9200 Power Eggs to beeline to all the bosses, but you'll instead find yourself with time-consuming task of grinding on the Power Egg balloon that floats around the island, which you can just barely reach from the starting area. Considering this means waiting for a slow-moving balloon to pass by so you can hopefully time and land a precise Smallfry tossnote , after which you must exit and reenter the entire game mode so the balloon respawns, then repeating the process? While you can at least reposition to an easier spot to hit the balloon once you collect enough eggs to get rid of the first blockade or two, don't expect to end up on any speedrun leaderboards anytime soon.
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has one for the World of Light. While it is encouraged to get all of the characters, you can still complete the mode by saving only have 18 of the game's seventy plus characters. To be precise, you start with Kirby and just have to awaken Mario, Marth/Villager/Sheik, Fox, Bowser, Simon, Pit, Samus, Sonic, Zelda, Young Link, Cloud, Ganondorf, Greninja, Roy, Dark Samus, Bayonetta, and Palutenanote . The game itself acknowledges this, as the endgame cutscenes featuring Galeem and Dharkon feature just these characters.
  • Tales of Symphonia actually has multiple titles unlocked by eschewing certain items completely until a certain point in the game. Specifically, Lloyd's "Eternal Apprentice" title requires you to keep his starting weapon equipped until after defeating Kilia (which is admittedly still fairly early in the game), while Genis's "I Hate Gels!" title requires you to avoid using Gels (the basic HP/MP restoration items) until meeting Pronyma for the first time at Fooji Mountains (considerably later than the Kilia battle.)
  • Someone posted on youtube a minimalist run of King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow and finished the game with the least points and only 50% completion.
  • Kemono Heroes has an achievement called "Broken Run" which requires that the players beat the whole game without ever entering the shop, meaning they can't upgrade any of their weapons or stats and can't heal or stock up on magic between levels.
  • One of the achievements in The Evil Within requires beating the game without upgrading their skills and weapons. Technically, the achievement requires you to specifically not spend any green gel (barring one moment at the beginning where you absolutely have to), but since the green gel is needed to upgrade skills/weapons, it's basically the same difference.
    • The sequel actually makes this mandatory when playing on "Classic Mode", having you go the entire run without being able to upgrade your skills and weapons. Of course, you could still play the game regularly without upgrading anything either way.
  • In Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, you can choose to recruit the teammates, kill them to absorb their power, or just ignore them and move on to the next stage. Oddly enough, the last option is the hardest out of the three, but doesn't unlock anything for completing it. In the sequel, in the Final Episode, you can choose to not take any party members with you and go straight to the final level after one level. You're given the Daizangetsutou if you're going for this, which also changes the boss and ending.
  • A popular challenge for Prince of Persia is to play through the game without drinking any Heart Container potions. The SNES version even has a password to start on the final level with the default life meter length. Good luck beating Jaffar in this state, as he completely averts the Anticlimax Boss trope here.
  • Ori and the Blind Forest has the "Elite" achievement for completing the game without upgrading Ori's abilities. Ori and the Will of the Wisps likewise has "Lightless" for not spending any Spirit Light and "Shardless" for not equipping any Shards. Bonus points for doing it on Hard difficulty.

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