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Self-Imposed Challenge

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"No one, I mean no one, could get laid wearing these. Challenge accepted!"
Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother

Pastime reserved for the hardcore. You see, most gamers don't have unlimited funds, and are disappointed if their most recent $60 investment doesn't require and reward a month's worth of attention. However, thanks to the gradual demise of Nintendo Hard over the years, it's becoming increasingly difficult to milk that kind of commitment out of most new games, which can be completed in a weekend without much effort (well, by the hardcore).

Enter the Self-Imposed Challenge.

A Self-Imposed Challenge is a playthrough of a game wherein the player plays under a restriction not required by the game itself in an attempt to increase the difficulty (or immersion) and replay value. These restrictions can range from the fairly simple (a refusal to make use of a Game-Breaker, for example) to the near-impossible. ("Hey, can you beat Super Mario Bros. without pressing the "B" button?") Check a message board for a game that's been out for a while and you'll undoubtedly find players reporting on their progress in various exotic Self-Imposed Challenges.


Gamers will occasionally record these runs and post them on various archive sites. As noted above, the rise of Casual Gamers make these even more of a dedicated pastime than ever before.

Note that in order to qualify as a Self-Imposed Challenge, the challenge has to be truly self-imposed: if the game acknowledges the challenge in any way, such as offering an option to play with such rules or rewarding players who fulfill these conditions, it instead falls under the Challenge Run trope.

Examples of common Self-Imposed Challenges:

  • 100% Completion - Find absolutely everything there is to find, maybe even beyond what the game lists as "100%."
  • Low-Level Run - Complete the game at as low a level as possible. Often limited to "don't gain any levels, period," excluding ones inevitably given by mandatory encounters.
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  • Minimalist Run - Get as few items as possible.
  • No-Damage Run - Complete the game without taking damage/getting hit. Also covers the easier variants No Deaths and No Continues.
  • Iron Man Run - Complete the game without resetting to an earlier save (that is, if you make a bad decision, you can't reload and try again).
  • No Casualties Run - Beat the game without any NPCs or escorts dying.
  • Pacifist Run - Beat the game without killing a single enemy. This can range from "use only non-lethal methods to fight opponents" all the way up to "never attack."
  • Genocide Run - The opposite of the above: Beat the game with the player going around killing everything that moves, no matter what. This is, of course, only possible in games where NPCs and enemies are limited in number and don't respawn out of thin air.
  • Solo-Character Run - In a game with a team of multiple playable characters, complete the game using only one of them. Bonus points if the character is a Joke Character.
  • Speedrun - Complete the game as fast as possible.
  • Stealth Run - In a stealth game, complete the game without getting caught.
  • Double Play - One player playing for two on-screen avatars at once.
  • No armor and/or no weapons. Sometimes done as "default weapons/armor" only.
  • No using magic and/or special skills like Limit Breaks. Sometimes listed as "basic attacks only."
  • Playing with impaired senses, such as wearing a blindfold or playing a Rhythm Game with the volume muted (players that are actually blind or deaf are forced to do this, though it's not exactly "self-imposed in these cases).
  • Controlling the game in an unorthodox way: playing with your feet on the controller instead of your hands, or using an unusual input device such as a Dance Dance Revolution pad for non-DDR games or a steering wheel controller on games that aren't Driving Games. As with the above, players with handicapped or missing limbs may be forced into such a playstyle.

Some of these can overlap.

This type of gameplay is one of the staples of the Challenge Gamer. See also House Rules. I Am Not Left-Handed is an in-universe example of this, or rather, an in-universe example of giving up on a Self-Imposed Challenge.

Examples With Their Own Subpages:


    open/close all folders 

  • Civilization:
    • The community has the long-established challenge of "Always War," which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: You're always at war. This can mean "You're always at war with at least one other civilization" or "You're always at war with everyone." This was later acknowledged in Civilization IV, with the "Always War" challenge being made official in the latter form.
    • Another long-lived one is the equally self-descriptive "One City Challenge": win the game as a Land of One City. Other cities conquered have to be razed to the ground (cities that can be razed, like capitals, are made puppets and left to their own devices). Like Always War, this was canonized as an optional rule is Civilization IV, and outright embraced in Civilization V: Brave New World with the Venice civ, which always plays like this (with some perks to balance it out).
  • Master of Orion and other 4X games with customization of alien race/faction/etc. puts a hard limit on the advantages the player can give the side being played as via a point system. However, all bets are usually off when it comes to the disadvantages that can be piled on. Well, it can be a good laugh to conquer the galaxy with a diplomatically challenged race with penalties to farming, research, ground combat and space combat, that started off in an arid, low gravity homeworld...

    Action Adventure 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Most games in the series can be subject to the three-heart challenge: beat the game without collecting any of the Heart Containers that increase Link's Life Meter. The difficulty arises in the game expecting you to be able to take more damage than you can in later dungeons. (In A Link to the Past and the original and DX versions of Link's Awakening you're forced to collect Heart Containers after beating bosses, so it's not possible in those games.)
    • The no-death Zelda run is popular enough that the developers started keeping track of how often you've died as early as A Link to the Past. In Link's Awakening, you even get a special addition to the ending sequence if you complete it without dying.
    • The original The Legend of Zelda:
      • The "minimal sword" challenge, where you only use your sword on Ganon (you can't beat him without it). It's possible (but difficult) to beat the rest of the game without it. If you want to get really extreme, try it with only three hearts.
      • The "Extreme Challenge", introduced by well-known speedrunner Daniel "Kareshi" Brown, is a particularly insane swordless run which also requires the following:
      - Cannot collect the shield, boomerang, ring, potion, heart container (so a three-heart challenge), power bracelet, magic key, or book of magic.
      - Must collect the arrows, bow, bombs (and both bomb upgrades), recorder, ladder, raft, meat, wand, red candle, and silver arrows.
      - Cannot kill any overworld enemies.
      - Must visit every room of every dungeon and collect every map and compass.
      - Must kill all bosses in each dungeon, even if they're not the dungeon's main boss.
      - Get to Ganon's room (where the challenge ends, since you can't beat him without a sword).
    • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link includes various challenges involving keeping one (or even two) of your stats (Attack, Magic, Life) at Level 1 for the entire game. Fighting Thunderbird with Level 1 Attack and Level 1 Magic means you can only use Thunder to make him vulnerable, and it takes 96 sword slashes to take him down.
    • In A Link to the Past, a swordless run is actually possible, thanks to an Easter Egg that allows you to beat Agahnim using the Bug-Catching Net. While you can't actually skip the sword, you can drop the Master Sword off at the Smithy at the earliest opportunity and complete the majority of the Dark World without it. Upon completing the Palace of the Four Sword in the Game Boy Advance version, the special ending shows how many times you used each item, encouraging this.
    • Majora's Mask:
      • The "three-day-only" challenge: you can only play the Song of Time once, when you first get the Ocarina of Time from the Skull Kid. This prevents you from going back in time, which leaves you with barely enough to get to the final boss — and that's if you skip the sidequests that are the real heart of the game. You'll be rolling and spinning everywhere. But if you're really good, not only is it possible, you can beat it in half the required time, or with seventeen non-transformation masks.
      • Once you've collected all the masks and Heart Containers to try and help as many people as possible in one cycle. It helps that, once Link completes a dungeon, he can go straight to the boss on subsequent visits.
      • Beating the boss Twinmold using only the sword — i.e. without the Giant's Mask.
    • Twilight Princess:
      • Beating the game with the wooden sword, which only does half the damage of the Ordon sword. You need to use glitches (and spend a few hours trying to activate them) just to be able to beat the sword for the entire game.note  If you're really adventurous, you can try taking the wooden sword into the Cave of Ordeals.
      • Keeping the original Ordon Shield. The game expects you to have it burn up on you once you get to the Goron Mines (which is why the nearby shops have replacements, which are functionally identical but don't look the same). However, there is nothing stopping you from refusing to use your shield against fire-type enemies until you can get a fireproof Hylian Shield to use instead.
    • In Phantom Hourglass, by using the safe zones which don't take up time when Link is in them and golden pots that add time, it's possible to complete the Temple of the Ocean King in zero seconds according to the game's measurement.
    • Skyward Sword introduced Hero Mode, where you take double damage, enemies get a health boost and never drop hearts, and your sword starts at its endgame strength. If you wanted to make it harder, you could play Hero Mode without potions, extra heart containers, upgrades, or medals, use only the most basic shield (if at all), and don't use the Sword Beam except where absolutely necessary. Hero Mode made a few appearances in later releases:
      • In The Wind Waker HD, you can select it right from the start.
      • In Link Between Worlds, you have to beat the game first, but it makes enemies deal quadruple damage — so the weakest enemies deal two whole hearts, making a three-heart run akin to a No-Damage Run from the minute you get into Lorule. If you're really masochistic, try the three-heart run without upgrades, buying gear, or shields, and without dying.
      • In Twilight Princess HD, not only can you select Hero Mode from the start, but scanning the Ganondorf amiibo doubles the damage Link takes on top of that. Try that with a three-heart run.
    • Breath of the Wild is so open-ended, it's spawned many ideas for challenge runs. These include the "Alchemist Run" (no food items, only use potions and elixirs for healing and buffs); the "Inn-to-Win Run" (healing only at inns); the "Shirtless Run" (no equipping torso armor); and the "Vegan Run" (no consuming anything made from animals, including meat, milk, eggs, and elixirs).
  • With the dawn of Castlevania games with inventory systems and equipment, the idea of "naked" runs stand out as an obscene challenge that requires no weaponry, armor, magic, or equipment that boosts anything but luck. It gets quite difficult at times.
    • The 1-kill playthrough of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, requiring you to kill ONE enemy throughout the entire game. You're still beating it at 200.6%; you're just limited to killing a puny Blademaster. This is quite difficult, as the mandatory boss fights count as kills. Once you become extremely adept at glitching through walls, it's not terribly difficult, but it will give you a run for your money if you aren't mentally prepared.
    • Even in the old-school games, people have challenged themselves to beat the game without using subweapons or even upgrading their whip. Good luck beating Death without Holy Water!
    • It became so common for players of SotN to try to 100% more than just the map that later games in the series conveniently began tracking map, item, and monster completion.
      • SotN, in particular, has the "great percentage hunt." The engine is just buggy enough to allow the player out of bounds if they can trigger some ridiculously obscure edge cases. Aside from just increasing your percentage, there is an armor in the game that gets stronger based on your map percentage. So there was actual motivation to get more than the standard 200.6%. Twenty years later there is a saveable percentage of 452.7%. Later games aren't as buggy, but really good glitchers can manage to get some gains.
  • Getting 2500 clones in Badland is already Nintendo Hard but 2500 clones is not the limit. As in the page quote, a few go beyond that, with the leader, Ogster, reaching 3200 clones. Other self-imposed challenges include finishing all missions for one level at once.

    Action Game 
  • A popular God of War challenge is the NUR (No Upgrades Run) which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Less famous but even more sadistic is the Pain+ runnote  This has been done for every game in the series by various authors on YouTube.
  • Devil May Cry: The famous player Keith "Pokey86" Poke pioneered the idea of the "Dante Will Die" run, which is a run on the highest difficulty of "Dante Must Die"... with a fresh game, lacking the usually maxed character that would normally be used. It really forces players to use different strategies, given the lack of moves and weapons that would normally be available. Even more crazy and skilled players have combined the SS run and the DWD run.
  • Ninja Gaiden for Xbox:
    • The game features a Karma system that encourages players to gather points. Players then took it beyond what Team Ninja had expected, performing Karma Runs that required ridiculous precision and perseverance. Some have also done no item and No Damage Runs, which unlike the aforementioned Devil May Cry are much harder to pull off. Considering the Nintendo Hardness of the base product...
    • The game also features an extremely weak (well, initially weak...) wooden sword weapon. Naturally, people decided to see how far they could get using only that weapon. For example, check out this video of a player beating one of the hardest bosses in the game using only that wooden sword and Ryu's kick attack.

    Driving Game 
  • Gran Turismo:
    • In general, there are many players who try to beat the competitions with cars that are far below the allowed requirements, this is especially true in games that let the player start with a car that is far superior that everything the competition can drive. In 5's online seasonal challenges have performance points (PP) limitations, which determines how much your car can be modified, and how good the car was to begin with. However, having light enough modifications can double your prize money. In 4 the same thing gives higher A-Spec points.
    • Some people want to get all the cars in the game, which gets more and more difficult from game to game. On an inverse, there are minimal-buys runs where people try to beat the games with the fewest cars possible.
    • There are many players who aim for getting far superior times than are required for gold in the license tests, beating the demonstration videos.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Marathon
    • The Vidmaster's Challenge, complete with charter that appears when attempting to use the Skip Level cheat. Rules include using grenades whenever possible, punching every switch (instead of pressing the action button on them), not to use the default Caps Lock key as the run key (i.e. not using what today would be an Always Run option), and to never ever leave a single one of the allied humans ("Bobs") alive.
    • Another is the Fists-Only on Total Carnage (hardest difficulty) - especially impressive on the special Vidmaster's arena level, with the grey enemies.
  • Halo has the LASO ("Legendary, All Skulls On") challenge, unofficially referred to as the "Mythic" difficulty, which is to complete any level on the hardest difficulty with every skull on (even Bungie got it in Halo: Reach, with some of their weekly challenges requiring you to beat a certain level on LASO to earn a big fat stack of credits). If you try it, it's a nightmare, to say the least.
  • GoldenEye and its Spiritual Successor Perfect Dark feature unlockable difficulty settings (called "007" and "Perfect Dark" respectively) that allow the player to alter the challenge by fine-tuning certain enemy properties: their health, accuracy, damage and reaction times. Level runs done with minimum enemy health and all other settings on maximum (meaning both player and perfectly-accurate guards will die in a single hit) are known as "Licence to Kill" (LTK) settings. Runs with everything set to maximum, so that guards have ten times more health than normal, are known as "Dark LTK" runs. In GoldenEye this is stupidly hard since a dead foe doesn't drop enough ammo to kill the next one; in Perfect Dark it's marginally more manageable thanks to the game's quirk that headshots on unshielded NPCs are always instant kills. The last GoldenEye level to be beaten with Dark LTK settings wasn't conquered until April 2013, over 15 years after the game was released. The above customisable difficulties (as well as the standard ones) can also be used in conjunction with the games' many unlockable cheat options. "Turbo Mode" has obvious effects on the sort of record times that can be attained, while "All Guns" and other weapon options allow the player to impose even more restrictions (it's particularly fun trying to kill all guards in a level using nothing but duel-wielded throwing knives). However, some of the cheats make the game much harder, such as the "Enemy Rockets" cheat, which gives every enemy in the game a rocket launcher with infinite ammo. Yes, that too is possible to complete. And what's more, at the end of each level, various statistics are displayed about your performance. So, can you do one or more of the above... but with 100% accuracy? And within a certain target time?
  • The utterly crazy Doom fanbase. Among the challenges on offer:
    • Speed: Your standard speedrun. Currently, the lowest recorded time for a completed level is five seconds.
    • Pacifist: Complete a level without directly or indirectly harming monsters, effectively restricting the player to causing infighting.
    • Fast: Complete a level while the monsters are faster than normal.
    • Respawn: Complete a level killing every monster at least once in an environment where they respawn.
    • Max: A speedrun where all secrets must be collected.
    • Tyson: The level must be completed with every monster killed as quickly as possible... with no weapons other than the fist, the chainsaw and the pistol.
    • One Doom speedrunner has a series on his YouTube channel called "Trials of a Doomgod" where he does crazy self-imposed challenges on various Doom maps, some of which include:
      • Plutonia Map 32 ("Go 2 It") UV-Max from pistol start without using the BFG 9000;
      • Plutonia Map 31 ("Cyberden") UV-Max from pistol start without using the Rocket Launcher;
      • TNT Evilution Map 1 ("System Control") UV-Max from pistol start in Solo-Net mode.
      • Ultimate Doom Episode 4 Map 1 ("Hell Beneath") UV-Max from pistol start without taking damage
  • Deus Ex. Pacifist Run is pretty standard, and the game encourages it. How about an ultimate run? No items. No skills or bio-augmentations, either. Deus Ex: Human Revolution can also be beaten with a pacifist run. The Missing Link DLC has a more difficult one: No weapons, explosives, or Praxis Kits (augments).
  • Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2':
    • Some people have tried a "melee only" run in the first game, where you're only allowed to attack zombies by meleeing them to death. The only exception you get is for the Tank where people are allowed to set it on fire. This was acknowledged in the sequel with the Confederacy of Crunches achievement.
    • The original concept for Left 4 Dead was for the scenery to be pitch black and the flashlight to play a vital role in seeing where you're going, but this was dropped in favor of the Chiaroscuro/Hollywood Darkness effect for the final version because players kept being ambushed too often without being able to see where the infected were coming from. The Darkness Falls add-on (not to be mistaken for the ultra-realism mutation, which also fits this trope but in a different way) takes the visuals back to those roots, just in case the player thinks he sees too much to be made tense by the game.
    • In both games, a good way to balance the challenge with gun script and bot AI enhancing add-ons is to play on a higher difficulty level. The balance is further skewed to the "challenge" side because in harder difficulties the Infected act and react faster, and the friendly fire is increased (further compounded by the extra firepower from the add-ons).
  • After the ending of BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea showed Atlas murdering Elizabeth with a wrench, players got their revenge by going back to the original BioShock and beating the Final Boss with only the wrench.
  • Officially, JFK: Reloaded is about trying to recreate three hardest shots in American history. In reality, it's used for either causing as much chaos as possible, or pulling off trick shots, like shooting off the first lady's hat, hitting a special agent in the ass, hitting Kennedy with a ricochet, or shooting Governor Connally's hat out of his hand.

  • City of Heroes:
    • The MAN challenge. Essentially, attempting to see how far you can get without using any superpowers beyond "Brawl" and "Sprint." It's considered cheating (and probably rude) to join teams and leech XP from more conventional characters. Due to the way mission enemies spawn, other MAN characters are fine if you can find someone else to join in your insanity.
    • City of Villains has the "petless Mastermind". Masterminds are the "pet" job of the game, and as such playing one without any minions is really, really hard.
  • World of Warcraft
    • The melee-only hunter (a class normally used primarily for ranged attacks), where the player refrains from using any ranged weapons whatsoever. Gweryc is probably the most well-known example.
    • There's also a player who levelled without any weapons or armour, and at least one pacifist.
    • Leveling a priest as holy used to be this, though it would get you huge friends list when you hit max level. Recent changes have made holy considerably more efficient for basic questing.
    • The Iron Man challenge has recently gained a lot of popularity for WoW. The basics are that you may only use the worst gear in the game (no magic items at all), you can not spend talent points to improve your character, you may never trade with another player to get any stuff, and a lot of other more or less ridiculous requirements. And the big one: if you die, you're out.
    • One player reached level cap without joining either the Horde or Alliance, by grinding to level 100 without leaving the Pandaren tutorial area.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has the popular solo challenge where a player attempts to tackle content meant for a group of four or eight people. There's also the all healer challenge where a group of 24 players take on a 24 man raid with nothing but healers.

    Platform Game 
  • Metroid players seem to love self-imposed challenges:
    • Beating the original Metroid without beating the minibosses. You get into Tourian by freezing an enemy. Then the Metroids kill you a whole damn lot.
    • Beating Metroid II: Return of Samus with just three items: bombs, ice beam, and a single energy tank (the final boss is impossible without it). Yep, you can climb all those open vertical rooms with only bombs.
    • Super Metroid seems particularly suited to them. In addition to the usual speedruns, low-percentage runs, and 100% runs, you could
      • Beat the game without collecting certain items usually required to progress.
      • Beat the game with a completion rate as low as 11%. You need glitches to reach Mother Brain. And man, good luck with Ridley.
      • Beat the game without getting out of morphball unless absolutely necessary.
      • Beat the four main bosses in reverse order.
      • Try the "NBMB run" (no bosses or minibosses), where you see how high a percentage you can complete without killing any bosses or minibosses. It's possible, but only through some crazy Sequence Breaking glitches.
    • Metroid Fusion doesn't count required suit upgrades toward your overall percentage, so it's possible to do a zero percent run. For the longest time, it was believed that 1% was the lowest you could go, because of a single missile tank (affectionately known as "Bob") that it was believed to be impossible to avoid on a real GBA. That is, until BioSp4rk and spideyMZM pulled it off.
    • Try beating any game in the Metroid Prime Trilogy with the minimum collection rate. Prime 3's minimum is as high as 22%. These games also have a Hard mode, doing that without your stuff is strictly for the hardest of the hardcore.
    • In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, it's possible to skip the Dark Suit. This means that for a good chunk of the game (until you get the Light Suit), you're exposed to the air in Dark Aether, which will basically take 15 seconds to kill you. You'll need a lot of Energy Tanks, guts, luck, and retries, and the Light of Aether better shine on you if you try it on Hard mode.
    • In Metroid: Samus Returns: defeat every Metroid (minus the iconic normal ones) using only the Ice Beam.
  • A fairly common one in the Mega Man classic and Mega Man X series is to defeat all the robot masters or mavericks using only your arm cannon, without using an Emergency Energy Tank. For extra challenge, use no charge shot and battle all the bosses and Wily/Sigma fights in the castle levels in this fashion as well. For the truly determined, try taking no damage at all. Exceptions must be made for those bosses who are only vulnerable to a specific weapon. Difficulty can vary wildly between games, from "Slightly more challenging but fun," to "Borderline impossible."
    • As an example of "Borderline impossible", let's player HideofBeast has done a minimalist, no damage speed-run of Mega Man X4-6 on Extreme mode. The X6 run in particular looks so painful to pull off that just watching it could be considered a masochistic activity.
    • YouTube user RoahmMythril has actually finished every Robot Master stage in the main Mega Man series, Mega Man & Bass, Mega Man Powered Up and the Game Boy games without taking damage, using only the uncharged arm cannon as far as possible.
      • Four other Let's Players are attempting this challenge with an additional twist. On top of not taking damage and only using the uncharged Mega Buster throughout each stage, they're also trying to pull it all off without missing a single shot.
    • Thanks to people who spent their time figuring this out, there's a not-so-obvious Mega Man X challenge: Beat the entire game without any upgrades from the get go. Unfortunately, since it's not possible to defeat Chill Penguin without running into the Boots upgrade, it's technically not from the get go. The password you need is: 4764 8488 7716. To make this even more fun, try without using boss weapons.
    • If you're really brave, try beating Mega Man X4 as Zero using only his Raijingeki technique (which must be first obtained from Web Spider), excluding bosses that can't be hurt by it like Sigma's first form where he's dressed like the Grim Reaper for example.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Beating any game in the series without touching a single ring is akin to a No-Damage Run turned obstacle course, since rings are A.) your primary means of surviving damage and B.) absolutely everywhere.
    • Completing Labyrinth Zone in the original Sonic the Hedgehog only requires you to follow Dr. Robotnik up a flooding shaft filled with spears and fire-spitting gargoyles, which is hard already since there are no Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles to save you from drowning. While it doesn't get you any actual reward, it is possible to actually defeat Robotnik by hitting the Egg Mobile eight times: you're likely to only hit him once at the beginning and once at the end.
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles can be beaten without pressing right, by playing as Knuckles and gliding everywhere (and climbing walls, then gliding away from them in order to turn around when need be).
    • Some Sonic mods enforce this in one form or another:
      • A Sonic the Hedgehog mod called OMG THE RED RINGS not only makes the rings an instant kill, it makes them bounce. Some levels are nearly impossible to beat normally.
      • A Sonic the Hedgehog 2 mod called Sonic 2XL makes the rings deadly by turning them into onion rings. If you collect them, Sonic will gain weight — and as he does, he gets slower and more sluggish. If you collect way too many of them, he stops in his tracks and dies of heart failure. Even Super Sonic is not immune, and if you have Tails as a partner, the rings he collects transfer to you. There's one way to shed the weight, though: run!
      • Catekillers, Marble Zone, and the scariest Sonic mechanic of all: water. After the Geek Critique's Kalin made a habit of complaining about these three ingredients, a ROM hacker took it upon himself to combine them into one horrifying concoction. The result? Should really just be seen for yourself, most especially that ending.
  • Kirby:
    • A common challenge series-wide is to not use Kirby's copy abilities, either for the duration of a boss battle or for the entire game.
    • Another relatively iconic challenge is the "No Flying Challenge". Try to get through the game as if it was a normal platformer, i.e. using the float ability only when necessary.
    • Finally, there's the Pacifist Challenge, where you have to get through the game without defeating a single enemy (outside of boss battles).
    • For an even tougher challenge, try mixing and matching the aforementioned challenges. Seemingly easy levels can become incredibly difficult when you can't fly, suck up enemies, or use copy abilities.
    • Let's Player Butt8745 invented the "Haddaway Challenge", which is beating Kirby's Dream Land on Extra Mode while listening to a loop of Haddaway's meme-tastic song "What is Love?" And singing it on its first loop. It's not specific to Kirby — it's just a way to see if you can stay sane.
    • Kirby's Dream Land's Config Mode is very conducive to challenges, as it allows you to adjust how many lives and how much health you start with.
    • In Kirby Mass Attack, the "minimum Kirby run" requires you to complete every objective — including Gold Star Champion, which requires you to beating every level and boss without taking damage — with as few Kirbies as possible in each level. And you can't gain any more Kirbies, even if some are defeated along the way. As this requires you to dodge all the fruit in every area to prevent the creation of other Kirbies, it doubles as a low score run.
    • In games that contain the Wheel ability, such as Kirby: Triple Deluxe and Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, try to see how many levels you can get through while turned into a wheel. This challenge is often used by speedrunners to get through the levels faster.
    • In Kirbys Return To Dreamland, try beating the entire game by yourself with only one player. That includes EX-Mode and the True Arena. For added fun, try doing it without ever switching characters, and never having Kirby use an absorbed power to attack an enemy, which means only using powers to complete necessary puzzles in order to obtain Energy Spheres. It's also possible to beat the game without jumping; certain abilities allow Kirby to move upwards without pressing the jump button, and he can also ride other characters for an extra boost.
    • In Kirby Star Allies, you can beat the entirety of story mode without double jumping, flying, or doing anything involving pressing A midair. All jumps too high for Kirby to normally complete are made possible by stacking/throwing players and using certain moves from various abilities, like the Upward Slash move from the Sword ability.
    • And of course, one of the most common challenges in Kirby Star Allies is to try to beat the game without using allies. This is mostly achievable, with the exception of the Friend Segments. However, it can make the game harder, especially during the boss fights.
  • Expert players of Spelunky have attempted many different flavours of this. There's the common stuff, like speedruns, no-damage runs, high-treasure runs, and so on. Then there's the no treasure, no kills, no action button, no damage runs in Gates of Hell Spelunky that people have attempted.
  • Ratchet & Clank:
    • Try playing through a game without ever buying ammo from a vendor, i.e. ammo crates are your only method you have of reloading weapons. For added challenge, never use a max-level weapon, and play on the highest difficulty, if possible. Warning: In the games where ammo doesn't reset if you die, this becomes a major case of Unstable Equilibrium, the more you die, the harder it gets. Doing this in Deadlocked on Exterminator difficulty is next to impossible.
    • In the Future games, try Omniwrench only. That means never buy a weapon, and never use your starting weapon. Good luck.
  • Rolling Thunder has been completed without the machine gun.
  • The flexible sequence of La-Mulana lends itself well to many self-imposed challenges, which range from the easy (no Scalesphere/Ice Cape? Pfff) to the murderous (No Life Jewels?!).
  • Cave Story has a number of these, mainly the 3 Life challenge which is done by not picking up any Heart Containers, and the Basic Weapons challenge, which forces you to only use the three weapons you can't avoid getting throughout the entire game. Completing the last level is in itself an achievement, but finishing it with Minimum Health and Basic Weapons is almost impossible and very much luck-oriented - there is a section where blocks start falling from the ceiling and their locations are completely random. Doing this challenge has been known to test the sanity of some people.
  • Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future has an in-universe example. There's an NPC who spends all his time swimming around trying to catch a certain fish. If Ecco catches the fish and presents it to him, he will get annoyed and beg you to let it go.
    You make a mockery of my quest!

    Puzzle Game 
  • Fantastic Contraption, a Flash-based physics-puzzle game, lends itself to this. Players will try to complete the goal with as few pieces as possible, or without using certain kinds (gravity power, no catapults, etc.). The fact that you can save and share your contraptions for others to watch in action aids in this.
  • Tetris:
    • A popular challenge that originated in Japan is to form the shape of a "greater than" sign (>) as wide and tall as the playing field. It's popular enough that in the Tetris: The Grand Master series, if you successfully form at least half of the stack, you'll get a secret grade proportional to how complete it is.
    • Playing The Grand Master with one hand.
    • Playing The Grand Master 2 without the hard drop. This seems trivial, and it becomes irrelevant once you hit instant-drop speeds, but using only the soft drop slows down runs enough to impact grades, especially if you're aiming for the GM rank.
    • Playing The Grand Master 3 without the Hold feature (a mandatory requirement for later Tetris games).
    • Playing The Grand Master with only one rotation button. To casual Tetris players, this doesn't seem like a big deal, but in The Grand Master, where speed is everything, rotating a piece three times could be the difference between winning and losing.
  • Many people have completed levels in World of Goo for trying to get either as much goo per level as possible, complete the level with least moves or the shortest time. Often it turns the gameplay into something completely different.
  • Free Cell: The most obvious one is reducing the number of free cells, sometimes even to zero (69 out of the original Microsoft 32000 can be solved with no freecells). Some software implementations will have this as an option. Another is to make the biggest "flourish"note  you can. There are a few games where it is possible to set up a 52-card flourish, taking the home row from empty to full in one move flat.
  • It is possible to complete a lot of co-op chambers in Portal 2 without any help from a partner (as in they don't place a portal or interact with anything) and very few of them require glitches. Finding a partner who will let you do this is a problem, though.

    Rhythm Game 
  • Guitar Hero:
    • The strumming becomes trickier if you use a pick (or actually strum with your hands, as opposed to gripping onto the strum bar).
    • Instead of using all of the fingers on their fretting hand to hold down notes, some players make things more difficult by choosing to forgo the use of their pinky, or their pinky AND ring fingers, the latter of which is sometimes called 'Django Mode' after the guitarist Django Reinhardt, who only had full use of two of his fingers. Amazingly, at least one player has five-starred every song on Expert using only two fingers.
  • Dance Dance Revolution:
    • Performance players will put out elaborately choreographed routines, complete with knee drops, innovative use of the safety bar, spins and sometimes even flips just for the sake of doing so.
    • The all-Great challenges. MUCH harder than it seems.
    • Or try clearing a song with a score of 0. This makes it Good attack. You can't get anything higher, and are only allowed a very limited number of lower ratings.
    • Or, try playing a level 14 (DDR X and beyond ratings) WITHOUT using the bar. For extreme pain, try a level 19 without using the bar on doubles.
  • BMS player Lunatic Rave 2 has a secret option called "Extra Mode". You know all those notes in the background channels? expect to play a lot more of them. To put this in perspective, Scripted Connection (Long Mix) normally has 4459 notes in it. If you're playing an accurate BMS of it in Lunatic Rave 2, Extra Mode increases the number of notes to 6118! (This has the side effect of making some songs nigh-impossible)
  • In O2Jam, playing a song with no speed modifiers (which most players use) is referred to as "slowjamming," and is a commendable skill.
  • A small niche of beatmania IIDX players will play using an arcade-spec pop'n music controller.
  • DJMAX Technika tournaments have employed the "Nobody Knows Next" ruleset, in which each round, instead of just trying to get a high score, you're also required to fill another condition, such as playing with only one hand, playing with only your pinkies, or playing with the machine muted while you listen to completely different music via headphones hooked up to a portable player. There's also the "Miss Attack" challenge in which you try to get as many Misses as possible without failing, and "roulette" mode in which multiple players line up and take turns on the machine on a per-swipe basis.
  • Space Channel 5 and it's sequel leaves room for these. Failure mode where you rescue nobody and get the minimum view rating, Mirror mode is when you play through the game with the mirror code activated... and Purge mode, in which you shoot the hostages and rescue the robots.
  • StepMania has Song Attacks, or this. This is the game intentionally messing you up.
  • A simple one in Rhythm Heaven is to play the game blind—that is, blindfolded, with the game video disabled, looking away, or doing something else to divert your attention completely away from the screen. This works on most minigames in the series, though some games like "Night Walk" in Rhythm Tengoku (GBA) require you to use some visual cues. There's also the inverse: playing with the audio muted. This requires either extensive memorization of the song's rhythm, or relying entirely on visual cues.

  • NetHack has the "grid bug" challenge, where you cannot move or attack diagonally, only up/down/left/right. It's named after a low-level enemy that has the same restriction.
  • Angband:
    • "No artifacts"; a serious challenge in a game where your only protection against instadeath on deeper levels is wearing the right magical bling.
    • The Ironman challenge, where you can never go up any staircase, and can never return to the surface by any means, until victorious.
    • There have been attempts to win with no artifacts or ego-items (such as ); none of them have been successful.
  • Ancient Domains of Mystery has a series of self imposed challenges, some of which involved the Infinite Dungeon (the only dungeon in the game to not save visited levels, making it similar to Angband). Such challenges include:
    • Ironman: Your typical ID dive. You must use any down stairs you see. The object is to retrieve a powerful artifact from level 67.
    • Leadman: Ironman, only you are allowed to stay on a level as long as you please. Goal is to find the bottom.
    • Aluminum Man: Ironman, only you are allowed to do the Village Dungeon quest first (gives you ~6 levels before you enter).
    • Steelman: Survive in the wilderness, and the wilderness only until level 50.
    • Eternium Man: Never enter a village or city, may not read books in the wilderness. Now; stand in one place in the Small Mountain Cave. This is difficult because the SMC is the most dangerous location in the game: monsters spawn faster and have double your experience (typically a character can fight something up to about 5 to 10 levels higher than he is, depending on what it is—even small white mice get dangerous in the SMC). Survive to level 50, then you can leave. There is only one recorded winner, which got extremely lucky and was able to abuse game mechanics to become godlike thanks to lucky spawn.
    • Titanium Man: Complete the game lowest level possible (Low-Level Run). One player ran a troll (which, as the dumbest race, learns very slowly) and finished at level 1, with 86 xp. The only monster slain was Andor Drakon (worth 1 xp, presumably the rest of the xp was from sacrifices).
    • Mercuryman: This one is fun. Use melee weapons as ranged, and ranged weapons as melee. Rocks (an abundant missile) make a great melee item.
    • Goldman: Never spend any money. Be as greedy as possible: any time you see a store you must sell all of your items. You are not allowed to drop or sacrifice any money. Gold is heavy (I hope you find a girdle of greed and bless it).
    • Carbon Fiber Man: Never carry more than 100 stones. An extremely harsh equipment restriction, especially considering that there are five plot-necessary artifacts which each weigh 100s and each need to be brought to the bottom of the Caverns of Chaos, which you have to do while naked in this challenge (and without wearing a signet ring needed to peacefully pass a very nasty monster). Astonishingly, it has been completed at least once.
    • Archmage: Raise a character capable of casting Wish at will.
    • Brimstone Man: Go straight to the Tower of Eternal Flames (guess what it's like), and don't exit until you have the Chaos Orb of Elemental Fire in your possession. Extremely difficult, as most level 1 characters will be burned to ashes within several turns (along with their equipment), and the Tower contains many high-level monsters and a nasty boss.
    • Ultra Paragon: Complete an Ultra Ending with Paragon of Order status. Becoming a Paragon of Order requires, among other things, that you never commit a single chaotic act. Maintaining Paragon of Order status is hard enough in a normal game; it's nigh-impossible for an ultra ending.
  • In Azure Dreams, try leaving the monster tower for the first time, then putting Kewne away, going in with no items, and making it to the top of the tower using only items you find inside the tower on one run. This borders between Luck-Based Mission and downright Unwinnable.
  • Dwarf Fortress's Self-Imposed Challenges come in four varieties: Self-imposed challenges where players abstain from some gameplay feature like not brewing any liquor, starting build-related challenges like starting with only unskilled dwarves, location-related challenges like building a fort in a place with an aquifer or goblin tower, and megaprojects, which are huge constructions undertaken only to satisfy the player's ego. There is a huge list on the df wiki.
  • "Innawoods" in Cataclysm, where city size is set to zero in the world settings, resulting in a world with (mostly) only field and forest zones, making many useful items that only spawn in cities impossible or much harder to obtain.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • The games of the Dark Souls series are hard enough on their own, but the New Game+ kicks things up a notch, and players who are patient enough to "git gud" love to find ways to make things even more difficult.
    • There's the Soul Level 1 - you start as either the Pyromancer for Dark Souls I, or Deprived for II and III, and play the game without leveling up. Upgrading your gear is allowed, but there are of course variations without upgrades.
    • The No Death Run - self explanatory. Generally considered a good first challenge.
    • The No Hit Run - You can't be hit by enemies. And for those who want to take it a step further there's the No Damage Run in which you aren't allowed to take any damage at all. That includes from enemies, fall damage, environmental damage etc.
    • One Dark Souls speedrunner, Lobos Jr, spends a large amount of time streaming himself coming up with and playing various challenge runs. Of them include:
      • The Shield-only run: can only defeat enemies with a shield (which can be equipped in the main hand as a particularly weak weapon)
      • The Straight sword hilt-only run
      • The Roll only run: can only defeat enemies by rolling into them with Kirk's Thorn Armor (which deals a small amount of damage)
      • The 100% Achievements run, which can only be done in a minimum of three playthroughs of the game (up to NG+2)
      • The Cheese all bosses run: Defeat all bosses only using strategies that require the minimum effort possible. Ironic, since some of the bosses' cheese strats are severely harder to set up or pull off (such as Ornstein and Smough's, or Quelaag's) than if he had just fought them normally.
      • The "Use What You See" run, where he had to equip any item he saw, and drop the item whose slot it took up. Particularly hard when, in Anor Londo, he spent about two hours going through most of the castle incapable of running, rolling, blocking, or parrying because he picked up and had to equip all of Havel's armor and shield because he didn't want to fight O&S with a very weak weapon.
      • The "No Roll/No Dash" run.
      • The upside down run, where everything displayed except his HUD is completely flipped upside down.
      • The Limbo Mod/No HUD run, where all the textures are turned black a la Limbo, and he can't see his HUD at all.
      • The Twitch Souls challenge run, where he can only see the game in his Twitch window, complete with a 13 second visual delay.
      • The SUPER Speed run, where everything is at double speed.
      • Twitch Plays Dark Souls, where he tries to run through Dark Souls while his Twitch chat messes with his controls a la Twitch Plays Pokémon.
      • The Clear Lordran challenge, where, after defeating all bosses sans Gwyn, he goes through each area and kills every enemy without replenishing his estus at a bonfire. He made it as a sort of farewell to Dark Souls I before starting Dark Souls II, but he died very close to the end and procrastinated restarting and finally finishing it until late 2015.
  • EarthBound
    • The game has numerous 1-in-128 items. These range from items you can't find in stores (such as the Sword of Kings and the Xterminator Spray) to items you can get well before stores stock them. Numerous fan quests have arisen as gamers try to get every one of them.
    • There's also the "t-rex bat' challenge, where you try and buy the t-rex bat (a weapon for Ness that you aren't supposed to get for 2 more full areas) when you are leaving Winters with Jeff by selling the random drops you get from enemies untill you reach $698.
  • Final Fantasy I:
    • Playing with a party of four White Mages is a popular one. The early-level characters are so weak that a battle with goblins can reach epic proportions. Even worse is four Thieves, as they're even worse than White Magi due to being almost as weak but lacking any defensive capabilities to make up for it.
    • Solo quests are also popular, and the truly hardcore will try both — that is, soloing with a weak class. This is so hard that there are whole FAQs available for beating the game with one Thief, one White Mage, etc.
    • Due to Sequence Breaking, it is possible to reach the Castle of Ordeals much earlier than thought possible, as well as getting the airship very early. This has led to the Level 11 Class Change, which is only possible by running from all battles and fighting only the mandatory fights before Class Changing.
  • Final Fantasy IV has a Cecil-only challenge. God help you in the Sealed Cave.
  • Final Fantasy V, predictably enough, has at least a couple to call its own: Freelancers-only, Four Class Challenge, and a popular variant of the latter, the Four Job Fiesta where each character is assigned one class per crystal. Having all characters be the same job is also popular for this one.
  • As both games have Job Systems, most of the aforementioned variants are also popular in Final Fantasy III.
  • Final Fantasy VI has quite a few of these.
    • The "Natural Magic" challenge, where you forgo the use of all Espers (or any equipment that offers spells); thus, the only magic that is available are characters who learn Magic through the natural process of leveling (hence the name). This also nixes any form of Esper-based stat boosting, so it is quite difficult.
    • The "CES" challenge is another popular one; you must beat the game using only Celes, Edgar, and Setzer when the game doesn't force other characters onto you. These are the only three characters you must have when assaulting Kefka's tower. Combining CES and Natural Magic is only for the highly skilled.
    • Solo Character Runs with Natural Magic are also popular. Difficulty ranges from the challenging but doable Terra to the near impossible Relm, Cyan and Umaro. Low Level Runs are common, too, through skilled use of Gau's abilities, among other things.
    • And if Natural Magic games aren't hard enough, you can attempt the No Equipment Natural Magic Game(NENMG). No Espers, armor, weapons, or relics can be used at any point during the game, so your characters' ability to deal damage comes ONLY from their natural abilities (Blitz, Rage, etc.). Simply grinding to level 99 is forbidden, and every optional quest must also be beaten, except for the Magi Master.
  • Several people have tried going through Final Fantasy VII without getting better weapons or using any materia. Some mixed self imposed challenges are:
    • Low Level, No Materia, No Items
    • Low Level, No Materia, Initial Equipment, No Accessories
    • Lowest Level, No Items, Initial Equipment, No Accessories, No Enemy Skills
    • No Summons, No Items, No Limit Breaks, No Accessories, No Enemy Skills
    • Try beating Emerald Weapon and Ruby Weapon without items, materia, or using a Limit Break, meaning you can only use physical attacks.
    • The Limit Break only challenge: you can only use Limit Breaks to heal or deal damage in battle. It's nowhere near as easy as it sounds, especially since the main character with a healing Limit Break dies at the end of Disc 1.
  • Final Fantasy VIII arguably has the nastiest of these in the form of the "no junction" challenge, sometimes known as "No GF" challenge. No character can ever equip a GF at any time for any reason throughout the entire game. This cuts off access to every skill you get other than attacks and limit breaks, meaning you only get three characters capable of healing your party in any way, get one way to resurrect fallen characters (albeit completely random through Angelo Recover), and no access to the stat boosting junction system which is required to get stats that are in any way passable. Despite all this, apparently somebody did this without resorting to the game's Game-Breaker. It apparently took him 200 tries to beat the final boss.
  • Final Fantasy IX steps up the Low-Level Run to the unique Level 1 Challenge, requiring players to skip and avoid all possible experience in battle, resulting in a Level 1 team against the final boss.
  • The diehard Final Fantasy X community is the king of them all. Not satisfied with the already insanely difficult bonus content, such as the Monster Arena or the Dark Aeons and Penance, there's a massive array of guides on GameFAQs devoted to beating the game with various limiters mixed and matched, from No Sphere Grid (which entails no stat bonuses or new abilities whatsoever), to single character challenges, to the current king of them all, The No Sphere Grid No Summon No Overdrive No Escape No No-Encounters No Blitzball No Customize Challenge, which mainly involves stealing and throwing items with Rikku and praying for certain equipment drops. Notable in that none of these challenges have ever got past Braska's Final Aeon, so they're generally abandoned before the game is truly completed as actually beating the Final Boss is considered virtually impossible. It took until 2014 for someone to succeed: behold, Braska's Final Aeon defeated in the No Sphere Grid No Summon No Overdrive No Escape No No-Encounters No Blitzball No Customize challenge.
  • Final Fantasy strikes again with Final Fantasy XII, which has a great system for these challenges. Take a sampling:
    • There's the classic No License Board challenge, which leaves you with an extremely limited pool of abilities and equipment. This is usually obviously paired with No Quickenings/No Summons.
    • Another one is the 122333 challenge, named for the levels each character starts at when they join your party (Vaan at 1, Balthier and Fran at 2, and Basch, Ashe and Penelo at 3) and involves running from every monster encounter except bosses until a certain item can be found. This can be combined with the NLB challenge above, if you're extremely masochistic.
    • There's also the classic solo character run, and since anyone can learn any ability, wear any armor and wield any weapon, you can pick any character for almost equal challenge.
    • Probably the easiest challenge available is the ECC, or Enforced Class Challenge, which mimics the Zodiac Job System and forces each character to become a certain class - e.g., Penelo is now a White Mage who can only purchase licenses for magical armor, staves, white magick, and magick-based Augments.
    • Another popular one is called the DCHLB challenge, or Dual-Character Half-License Board. One character takes the bottom half of the board, meaning they can wear any armor and use any weapon, but they can only use their starting abilities, while the other takes the top half and has access to all the Magick, Technicks, Augments and Accessories, while staying in their original equipment. Decoy is pretty much your best friend here.
  • Final Fantasy XIII goes a slightly similar route to Final Fantasy X by having the NCU (No Crystarium Usage) challenge. Players can also attempt the PRO (Primary Roles Only) challenge, allowing players to only upgrade the Crystarium in the first three roles a character unlocks. On the opposite end, they can choose to do SRO (Secondary Roles Only) meaning the game would be played as an NCU until Chapter 10 of the game and only allowing to upgrade the Crystarium in the Secondary roles. Not to forget the Initial Equipment challenge, No Accessory challenge and similar ones. Have fun coupling those together with NCU.
  • The Elder Scrolls series, with it's huge game worlds and open-ended gameplay, is tailor made for this trope. To note:
    • An extremely common challenge for any of the games in the series is to role-play; writing a character and then playing as that character, flaws and all. For example, a noble paladin who cannot loot corpses and must leave them to rest in peace, or a warrior who refuses to use any form of magic, including enchanted items.
    • Morrowind players invented the "Live Off the Land" challenge. It requires leaving all possessions and gold in town, traveling on foot, and surviving missions only with what the player comes across. A monk/alchemist build has the most success at making the use of any possible scavenge and loot. It's only permissible to use alchemy equipment if left where it's found; looting it means that it has to be left in town, and inaccessible for future adventures. This is also possible in other games, though Morrowind's barren setting lends to it quite well.
    • Oblivion:
    • A popular Skyrim challenge is to play as a vegan. It sounds simple, but gets harder the more you think about it. No food with any meat or animal components. No potions made from any animal components (which means no buying potions or using found healing potions, because who knows what's in those things?). No hide or leather armor, or any armor that must be upgraded using leather, even leather strips. In the same vein, no Dragonbone armor. Same thing for weapons, which means no arrows (because of feathers). No Forsworn equipment because it all appears to be made out of bones. No killing animals of any kind - wolves, bears, sabrecats, etc - so there's a lot of running and sneaking involved. No riding horses ever, not even Shadowmere. No animate dead or command animal spells. Only dragons that must die for plot reasons can be killed. No using dragon souls (animal by-products to the extreme), meaning the only available shouts are a partially-upgraded Fus Ro Dah, one-word Whirlwind Sprint, and Clear Skies (because these are acquired as part of the main quest without the need for dragon souls).
    • According to series' lore, the first Redguards to arrive in Tamriel did this In-Universe; they made the decision to settle the Alik'r Desert, one of the most inhospitable environments on Tamriel, because according to Redguard philosophy, something that can be obtained without struggle is not worth obtaining in the first place.
  • Quite possible in Fallout 3, when using the 'paralysing palm' perk and V.A.T.S (vault assisted targeting system) to create a Good Old Fisticuffs-only character.
  • Fallout: New Vegas, with the addition of Hardcore Mode (ammo has weight, players must eat, drink, and sleep, stimpaks only heal over time, companions can die and crippled limbs can only be healed with a doctor's bag or the addictive drug Hydra), allows for its own inbuilt challenge. Many players have chosen to up the ante by restricting themselves to realistic carry weights (in the realm of 50 to 100 units of gear maximum) and sometimes realistic carry methods (such as only having one or two longarms and two one-handed firearms, and not carrying anything that couldn't reasonably fit in a rucksack). PC gamers, with access to mods, can increase this even more: realistic damage and armor values that make armor much more valuable and allow for the player and enemies to be taken down in a single good shot, purchasable backpacks for an in-game increase in carry weight, mods that add weight to all items (even money!), and even a hideously complex needs system that requires players to keep track of proper protein and nutrition intake as well as calories and hydration, follow their circadian rhythm and get the right amount of sleep at the right time of the day, and keep track of their levels of stimulants and alcohol in their system; it's even possible to suffer water intoxication from drinking too fast, or to put yourself in a "food coma" from overeating.
  • The World Ends with You: finish the game with only your starting weapon (a badge with the ability of pyrokinesis), no clothes to give stat boosts, and no food eating to increase attack power and defense. The game must be played on the hardest difficulty level available at each stage of the game on level 1, and the 'Retry on Easy' feature for bosses is not allowed.
  • Play the Later Shin Megami Tensei games that have a demonic compendium, but do not use the compendium. Or do a Nuzlocke run of the game.
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has a fairly well-known challenge: Solo Hard True Demon Ending mode. It consists of starting the game on Hard mode, playing only with the main character, and going the TDE path, which requires you to finish the Labyrinth of Amala, and then fight the Bonus Boss right after fighting the Final Boss. Since in this game you can only have 8 skills at a time, and you can never relearn skills once forgotten, it consists of planning your skills for each single boss and dungeon before even starting the game.
  • In the first two SaGa games: using a horribly unbalanced party. Probably the most infamous is four monsters. In the first game, you can simply choose not to recruit anyone and attempt a Solo-Character Run.
  • Romancing SaGa: Try to defeat That One Boss Ewei without Multi Hit techs. His meat shields protect him from damage, and he regains them two turns after both are defeated, and those protect him from damage. Ewei also uses a Hit All magic spell and he can recover his own HP, plus he has a magic shield applied at the very start of battle to minimize the damage dealt to him.
  • Pokémon is chock-full of challenges. Things like the Mono-Type, Solo, No-Evolution, and Speedrun are self-explanatory. Then you get to the weirder ones:
    • The "Scramble" challenge: another player picks your team for you. That's your team throughout; you can't evolve them. (Sucks if you're stuck with Magikarp and Wurmple.) A variant has you do this with eggs, as no one knows what's inside them until they hatch.
    • Permadeath runs: if a Pokémon faints, you must release it. Good luck with the Elite Four. In a similar vein, the "No-Whiteout" challenge forces you to restart the game from the beginning if all your Pokémon faint.
    • Limiting yourself to the behavior of the important A.I. opponents. This means you can't use legendary or pseudo-legendary Pokémon, and you can't use healing items in battle (or maybe just one or two). The latter challenge makes the game noticeably tougher. Some variants require you to fight these opponents using the same number of Pokémon they use. Others require you to take on each Gym leader using only the type they use (and not use any type not used by any Gym leader in the game).
    • The "Wonder Trade Challenge" from Pokémon X and Y is a variant of the "Scramble" challenge: all Pokémon you catch must be Wonder Traded, and you're stuck with whatever you get in return. Wonder Trade is completely random. If you get a duplicate, Wonder Trade it again. Some variants require that instead of releasing fainted Pokémon, you must Wonder Trade them again.
    • The "Nuzlocke Challenge", created by the guy behind Nuzlocke Comics. It's simple: You can only catch the first Pokémon you encounter on any given route or cavenote ; you must nickname all your Pokémon; and Permadeath is enforcednote . This forces you to have a much higher attachment to your Pokémon than you might otherwise. It's so popular, it's picked up a whole bunch of variants:
      • Nuzlocke without items — or Nuzlocke with only items (i.e. no healing at Pokémon centers).
      • Marriland's "Wedlocke Challenge", which requires you to pair up your Pokémon and have them fight alongside each other. A pair is permanent until one of the Pokémon dies (or you release it at will), and you can't deposit any Pokémon in your PC barring that situation. In battle, you can only swap out a Pokémon for its partner — a requirement that torpedoes any attempt at switch training.
      • The "Wonderlocke Challenge", which combines the Nuzlocke Challenge with the Wonder Trade Challenge. Or, you can combine them with the Wedlocke Challenge and try a Wonderwedlocke Challenge.
      • The "Multilocke Challenge": Run three Nuzlocke games in different generations, simultaneously, with synchronized controls — i.e. any input is performed in all three games at the same time. The hardest variant requires you to win the last fight in all three runs with a single button press.
      • Some versions for later generations or remakes will have Obvious Rule Patches to prevent taking advantage of some new mechanics, like not being allowed to use the DexNav in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire or avoiding visible overworld encounters in Pokémon Sword and Shield, both of which would make the "You can only catch the first Pokémon you encounter on any given route or cave" rule a complete joke since you could basically stage an ideal first encounter.
    • A Youtuber, Gamerchamp 3000 took it to the extreme and decided to see if it was possible to beat Pokemon Blue without taking a single hit. And yes, even with the accuracy glitch that makes attacks miss in a 1/256 chance, he managed to do it.
    • The "Poke Ball-Only Challenge", which requires you to catch every Pokémon in the Pokédex using only standard Poke Balls. Good luck with the Legendary Pokémon. (You do get a pass for the Safari Zone and the Bug-Catching Contest, which require you to use specific types of balls.)
    • The "Fundamentalist Christian Playthrough":
      - No evolving your Pokémon.
      - No Dark, Psychic, or Ghost Pokémon or moves.
      - No Ekans, Arbok, Seviper, or Serperior.
      - Pokémon must be Level 22 before they can breed.
      - Pokémon of the same gender cannot share a daycare center.
      - It is your duty to keep any egg Pokémon in the party until Level 18.
      - Legendaries are false idols and should be killed.
      - No Fossils, Game Corners, or drugs (PP Up, Rare Candy, etc.).
    • The "Team Rocket Challenge":
      - You must have a cheating device with a "catch Trainer Pokémon" cheat available at all times. note 
      - The only "wild" Pokémon you may use (outside of your starter) are of Bug, Dark, Ghost, and Poison type, and the Rattata line or that generation's equivalent (Sentret, Zigzagoon, Bidoof, Patrat).
      - You may use Pokémon outside the above types only by stealing them from fellow Trainers.
      - When battling an important Trainer (Rival, Gym Leaders, Team Leaders, Elite Four, Champion), you may only steal their last Pokémon.
      - If the game you are playing has Team Rocket as the enemy team, avoid as many Team Rocket battles as possible. If the enemy team is not Team Rocket, you must battle them as much as possible.
    • The "Hippie Challenge":
      - Avoid battles wherever possible.
      - Never make wild Pokémon faint.
      - Don't catch more than you can carry (i.e. don't use PC boxes).
      - You must pick up items on the ground.
      - Never throw out items.
      - Don't buy supplies from Poké-Marts if you can help it.
    • The "N Challenge" is for Pokémon Black and White. It's like an anti-Nuzlocke; you're not allowed to nickname your Pokémon, and you must designate a certain point (e.g. after every Gym battle or Rival fight) where you dump your team and catch new Pokémon, although you're allowed to keep one Pokémon after the fifth gym (and some variants allow you to keep your starter as well). Your team against the Elite Four must contain at least one legendary (a real one — pseudo-legendaries don't count).
    • The "Avatar: The Last Airbender Challenge":
      - Choose one Nation to be a part of, Water, Earth, Fire, or Air. Only catch Pokémon that are in your respective element:
      - Earth: Ground, Rock, Steel, and Fighting.
      - Water: Water, Ice, Grass, and Poison.
      - Fire: Fire, Electric, Dark and Dragon.
      - Air: Flying, Psychic, Ghost and Bug.note 
      - (You are not the avatar. You gotta deal with it.)
      - You may catch a Pokémon if it can evolve into a type from your nation (e.g. Earth can have a Torchic because it will become a Fighting type). But if it evolves out of your nation, you cannot use it anymore.
      - Normal and Fairy types are free game (unless they have a secondary type — e.g. anyone can have a Ratatta, but only Air tribes can have a Pidgey).
    • For Pokémon Mystery Dungeon players, their biggest challenges involve Kecleon:
      • Tough players try to recruit Kecleon — but even under the absolute best of conditions, their chance of recruitment is 0.1%.
      • Craftier players try to steal from Kecleon — which will result in swarms of extremely high-level Kecleon attacking you (and they can double the speed of any other Kecleon in the room), and losing will turn the player's entire inventory into totally useless Plain Seeds.
      • Truly gutsy players will try to defeat Kecleon.
    • Completionists and collectors have the "Living Pokédex" challenge, which requires one of every species in the PC at once, in National Pokédex order. If you don't have access to previous generations or cheats, good luck. True Pokémaniacs can take even that Up to Eleven with the "Living Shinydex" challenge, which is the same but with the ultra-rare Shiny Pokemon — including the one-time-only Legendaries. Have fun spending literal days soft-resetting the game 1,000+ times until you get that Shiny starter Pokémon!note 
    • The "Gary Oak" challenge, which is really grind-heavy:
      - You must capture every unique Pokémon you can on the first available route.
      - Once you have more than six Pokémon, you must constantly rotate team members so that every Pokémon is used in battle.
      - All Pokémon must be leveled up evenly, and they cannot be at a higher level than the Rival's strongest Pokémon at that point in the game.
      - Pokémon who evolve by means other than leveling up must be evolved as soon as possible.
  • Due to the way the level up system works, it's possible to go through Lunar Knights without any status boosts. This is especially amusing when you can be at level 99 with stats of 1 in everything.
  • Contact can be made so much more fun by limiting yourself to using only one costume and one type of weapon. Since the game only forces you to use other suits/weapons once (Aegis), there really isn't anything stopping you from doing this. A further challenge could be to use the costumes and weapons not designed for battle. Literal Lethal Chef, anyone?
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The Critical Mode (Nintendo Hard) Lvl. 1 Challenge with NO DAMAGE for scripted fights, boss fights and Data battles (more Nintendo Hard) from KHIIFM+.
    • Enter Bizkit047, who meets the above description and has more restrictions for several of these fights.
      • Want to get an idea of what it takes to be this good? Watch some of these hard Lvl. 1 CM no damage fights with restrictions: Terra and Saix Data.
      • Xigbar Datawith all these restrictions is simply insane.
      • His several hacked fights. One Sephiroth? Make it two. Watch this Xigbar x2 + Xaldin fight. Make sure to look at related videos and look at the other hacked fights from there (such as triple Sephiroth and quintuple Sephiroth/Terra).
    • In Re:Chain of Memories, Bizkit 047 also takes up the no HP+ Challenge on Proud.
    • Meanwhile, apulapul2000 has some very good time attack videos.
      • Try beating KHIIFM+ Sephiroth in 37 seconds.
      • Try beating him without Ultima Weapon, and use only the very first Keyblade with no abilities or accessories in any game.
    • Because of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days's unique level-up system, it is quite easy to do a Low-Level Run.
  • Try beating any Suikoden by recruiting as few characters as possible while doing a Speed Run using no runes whatsoever. Some of the boss fights and Imperial Army battles are practically Unwinnable unless you are very lucky.
  • The flexible nature of Baten Kaitos Origins lends itself well to various types of challenges. Given how hard Origins is normally, these tend to be murderously Nintendo Hard. Single character run (those Cross Pendants are a godsend), no specials run, specials-only run, basic attack only run...
  • Since the discovery of a glitch making it possible to skip most of Mercury Lighthouse (where Mia is recruited), "no Mia" runs of the first game have become mildly popular among Golden Sun enthusiasts, along with the usual "minimum Djinn" or "starting equipment only" runs for the rest of the series.
  • For those who don't think that Demon's Souls isn't hard enough we have the Punchyfist run. The rules are simple. No shields, no attack spells, and no weapons that can't punch. As demonstrated here it relies heavily on back attacks and parry ripostes while also making the latter very risky because failed parries don't prevent damage if you don't have a shield.
  • Final Fantasy XIV allows players who are in a preformed party to tackle dungeons, trials, and raids in any formation they want rather than the standard set amount of DPS, healers, and tanks. People have ran content in a party of healers only or even fighting primals solo and that's just a few examples.
  • Undertale: There are many "no-hit runs" on YouTube, where players defeat bosses without taking any damage. No-Hit Sans and No-Hit Photoshop Flowey are particularly popular. Note that Toby Fox, the creator, actually didn't think the latter was even possible.
  • Since Etrian Odyssey never makes it clear who the guild master, i.e. Player Character, is, you can avert Non-Entity General by creating a character that represents you, and then keep that character in the active party at all times as a "captain" character (even though absolutely nothing stops you from deploying a completely different party). This creates the implication that if the guild leader and their current team falls in battle, the entire guild has no leader left and thus must disband, thus somewhat justifying the Lazy Backup.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • Playing any of CAVE's shmup games and beating them on a single credit. We're not lying when we say that their games are some of the hardest in not just the entire shmup genre, but the hardest ever, period. Especially if you play the Donpachi games; they're notorious for having absolutely no distinguishable attack patterns generated by both the Mooks and the bosses. You would deservedly be crowned the King/Queen of all gamers if you manage to actually 1cc these games.
  • Touhou
    • No Horizontal/No Vertical, which, depending on the stage or the game, can be deadly hard, if not outright impossible, even on Easy. Others include no Focusing, which requires innate knowledge of the player's hitbox, 1lc, which is not dying at all, 0b1lc, which is the same thing... but no bombing either.
    • For a particularly masochistic challenge, try hacking Embodiment of Scarlet Devil's rank to the highest point, as seen here (or worse) — Flandre's formerly simplistic non-spell patterns turn into nigh-unavoidable death traps, and her final card is nightmarishly fast.
    • Scoring high in the games itself is a Self-Imposed Challenge. Scoring high in Touhou involves making things as dangerous as possible: grazing thousands of bullets, often using your bombs to clear away bullets, then suiciding to reset your bomb count and get even more points. A compendium of world records can be found at Touhou Wiki. If you download the replays on the page, you will be astounded at the challenges the players put themselves through. The former world-record Subterranean Animism replay by "yukarin" is particularly notable, getting very close to maxing out the graze counter at 97,585 graze.
    • In Touhou, all enemy attacks are on a timer, and timing them out is a victory condition, meaning that a Pacifist Run is possible; the catch is that these timers are a lot longer than the amount of time you should need to beat the attack by shooting at it. One particularly extreme case is "Virtue of Wind God" from Mountain of Faith, which has a timer that lasts two and a half minutes, which for a shmup is absurdly long - and it's That One Attack when you're shooting at it. Timing out this card is practically the Challenge Gamer holy grail. Additionally, some attacks amp up the difficulty if the boss isn't damaged during them, sometimes making the attacks even harder than if you were shooting at them.
    • A particular challenge that seems exclusive to Touhou is running the game at 90FPS, or 1.5x speed. Strictly speaking, it's possible to set the FPS in Touhou to any amount higher than the default 60 with the right patches, but 90 is easily the most popular, since setting the FPS much higher than 90 would result in a game that borders on unplayable, while setting it much lower wouldn't be much different from the vanilla game in many cases.
    • It's even possible to combine the above and time out attacks at higher FPS, resulting in videos like this. While Virtue of Wind God itself has never even come close to being done at 90FPS, one Challenge Gamer did manage to do it at 75FPS, as seen here.
  • Giga Wing is infamous for its ridiculously inflated scores. Some players play just the opposite of the way it was meant to be played; by aiming for the lowest score possible, or even not scoring at all for as long as possible. The latter is essentially a Pacifist Run on steroids; you get awarded points for having bombs at the end of a stage. Zero-score runs are much easier to do in its sequel. Your score multiplier starts at 0, which means you won't score a single point if you never collect a medal, letting you kill enemies and remain at 0 points. Same with Spiritual Successor Mars Matrix, where it also becomes a Low-Level Run - The ship will remain at level 1 if no EXP (multiplier) cubes are collected.
  • The SNES version of U.N. Squadron has the Crusader Challenge, where you try to beat the game with only the default plane, which only has access to three special weapons.

    Survival Horror 
  • The Resident Evil series has the handgun and survival knife playthroughs where, discounting battles where you have no choice but to use a special weapon and using the rocket to finish off the final boss, you're to use only that one weapon and your wits. Later became an actual gameplay mechanic in some mini games where certain characters would only ever get a knife.
  • Eternal Darkness has a Sanity Meter that drops whenever a monster sees you or you kill an innocent person. Once your sanity meter is gone, sanity damage goes to your health instead. Low sanity also causes the game to mess with you in a variety of ways and even Breaking the Fourth Wall at times. Many players have attempted to finish the game with minimal sanity to make the game harder.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Final Fantasy Tactics, already a challenging game with a cheating computer, overwhelming odds and some of the hardest bosses in all of video game history (though strongly mitigated by almost all class having at least one Game-Breaker), has a whole FAQ on GameFAQs dedicated to different challenges. It has been completed with one character with a single class and no out-of-class abilities with almost every one of the 20+ classes in the game.
    • It has also been beaten using a single class and no out-of-class abilities with every class, though with a full party. This notably includes the Calculator, whose ability is to cast other classes' magic on all characters fitting certain criteria on the battlefield - but you don't learn any of that other magic in this challenge, and the Calculator "chassis" is weak, fragile, and incredibly slow. Another FAQ was written to tell you how to fight every battle with the Calculators, sometimes all the way to turn-by-turn strategies. It still comes down to pure luck for many of them.
    • The only solo class run that has been deemed impossible is the Mime. The Lucavi boss Queklain/Cuchulainn has no abilities that can be mimicked, so there is no way to damage him.
  • A popular way to mix up your next Fire Emblem playthrough is to limit what units you can use. The most common are lord-only runs, but these can range from Solo Character Runs to broad restrictions like generals-only or redheads-only. Another common challenge is no-promotions.
    • One of the very oldest "classic" challenges is permadeath- all decisions are final, no Rage Quit to restart the chapter. This is a common tack-on to other challenges (and some fans would say that this is the only real way to play the game, period, since Save Scumming defeats the point of a Final Death mechanic).
    • Archayanami's Female Only Challenge on Gamefaqs. It's not truly female-only, since you're still allowed to build up your main lord, and if you're playing Hector's story, building up Bartre is also allowed because this is necessary to get Karla. Female Only challenges are popular for other games too, with the earlier games being slightly harder due to having about 45% of the cast at most being female.
    • The toughest one of these is probably the "communist playthrough", in which you're only allowed to take your lowest level/class characters. Obligatory characters are only allowed to carry anything if their level doesn't exceed the highest level of the other units in the group. Another related challenge is to only use the X most recently recruited characters (usually 5 or so), with more stringent rules saying everyone that can be recruited must be (whether you want them or not).
    • It could be argued that completing a runthrough without allowing a single character to die (which, given that every unit is uniquely characterised and not easily replaceable, is a common practice) is a self-imposed challenge in itself; after all, the survival of only the Lords and mission-specific characters are necessary to progress. And, since many of the games that Western players know autosave after every move made, the player must restart the mission from the beginning if they wish to keep a character that had just been killed. In fact, a playthrough in which all deaths (that don't result in a game over) are accepted could well prove to be a test of the player's willpower.
    • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, try KOing Kishuna in his second appearance, in the chapter "Genesis". You know, the one where he retreats after taking a single attack—or after you open the door to his chamber, so only ranged attacks can even reach him, and he prevents all magic use within a 10-square radius so no OP Luna crits for that One-Hit KO you need? Yeah. Now, if you thought that was hard in Hector's Story, where you can use either the Brave Bow to get two attacks off despite him being too quick to double or the Killer Bow to greatly increase your critical hit chance, try doing it in Eliwood's, where he doesn't move from the center of his chamber and can therefore only be hit by the Longbow, which has no innate critical hit chance and is weaker than any other bow.
    • Thanks to how reclassing works in Fire Emblem Fates it's actually very possible to do an single-class run and still be able to use a majority of characters. It's noted on the main page that it's possible to make ALL the player characters Heroes in the Conquest route. Other popular single class runs are Malig Knight runs or Maid/Butler runs.
    • One of the more terrifying challenges is the 0% Growths Run, which can only be done by hacking the game. It does exactly what it sounds like, meaning that for every character, what you see is what you get, limiting stat growth solely to promotions and boosting items. These runs rely heavily on Crutch Characters, and are as much a show of skill as they are an indictment of those who blame their difficulties on their characters not getting good levels.
    • A popular challenge in Fire Emblem: Three Houses is to recruit every possible unit before the Time Skip. Difficulty varies between fairly trivial to a tightly choreographed time management exercise depending on how many New Game+ perks are allowed. It's very popular both for maximizing options and challenge in the first half of the game, and because you'd otherwise have to kill those units yourself in the second half.
  • The Jagged Alliance series is fairly open ended, and lets players choose their own method. Most go with the 'get money, buy more guns, hire more mercenaries' approach, but some (more masochist) players will make a drive for the final city with one team, or even with a single soldier. There was even one who attempted to finish the game by sneaking and only using a knife, which can be tricky later on against the hordes of machine-gun-wielding commandos and tanks...
  • Even the Super Robot Wars games are not exempt. Examples: no-upgrade challenges, no pilot improvement (in those games that have it) and for the particularly sadistic, using only a small group of units when not forced to field others, usually from a certain series, such as only using Gundams, only using the ATX team, or only using Tekkamen.
  • In the original Shining Force, it is possible, by making use of a glitch, to skip the first set of characters who are supposed to join your party. Do that, and also skip every single other non-mandatory character, and you'll end up just shy of a full party of 12 at the end of the game. It's a fun little challenge — not excruciatingly difficult, but hard enough to be interesting. There's an FAQ for this challenge on GameFAQs, though it mistakenly lists Diane as mandatory.
  • A rare multiplayer self-imposed challenge: In Battle for Wesnoth, playing the Knalgan faction and recruiting no dwarves (only footpad, thief, and poacher) is referred to as "HODOR", after a member named HODOR who exclusively uses these tactics, who is nonetheless one of the highest ranked players on the ladder server.
  • X-COM: UFO Defense has several possible challenges. The X-COM Util page lists many, such as "don't unavoidably kill, only stun" and "only fight at night".
  • Warlight is a Risk-like free multiplayer indie game, yet players often create diplomatic games, called diplos, that run on previously agreed upon mechanics to start scenarios. The restrictions range from simple (declare war before attacking) to very complex (a whole ruleset with predefined characters/countries designed for roleplaying).

    Other Video Games 

  • Nintendo's official Super Game Boy Player's Guide suggests challenging yourself by using the palette feature to change the colors around so that enemies, hazards or the player become invisible; or using the custom border function to paint over the game screen, covering up some parts.

Edutainment Game

  • The Oregon Trail: Forget braving the wilderness, there are people who'll try to kill all their party members before reaching the first fort, usually by doing normally stupid things such as fording rivers that are above fording level, not treating injuries, and getting themselves shot on purpose.

Fighting Game

  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • ProJared's "Ganondorf Challenge" requires you to play a one-on-one, 3-stock Melee match against a CPU Level 9 Ganondorf, with his handicap set to 9 and yours set to 3, on the Temple stage. With these settings, Ganondorf will take almost no knockback from your attacks, requiring hundreds of damage before you can even begin to launch him, while his lightest attacks will send you flying at 100+ mph. The Temple stage makes it even harder, as it's massive and difficult to launch an opponent from (especially in the lower left-hand side, which is pretty much enclosed).
    • The "Bowser Challenge" requires you to play a one-on-three 4-stock Melee match against three CPU Bowser players, on the Fountain of Dreams stage, with team attack turned off (i.e. no damage from Friendly Fire). Fountain of Dreams is the smallest competitive stage, and the opponent Bowsers — already the largest and most powerful character in the game — now don't have to worry about their slow speed either. It's so hard, no competitive fighter has been documented completing a legit Bowser Challenge.
    • The World of Light story mode in Ultimate is built around the use of Spirits, non-fighter characters that you equip to help fight your way past the brainwashed minions the Big Bad controls. Of course, some bold souls opt to play the mode without using any Spirits, but given that most of the fights are firmly in the puppet fighters' favor unless you use them, it can be incredibly tough, especially considering there are already battles that are maddeningly difficult even with a good team of Spirits.
  • This guy invented the "Hide & Seek Challenge" for Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee in which you have to beat the game on Hard with no HUD display and all monsters invisible.
  • No More Heroes has the interesting challenge of completing the game using the most basic weapon, the Blood Berry. This can range from being mildly easy on Sweet to insanely hard on Bitter. On Bitter, towards the end of the game, bosses can have around 400% more health than normal, and mooks become walking brick walls. Fortunately, there are several One-Hit Kill moves a player can use on mooks, which become nearly essential in the later stages. However, bosses are immune to these moves.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy. So, you can beat That One SNK Bonus Boss, Feral Chaos. Can you beat him without taking damage? Without using assists? Without a summon, and without EXP to HP/EX/BRV/AST? Using Gabranth? Because this guy can.

Hack and Slash

  • Diablo has its very own sub-community based on the premise of "variant characters": characters obeying special rules. The indisputable kings of these variant characters are the Naked Mage (no armor, no weapons, just pure magic), the Beyond Naked Mage (whatever armor and weapons you like — providing they're all cursed), and the Barbarian (non-magical weapons and armor only — no magic, no spells, no potions, no fear).
  • Diablo II:
    • Various gimmick runs exist, for example a Necromancer run where the player avoids clicking on monsters as much as possible, instead just letting an army of skeletons and the odd golem do all the dirty work.
    • One player had a character called IreneTheInfirm: a hardcore sorceress who could not wear or wield anything, cast any spells or assign any stat points, and was thus limited to punching away for 1-2 damage a go, using the act 1 mercenary as the main source of damage (who also couldn't use any items). Somehow, Irene ended up killing Andariel.
    • A user on the inc.gamers forum demonstrated the story of Anna Goanna. She was an Amazon-class hardcore, as in "if you die you die permanently," character who completed the game on all difficulty levels with only cracked/low-quality items, a summonable NPC support fighter and a hireling fighter. Some bosses took hours to finish. When she finally beat the last boss on the Harder Than Hard difficulty, her name-personalized cracked sash sold in-game for multiple high-value items.
    • One player, going by the name Sirian, decided to create a whole host of restricted D2 characters, such as Ember, the firebolt-only Sorceress.
  • Several challenges have popped up in the Monster Hunter series once they have their strongest set of armor and weaponry. The most common are the naked run (no armor at all), to use a really bad weapon against a certain monster (Greatsword vs. Plesioth, no felynes), a marathon run (specialized quest that require you to kill 2 or more of a certain monster simultaneously) and the Arrowhead Cutoff (using only the Circle attack of a Bow, which swings one of your bolts like a makeshift sword, to cut off the tail of a monster, most often a Tigrex.)

Point-and-Click Game

Real-Time Strategy

  • Pikmin:
    • It is possible to complete Pikmin without ever getting Blue Pikmin, though you still do need to use them in some sense—there's a flower that allows you to transform a handful of pikmin into blues, but they only appear at very rare points in the game.
    • It's possible to beat Pikmin 2 (collecting 10,000 Pokos) without ever leaving the Valley of Repose or even acquiring the Purple Pikmin. This takes a while since eventually your only source of treasure will be mook corpses, which go for 10-15 Pokos each.
    • With how expendable and easily-killed the Pikmin are, zero-death runs are a popular challenge.
    • Due to how the game is structured, each game has an absolute minimum amount of in-game days it can be completed in; 6 days for Pikmin, 8 (7 with glitches) for Pikmin 2, and 10 for Pikmin 3. It requires intense micromanagement, glitch exploitation, and planning, but all three games have been completed in their minimum time, and is often done concurrently with a zero-death run since even a single death can ruin everything.
  • Warcraft III allows a player to set the max HP on EVERYTHING they make (units, heroes, buildings, etc.) to be 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, or the standard 100% before the match begins.
  • Starcraft II: Enter the Day Nine Daily, where we learn to be a better gamer. Except on monday where we just dick around. Indeed, on Funday Monday, the host, Day Nine, imposes a self-imposed challenge on your gameplay such as, "You must only attack on creep", "You must make a planetary fortress at your opponents natural", or "Make all your pylons outside your base." The best and funniest entries are casted by the host on a live stream.
  • Creativity in objectives is a staple of Paradox Interactive games due to their open-ended nature. Crusader Kings in particular is fertile ground: starting as a minor count and becoming king, installing True Cognatic (males and females inherit on equal ground) in realms that don't have Basque culture, breeding your bloodline to have all the good traits or muddling it with imbeciles, etc. One player actually managed to utilise an exploit to create an empire where the entire ruling class was made of horses.

Simulation Game

  • The early Creatures fandom was turned turbulent by one user, Anti-Norn, who tortured (physically, psychologically, and even genetically) the virtual pets in the game before uploading them, challenging players to nurture them back to health. It backfired - Anti-Norn was ostracized from the community and received a large number of death threats.
  • Due to its Wide Open Sandbox nature, you can find several Self Imposed Challenges for Freelancer in GameFAQs.
  • In Football Manager (and FIFA Soccer games with a similar mode), a popular challenge is to become the manager of the poorest, smallest, lowest-level team you can find and take them all the way to ultimate glory, becoming the very best team in the world. In Football Manager, such players are called "L.L.M.ers" or "llamas".
  • The Sims community is full of these, because the game doesn't come with hard-and-fast built-in goals. The most common are the Legacy Challenge (keeping a family going for ten generations without cheating) and the Asylum Challenge (filling a house with Sims and only controlling one of them, with the goal of nobody dying of starvation because they didn't think to make themselves some ramen). The former spawned numerous variations, most popular among those being the Apocalypse Challenge (start with restrictions on everything, then have your sims reach the top of all careers over the course of several generations, lifting some of the restrictions with each career done), as well as the Disney Challenge (wherein each generation must be played out according to some fairytale's plotline).
    • Another popular challenge in the community is the Build a City Challenge or BaCC. The goal of this challenge is to play the game as a simplified Sim City (but with much more intimacy with the locals), which after creating the founder/mayor and other settlers sims, the player has self-imposed rules to build community lots, move new families and add the game features in their town, usually depending on the mayor's household budget and the skills of the residents.
    • For those interested a list of just some of the challenges can be seen here
  • The same goes for SimCity in all its forms: while some versions have "scenarios" that give you a goal and a time limit, most players set their own aims for the game in general. As a result, the SimCity community has come up with a number of challenges to keep players entertained when they run out of ideas.
  • Once people are sick of playing Tamagotchi the normal way—to keep them alive and happy as long as possible, they do the opposite; try to kill them off as fast as possible.
  • This War of Mine: Try playing the entire 45 days without a radio. Although the radio is useful, it is possible to go through the whole length of the game without even having one, by using alternative methods to gauge the environment, prioritizing equipment that allows for self-sustenance, being pre-emptively prepared for raids by patching the holes in the wall, reinforcing the door and getting some weapons as soon as possible, and some good ol' Xanatos Speed Chess. Aside from that, if you fancy something much more challenging, there's the classic Pacifist Run (usually coupled with Stealth Run since bandits and the army both kill indiscriminately) , No Casualties Run (or if you want to up the ante, a No-Damage Run), or even a 100% Completion run (which usually means mercilessly slaughtering everyone in your way indiscriminately).
  • Many of the video games after MechWarrior 2 often take place from an Inner Sphere perspective, but also include highly advanced Clan technology, which is often lighter and more powerful than Inner Sphere tech. Still, quite a few IS weapons have nasty surprises even compared to Clan tech. Therefore, a Puretech run through a campaign requires that players not cross technology lines—all Inner Sphere units must use Inner Sphere parts, all Clan units must use Clan parts. No crossing tech bases. A Spheretech run denies the use of any advanced Clan technology altogether, demanding the player use the less efficient Inner Sphere Mechs and equipment to complete their missions.

Stealth-Based Game

  • Think you're good at Dishonored? Try going through the entire game, completing every (non-lethal) objective in every mission without ever being spotted while also performing a Pacifist Run. Alternatively, play through the entire game making everything seem like a horrible accident, or finish the game without ever using Blink.
  • Hitman series:
    • Players of HITMAN 2, Hitman (2016) and Hitman: Blood Money can make their own slasher fic where 47 just kills everyone in the level.
    • The former also has an in-universe example. ICA Handlers are asked to choose which Initiate they will oversee, with the unspoken subtext that if they choose an incompetent or rebellious one, their own careers will suffer as well. Knowing this, Diana chose 47, an amnesiac, eerily-skilled orphan with no identity to speak of and a lack of emotions that bordered on sociopathic...about the least trustworthy, most self-sufficient Initiate imaginable. But Diana tied her fate to him anyway, because she could.

Survival Horror

  • Resident Evil 4 lends itself very well to self-imposed challenges. Some of the most popular include the no merchant run, in which the player can only use weapons they find lying around and cannot get any upgrades or bonus items (whether selling excess ammo is allowed varies); the handgun and knife run, in which weapons can be bought and upgraded at will as long as they're handguns; the knife and grenade run, and the no merchant handgun and knife run, in which the player can only use the knife and unupgraded handgun. It helps keep a self-challenger honest that you can just kill The merchant the first time you see him and not risk temptation later on.
    • The game can also be beaten without ever running. Outside of quick-time events of course. As you can imagine any situation with a time limit suddenly requires near perfect shooting (not to mention luck) and quite a few boss fights will end with you forced to knife them to death rather than be killed trying to walk to the other side of the room for some ammo. This is quite the challenge on even normal difficulty, and virtually impossible on hard.
    • In general, these kinds of challenges are fairly common in the Resident Evil series in general, because many unlockables can only be obtained by beating the game as quickly as possible.
  • It's entirely possible to complete any of the Fatal Frame games using only the weakest film, but have you tried it without upgrading your camera?
  • Beat Dead Space without ever touching a workbench. Not hard enough? Try beating Dead Space 2 without ever touching a workbench...on Hardcore.
  • A no-trader run in any of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. Most traders are sources of missions as well as a way to buy goods. Not buying anything (merely getting gear as rewards from their missions) is doable, but also involves murdering just about anyone who comes into view to loot them for gear, ammo, and medicine. Other options include no artifacts or pistol-caliber weapons only. As if the game needed to be any more difficult.
    • Or, if you're really nuts, the Badass Longcoat run. Use any weapons and artifacts you like, but you can only use the leather duster for armor, which provides virtually no production against the numerous threats you'll face (including the high radiation present nearly everywhere in the late parts of the game.)
  • For the community, beating a level of GTFO, a game meant to be played by four people due to its Nintendo Hard difficulty, on your own is considered to be the self imposed challenge as players are required to use all the tools they have at their disposal as a stealth-only challenge is impossible due to the security alarm checks that are required.

Wide Open Sandbox

  • The Grand Theft Auto series has the "Law-Abiding Citizen" challenge, where you complete the game committing as few crimes as possible. Given that these games are about crime, this is pretty difficult. Yes, this includes stopping at red lights.
  • Minecraft, aside from avoiding the monsters, has no goals and would get boring very quickly if players didn't keep thinking up insane megaprojects to do.
    • Players also do self-imposed challenges with their gameplay style. In reality, a safe shelter can be made by digging 3 blocks straight down and capping off the hole made in the process. However, "How to survive your first night" tutorials usually show much more complex solutions, ranging from a simple hole in the cliff to a small house. The other parts of the gameplay style are also often self-imposed. It's easy to put treasure chests everywhere to minimalize the loss of items after death. Usually that's not done.
    • Some of the challenges players make are more unusual. There's "undercity challenge" where player spends only the first day above ground and rest of the time under ground.
    • Some have actually succeeded in completing the challenge of slaying the Ender Dragon in Hardcore Mode, a mode that deletes your save file should you die, so this becomes a no death run. Getting TO the dragon is a challenge in itself, requiring lots of materials, time, and patience, even by normal game playing.
    • There's also the Skyblock challenge, in which you're spawned onto a small island in the sky with one tree, and must complete certain objectives (make a tree farm, make a stone generator, etc) being compounded by even MORE self-imposed challenges.
    • Basically, any Player-created map that is listed under Survival is an example of a challenge. Along with "No Workbench" (only use the 2x2 crafting slot you have and not the 3x3 that the workbench gives you) "No chests" (You carry everything with you, nothing that can store items like Dispensers, furnaces; do not place blocks down for storage) "No shelter" (Open air campsites are okay, buildings/anything with walls and a roof is not.)
    • The 100 Diamond Challenge: get 100 diamonds in your inventory... on Hardcore mode (so die once and you have to start again), without strip-mining. Remember: making diamond tools or armor will subtract from your count, so better mining and protection comes with a price.
    • One enterprising Muslim gamer wrote an extensive topic on following Islamic dietary and behavioural restrictions as closely as the game allows.
    • Prior to an update that changed world generation, there was the 404 Challenge. Inputting "404" into the seed generator before creating a world would cause the world to form very specifically. Somewhere there would be a large gravel patch. When this patch was tampered with, it opened into a huge sinkhole that revealed a colossal cave system stretching for miles and nearly to the bottom of the world. From there, the player could go through all kinds of restrictions while exploring the system.
    • Especially difficult is the "No Wood Challenge," where players must eventually defeat the Ender Dragon, but without ever allowing wood into the inventory. This includes chests, sticks, and crafting tables. However, you can still use Crafting Tables, assuming it had been placed during world generation. If this isn't enough of a challenge, attempt it in Hardcore mode.
    • Custom Mind Screw shaders appears to be popular for Player Versus Player challenges, such as Acid Trip, which bends the landscape around, or Jelly World, where the game world shakes non-stop.
    • A number of "beat the Enderdragon in Hardcore without doing X" challenges have become popular. Possible limitations include: no mining, no crafting, no mining or crafting (defying the very name of the game), no jumping, no eating (you will starve to death after enough actions), etc. Mods allow even more potential roadblocks, such as trapping yourself on a one-block-wide line, making all the textures identical so you can't tell diamond ore from gravel, gradually filling the world with bedrock, or pretty much any other source of frustration you can think of.
  • One of the more common challenges in Don't Starve is the Powdercake Challenge—create a Powdercake, and survive long enough for it to turn to rot. Doesn't sound so bad on the surface, until you look up that the Powdercake takes 18,750 in-game days to rot. In real time, that's over 100 days. If that isn't enough for you, stick the Powdercake in an Ice Box to double the time you'll have to survive for. On the other end of the scale, you can shorten the challenge by a third by dropping the Powdercake on the ground.
Tower Defence

    Non-Video Game Examples 
Anime and Manga
  • Might Guy and Rock Lee of Naruto will declare that if they fail in a task, they will challenge themselves with another even more onerous task as punishment. These challenges can be chained together if they fail at any step. While seeming ridiculous to others, it's revealed to be an important training tool for the two as they are constantly finding and pushing their own limits.
  • Kenpachi Zaraki of Bleach deliberately weakens himself in numerous ways, so that his fights will be more difficult.
    • The bells tied into his hair allow his opponents to hear his every movement. While he says that his Zanpakuto is perpetually in its "unsealed" state, the fact that he refuses to view it as anything other than a tool as opposed to a borderline sentient being hamstrings their combined combat output due to "compatibility issues" with their respective spiritual energies. However, the most egregious weakening measure Kenpachi employs is the eyepatch over his (completely operational) right eye. Lined with strange mouths, the eyepatch in fact siphons off his excess spiritual energy, rendering him weaker whenever he wears it.
      • But when he finds a suitably strong opponent, he does a full-on Let's Get Dangerous!: the eyepatch comes off, which lets his spiritual energy flow freely (the sheer strength of it alone can take down weaker enemies), and he stops swinging his Zanpakuto like a madman and actually focuses on the enemy.
  • In one episode of Pokémon, a trainer named Miki specifically asks that Brock and Ash use Fire Type Pokémon to battle her Skarmory, despite the fact that Skarmory - a Steel Type - has disadvantage due to Type. She feels that such battles make her Pokémon tougher.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Jun Manjome/Chazz Princeton is challenged by his brother Chosaku/Slade to a duel with Duel Academy on the line, with the condition that Chazz is is only allowed to use Monster Cards with 500 or less ATK, while his brother can use any cards he wants. Chazz builds a new deck to fit the conditions, then decides just because he can to only use Monster Cards with 0 ATK. Chazz wins despite the handicap.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, a "Steadfast" duelist (called a "Non-Action" duelist or "Heavystrong" duelist in the dub) is one like Yuya's friend Noboru who purposely does not use Action Cards during a duel, making it more challenging for himself.
  • Dragon Ball: Mercenary Tao likes to attack using only one appendage, especially one that isn't normally very robust. His Establishing Character Moment comes when he kills General Blue using only his tongue, and in his first fight against Goku he uses mainly his ponytail.

Board Games

  • Going the "Business Route" (i.e. not going to college) in the original version of The Game of Life, which gives you a salary of next-to-nothing for the entire game; or not buying Stock in this version, which is necessary to open up nearly all of the highest-paying "collect" spaces.
  • When playing casual games against weaker players, some chess masters start without one or more of their pieces, which is referred to as giving odds.

Collectible Card Game

  • Variant formats for Collectible Card Games may be considered a form of Self-Imposed Challenge, especially those that aren't supported for Tournament Play. Magic: The Gathering, for example, has Rainbow Stairwell, in which the player's deck must contain six cards of each color, one of which costs one mana, another which costs two, et cetera, up to six, and Highlander (AKA Singleton), where players build a deck with no more than one copy of any card that isn't a basic land.
    • Elder Dragon Highlander, a.k.a. Commander, takes the Highlander format and adds additional restrictions: You must include a Legendary creature in your deck, which determines what colors of cards you may play otherwise, and the rest of your deck must be exactly 99 cards.
    • Pauper Magic requires that your deck contain only commons, or up to 8 uncommons in the case of Peasant. Rares are right out.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: in the recent "world championship" games, some of the Duel Point bonuses are awarded for unconventional deck compositions. These variants include: no traps, no spells, only 1 copy per card, only 1 type or attribute of monsters, monsters of each possible level, only level 1 monsters, and no monsters at all.

Comic Books

  • Superman for Mr. Mxyzptlk is a fifth-dimensional imp who pretty much has nigh omnipotence and no weaknesses Superman could realistically exploit. He's a Challenge Seeker, so he gave himself a more viable weakness; tricking him into saying his own name backwards sends him back to his dimension for a month. This not only gives Superman a fair chance, but makes Mxyzptlk actually work for his pranks and schemes.
  • This also serves for Reimagining the Artifact of Superman working as a newspaper reporter; Superman in his Clark Kent identity enjoys working as a newspaper reporter because actually writing good newspaper articles is something that doesn't depend upon his powers. While his powers may help him get the story, writing the story well enough to appear in the Daily Planet is something he actually has to put serious effort into. For him, this is an enjoyable and welcome challenge.


  • Some users will use a keyboard with no labels, or a pre-labeled keyboard with the labels rubbed out. This can be helpful for those who are learning to touch-type. A popular mechanical keyboard designed to facilitate this is the Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate.

Fan Fiction

  • Naruto and Xanna in The (Questionable) Burdens of Leadership of a Troll Emperor decide to conquer an entire galaxy (and later several galaxies) while minimizing the use of any of their divine powers beyond those that won't affect the outcome (i.e. flying to intimidate someone or flaunting their immortality is fine, telepathically killing all their enemies is not).
  • In Screw You Fate, I'm Going Home, Lelouch gets bored of his "Groundhog Day" Loop and decides to conquer Britannia without Geass simply to see if he can.
  • The Heralds of Valdemar fic Closer to the Horse focuses on the setting's guardian angels, who are constantly reincarnated throughout time to protect The Chosen Many. After several generations, they become so confident in their ability to fulfil this duty that they spend most of the time one-upping each other's plots and making bets that invoke this trope.
    “During the reign of Queen Selenay,” Rolan pronounced, “I vow to project no mindspeech.”


  • Super Size Me is one giant self-imposed challenge where a guy goes for an all-McDonald's diet for thirty days. He even has his own rules and everything, such as walking no more than 5,000 steps a day, supersizing his food only when asked note , trying out every single item on the McDonalds menu at least once, and finishing everything on the plate.
  • In The Princess Bride, the Man in Black and Inigo both took the self-imposed challenge to kill their opponent (each other) only with their non-dominant left hands. Both ultimately fail, which turns out to be for the better.
  • In The Man with the Golden Gun, Francisco Scaramanga carries out assassinations using a one-shot golden gun. He has so much pride in his skills that he will only use one bullet to kill a person. He later challenges Bond to a duel, allowing Bond to use his six-shooter while he sticks with his one-shooter. He does carry a second, ordinary gun, just in case he's disarmed.
  • In Major League 2, Taylor brings in Vaughn to get the final out in Game 7 of the ALCS. Vaughn tells Taylor he wants to intentionally walk the batter so he'll get the chance to face Parkman, the opposition's best hitter who has gotten the best of him all season. Taylor reluctantly agrees and Vaughn gets his chance to face his nemesis. He strikes Parkman out with thee pitches and the Indians win the series.
  • Le Cercle rouge: Jansen is part of The Caper, robbing a jewelry store. He's a marksman and his task is to shoot a special bullet into the keyhole of the lock that disarms the security system. When it's time for Jansen to shoot the lock, he makes sure to show his partner Corey the tripod he has set up, aligned just right so that his special bullet will hit the keyhole. Then Jansen proceeds to pick the rifle up from the tripod, fire from the shoulder, and hit the target anyway.


  • In-universe example in Life, the Universe and Everything: Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged's quest to insult the entire universe, one person at a time, in alphabetical order. Before you complain about newborn beings early in the alphabet messing up what he's already insulted, time travel is very available in this universe.
    • The time travel part works both ways - he gets messed up due to time travel shenanigans involving Arthur Dent himself (also doubles as a Brick Joke...) And he knows it'd be logically impossible - He decided to do it just so he'd have a purpose in life.
  • Gadsby, by Ernest Vincent Wright, is a 50,000 word novel that doesn't use the letter "e" anywhere.
    • Similarly La Disparition, by Georges Perec, also has no letter 'e'. What's more impressive is that it was translated from French into English by Gilbert Adair under the title A Void, and the translation doesn't use the letter 'e' either. The plot is a Lampshade Hanging, as it concerns the characters realizing something is missing from their world and trying to find it, which (as Cracked put it) difficult when you can't investigate, suspect, or examine anything.
  • When "Blunt's Brilliant Detectives" have their first case in the Tommy and Tuppence collection Partners in Crime, Tuppence spontaneously guarantees to the client that they can solve the case in 24 hours, much to Tommy's horror. It turns out she's already solved the case - or rather she was instrumental in creating it. The challenge comes when other clients hear about it...
  • In the Hercule Poirot story "The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim", he takes a bet from Chief Inspector Japp to prove that "the little grey cells" are superior to running around looking at footprints by solving a case without ever visiting the scene of the crime or talking to any of the suspects.
  • Bennett Cerf, one of the publishers at Random House Books, challenged an author to write a children's book using a vocabulary of 50 words or less. The final count: 49 different words. The author: Theodore Geisel, aka "Dr. Seuss". The book: Green Eggs and Ham.
  • In the short story "The Problem of Cell 13", a man imposes a challenge onto himself to escape a prison cell within a week. That is to say, he asks someone to lock him in the cell purely to prove that he can escape it.

Live-Action Television

  • Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother frequently challenges himself with increasingly bizarre trials, such as refusing to take off a ridiculous set of overalls until he gets laid.
    Barney: No one, I mean no one, could get laid wearing these... challenge accepted!
  • The Muppet Show: Frank Oz had one. At the beginning of each Swedish Chef sketch, the Chef - controlled by Oz - would fling a pair of spatulas or other cooking implements over his shoulders. Oz kept challenging himself to knock down every item on the back wall, and even managed it once.
  • Double Dare 2000 offered a team that took a Physical Challenge in the second round the option of adding on the "Triple Dare Challenge." Maybe they'd have to do the challenge blindfolded or one-handed, maybe they'd have to catch more items/fill a bigger container, maybe they'd have to do it in 20 seconds instead of the normal 30, but if accepted and completed, it awarded $300 (rather than the usual $200) and a bonus prize; failure handed the $300 and the prize to the other team.
  • A journalist once told Joss Whedon that the thing he liked most about Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the dialogue. Thus was born "Hush" (an episode nearly devoid of dialogue, due to the entire cast's voices being stolen by the Villain of the Week).
  • Retro Game Master: Arino plays most of Super Mario 64 without Mario's hat, despite having low defense because of it. Too bad the staff orders him to get it back before fighting the Final Boss.
  • The point of Unbeatable Banzuke.


  • Rick Davies of Supertramp wrote the song "Cannonball" (a top 40 hit for the band in 1985) entirely in the chord of G minor, just to see if he could it.


  • In Chris Kyle's American Sniper, he notes that there were so many insurgents around Ramadi that the soldiers and SEALs fighting there would deliberately try out new weapons just for the challenge.
    No pistol kill yet? You have to get at least one.
  • Society for Creative Anachronism combat etiquette calls for these. If you score a "disabling" blow on your opponent's arm or leg, he is required to fight without using that limb. (Fighting one-handed if the arm is "disabled", fighting sitting down if the leg is "disabled".) It is considered appropriate for you to refrain from using the corresponding limb to keep the fight fair. Note that if this leaves the fight unwinnable, say because neither of you can deliver a solid hit swinging greatswords one-handed, the "uninjured" fighter may disregard this limitation in order to end the fight.


  • Lightning Flippers (yellow flippers with a picture of a lightning bolt on each one) are 1/8 of an inch, or about 4 millimeters, shorter than standard flippers. That doesn't sound like a lot until you actually try playing a game with its standard flippers replaced with Lightning Flippers: Not only is the hole between the flippers wider, but certain flipper techniques become more difficult and others outright impossible with Lightning Flippers. Games with long ball times, like Spider-Man (Stern) or Lord of the Rings, have their game times cut in half or more when Lightning Flippers are installed.
  • Another common one is replacing the normal steel pinballs with ceramic Powerballs that are lighter, faster, and harder to control.


  • Reportedly, when the Celtics were facing one of the teams near the bottom of the standings, Larry Bird used to impose these on himself. One common one was going a game shooting exclusively with his left hand.
    • Also reportedly, this is how the Harlem Globetrotters went from 'straight' basketball to the colourful antics they're known for.
  • Likewise, mountain climbers may seek to climb all peaks above a given height (possibly in the world, or in a given country, or in a given state/province), the highest peak on each continent, the highest point in each state, etc.
  • Few runners can hope to ever reach the level of winning a marathon, but many set themselves the goal of simply completing one.
  • Cyclists consider completing a century ride their equivalent of running a marathon. It involves biking at least 100 miles in one ride. Even though this has gotten easier with modern low weight, quite comfortable carbon fiber bikes, it's still a daunting enough challenge that most large bike manufacturers release models specially designed for these kinds of rides.
  • Some golfers will occasionally play holes or entire rounds with fewer than the 14 clubs the rules allow them to have. They might do it because it forces them to hit shots they wouldn't normally hit with clubs they wouldn't normally use them for. They might do it for fun. They might do it because their friend saw Tin Cup too many times and dared them to play with just their 7 iron. There are even a few "3 Club" tournaments, where players can pick any three clubs they want for a round, but only get those three. This leads to the fun of trying to putt with an 8 iron or some such.

Tabletop Games

  • In universe example with the Magpie, a Gentleman Thief in the Freedom City setting, who has teleportation powers but mostly doesn't use them, because where's the challenge in that?
  • A common challenge in both Roleplaying Game and Live Action Role Playing communities is the "Iron GM" challenge. The exact rules vary, but generally participants have to write a scenario within a tight time limit that includes specific (usually incongruous) elements. Given that most gamemasters operate on their own time under no restrictions whatsoever, one's first Iron GM can be a wake-up call.


  • xkcd
    • This inspired an actual Flash implementation (unfortunately, the link died) of Tetris with a curved bottom on the playing field, making pieces almost impossible to line up. It's pretty unplayable (that's kind of the point) with the usual Tetris goals, but a MeFite pointed out the game is actually interesting and reasonably challenging if you try to end the game with as few pieces as you can. It's also actually possible to score lines.
    • Another inspired by challenge from XKCD is to go to any article on The Other Wiki, read the article in its entirety, then, click on the first link to another page in the article and repeat the process until you reach Philosophy.
  • In the comments section of Skin Horse, one reader would post the occasional Filk Song relating to that day's comic strip. Then, starting around November of 2008, he started writing one every day. He also posted a (nearly) daily filk to Shaenon Garrity's Narbonic, which was then in its "Director's Cut" re-runs. That was nearly 3000 filks ago.
  • In general, any webcomic which consistently limits itself to a certain size/number of panels per strip. 95% of the time, there's absolutely nothing stopping the artist from making each strip as big or as small as they want.note 

Web Original

  • NaNoWriMo. Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
  • A recurring gag in many Groundhog Peggy Sue fanfics, such as The Infinite Loops.
  • The Let's Play Twitch Plays Pokémon requires every user to control precisely one movement Red makes, making progression through the game a challenge in and of itself.
    • The players often imposed their own challenges instead of just playing through the game as smoothly as they could. For instance, catching Zapdos with the Master Ball in Red, getting Mew via trade in Fire Red, and evolving no Pokemon at all in Black.
  • The 8-Bit Guy:
    • When developing Planet X2 for the Commodore 64, David deliberately chose to limit the game's size to 64 kilobytes to allow it to fit onto the entirety of the C64's memory. In the documentary covering the game's development, he said the RAM limitation was behind practically every design decision, as David wanted to avoid saving and loading during gameplay as much as possible.
    • Discussed in "Boot Sector Games", where programmers challenge themselves to write a game onto a disk's boot sector, which is only 512 bytes large.

Western Animation

  • In an episode of Rick and Morty, Rick claims the reason he turned himself into a pickle was to challenge himself to see how he can turn himself back into a human. However, his real reason was to avoid having to go to family therapy, as the conntraption consisting of a timer (set to go off exactly after the rest of the family leaves), scissors, and a syringe of anti-pickle serum proves. Beth spots the syringe and takes it with her after Rick insists he wasn't trying to get out of family therapy.
  • One episode of Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? had Carmen and her V.I.L.E. gang set out to prove they don't need all their high-tech toys and gadgetry to successfully pull off several western-themed heists.


  • Common with artists, who will challenge themselves with things like using a medium they're unfamiliar with, using their non-dominant hand, limited color palettes, and the like to see how well they're able to produce a picture, and the 30 Minute Art Challenge consists of an artist being given a random topic and having exactly 30 minutes to complete it.
  • The "All Out of Bubblegum" system used in the Cool Kids Table game All I Want for Christmas suggests players track their bubblegum stat using actual pieces of bubblegum, and that they eat them when they lose one. Josh challenges himself to not spit out any pieces of gum during the game, and by the end claims that his jaw is breaking.
    • InThe Wreck, Alan sets one for himself to not break character in response to the other three's antics.


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