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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

Imagine you're a hardcore gamer. Like most gamers, you probably don't have unlimited funds, so every time you buy a new game, you want to get some real value out of your investment. In the old days, games were naturally Nintendo Hard and took a while to beat — but nowadays, you can beat most games in the space of a weekend. If you're a casual gamer, that's fine — but you're not a casual gamer. So how do you get a deeper commitment to your games?

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, immersion level, 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 prevalence of casual gamers in the community 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. That said, sometimes a video game franchise will make official in later games a self-imposed challenge among fans of earlier games.

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.
  • Minimalist Run: Get as few items as possible throughout the game. This can include things like "don't get any power-ups" and "don't collect any coins".
  • No-Damage Run: Complete the game without taking damage or 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 player units, 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 while 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 seen/spotted/detected.
  • 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".
  • Level Grinding until you reach a level cap in the first dungeon. It's more of a test of patience than skill.
  • Deliberately invoking player-hindering Video Game Cruelty Punishments, such as I Fought the Law and the Law Won, and attempting to pull through regardless.
  • 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 — for example, playing with your feet on the controller instead of your hands, or using an unusual input device such as a DanceDanceRevolution 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. Imposed Handicap Training is a more general term, and may overlap with this if you're "training" for something. 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:


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Video games

  • 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 cannot 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. use a points system to put a hard limit on the advantages the player can give their side. 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. (It's not possible in A Link to the Past and the original and DX versions of Link's Awakening, as you can't skip Heart Containers after beating bosses.)
    • 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 Swords in the Game Boy Advance version, the special ending shows how many times you used each item, encouraging this. The Three-Heart Challenge is also possible with a cheat code that won't increase your hearts from picking up the Heart Containers after the boss fights.
    • Ocarina of Time has the Herolocke challenge, courtesy of SLOplays. The rules can be found here.
      • Also there is a universal rule set for the other games in the series, that can be found here.
    • 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.
      • Beating the Final Boss without using the Fierce Deity Mask.
    • In 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 keep the sword for the entire game.note  If you're really adventurous, you can try taking the wooden sword into the Cave of Ordeals.
    • 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 in combat. Hero Mode made a few appearances in later releases:
      • In The Wind Waker HD, you can select it right from the start.
      • In A 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)
      • The "Vegan Run" (no consuming anything made from animals, including meat, milk, eggs, and elixirs).
      • It is possible to make the first melee weapon you pick up be the Master Sword. Just getting out of the tutorial zone requires you to be creative with your Remote Bombs to get through the shrine that gives you Stasis. In order to draw the Master Sword, you need to have at least ten hearts; you'll come off the Great Plateau with four hearts, only four Divine Beasts have Heart Containers (assuming you want to fight a boss under those conditions), and not all of the shrines can be completed without melee, of which you need up to twenty-four.
      • The ultimate Breath of the Wild challenge run is going straight from the Great Plateau to Hyrule Castle. This leaves you with next to nothing in terms of armor rating, and forces you to fight the four Blights in succession in the Sanctum (because you didn't fight them in the Divine Beasts). Fill your starting equipment slots with Royal and Royal Guard gear found in the Hyrule Castle (and a wooden shield from the Plateau, because Thunderblight), and you will only just barely manage to finish off the Blights, which leaves you to defeat Calamity Ganon with Dead Man's Volley. If you can pull that off, Dark Beast Ganon isn't much different than a 100% Completion run, and promptly turns into the Best Boss Ever just for the sheer "Hell, Yes!" Moment.
      • VG Myths pioneered the downright brutal "No Pausing Challenge". Pausing being defined as any controlled input that halts the flow of time in the game world, this is much harder than it sounds. Cooking and eating food and elixirs is completely off the table, since both required the main pause menu. Bows, arrows, and weapons are limited to what's in Link's hands as the quick-swap menus pause the gameplay; when one breaks, a new one has to be scavenged from the environment. Changing armour involves hoofing it all the way to the Hateno dye shop to use the proxy gear menu there. And yes, you have to footslog everywhere, as fast-travel is also in the pause menu. Only one Divine Beast is possible to beat as the other three have terminals that start on an angle and Divine Beast functions are yet again on the pause menu. And this isn't getting into all the myriad ways one can completely botch the run, including but not limited to being autosaved into certain death, clogging Link's inventory in ways that stop him picking up another weapon, filling the camera's memory with dud shots, or acquiring/upgrading runes in the wrong order. Despite all this, it's possible to not only get the true ending of the game, but complete 117 of the 120 shrines, all without any major glitches!
  • Castlevania:
    • Castlevania being the one of the first games to use inventory systems and equipment, the series pretty much invented the "naked run", an obscene challenge that requires no weaponry, armor, magic, or equipment that boosts anything but luck. It gets quite difficult at times. In the older games, it was a common challenge not to use subweapons or even upgrade your whip. (Good luck beating Death without Holy Water, by the way.)
    • In Symphony of the Night, the "one-kill playthrough" requires you to beat the entire game by killing a maximum of one enemy, a puny Blademaster who can't otherwise be avoided. Mandatory boss fights count as kills. It looks quite daunting at first, but if you learn how to glitch through walls, it's not too bad. Amusingly, this still amounts to beating the game at 200.6% completion.
    • Symphony of the Night also has the "great percentage hunt", which allows you to exceed even the standard 200.6% completion limit — the game's engine is just buggy enough to allow the player out of bounds, and this allows gamers to go as high as 452.7%. What really breaks it open, though, is an armor that gets stronger based on your map percentage.
  • 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.
  • Hollow Knight has a good few, due to the relative ease of modding and the game's difficulty to start with.
    • The officially acknowledged ones are 100%, Steel Soul (permadeath mode), 112% (all content in base game and DLC), the Pantheons (Boss Rush), Speedrun, and combinations thereof (Steel Heart is 100% in Steel Soul). The Pantheons also have optional 'bindings' (reduce health, nail damage, SOUL, or unequip charms) and three difficulty levels: Attuned (normal), Ascended (arena is more difficult), and Radiant (No-Damage Run mode).
    • Glass Soul (Steel soul, but you're a One-Hit-Point Wonder)
    • Hollow Knight also has a good selection of modded bosses made specifically for extra challenge, which range from 'boss, but a little faster and with a few new attacks' to 'made specifically to be unbeatable as a joke'. Any Radiance falls into that last category and is a popular challenge for Speedrunners.
    • Youtuber Skurry likes to come up with 'meme categories', which they then attempt to speedrun. Notable examples:
      • Menderbug% (kill Menderbug, who has a very low spawn rate)
      • Grass% (destroy all 'Grass' objects in the game- more difficult than it sounds, since there's grass in very hard areas)
      • Low% True Ending (Get the Dream No More ending with the lowest possible percent, which requires literal days of grinding Essence so you don't have to kill bosses for it)
      • No Crystal Dash (get Isma's Tear instead of Crystal Dash, resulting in a whole lot of skips where C-Dash would otherwise be needed)
      • Pantheon 5 Boss Order (defeat bosses in the overworld in the order they appear in Pantheon of Hallownest)
      • No Focus (can't use the Focus button, which means no healing- and, since it's used to get both The Hollow Knight and Dream No More endings, you have to beat the Pantheons to get Embrace the Void).
      • All Achievements (get all achievements, which requires two runs because some are mutually exclusive).

    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.
    • A player going by the handle Lucid Enigma tried to beat Devil May Cry 5 on Dante Must Die mode without weapons. He had player health scaled down 50 percent and all enemies were on Devil Trigger.
  • Ninja Gaiden (Team Ninja Trilogy):
    • 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, it's quite an accomplishment.
    • 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. Gran Turismo 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 Gran Turismo 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 the other hand, there are minimal-buys runs where people try to beat the games with the fewest cars possible. In the first game, a zero-buy run is even possible, but is only theoretically possible to do if one gets gold on at least one license.
    • 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.
    • The Fists-Only on Total Carnage (hardest difficulty) is 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:
    • The Spiritual Successor Perfect Dark features 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 "License 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.
    • Both the standard and customisable difficulties 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?
  • Doom:
    • The classic Doom games have their own self-imposed challenge as the "official" way to play the game as decreed by map maker Sandy Petersen. Instead of utilizing savegames, the player opts to respawn at the beginning of the level after death with the starting pistol and find whatever equipment (s)he lost on the current map. This is known as the "pistol start" method, and every map in Doom and Doom II is designed to be beatable this way. Now imagine trying to beat the Hell levels in D2 on Ultra-Violence under these rules. In addition to this, the utterly crazy fanbase will stack on some of these challenges:
      • "Speed": Your standard speedrun — except currently, the lowest recorded time on an official IWAD map is three and a half seconds.
      • "Max": A speedrun where all monsters must be killed and all secrets must be collected.
      • "Fast": Like Max, but monsters move and attack twice as fast as normal.
      • "Respawn": Like Max, but with Respawning Enemies.
      • "NM100S": A speedrun on Harder Than Hard where all secrets must be collected, as the respawn mechanics make getting 100% kills impossible.
      • "Pacifist": Complete a level without directly or indirectly harming monsters, effectively restricting the player to causing infighting.
      • "Tyson": Like Max, but with no weapons allowed other than the fist, the chainsaw, and the pistol.
    • Some source ports have a parameter called "Solo-Net", which lets you play solo with the harder co-op monster sets. One person has beaten the entirety of the Plutonia Experiment this way.
    • One 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:
      • The Plutonia Experiment, MAP32: Go 2 It UV-Max from pistol start without using the BFG-9000;
      • The Plutonia Experiment, MAP31: Cyberden UV-Max from pistol start without using the Rocket Launcher;
      • TNT: Evilution, MAP01: System Control UV-Max from pistol start in Solo-Net mode;
      • The Ultimate Doom, E4M1: Hell Beneath UV-Max from pistol start without taking damage.
  • In Deus Ex, the Pacifist Run is pretty standard, and the game encourages it. Then augment it to get the ultimate run, with no items, no skills, and no bio-augmentations. 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 with melee weapons. The only exception 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 without being able to see where the infected were coming from. The Darkness Falls add-onnote  takes the visuals back to those roots, just in case the player thinks the game isn't tense enough.
    • 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 is essentially seeing 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" takes a class primarily used for ranged attacks and requires the player to use it without using any ranged weapons whatsoever. Gweryc is probably the best-known example.
    • Players have levelled without any weapons or armour, and at least one did it as a pacifist.
    • Leveling a priest as holy used to be a challenge, though it would get you a 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 cannot 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.
  • RuneScape has two official challenges: Ironman (cannot meaningfully interact with other players, meaning no multiplayer minigames, no group bossing, and no trading among other things) and Hardcore Ironman (ironman, but you lose the account if you die). As an ironman/hardcore ironman, you get a unique title, and hardcore ironmen have their deaths announced to the entire server when they do die.
  • Although this requires a ton of setup ahead of time, Ubers are a popular form of self-imposed challenges in Toontown Online. It requires you to max your Sellbot suit disguise, with a 15, 25, or 34 Laff Toon, with maxed Throw, Squirt, and the additional two tracks. note  This can be done by not taking any Toontasks at all, stopping after completing all Toontown Central Toontasks, and stopping after completing all Donald's Dock Toontasks respectively, while trying to avoid gaining laff points from activities. Besides that, there are additional Uber types as well:
    • Reverse Ubers: Reach 137 laff with only Level 1 Gags note 
    • Tank Ubers: Complete all Toontown Central Tasks, whether you choose to take the task for the Sound/Toon Up gags is optional, and max all activities and your Sellbot Suit.

    Platform Game 
  • Metroid players seem to love self-imposed challenges. Though considering that the games have multiple endings based on completion percentage and speed, who can blame them:
    • Metroid: Beating the entire game with only the bare minimum of power-ups; the morph ball, bombs, and a single missile expansion (not counting the extra missiles you get from beating Kraid and Ridley). It's possible, but it makes an already challenging game downright nightmarish to get through, since Samus can only take 1-3 hits before keeling over. It also makes Tourian an absolute nightmare to get through, since you need absolutely perfect timing and reflexes to evade the Metroids.
      • Alternatively, you can combine this with a pacifist run, meaning in lieu of beating the minibosses, you must collect almost every missile tank expansion and make heavy use of glitches: since the only way to replenish ammo is killing enemies, you'll need to avoid opening pretty much every door that requires missiles with if you want enough to get through Tourian.
    • 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 thanks to the infinite bomb jump.
    • 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 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.
      • Beating the game without ever using the melee counter (outside the one mandatory tutorial).
  • Mega Man:
    • A fairly common challenge 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 in the fortress stages in this fashion as well. For the truly determined, try taking no damage at all. Exceptions must be made only 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". This became an actual in-game mechanic in Mega Man Powered Up, where defeating a robot master with other weapons would destroy them but using only your arm cannon would only severely damage them — Dr. Light could then repair the damaged master, remove Wily's reprogramming, and then you could play as said robot master.
    • A common challenge for Mega Man 11 is to beat the game without using the Double Gear system. Though not using the Power Gear doesn't make that much of a difference as all of the Special Weapons are quite useful on their own, one could be surprised by how difficult some sections of the game are without the Speed Gear, most notoriously the Advancing Wall of Doom sections in both Torch Man's stage and Wily Stage 2, where even one mistake more often than not results in instant death.
    • As an example of "borderline impossible", let's player HideofBeast has done a minimalist, no damage speed-run of Mega Man X4-X6 on Xtreme mode when applicable. 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 Mega Man 1-10, Mega Man & Bass, Mega Man Powered Up, Wily Tower in Mega Man: The Wily Wars, and Mega Man V without taking damage and using only the uncharged Mega Buster as much as possible. In the case of all six NES games, Wily Tower, and V, he's beaten all the "intermission" stagesnote  and/or fortress stages damageless as well, and even done the DLC bonus stages from 9 and 10 without getting hit a single time. 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, so no Buster shots can fly off-screen or bounce off of enemies.
    • 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.
  • 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 doesn't require you to defeat Dr. Eggman, just to catch up with him — which is tough, because you're in a flooding shaft filled with spears, fire-spitting gargoyles, and no Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles to save you from drowning. But if you're still inclined to beat Eggman, you can do so if you manage to hit the Egg Mobile eight times (but there's no real reward for doing so aside from the 8000 points).
    • 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 2 XL 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.
  • 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 Kirby's Return to Dream Land, 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 jumping, double jumping, flying, or doing anything involving pressing A midair after the first screen of the first stage. All jumps too high for Kirby to normally complete are made possible by stacking or throwing players and using certain moves from various abilities, like the Upward Slash move from the Sword ability.
    • 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.
      • If you want to make this challenge even harder, go through The Ulitmate Choice (this game's version of The Arena) without allies. The harder difficulties will make you beg for mercy.
  • 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 — in other words, 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. In the games where ammo doesn't reset if you die, this becomes a major case of Unstable Equilibrium, as 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 "Three-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 players' sanity.
  • One that has quickly popped up in the weeks following Pizza Tower's release is attempting to do a full run back to the exit while being chased down by Pizzaface (who chases Peppino after the timer goes up and will automatically kill him if he touches him). This is largely only possible in some of the earlier levels, as it is next to impossible to perform in the later levels due to Pizzahead's aggressive rubber-band AI and the levels becoming more difficult (not to mention the power ups).
    • One of the game's main mechanics is "Lap 2", playing through a level again after triggering the Escape Sequence (vital to getting enough points for a P Rank). Naturally, there's a mod that allows you to do a Lap 3. Some levels will see you finishing the third lap with barely one second.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Fantastic Contraption, a Flash-based physics-puzzle game, lends itself well 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 helps quite a bit.
  • Free Cell: The most obvious one is reducing the number of free cells, sometimes even to zero (which is possible in 69 out of the original Microsoft 32,000). Some software implementations will have this as an option. Another is to make the biggest "flourish" you can, referring to the process of the cards automatically going to the home row at the end of the game — in a few games, it's possible to set up a 52-card flourish, taking the home row from empty to full in one move flat.
  • The Petal Crash community has its own variant of the "Secret Grade" from Tetris: The Grand Master, also known as a "fairy ring". It entails filling up all edges of the board with blocks of a single color. This becomes more difficult than it sounds due to multiple factors. This includes the amount of room you have to work with effectively shrinking as an attempt continues, as well as one wrong move potentially leading to the entire "ring" being cleared.
  • In Portal 2, it's possible to complete a lot of co-op chambers 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.
  • 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.
  • In Unpacking's Dark Star Mode, you clear a level by putting everything in the wrong places. One way to increase its difficulty is by playing "Floor is Lava", where you're not allowed to put anything on the floor.
  • Many people have completed levels in World of Goo with the fewest moves, in the shortest time, or while trying to get as much goo per level as possible. It often turns the gameplay into something completely different.

    Rhythm Game 
  • Any of the paneled dance games: DanceDanceRevolution (DDR), Pump It Up (PIU), In the Groove (ITG), StepManiaX (SMX):
    • 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. It won't help you win, but it will help you dance. This is Serious Business when there are tournaments that invoke this.
    • Using modifiers that challenge the player's readability. For example, placing the arrows/panels to be of same color while reading only half of the notes below. A more extreme example would be to have a mdoe that shows no panels on the screen at all, forcing memorization. For any of the games that have mods in some of the nonstop courses or mission, mods are often implemented by default.
    • The "All-Great" challenge requires you to clear a song with the only feedback being "Great". It's much harder than it sounds.
    • The next level is the "All-Good" challenge, which is essentially clearing a song with the best rating being "Good". It gives you very little margin for error in terms of lower ratings and results in clearing a song with a score of zero.
    • Playing the much more difficult songs without using the bar. It's a feat of physical fitness. Just be careful not to destroy your body in the process.
    • Using 1 foot to hit 2 simultaneous arrows (jumps), often reserved for adjacent arrows. For DDR, it is a challenge, though not so much with the other games due to certain songs having a 3+ at once.
  • Dance Rush:
    • Playing the hardest 10s without borrowing a chair from the arcade and holding in necessary parts. While this game is usually body-friendly even with 10s, songs like Set Me Free Normal 10 is very brutal.
    • Playing with non-slidable footwear. The game focuses a lot on sliding your feet and shuffling, so having shoes that doesn't slide will make passing songs hard, forcing you to literally rapid-tap your feet.
  • Friday Night Funkin':
    • Not using one of the arrow keys at all - that is, intentionally missing all the notes on that lane for the resulting Hit Points penalty.
    • Playing the game on engines known for Fake Difficulty - such as the Sarv engine, infamous for spontaneously disappearing notes and chords not registering properly.
  • Guitar Hero:
    • The strumming becomes trickier if you use a pick, or if you 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.
  • BMS player Lunatic Rave 2 has a couple of secret options to this end:
    • In "Extra Mode", you'll find yourself playing quite a lot of notes that you were previously only seeing in the background channels. To put this in perspective, "Scripted Connection (Long Mix)" normally has 4,459 notes in it, but an accurate Extra Mode BMS of it in Lunatic Rave 2 increases the number to 6,118. This has the side effect of making some songs nigh-impossible to clear.
    • The "Loudness" modifier (a reference to The Dirty Of Loudness, famous for its all-button mash sections) is easier and also more fun to screw around with, but it can also add surprising flavor to an otherwise bland chart when set up to 30%. If you set it to 100% on "Diavolo [A]", though, you get 9,880 notes.
  • 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 its sequel leave room for these: There's "Failure Mode", where you rescue nobody and get the minimum view rating; "Mirror Mode", where you play through the entire game with the mirror code activated; and "Purge Mode", where you rescue the robots and shoot the hostages.
  • StepMania: Trying to use a pad to play the keyboard charts. They were meant for your fingers for a reason.
  • 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, which requires either extensive memorization of the song's rhythm or relying entirely on visual cues.
    • Someone did an interesting one for the GBA�s "Samurai Slice"- relying on slicing the air with an actual sword and using it to trigger a mechanism which made the inputs for the player.

  • NetHack has a wide variety of "conducts", which are tracked by the game but offer no penalties for breaking under most circumstances; they're just for bragging rights:
    • Pacifist prevents you from killing anything personally, though you can still hit things. "No attacking with a wielded weapon" is tracked seperately, as you can still kill things using spells and wands, or even thrown objects, without breaking it. Neither counts letting your pets kill things for you.
    • Three different varieties of food challenge: Vegetarians can't eat meat (which makes things difficult by stopping you eating most monster corpses, your main source of both nutrition and certain special abilities), Vegans can't eat animal products either (not that much harder than Vegetarian, there aren't that many foods that aren't both) and Foodless (extremely difficult, all of your nutrition has to come from drinking juice, praying when you get too weak to move, or resetting your nutrition by polymorphing into your own race).
    • Illiterate, which means you can't read or write anything (you can't write Elbereth on the floor to make monsters leave you alone, can't use scrolls or spellbooks, and can't eat Fortune Cookies unless blind).
    • Atheist prevents anything pertaining to the gods, such as praying, using altars for curse-testing or sacrifice, and buying Protection from priests.
    • The use of Polymorph, either on yourself or on objects. The former is quite easy, often only broken by accident by walking into a polymorph trap or contracting lycanthropy, but the latter prevents "polypiling", a useful technique for turning junk into potentially useful items.
    • The use of Genocide to remove certain monster types from the game and Wish to summon a certain item are also tracked, and Genocideless and Wishless are conducts. There's also Artifact Wishless, which means only wishing for ordinary items and not powerful one-of-a-kind Artifacts.
    • A favourite fan conduct, Zen, was added to the game in version 3.6. Originally it meant playing one of the roles that started with a blindfold and putting it on on the first turn, never taking it off. Now you can set in the options menu to have a permanently blind character of any role.
    • Nudist is another fan conduct that was added in 3.6 via an option. It used to mean taking your starting armor off as soon as the game started; the option allows you to start with it in inventory but unequipped, and will track whether you ever wore anything.
    • Other fan conducts have yet to be officially added, such as Petless (no pets), Elberethless (as mentioned in Illiterate) and Extinction (kill every monster until they stop spawning, without using Genocide; an exception is normally made for the shopkeeper Izchack, who is a tribute to a late member of the DevTeam.).
  • Angband:
    • "No artifacts" is a serious challenge in a game where your only protection against instant death on deeper levels is wearing the right magical bling.
    • The Ironman challenge requires that you never go up any staircase and never return to the surface by any means until victorious.
    • There have been attempts to win with no artifacts or ego-items (such as this one); 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: Same as Ironman, only you are allowed to stay on a level as long as you please. The goal is to find the bottom.
    • Aluminum Man: Again same as Ironman, only you are allowed to do the Village Dungeon quest first (giving you ~6 levels before you enter).
    • Steelman: Survive in the wilderness, and the wilderness only until you reach level 50.
    • Eternium Man: Never enter a village or city, and do not read books in the wilderness. Then stand in one place in the Small Mountain Cave. Said cave is the most dangerous location in the game; monsters spawn faster and have double your experiencenote . Survive to level 50, then you can leave. There is only one recorded winner, who got extremely lucky and was able to abuse game mechanics to become godlike thanks to lucky spawns.
    • Titanium Man: Complete the game with the lowest level possible. One player ran a troll (which, as the dumbest race, learns very slowly) and finished at level 1, with 86 EXP. The only monster slain was Andor Drakon (worth 1 EXP; presumably the rest of the EXP was from sacrifices).
    • Mercuryman: Use melee weapons as ranged weapons and ranged weapons as melee weapons. Rocks (an abundant missile) make a great melee item. It's more fun than it looks.
    • 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. And gold is heavy (let's hope you find a girdle of greed and bless it).
    • Carbon Fiber Man: Never carry more than 100 stones. It's 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; the challenge thus requires you to do this naked (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 in 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. But there are some interesting specific ones outside that paradigm:
  • Cataclysm, "Innawoods" is a challenge 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.
  • Dungeonmans has a DLC pack called "Pay2Lose" that is dedicated to these. Before starting a new game, you can enable options that allow you to reduce or eliminate XP gains and loot drops, make monsters much tougher than normal, etc.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Dark Souls: The games of the series are hard enough on their own, but the New Game Plus kicks things up a notch, and players who are patient enough to "git gud" love to find ways to make things even more difficult:
    • 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.
    • No Death Run: self explanatory. Generally considered a good first challenge.
    • 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, and environmental damage.
    • One Dark Souls speedrunner, Lobos Jr, spends a large amount of time streaming himself coming up with and playing various challenge runs. They include:
      • The Shield Only run: 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: Only defeat enemies by rolling into them with Kirk's Thorn Armor (which deals a small amount of contact damage);
      • The 100% Achievements run, which can only be done in a minimum of three playthroughs of the game (up to NG+2) due to a few annoying achievements (In particular, you must defeat Great Grey Wolf Sif three times so you can get all of the three weapons you can turn his soul into);
      • The Cheese All Bosses run: Defeat all bosses only using strategies that require the minimum effort possible; even though many of them are ironically much harder to defeat this way than just doing it 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. It got 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 à 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 à la Twitch Plays Pokémon;
      • And 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, finally finishing the run in late 2015.
      • The "Olympic Torch Bearer" run in Dark Souls II where you light the torch found in the first area, then beat the game without letting it go out.
    • Dark Souls II amps it up with the addition of two rings that you can get for beating the game without dying and without sitting at a bonfire.
  • Earth Bound:
    • 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.
    • The "T-rex Bat Challenge" requires you to buy the T-rex Bat (a weapon for Ness that you aren't supposed to get for two more full areas) when you are leaving Winters with Jeff. It costs $698, and it's only possible by selling the random drops you get from enemies up to that point.
  • Final Fantasy games tend to be quite different from game to game, so most games have their own unique challenges:
    • Final Fantasy:
      • Playing with a single, usually weaker class is a popular challenge. A party of four White Mages is so weak in early levels that a battle with Goblins can reach epic proportions.
      • With 4 White Mages, you practically won't ever die. (But even with that much healing power, you will run out of MP in no time if you keep casting Blink.) Honestly, in the Dawn of Souls version, this becomes pretty easy. Since spells do more damage based on Intelligence, as soon as you get access to the spell-casting items, White Magea become viable fighters. And since they changed to an MP system rather than a Charge/Level system, you get extremely enhanced longevity out of the Cures and such. It's been done by many people on the NES version (which was by far the hardest and buggiest version of the game). Dawn of Souls White Mages have it easy by comparison.
      • Four Thieves are even more challenging, as they're almost as weak but lack any defensive capabilities to make up for it. The truly hardcore will use a weak class in a Solo-Character Run, which is so hard that you need a separate FAQ to figure out how to beat the game with each class.
      • Sequence Breaking allows you to reach the Castle of Ordeals much earlier than thought possible, as well as get 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 III and Final Fantasy V have a few related to the Job System: Freelancers-only, the 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.
    • Final Fantasy VI:
      • The "Natural Magic" challenge requires you to forgo the use of all Espers (or any equipment that offers spells); thus, the only magic that is available is from 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. A Solo-Character Run with Natural Magic is also popular; difficulty ranges from the challenging but doable (Terra) to the near-impossible (Relm, Cyan, Umaro). Low Level Runs are also common, involving skilled use of Gau's abilities.
      • The "CES" challenge requires you to beat the game using only Celes, Edgar, and Setzer whenever the game doesn't force other characters onto you. Those are the only three characters you must have when assaulting Kefka's Tower. Combining CES and Natural Magic is only for the highly skilled.
      • 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;
      • 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: The only way you can heal or deal damage in battle is with Limit Breaks. 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.note 
    • Final Fantasy VIII arguably has the nastiest of these in the form of the "No Junction" challenge (sometimes known as "No GF"). No character can ever equip a GF at any time, for any reason, throughout the entire game. This is hugely limiting, because it cuts off access to every skill in the game other than attacks and Limit Breaks. You only get three characters who are capable of healing your party without help, only one of whom can raise fallen characters (which is completely-random via Angelo Recover), and no way to improve your base stats without levelling since there are no accessories or armor in this game... which essentially means no way to improve your characters at all since enemies have Level Scaling. Despite all this, apparently somebody did this without resorting to a cheap method, and 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. And if that's not enough, there's the Excalibur II Perfect Game challenge. As the name implies, the main point of the challenge is getting Excalibur II (though it doesn't end there), while also doing Low-Level Run to profit from endgame equipment stat growths, and getting a "perfect" amount of items. This is technically doable with both NTSC and PAL refresh rate, but only NTSC has enough margin of error to be humanly feasible, with PAL remaining a TAS-only feat.
    • The diehard Final Fantasy X community is the king of them all. Not satisfied with the relative ease of the main campaign, or the already insanely-difficult bonus content (such as the exhaustive Monster Arena or the PAL Bonus quest), 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. It's notable in that none of these challenges have ever gotten 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.
    • A low-level run in Final Fantasy X-2 sounds pretty miserable; it would mean cheesing the Encounter Repellant and wearing a Minerva's Plate to prevent you from earning EXP. However, with selective use of character classes and accessories, it can put up a fair fight. A particularly tough one is the "First Steps" challenge: Starting Grid only (ergo fewer status immunities and zero buffs/spells awarded for changing jobs on the fly during a fight) and only three jobs available at a time.
    • Final Fantasy XII:
      • The classic No License Board challenge leaves you with an extremely limited pool of abilities and equipment. This is usually obviously paired with No Quickenings/No Summons.
      • The 122333 challenge is 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.
      • The classic Solo-Character Run is about an equal challenge for any given character, since anyone can learn any ability, wear any armor, and wield any weapon.
      • The Enforced Class Challenge is probably the easiest; it mimics the Zodiac Job System and forces each character to become a certain class. For example, Penelo is now a White Mage who can only purchase licenses for magical armor, staves, white magick, and magick-based Augments.
      • The Dual-Character Half-License Board Challenge requires character to take the bottom half of the board, meaning they can wear any armor and use any weapon, but 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 allows upgrading the Crystarium in the Secondary roles. There's also the Initial Equipment challenge, No Accessory challenge, and similar ones in the same vein. Have fun coupling those together with NCU.
    • 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.
  • The Elder Scrolls series, with its huge game worlds and open-ended gameplay, is tailor-made for challenges:
    • An extremely common challenge for any of the games in the series is to role-play — i.e. writing a character and then playing as that character, flaws and all. For example, you can play as 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. Dragons can only be killed for plot reasons. 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).
  • The Fallout franchise:
    • In Fallout 3, a common challenge is using the "paralysing palm" perk and V.A.T.S (Vault-tec 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 pyrokinesis ability), no clothes to give stat boosts, and no eating food 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.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Most of the later games have a demonic compendium, but it's become a common challenge not to use the compendium, or to do a "Nuzlocke-style" run of the game (invented by the Pokémon series, essentially enforcing Permadeath).
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has the Solo Hard "True Demon Ending" mode challenge, which consists of starting the game on Hard mode, playing only with the main character, and going the "True Demon Ending" path, which requires you to finish the Labyrinth of Amala, and then fight the Superboss right after fighting the Final Boss. Since in this game you can only have eight 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.
    • The Persona spin-off series is designed around the same fusion mechanic as the mainline SMT series, however in this case instead of fusing new demon party members, the player fuses a new persona while their party members usually have static personas. The player is intended to fuse away their initial persona very early in the game, but some will attempt to beat the game using only their starting persona. Mechanics added over time have made this mechanic progressively easier, allowing the player to teach their persona new skills or increase their stats using items or activities.
  • 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 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. It's hard.
  • 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 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 or 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. See it done against Terra, Saix Data, Xigbar Data, two Sephiroths, and Xigbar x2 + Xaldin. Some of these are naturally hacked to make the fight even harder.
  • 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 normally is, 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, you name it.
  • In Golden Sun, "minimum Djinn" and starting equipment only" runs are common, and "no Mia" runs of the first half of the game have been wildly popular since the discovery of a glitch making it possible to skip most of Mercury Lighthouse (where you recruit her).
  • 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.
  • 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. Toby Fox, the creator, didn't think the latter was even possible.
  • Since Etrian Odyssey never makes it clear who the guild master 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.
  • Those who have played Fuga: Melodies of Steel had came up with two challenges to make the children's lives harder.
    • The first is the Soul Cannon% run, where you have to go through the game sacrificing every child one by one using the Soul Cannon. It is doable, but the reduced numbers results in harder fights as you have less skills and chances to attack the enemy. You also have to be mindful to keep at least 2 kids alive by the Final Boss, as the Soul Cannon is required to kill it once and for all in the post-fight cutscene.
    • The second, populized by Sean Chiplock, is a Final Death Mode run, where you reset your save upon getting a game over.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • Touhou:
    • The No Horizontal/No Vertical challenge, depending on the stage or the game, can be deadly hard, if not outright impossible, even on Easy mode.
    • No Focusing requires innate knowledge of the player's hitbox to pull off.
    • 1lc is a challenge which requires not dying at all, and 0b1lc is the same thing with 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 themselves 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.
    • Pacifist Runs are technically possible, as all enemy attacks are on a timer and timing them out is a victory condition. The catch is that the timers last a lot longer than the time you need to just shoot the enemy. 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's 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. An extension to the challenge is to try 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 zero, which means you won't score a single point if you never collect a medal, letting you kill enemies and remain at zero 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 
  • Alien: Isolation: it's entirely possible to never use the flamethrower once, nor collecting any item or component. You are still forced to take weapons when you find them, but you can forget them as well, except at one point when you are required to necessarily kill a working joe to get an access card.
  • Resident Evil:
    • The series in general has the handgun and survival knife playthroughs; aside from 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. It later became an actual gameplay mechanic in some minigames where certain characters would only ever get a knife.
    • Resident Evil 4 in particular lends itself well to self-imposed challenges. Some of the most popular include the "No Merchant" run (only use weapons you find lying around, without getting upgrades or bonus itemsnote ) and the "No Run" run (no running outside of quick-time events). The latter is particularly challenging given the time limits, which will require near perfect shooting; some bosses will even need to be killed by knifing them, because you won't make it to the other side of the room for more ammo. The former is often combined with the handgun and knife playthroughs, and it's usually made easier by just killing the merchant the first time you see him.
  • 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.
  • It's entirely possible to complete any of the Fatal Frame games using only the weakest film, and it's even harder if you don't upgrade your camera.
  • Beat Dead Space without ever touching a workbench. If that's not hard enough, try beating Dead Space 2 without ever touching a workbench on Hardcore.
  • The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games have a few:
    • The "No Trader" run requires no interactions with traders — which is easier said than done, as traders not only sell you goods but also are sources of missions. Not buying anything also requires you to get gear as rewards from missions and from murdering basically anyone who comes into view to loot them for gear, ammo, and medicine.
    • No artifacts or pistol-caliber weapons only make it harder.
    • The Badass Longcoat run allows you to use any weapons and artifacts you like, but your only armor is the leather duster, which provides virtually no protection against the numerous threats you'll face — including the high radiation present nearly everywhere in the later parts of the game.
  • GTFO is a game meant to be played by four people due to its Nintendo Hard difficulty, so beating it on your own is considered to be the ultimate self-imposed challenge. It requires players to use all the tools they have at their disposal, and a stealth-only challenge is impossible due to the security alarm checks that are required.
  • One Night at Flumpty's:
    • The first game has the no-camera run, which forces you to rely entirely on your lights and good timing to keep The Beaver away.
    • The second game has the no Exposure run, which more or less is tantamount to a No-Damage Run: it means clicking off your lights before any enemy appears so your Exposure remains at zero. Notably, the game's developer does one of these during his developer commentary video, managing to beat the regular game (but not Hard-Boiled Mode) without ever once taking any Exposure.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Final Fantasy Tactics: Despite already being 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), there's 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 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.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • A popular challenge is to limit which 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 oldest "classic" challenges is total Permadeath (also known as Ironman) — although the game naturally has Permadeath, this challenge makes all decisions final, so no Rage Quit to restart the chapter. This is a common addition to other challenges, and some fans would say that this is the only real way to play the game, since Save Scumming defeats the point of a Permadeath mechanic.
    • A common one is "female-only" playthroughs, which tend to make exceptions for the main character if they're male (not always, though). This may be somewhat tricky depending on the game—in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, for instance, the only female combat unit in the first nine chapters is Caeda, turning it into a de facto solo run.
    • The "Communist playthrough", in which you're only allowed to take your lowest level/class characters, is one of the toughest. 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).
    • A No Death run is a self-imposed challenge, as you can sacrifice basically any units other than Lords or mission-specific characters. It's not really thought of as a challenge, though, because all the units are unique and have a habit of guilting you when they die, so even casual players tend to be motivated to keep everyone alive to the end.
    • In Blazing Blade, try KOing Kishuna in his second appearance — the chapter "Genesis", 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). 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 a 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 — 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 utility options, and are as much a show of skill as they are an indictment of those who blame being unable to beat a chapter on their characters not getting good levels.
    • The 0% Growths run has some notable offshoots in the form of 0% Bases (everyone starts with no base stats, but has 100% growths to compensate), and Negative Growths (the standard stat growths now work in reverse, meaning that leveling up actually weakens your units). Needless to say, they're typically seen as exercises in masochism.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses has a lot of these, due to the flexible nature of classes, and ability to recruit characters from other houses. Some are getting as close to a Everybody Lives run where you recruit every possible unit before the Time Skip, runs where you do the opposite and only use your houses units and have to kill everyone else, to meme runs where you put characters in classes they aren't going to naturally do well in.
    • One popular run is Low Turn Count/LTC, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin - completing the game while taking as few turns as possible (not a pure speedrun because each turn can take as long as you want). These runs often involve letting a lot of combat happen during the Enemy Phase (usually a bad idea, because whoever attacks gets to swing first when the fight starts). Often combined with other challenges (LTC/Zero Growths is not for the faint of heart).
    • A common counterexample to 0% Growths is 100% Growths, which does the same thing in reverse: now, every character always gets perfect level-ups. Since this breaks the game pretty hard, it's normally only used in LTC playthroughs, as a sort of show of how well a playthrough could theoretically go if all the RNG lined up.
  • 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 masochistic 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.
  • Super Robot Wars:
    • No Upgrade and No Pilot Improvement challenges (in games that have it) are quite common and self-explanatory.
    • For the particularly sadistic, try using only a small group of units when not forced to field others. This is usually done from a certain series, such as only using Gundams, only using the ATX team, or only using Tekkamen. (Using only Tekkamen doesn't seem too hard, though, given that they're all ridiculous Wedlocke Challenge Game Breakers).
    • The "True to the Show" Challenge forbids you from deploying anyone who was not present in the episodes the scenario is based on and requires that characters only attack enemies from their series (Koji Kabuto is only allowed to fight Dr. Hell's Mechabeasts, for example). You must also finish bosses using the attack that killed them or forced their retreat in the show (for example, you must kill Gentle Chapman with George and Chibodee's Rose Magnum Hurricane). It can be quite tricky, seeing as some series only contribute one unit.
  • 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".
    • XCOM: Enemy Unknown, never researching except for plot-required technologies, using conventional ballistic weapons from beginning to the end.
  • 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

  • Street Fighter X Tekken two major challenges are the solo challenge and the gemless challenge. When doing the solo challenge the player can only one one character of the team the whole time and gives up some benefits of using both characters. Gemless challenges has the player not use any gems and gives up their benefits against their opponent. One can do these two at the same time.
  • 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 human 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.
    • A similar challenge in Ultimate is the "World of Light Nuzlocke", based on the Pokemon challenge of the same name. You have to play through the entire story mode, on the condition that if you lose a match, the fighter that lost cannot be used for the rest of the game. Keep in mind there are hundreds of matches, some of them are quite tricky, and you only gain new fighters a few at a time. This challenge is sometimes combined with the requirement of not using spirits.
    • The "Ironman Challenge" requires you to win once with every character on the roster (preferably online), with a single loss meaning a restart. One variation uses a character randomizer (or just the Random option if you're really feeling ballsy) so you don't know who you're gonna be stuck playing.
  • One guy invented the "Hide and 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 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 a whole sub-community based on the premise of "variant characters", or 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, such 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, an Amazon-class hardcore character (i.e. with Permadeath) who completed the game on all difficulty levels with only cracked or 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), using a really bad weapon against a certain monster (e.g. Greatsword vs. Plesioth, no felynes), a marathon run (kill two 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).
  • Path of Exile has the option to join a league as a Solo Self-Found character, meaning no partying or trading. You play the game as a truly single-player experience, so no player services like boss carries, XP leeching, or Aurabots, and you'll be spending your currency to craft better gear instead of buying something already out there. This can also be combined with Hardcore.

Point-and-Click Game

Real-Time Strategy

  • Pikmin:
    • In general, 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 in which it can be completed: six days for Pikmin, eight for Pikmin 2 (seven with glitches), and ten for Pikmin 3. Winning in minimum in-game time requires intense micromanagement, glitch exploitation, and planning, but it's been done in all three games, and it's often done concurrently with a zero-death run, since even a single death can ruin everything.
    • Pikmin (2001): It's possible to complete the game 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.
    • Pikmin 2: It's possible to beat the game (collecting 10,000 Pokos) without ever leaving the Valley of Repose or even acquiring the Purple Pikmin. This takes a while, as eventually your only source of treasure will be mook corpses, which go for 10-15 Pokos each.
  • 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 Day9 Daily, where we learn to be a better gamer. Except on Monday, where we just dick around. Indeed, on Funday Monday, the host, Day9, 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 use an exploit to create an empire where the entire ruling class was made of horses.

Simulation Game

  • The early Creatures fandom was turned upside-down 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. There's a long list here, but some interesting ones:
    • The Legacy Challenge is simple: keep a family going for ten generations without cheating. It's spawned numerous variations, the most popular among them 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 the restrictions as you complete each career. There's also the bizarre "Disney Challenge", where each generation must be played out according to some fairy tale's plotline.
    • The Asylum Challenge is simple and maddening, because it relies on herding the game's AI: fill a house with Sims, but only control one of them, and try to ensure that nobody dies of starvation because they didn't think to make themselves some ramen.
    • The Build-a-City Challenge (or BaCC) requires the game to be played as a simplified SimCity — less of the infrastructure, but a lot more intimacy with the locals. You create a founder, mayor, and a few other settlers as Sims, and then must build community lots, entice new families to move in, and add in game features as you build up the mayor's household budget and the residents' skills.
  • 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.
  • 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 2take 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, and all Clan units must use Clan parts. No crossing tech bases. A Spheretech run denies the use of any advanced Clan technology altogether, demanding that the player use the less efficient Inner Sphere Mechs and equipment to complete their missions.

Stealth-Based Game

  • Dishonored has some variants where you can:
    • Go through the entire game and complete every (non-lethal) objective in every mission, not kill anyone, and not get spotted once.
    • Go through the entire game making everything seem like a horrible accident.
    • Finish the game without ever using Blink.
    • Make it seem like you were never even there. This means that no guards can be killed or rendered unconscious, and nothing can be missing or out of place, meaning you can't get money to upgrade your equipment. Nothing can be disturbed except the target.
  • 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.

Third-Person Shooter

  • Splatoon:
    • Beating any of the single-player campaigns without using your main weapon(s), relying only on subweapons, specials, and the occsional accidentally helpful mook.
    • The Squidless Challenge, where you attempt to beat a campaign by turning into your character's squid/octo form as few times as possible.

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 incorporate self-imposed challenges into their gameplay style. Usually, a safe shelter can be made by digging three 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, but usually that's not done.
    • Some of the challenges players make are more unusual. There's "undercity challenge", where the player spends only the first day above ground and rest of the time under ground.
    • Some have succeeded in completing the challenge of slaying the Ender Dragon in Hardcore Mode, a mode that deletes your save file should you die, making this a no death run. Getting to the dragon to begin with is a challenge in itself, requiring lots of materials, time, and patience, even by normal playing.
    • The Skyblock challenge spawns you on a small island in the sky with one tree and requires you to complete certain objectives (make a tree farm, make a stone generator, etc.), often augmented by even more self-imposed challenges.
    • More or less any Player-created map that is listed under Survival is an example of a challenge. They include "No Workbench" (only use the 2x2 crafting slot you have and not the 3x3 that the workbench gives you), "No chests" (carry everything with you — don't use anything that can store items like Dispensers or furnaces, and don't put blocks down for storage), and "No shelter" (open air campsites are okay, anything with walls and a roof is not) challenges.
    • 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. 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, without ever allowing wood into the inventory. This includes chests, sticks, and crafting tables. However, you can still use Crafting Tables, assuming one 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 constantly like it's made of Jello.
    • 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, and no eating (you will starve to death after enough actions). 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. It 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.
  • Terraria: "Class-Only Playthroughs," where the player is only allowed to use weapons and armors that revolve around Melee, Ranged, Magic, or Summon damage. While the game provides benefits to sticking with one class by having armor sets that synergize only with one type of weapon, these challenges take it further and completely ban the use of anything other than the one selected class, including the Copper Swordsword characters start with. Summoner is especially popular because of the lack of that much gear early on.

Tower Defence

Tabletop games

    Board Games 
  • Chess: Masters playing casual games against weaker players will often "give odds", which requires them to start without a certain number of pieces.
  • The Game of Life: Going the "Business Route" (i.e. not going to college) in the original version will give you a salary of next to nothing for the entire game. One can layer on a refusal to buy Stock, which is otherwise necessary to open up nearly all of the highest-paying "collect" spaces.

    Card Games 
Variant formats for Collectible Card Games are often forms of Self-Imposed Challenge, especially those that aren't supported for Tournament Play.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The "Rainbow Stairwell" requires the player's deck to contain six cards of each color — one such card must cost one mana, another two, and all the way up to six.
    • The "Highlander" or the "Singleton" requires players to build a deck with no more than one copy of any card that isn't a basic land. The "Elder Dragon Highlander" or the "Commander" goes further and requires the inclusion of a Legendary Creature (which determines the colors of cards that you can otherwise play) with the rest of your deck being exactly 99 cards.
    • "Pauper Magic" requires that your deck contain only commons. An easier variant is "Peasant Magic", which allows up to 8 uncommons and the rest commons.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In some "world championship" games, some of the Duel Point bonuses are awarded for unconventional deck compositions. These variants include: no traps, no spells, only one copy per card, only one type or attribute of monsters, monsters of each possible level, only level 1 monsters, and no monsters at all.
    • In casual play, victory by Instant-Win Condition such as with Destiny Board and Final Countdown requires a tailor-made deck dedicated to getting those cards out as soon as possible, and protecting them and yourself while they take effect. Since this robs you of any realistic means of counter-attacking, and thus basically puts you in an Unwinnable situation if your opponent successfully uses one of many spell and trap countering cards, it's a very difficult but very satisfying victory to pull off.
    • The Maxx "C" Challenge. Maxx "C" is a monster with the effect that, if you discard it from your hand on either player's turn, every time your opponent Special Summons a monster that turn, you draw 1 card. Since modern Yu-Gi-Oh! pretty much revolves entirely around spending your turn chaining together many Special Summons in a row, this makes it a very powerful card that is banned in the TCG format. However, if your deck runs out of cards, you instantly lose the duel. Therefore, the Maxx "C" Challenge is when you try to win by making your opponent draw their entire deck in one turn after they activate Maxx "C". Sometimes additional restrictions are placed on the challenge, such as making your opponent draw only through Special Summoning with no Spell or Trap Cards that make them draw cards allowed (such as Card Destruction, which would singlehandedly cut the required number of Special Summons in half since its effect requires both players to discard their entire hands and then draw the same number of cards they discarded), or doing it on the very first turn of a duel where you go first. With both restrictions applied, this means Special Summoning 35 times in one turn, assuming your opponent has a 40-card deck.
  • A "Bicycle Deck" (named after a famous playing card maker) in Deadlands: Doomtown is a deck with only one of each suit-number combination (Doomtown cards have suits and numbers/faces like actual playing cards, and the value of your hand is used to determine several elements). While this puts some tight restrictions on what cards you can use, it does have one major advantage: some cards only work if your hand is illegal, and with a "Bicycle Deck", those cards are utterly useless against you.

  • 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. 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. And you can have even shorter Mini-Flippers (the ones used in the upper playfield on The Simpsons Pinball Party, Monopoly, and a few others), roughly half the size of standard flippers.
  • A common challenge is replacing the normal steel pinballs with ceramic Powerballs that are lighter, faster, and harder to control.

    Role-Playing Games 
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 GMs operate on their own time under no restrictions whatsoever, one's first Iron GM can be a wake-up call.

  • Tamagotchi: Once people are sick of playing the game the normal way — i.e. just keep them alive and happy as long as possible — they do the opposite and try to kill them off as fast as possible.

Physical games

  • Athletes will occasionally impose challenges on themselves to make a Curb-Stomp Battle more interesting. For instance, Boston Celtics great Larry Bird would shoot exclusively with his left hand, Michael Jordan was known to occasionally tip off his opponents as to what he was going to do next and dare them to stop him, and the Harlem Globetrotters started doing this when playing "straight" basketball and developed the colorful antics for which they're famous today.
  • Mountain climbers may seek to specifically climb the highest peak in a geographic area, or all peaks above a certain height.
  • Running a marathon in and of itself is a self-imposed challenge. Most participants' initial goal is just to finish it. Some runners aim for a certain time — indeed, this is necessary to even qualify for higher-profile races like the Boston Marathon. Some runners aim to win the marathon. Some runners aim to finish several marathons in a certain period of time — one popular one in the U.S. is to complete a marathon in all 50 states (and D.C. thrown in for good measure). And some runners compete in the Ultra-Marathon, a 100-mile run that's essentially four marathons in succession.
  • 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.
  • "Double Duty" is when a driver attempts to race in both the Indy 500 for Indy Car and the Coca-Cola 600 for NASCAR the Sunday before Memorial Day, possible because the two are held at different times (afternoon vs. evening). That's 1,100 miles of driving in a single day, with barely any rest in the process. Only 9 attempts have been made, with only one of them (from Tony Stewart) managing to complete every single lap in both races. The latest attempt was from Kurt Busch in 2014, who completed the Indy 500 only to wreck after 406 miles of the Coke 600.

Other Examples

  • 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.

  • The Fighting Fantasy four-part epic, Sorcery!, notably contains 48 different magic incantations, most of them which are Useless Useful Spell. It is possible to complete all four books using exactly all of the spells, but not really compulsory.

In-Universe Examples

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Naruto, Might Guy and Rock Lee make it a point that if they fail in a task, they will challenge themselves with an even harder task as punishment. These challenges can be chained together if they fail at any step. Others think it's ridiculous, but it forces them to constantly push their limits, and they use it as a formidable training tool.
  • In Bleach, Kenpachi Zaraki deliberately weakens himself in several ways to make his fights more difficult. They include tying bells into his hair to allow his opponents to hear him at any time, keeping his Zanpakuto in its "unsealed" state (and swinging it around like a madman), refusing to view said Zanpakuto as a borderline-sentient being (which seriously hamstrings their combined combat ability), and wearing an eyepatch over his otherwise totally functional right eye, which also siphons off his excess spiritual energy. When a suitable opponent forces him to remove his power limiters, his power is truly formidable.
  • In one episode of Pokémon: The Series, a trainer named Miki specifically asks that Brock and Ash use Fire Type Pokémon to battle her Skarmory, a Steel Type, which creates a serious type disadvantage. 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/Gong 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.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • 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.
    • Later Superman comics that address Superman working as a newspaper reporter show that Clark Kent particularly enjoys his job because he can't rely on his superpowers to actually write something good enough to be printed in a major newspaper — which gives him a rare and welcome challenge.

    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.�
  • The Infinite Loops: Loopers love these. Use only one attack, no out of loop powers or weapons, use the weakest weapon or move possible, defeat everyone as fast as possible, the list goes on.
  • Ashes of the Past:
    • To prove he can give Ash a good fight, Raikou decides to solo all eight Johto Gyms.
    • At Norman's suggestion, this is Ash's attempt to beat the Hoenn gyms without destroying any of them. He technically succeeds... because they can't actually prove that he was responsible for causing the last Hoenn gym to lose a wall as he was leaving, due to its entire Wailmer population spontaneously evolving right then.
  • In OSMU: Fanfiction Friction, Orla decides to set out and prove herself and her fierce warrior status to readers by going to Hy-Brasil and battling a dragon alone. In spite of her immense strength and battle prowess, she ends up on the losing end of the battle and is badly wounded by the time her teammates figure out where she's gone and catch up to her.

  • Super Size Me is one giant self-imposed challenge where a guy goes on an all-McDonald's diet for thirty days. His rules are strict — he can walk no more than 5000 steps per day, he must try every single item on the McDonalds menu at least once, he must finish everything on the plate, and he cannot super-size his meal unless they offer it to him — but if they do, he must super-size. That happened frequently enough that McDonalds ended the practice of "super-sizing" after the film was released.
    • The film Fat Head deconstructed Morgan Spurlock's challenge by pointing out the restrictions were designed to make him gain weight, meaning the film's message amounts to "If you set out to get fat, you'll get fat", and even then he cheated by getting absolutely wasted at least once a week. Tom Naughton countered it with his own challenge (he has a functioning brain, he'll eat only fast food for thirty days - he cut it to 28 when his doctor went on a vacation - and he'll stick to 2000 calories or less and under 100 grams of carbs a day), and proceeded to lose weight.
  • In The Princess Bride, the Man in Black and Inigo both take a self-imposed challenge to kill their opponent (i.e. 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 II, 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 three 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 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.
  • Never Look Away: Kurt is a talented young artist working in a print shop in post-war East Germany. He and the other young men in the workshop are painting Communist propaganda signs. While the other men use stencils, Kurt paints the block lettering freehand. When an irritated coworker asks why he's painting that way, Kurt says "Because I can."

  • In Life, the Universe and Everything, Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged, having been cursed with immortality, makes use of his infinite time by embarking on a quest to insult the entire universe, one person at a time, in alphabetical order. He has time travel at his disposal, too, so he means everyone — but this can trip him up easily (e.g. accidentally insulting Arthur Dent twice). He knows the quest is logically impossible, but he needs to do something with his life.
  • A lipogram is a type of story written without using a certain letter even once — one of the most famous is Gadsby by Ernest Vincent Wright, a 50,000 word novel without the letter "e". La Disparition by Georges Perec does one better, a while it also doesn't use the letter "e", it's considerably longer than Gadsby — but it was written in French, and the English translation also doesn't use the letter "e". The latter also references the phenomenon through its plot, as the characters realize that something is missing from their world and are trying to find it. Whenever they are in a position that they have to say a word that has an "e" in it, they die.
    • Bonus points to Perec who, having published La Disparition, went on to write a long short story, Les Revenentes, in which guess what's the only vowel.
  • When "Blunt's Brilliant Detectives" have their first case in 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", Poirot 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.
  • In the Discworld story Guards! Guards!, In order to shoot a dragon in the 'voonerables' with a lucky arrow, the shot needs to be a Million to One Chance. Unfortunately, Constable Carrot calcuates the odds of a hit on something that large, travelling slowly for a landing, to only be in the high hundreds. Hence ever more onerous impediments are adopted to lessen the chances of a perfect hit. This all makes perfect sense on the Disc, where the Theory of Narrative Causality is an actual law of physics.

    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: Puppeteer Frank Oz, when working on the Swedish Chef, gave himself a challenge where he would make the Chef fling his cooking implements over his shoulders and try to knock down every item on the back wall before the sketch was over. He 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.
  • Kamen Rider Kuuga: Rather than engaging in a straightforward massacre, the Grongi have their "Gegeru", a game where they have to kill a certain number of humans within a set amount of time, with some kind of restriction placed upon them. While the low-tier Zu class has the rules set upon them by the game's "referee", the higher-ranking Me and Go class get to decide their own restrictions. Examples include targeting only male students from a specific high school, killing people by running them over with a truck (driven backwards), or leaving hints for the police to find. What makes the Grongi so horrifying is that even with these limitations, several of them still manage to kill dozens (or sometimes even hundreds) of people.

  • 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.
  • Bands will swap instruments among themselves on occasion. Resulting in things like Mr. Bungles' cover of Hit Me Baby One More Time or alternate versions of 'Silver Machine'. Arcade Fire and Irish showbands don't count, as they swap/swapped instruments all the time.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • BattleTech: This is the general purpose of the Clans' Trial system of combat. There's no honor in winning a battle by using overwhelming odds, so they try to use as little forces to win as possible. For example, if one Clan launches a raid on another's planet, the defender will announce what forces that they intend to commit to the protection of their resources. Then the attacker will review the record of those defenders and decide how much of their own force to commit- if the defender commits five battlemechs, the attacker may choose to use only three. Similarly, an individual pilot may choose to voluntarily avoid using one or more of their mech's weapons in a fight.
  • Freedom City: The Magpie, a Gentleman Thief, has teleportation powers but mostly doesn't use them, because where's the challenge in that?

    Video Games 
  • Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future: an NPC spends all his time swimming around trying to catch a certain fish, but 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!
  • The Elder Scrolls: 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.
  • Fallout: New Vegas: If the courier chooses to go for the Independent ending but destroys the Securitron army under Fortification Hill, Yes Man will remark on how "challenging" this will make everything and how he admires them for staking the odds against themselves. Yes Man clearly thinks this was a incredibly stupid and self-destructive move, but his programming prevents him from calling the courier out on it.
  • Hitman 2: 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.
  • One Night at Flumpty's: The titular Eldritch egg Flumpty, is immune to the plot and can transcend space and time. The only reason those doors and those lights keep him away is because he chooses to abide by those limitations because it's much more fun.

    Web Comics 
  • In general, any webcomic which consistently limits itself to a certain size or number of panels per strip is a self-imposed challenge for the artist — it's the Internet, so there's nothing stopping the artist from making each strip as big or small as they want. The only real exception is for artists who want to sell physical collections, who remain bound by the harsh realities of the print industry.
  • In Chapter 64 of Boyfriends., Goth and Jock play a Fighting Game with both of them operating each half of one controller.
  • El Goonish Shive: There's a full arc in the NP strips about Grace attempting a pacifist run in Fallout: New Vegas. Her attempt ends when she meets the Legion for the first time, and proceeds to punch them all to death.
  • In The Order of the Stick, after receiving a Humiliation Conga followed by a Heel Realization Vaarsuvius uses a self-imposed challenge to use their magic primarily to support their teammates rather than simply blasting everything with fire and lightning like they were prone to in the past. Though they reserve the right to start blasting if it will save them from listening to Elan using especially lame puns.
  • Scarlet Lady: In "Riposte", when Kagami says she wants to get into D'Argencourt's fencing school, he tells her he'll consider her admission if she defeats one of his students. She chooses to challenge his "best combatant".
  • 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.
  • xkcd:
    • This comic depicts a game of Tetris that's unwinnable because the bottom of the playing field is curved, making the pieces almost impossible to line up. It inspired an actual Flash animation of such a game (the link has since died) — while it's pretty unplayable with the usual Tetris goals, it is possible to score lines, and 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.
    • XKCD inspired a challenge on Wikipedia, where you can go to any article, read it until you reach a link to another page, click on it, and repeat the process until you get to the page on "Philosophy". It happens surprisingly quickly.

    Web Original 
  • NaNoWriMo is a popular self-imposed challenge where participants write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It doesn't have to be good — it just has to be done. The point of the challenge is to spur creativity in people who might have great ideas for stories but are intimidated by how long it takes to write it.
  • The Let's Play Twitch Plays Pokémon gathers the Internet on a Twitch stream and asks them to play a Pokémon game one button input at a time, as dictated through the chat. It's utter chaos, but not only have games been beaten, they've been beaten in truly improbable circumstances. Players have started imposing their own challenges, such as catching Zapdos with the Master Ball in Red, getting Mew via trade in FireRed, 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 RAM. 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.
  • Mitten Squad is a Youtuber who does self imposed challenges for his videos, many of which involve things like not attacking anything, not taking any damage, using only one weapon, and other esoteric means.
  • The Spiffing Brit does self-imposed challenges like "Crusader kings 2 But I have Zero Stats?? 0 Stat Man Challenge".

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Rick and Morty, Rick is found to have turned himself into a pickle. He 'claims' that he did it as a self-imposed challenge so that he could see if he could turn himself back into a human. But that explanation is quickly torpedoed when Morty notices the contraption hanging on top of him with a timer and anti-pickle serum in it. The real reason he did it was to avoid having to go to 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. In the end, Carmen uses a high-tech way to escape and points out to Player she never said anything about not needing those to escape.

  • 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. 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.
  • 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 (e.g. fighting sitting down if you lose a leg). 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.


Video Example(s):


Ditto-Only Run

Pikasprey attempts to complete Pokémon Crystal using only a Ditto. In this video, he explains how his challenge works.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / SelfImposedChallenge

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