Timers, countdowns and impending failure

Recently they put a timed demo for Cyberpunk 2077, with an ominous 5:00:00 countdown in the menu. I was hoping for some cyberpunk-ish glitch at 0 but alas --just a boring “buy my game”.

That got me thinking: what are your favorite timers and urgency devices? Preferably as a main mechanic, though I guess even Final Fight’s continues are fair game. A few I liked:

Prince of Persia
First notable one? Infinite continues but only 60 minutes to rescue the princess.

Septentrion / S.O.S.
Building upon PoP, save yourself and/or other passengers in one hour before the constantly tilting ship sinks into the depths.

Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter
The D-Counter % goes up a little with every step, and a lot when using your dragon powers. You want/need those powers to beat tough bosses + limited saving = extra pressure.

Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns
13 days (get it!?) to save enough souls before Lighting can get a well-deserved vacation in rural France. The timer is generous and like BoF5 you can New Game+ if you fail, but nice a reminder not to goof around killing monsters (to extinction) and cool enough they did implement it.


pandora’s tower!!!

spelunk through mysterious and spooky abandoned army facilities in order to break a curse on your girlfriend. but spend too long away from her and she’ll turn into a monster. but in trying to save her are you also effecting some deeper transformation within her? are you the monster???


it’s such an elegantly made game, and the timer is fully integral to its ideas; it wouldn’t be the same kind of experience without that sword hanging over my head.


in its hardest mission difficulty, System Shock imposes a 7-hour time limit to beat the entire game (10 hours in the remake)

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I don’t like a lot of timers because I like to explore and mess around, but I think the one in super valis iv is neat. There’s a bar at the bottom of the screen as you progress through the level - the bar is the boss’s health, and ticks up the longer you take. The faster you are, the less health the boss has when you reach it.



I was thinking the other day how wild it was that Final Fantasy 9 would keep a 12 hour timer for an item at the end of the game.


i think it’s a lot of fun to try to succinctly describe convoluted shit like the time Magneto tricked the X-Men into believing they were carnies so he could abduct them with a flying wagon and torture them in his subterranean Antarctic volcano lair.

so in Destiny you kill this alien worm god Xol, Will of the Thousands on Mars.

that’s the guy.

his consciousness pervades through planes and discovers beings made of space magic. he uses this brand of space magic to transform himself into a gun because his brand of space magic is empowered by death caused by him.

to find this gun, ya had to wait for a specific public event at a specific location and kill specific unique enemies within 3 minutes or so to summon a fella that turned into a portal when you found and killed it. once you enter the portal you’ve got a 20 minute timer to navigate platforming and combat puzzles (deaths allowed) and then a big triple boss fight that sucks to solo, all while Xol is talkin’ to ya and stuff.

then you’d get a hella op sniper rifle so you could continue killing for Xol.


I feel like I’ve seen this guy before


ah, there’s yer problem. this here is a worm farm. whatcha got there is a wyrm, and a nice one at that. sorry to say but yain’t gonna be catchin’ no trout with that kingly feller.

alternate joke - gonna start a Video Grames History Foundation and it’s just a repository for all knowledge on Hogs of War.


This backing track is an all-time timer. You somehow don’t even care that you only have 99 seconds when you can jam out to this song.


I like DKC3 but I always hated how the bonus stage music sped up the closer the timer got to 0.

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My friend, who records and produces his own and other people’s music, was in the room while I was playing Katamari and declared that this sound is awful, or something similar. I understand his impression, and I could empathize the first couple of times I heard it. However, I love the sound design of Katamari Damacy and fully embrace how abrasive it is; I feel like the sounds and music at times talk at you, and that feels essential to the experience. This is something that I’ve found lacking from the sequel, which I’ve only experienced from the recent remake.