Timed Mission

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"...I ran out of time, and the unit disappeared. 'We lost contact!' went a character. BULL. FUCKING. SHIT. All possible threats were dead! We didn't lose contact; I was looking at them! They were right fucking there! We were close enough to communicate by waggling our eyebrows at each other! What the fuck happens when the stupid arbitrary time limit runs out, their Battle Royale collars explode? They all lose honor and disembowel themselves, what?! And just to put the cherry on it, you know who they were? ABSOLUTELY BLOODY NO ONE! Generic faceless pricks of the sort I'd vat grown about 50 of that day alone. But we didn't make it so they were going to have me do the whole fucking mission again! As the exasperated Chinese zookeeper said to the last male panda in the world, FUCK THAT!"
—Yahtzee, Zero Punctuation, on this trope causing him much frustration in Halo Wars

Quite simply, the player is given a finite amount of time to complete a goal, with the penalty for running out of time being Game Over or the loss of one of their Video Game Lives. This can be particularly jarring, since most gamers are used to being able to Take Their Time, and (aside from the occasional Time Bomb and/or Collapsing Lair) the reason why a given level should even need a time limit isn't always apparent.

Timed gameplay sequences generally show their countdown onscreen, allowing the player to know their Exact Time to Failure. Exactly how stingy the time limit is varies; Turn-based games will usually measure time by the number of "rounds" or "turns", and even real-time games will generally pause the clock when the player is busy accessing their menu screens (instead of playing the actual level). However, in some cases the clock is implacable and continues to tick regardless; for example, online games typically measure time by the server's clock, rather than the player's, which can add a frustration if a network communications error breaks their connection (as even time spent attempting to reconnect and re-login is counted against the mission clock). There may even be Power Ups that extend the time limit a little.

Level timers originated in arcade games which needed some kind of mechanic to discourage players from hogging the machine without putting in more coins, and spread to many Nintendo Hard console and computer games that aimed to provide arcade-style gameplay. In a few cases, having the timer run out is the only way to get a Game Over, with all the other obstacles in the game merely serving to make the player waste valuable time. Many older arcade racing games had stricter time limits where unless you were moderately good, you were destined to run out of time; newer games have bigger time limits that aren't much of a threat unless you're pathetically slow or stop playing.

Some games have to be completed in their entirety under a single time limit; typically in these games, you can continue if you die but the timer just keeps going. If time runs out, you might be able to keep playing to get a bad ending rather than have an immediate Game Over.

The Timed Mission completes the unholy gameplay trinity alongside the Luck-Based Mission and Escort Mission, and things can get very bad when any two (or all three) of these are combined. The logical inverse of this trope is the Hold the Line mission, in which the clock is on your side and your objective is to survive until the timer expires.

Timed missions may end with an Always Close moment, unaffected by the actual time left on the clock. The subversion, when everyone acts like a mission is timed when the actual gameplay is not, it's Continue Your Mission, Dammit!.

For cases where an expired mission timer doesn't trigger an immediate Game Over, but instead unleashes an additional in-universe threat to hassle the player with until they do complete their mission (or die trying), see Stalked by the Bell.

Though some still do, this is more often than not the reason people prefer Wide Open Sandbox style games. As to continue with the amount of freedom a player has over the game world they usually have very few or none at all. And the ones that due are usually considered That One Level.

See also Race Against the Clock, the way a timed mission manifests in media other than Video Games.

Examples of Timed Mission include:

Action Adventure

  • There are several occurrences of this in The Legend of Zelda series. Most of them are fairly reasonable storyline-wise. Some of them are minigames where the point of the exercise is to complete some task(s) in the time allotted. Other times are related to a Load-Bearing Boss.
    • Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask is a timed mission... but with the ability to reset the clock.
    • A more straight example occurs in Ocarina of Time during the Fetch Quest. Certain items in the quest will "go bad" if you take too long (such as a mushroom that rots or a frozen frog that defrosts). Trying to cheat using warp songs would ruin the item.
      • The penultimate boss fight is also a Load-Bearing Boss; defeating him will cause the castle to begin collapsing, with only a few minutes for you to escape.
    • Near the end of The Minish Cap, you have to reach Vaati before a bell rings thrice. At first, you may mistake it for Take Your Time, then you lose the game and realize your mistake. Hint: use explosives in battle.
    • Phantom Hourglass takes another spin on the concept, with the titular hourglass measuring how long you can stay in the central dungeon before it begins to drain your life. Getting hit by most enemies drains some of your time, but there are also opportunities to get some bonus time. In addition, there are safe zones where the timer stops and you're safe from enemies.
    • In Skyward Sword, every battle with the Imprisoned is a Timed Mission, with the distance from the Sealed Temple serving as the timer. You can add time to the clock by knocking the Imprisoned over or nailing it with a Groosenator charge. It can take time off the clock by dashing forward, climbing along the walls and cliffs, or flying. Each of those is progressively worse, and it is just as bad as it sounds. The Imprisoned is the sealed form of Demon King Demise, and he needs to eat Hylia's soul to reclaim his true form - this, of course, will cause The End of the World as We Know It outside of a plot-dictated event. All this is important as, after the second round, you learn that Zelda sealed herself inside the temple to keep the Imprisoned bound, and since she's the reincarnation of Hylia...
  • Every level in NiGHTS Into Dreams is a timed mission. Running out of time means your character drops to the ground and gets chased around by a giant egg-shaped alarm clock. Particularly annoying, as running out of time makes you lose all your points.
  • Lego Star Wars 2 and its sequels have a "super story" mode in which the player must complete all six levels of one of the films within an hour as well as collect a certain number of lego studs in order to gain an extra unlockable. Thankfully the timer pauses for cutscenes.
  • There are two such missions in Beyond Good and Evil. The first is saving your companion Double H from an alien disease; it gives you a fairly generous time limit for how far you need to go, but can be frustrating due to his tendency to get "lost." The second is escaping a base near the end of the game after its Self-Destruct Mechanism is triggered; despite its low time limit, it's quite easy.
  • The very final part of Clash at Demonhead, where you're tasked with disarming the Doomsday Bomb. You either have six tries or an indeterminate amount of time (which speeds up every time you fail to complete it) to get it right, or the bomb will explode. There are also no clues whatsoever to help you figure out which slot each of the seven six medallions goes in, as the sequence is randomized with each playthrough. Have fun, and Try Not to Die!
  • The Harry Potter games on the PSX sum this up in two sentences: "Get to the Charms class before the timer runs out. Walk through the floating clocks to start the timer." And if you mess up? You're "late" and lose points. Never mind the huge obstacle course you have to get past that suggests the teachers want you to be late. Fortunately you don't lose points in the second game; in fact, you get a Bragging Rights Reward that just about everyone who plays this game has for going fast enough.
  • In The Tower of Druaga, each floor has a timer that runs down to zero, and more quickly if you are unfortunate enough to obtain a Potion of Death. Then you have 60 more seconds before you lose a life, during which you are Stalked by the Bell. This can be annoying, given how random the enemies and item/exit placement can be.
  • In Okami there are two sections of Yoshpet Forest which must be completed within a certain time. There are also shorter segments (snaring a runaway log, escaping Collapsing Lairs) which must be completed in time or the player must restart. The digging minigames are also timed.

Action Game

  • In X2: Wolverine's Revenge, every level is inexplicably timed, the game being made long after the era when every game had a timer as a matter of course. The interesting thing about this timer is that Wolvie regenerates health over time, which means that if you run low on health you can either attempt to complete the level weakened or spend precious time letting yourself heal. This is pretty obviously the entire reason the timer is there, since the game would be extremely easy if you could pause to heal back to full health after every enemy. However, you have to manage your time to the degree that it becomes the entire game, which makes for a very mediocre game experience.
  • Blast Corps is this and an Escort Mission. You have to destroy buildings that are in the carrier's path and while there is no visible timer, you do have to hurry it up if the carrier gets close to a structure or obstacle.
  • In Battletoads for Game Boy, the last level before the Final Boss has a 99-second time limit.
  • The inverse happens in Wild Guns. The timer indicates the time remaining in the level before the miniboss appears, and each enemy you kill lowers it further. A rare case where you want the timer to go down in order to proceed.
  • Done multiple times in the Grand Theft Auto series, to the great annoyance of everyone.
  • In Jet Grind Radio, every level is timed.
    • Only 1 level in Jet Set Radio Future is timed, and you have 30 minutes to complete the mission (deactivating some bombs) not too bad considering there are only around 8 or 9 bombs.
  • The arcade game Elevator Action Returns (Elevator Action II in the US) has a time limit when the player takes too long to enter a red door. In that case, the screen will start flashing the word "CAUTION!", and if there is not much time left, the amount of remaining seconds will appear on the screen. When the timer reaches zero, the player will die instantly.
    • The final stage of this game also has a time limit that starts halfway through the final stage. The countdown starts at 180 seconds (3 minutes) and if the player does not finish that stage in time, the terrorists will launch the missile and destroy the world, causing an immediate Game Over. The player must then start all over at the beginning of the game, since there is no continue option.

Adventure Game

  • Half of Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards is, covertly, a timed mission: If Larry does not lose his virginity by sunrise (several hours of game time), he will put a gun to his head and commit suicide.
    • The cruise ship in Leisure Suit Larry 2 is a partial timed mission, without warning... after a certain amount of time, returning to your cabin on the ship will kill you. Of course, you can stand outside the cabin cursing your fate as long as you like, but if you've failed to get everything done on time, you just can't progress.
  • In King's Quest III, you have to defeat Mannanan and leave Llewdor in a certain timeframe, otherwise you either get killed by the wizard or the ship leaves and you get stuck.
    • King's Quest V makes the desert a timed mission: after a certain number of screens, Graham will die of thirst.
  • In Police Quest 2, you have about two minutes of figure out how to disarm a bomb before it's game over.
  • The Space Quest series has several timed missions:
    • In the original, you have to escape the Arcadia and later the Sarien ship before the self-destruct sequence completely destroys it.
    • In Space Quest 2, after taking care of the Big Bad and stopping his plans, you have about five minutes to escape the station before it burns up in the atmosphere of Labion. That time limit is even more pressing if you were kissed by the alien, as you need to finish before its baby bursts through your chest.
    • In the third game, after destroying the stealth field generator on Ortega, you have to escape before the explosion sets off a catastrophic series of eruptions that you can't possibly survive. The timer is not shown (but very generous).
    • In the fourth game, if you take too long to confront and defeat the Big Bad after setting up a system format, he wins.
    • In the fifth game, you have to destroy the Eureka before the sludge monster breaks free.
  • In Conquests of Camelot, in the ending sequence, if you don't find the Holy Grail in time, you'll die from the rat bite's poison.
  • Although the first game in the series doesn't have a time limit, the rest of the Quest for Glory games do. In the second game, you're actually subject to the whims of the timer: you ultimately need to get across the desert on a caravan, but the next one won't show up until day 21, and you have to contend with several elementals in the meantime, each of which have their own time limit,[1] and in the final section of the game, you have a specific but hidden amount of time to stop the Big Bad before he summons Iblis. The third game also has events explicitly happen based on how much time has passed, and if you aren't in the right place at the right time, things will happen without you (resulting in a game over). The fourth game forces you into two time limits: the first is to get a special item for Baba Yaga, and if you fail, you die. The second requires you to find several items within three nights, or you'll die. The fifth game has several time limits: if you fail to complete certain challenges in time, someone else will, and you'll be one step farther from taking the throne of Silmaria.
  • Gold Rush! has several time limits, but none are actually game-ending. After the game begins, you have 15 minutes until the announcement of gold being discovered in California, at which point most of your travel options are taken away and things costs dramatically more while the value of your house (selling it is your main source of income) drops like a rock. On the Cape Horn route, if you don't figure out a way to get an alternate source of food in time, you'll be too weak to do anything and die soon after. On the Overland route, on several screens, you have to figure out how to overcome the obstacles you're presented with before they do you in. And finally, when you make it to California, one task requires you to gain entrance to a hotel room that doesn't exist by getting access to someone else's room. If you spend too much time figuring out the secret passage after tricking him out of the room, he'll come back, assume you're a thief and send you to the gallows for a game over.

Beat Em Up

  • The Streets of Rage series were similar to the old Mario and Sonic games. You had to clear the current area of all enemies before you can move on, where the clock would reset. While the timer was very slow, running out of time killed your character and resulted in a loss of a life. The 3rd game removes the clock, but it is used in the final battle if you are on the path to the good ending. If you get there, you have 3 minutes to beat the final boss. If time runs out, you still have to beat the boss, but you learn afterward that all the bombs in the city went off, getting you the bad ending.
  • Splatterhouse 3 has a rather...unique version of a timer. Each of the stages (especially the first four) require you to reach the end and defeat the boss before time runs out. If the clock does run out, however, it's not a game over; instead, one of your family gets killed, and you get a worse ending.
  • Every level of MadWorld has a thirty-minute time limit. If you don't get to the boss before time's up, you lose. This is far more than enough time, so the only reason you'd ever run short is to see how the announcers will mock you for dawdling.
  • Each stage of Vigilante has a timer counting down from 99, and if it runs out you lose a life. The timer runs slower than actual seconds, though.

Driving Game

  • Carmageddon and its sequel have a countdown, but pedestrians and collisions yield so much time that you are likely to finish the game with 30–40 minutes on any setting other than "hard", and because your car is indestructible in the first game and almost indestructible in the sequel, you cannot lose unless you deliberately go AFK.
    • On "hard" mode the final events start you off with five seconds left on the clock and no pedestrians anywhere nearby. Your only option is to choose a grid position in front of the weakest opponent, throw your car in reverse and hope you do enough damage to get a time bonus so you can even get off the starting grid before you lose.
    • The third game in the series, TDR 2000 cracked down on the timer to the point where you get less time in easy mode than you used to get in hard mode in the earlier games. A common complaint about the game is that there is simply no time to explore because if you stray off the beaten path you quickly run out of time.
  • Wipeout 3 has a checkpoint timer, but it is both generous and optional. There is no benefit to turning it on and you might get a game over because of it. This has to be the most useless option in any racing game ever.

Fighting Game

  • The arcade mode of Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusa's revenge has a time limit, and the ending of any given character can only be seen if the game is completed within the limit.
  • Neo Geo Battle Coliseum's Arcade Mode handles this differently than in most fighting games. Your team has five minutes in game time to defeat as many foes as possible, and that time limit carries over to your next set of fights (though you can increase the time limit once with a mid-game bonus). Once that time limit expires, the Big Bad SNK Boss approaches.
  • In Super Smash Bros., Break The Targets, Board The Platforms and Race To The Finish are all timed missions.
    • Melee adds Event matches with time limits of either kind: Notably, Seconds, Anyone? gives you only 7 seconds to defeat Capt. Falcon, and Yoshi's Egg has you to defend Yoshi and the egg for a period of time.
    • The 5- and 15-Minute Melee require you to stay on the stage for those periods of time while Fighting Wire Frames attack.
    • The Home-Run Contest has a "bat clock", if you will.
      • Super Smash Brothers Brawl adds a timed boss fight.

First Person Shooter

  • The final escape in the last level of Halo.
  • Additionally, though there is no timer for the final level of Halo 3, the environment of the unfinished Halo ring will tumble and collapse after a set period of time, forcing the Master Chief and the Arbiter to keep driving forward without stopping.
  • Also, on the hardest MISSION difficulty setting, the original System Shock is one big timed mission. You only have seven hours to complete the game. During that time, you had to disable the mining laser to prevent SHODAN from using the station as a Kill Sat, destroy the transmitter to prevent her from uploading herself into Earth's networks, jettison the hydroponics grove with mutants into deep space and reach the command center before she detaches it from the self-destructing station.
    • Funnily enough, you can Take Your Time with the last objective and complete it after the relevant cutscene.
  • Call of Duty 2 has several of the second variation of these missions, where the player and his squad must hold out against relentless Nazi attacks until reinforcements arrive. However, in the British "Brigade Box" mission, the end of the timer does not actually bring about reinforcements, but the arrival of a German Tiger heavy tank that has been harassing the squad since the previous mission, which the player must then assault and destroy single-handedly.
    • This could be due to the reputation Sergeant Davis has picked up, having killed hundreds of Nazis on his own in previous missions.
    • That said, pretty much all of the Call of Duty games have at least one kind of time based mission in each campaign. The vast majority of these missions are the "hold the line" variety.
      • The original game has the "Dulag IIIA" mission - you have exactly ten minutes to rescue Major Ingram from the eponymous prison camp before the Germans lock it down.
      • Call Of Duty 4 has a bit of a subversion from previous CoD games: the second to last mission in the game requires an assault against an enemy who is attempting to Hold the Line. Failure to reach the mission objective before the timer runs out results in the US' Eastern Seaboard being nuked and World War III.
  • Republic Commando has a particularly annoying one, as even if you do everything as fast as possible, thankfully the timer stops in the ending cutscene, or the mission would be impossible.
    • Made all the more annoying by the fact that one of your squadmates lampshades it, saying that they should finish the mission before they destroy the ship next time.
      • It's even possible to complete said objective after the timer has expired, but you do have to cut it fine.
    • To make things clear, there are two timed missions.
      • The first of which involves assaulting and downloading information from the bridge of a ship that the player has already set to blow itself up. This is the mission where the squadmate lampshades the trope.
      • The second of which involves fighting your way to the turret controls of a ship to turn-on automated turret fire, after which the stage becomes a hold the line scenario while the player or his squad members turn on the guns.
      • Both stages are timed missions with no on-screen clock, with the player only having a computer voice out the ship's increasingly dire status until the player completes the objectives or the ship explodes.
  • Battlefield: Bad Company has a fairly annoying one during the last mission. US armor is advancing through a small village, and you have to destroy two bridges near said village(don't ask). The problem is that the village is swarming with enemies, and both bridges are being guarded by TANKS. And if you die, you have to start over.
  • Many missions in Syphon Filter, but the most infamous is the last mission of the first game. Gabe had to locate the missile's abort code. Take too long and the missile's countdown will begin.
    • The "Train Race" mission in the second game, where you must rush to the train's engine before it reaches the Broken Bridge.
  • Medal of Honor Underground has "Wacky Taxi mode" where all missions get timers.
  • All maps on Team Fortress 2 have both a round timer (at which point either a Stalemate is declared, the game goes into Sudden Death mode, or a winner is declared based on which side has a higher score) and a map timer (at which point it switches to the next map in rotation), but the BLU team specifically loses on Payload and Attack/Defend-style Control Point maps if they cannot achieve their objectives before time runs out.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 subverts this at first, with the final mission of Parish telling you to get across the bridge in 10 minutes or the helicopter will leave without you. No matter how long you wait the helicopter will not take off without you inside (though with all the zombies trying to kill you, you really can't afford to wait). It then plays it straight with the achievement Bridge over Treble Slaughter, which requires you to get across the bridge in 3 minutes (basically running for your dear life and don't stop AT ALL).
    • The Finale of Dead Center has a hidden timer, where after a certain amount of waves have gone by (rotating between a Tank Wave and a Horde Wave) the game will trigger the final wave consisting of non-stop tanks AND hordes at the same time. Of course, the only way to actually see this is if you deliberately hold out until the time runs out, as the level gives you ample time to complete your objectives.
  • The Metroid Prime series wouldn't be complete without a timed mission:
    • After killing the boss on the space pirate frigate, you're given 7 minutes to escape before the whole place explodes.
    • Metroid Prime 2 gives you 8 minutes to escape Dark Aether after defeating the Load-Bearing Boss, but 99% of this time is spent fighting the Final Boss.
    • Metroid Prime 3 has four of these. The first one involves fighting Ridley in a Free Falling Battle, to which you have around 4 minutes to kill him or die by slamming into the planet's core. The second timer comes after the Ridley fight where you have 5 minutes to activate the defense canon or the meteor strikes the planet. The timer here isn't displayed, but is announced on the loudspeakers on every minute. The next timer comes after assembling the bomb needed to destroy a shield below the clouds of the planet where Samus has 6 minutes to fix the release mechanism for the escape pod or die riding the bomb on impact. The final timed mission is the entire finale on Phaaze. Samus has to vent all of her Energy Tanks to avoid being totally corrupted on the planet, so she has a limited amount of time to find and beat the Final Boss before the phazon corrupts her. How much time she gets depends on how many Energy Tanks the player has collected up to this point.
    • Metroid Prime Hunters has a timer kick in every time Samus takes one of the Mac Guffins needed to reach the Final Boss. If Samus can't get back to her ship before the clock runs out, she dies.
  • After the intro sequence of Deus Ex Human Revolution, protagonist Adam is called back to assist with a hostage situation. While there's no explicit timer displayed, if you take too long to get to the mission site, the hostages will be dead, and people will chew you out about it.

Four X

  • The game Civilization IV: Colonization uses years for turns and starts in the year 1492. You have until the year 1792 to declare independence and defeat your homeland. If you don't make it in time, your homeland wins by default.
  • Also, all Civilization games have a set number of turns, that decreases when raising the difficulty.
    • The scenarios in V all have a turn limit, but they don't always work against you. Usually, if the turns run out, the civilization closest to the winning condition wins.

Hack And Slash

Light Gun Game

  • The aptly named Time Crisis series is essentially one gigantic timed game. All of its incarnations are usually broken up into a series of brief intervals where the player(s) have 40 seconds for the most part to eliminate all of the enemies onscreen. Failure to do so will result in the player(s) losing a health point.
    • The original Time Crisis brings you to the continue screen if time ran out, instead of just taking a life. On top of that, it has stricter time limits and the timer increases by a certain amount of seconds every time you clear a section (instead of resetting to 40, 60, or what have you), so if you're slow on one section, you'll have to work faster in the next or risk running out of time, a risk that almost never happens in later titles. The final straw is that the timer keeps running in cutscenes when the player is running from one area to the next. It gets ludricrious near the end where 30 seconds is added to the timer - then the player waits for 15 seconds for an elevator to take him to the villain.
  • In Metal Combat: Falcon's Revenge, the first form of Giga-Desp is timed. Once the music changes and he starts charging energy, you have to destroy him within 10–15 seconds, or else he'll launch an unblockable super attack that kills you instantly.

Miscellaneous Games

  • The PSP game Half Minute Hero. Every single level must be completed in 30 seconds (unless you turn back the clock) or it's game over. The final level requires you to beat the game in 300 seconds (5 minutes) with no option to rewind time.
  • The Wario Ware series of games consist almost entirely of this trope and Hold the Line. The key factor here is that each timed mission is only about four seconds long...and speeds up.
  • In Antarctic Adventure, each stage is a race against a time limit. If the timer runs out, it's Game Over. However, there is no way for the penguin to die, making the timer the penguin's only real adversary.
  • Tutankham had a timer counting down on each level, as if the constantly spawning enemies and the inability to shoot vertically didn't make the game hard enough.


  • City of Heroes has its share of Timed Missions - however, to be fair, it usually places them in enclosed zones or interior spaces to limit how much running about the hero or heroes have to do. It gets aggravating though when completing a mission immediately triggers a timed mission without the player being warned (even more annoying when the timed follow up mission involves defeating a foe that cannot be defeated without a large team). Fortunately the Devs have been removing or modifying these in City of Heroes and such mission combos are almost non-existent in City of Villains. In any case, the timer is usually two or three times the length needed (provided you start straight away).
    • There is, however, one timed mission for high level characters that you are supposed to fail: you only have a few minutes to get to the mission, fight through the minions, and win the fight with the boss at the end. However, in certain power combinations, it actually is winnable: a Blaster with superspeed or flight and a cloaking device (or some other similar combination of speed and powers) can speed-stealth past the minions and, if they are lucky searching the base, get to the final room in time to fight the boss and his guards, barely. Winning or losing the mission doesn't matter to the story arc in either case.
    • The high level COV contact Efficiency Expert Pither gives out a notable set of timed missions. To earn a badge (Efficiency Expert) from him you must complete all his missions in less than 15 minutes each, featuring large, sprawling maps full of mobs. A Stalker with team teleport is a very useful asset.
      • Perhaps the most annoying facet of the COH Timed missions is that most missions tell you that you must hurry to save a life or stop a demon summoning, but there's no hurry at all. Timed missions don't phrase the mission with any more or less urgency but you can actually fail them.
  • Final Fantasy XI has quite a few timed missions, but the worst example is in the expansion Wing of The Goddess, where a category of quests have you try and list crafting recipes under a time limit. At first it's just stressful, but harder versions of the quest have the amount of time being extremely short, where you can still fail the quest... even if you know the recipes.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online has several timed missions, and one subversion. You are given 30 minutes to kill boar in the area, but there are no boar there. The task seems impossible until you consider the Exact Words of the quest, and then you realise all you have to do to win is let the timer run out.
  • World of Warcraft doesn't have a lot of timed quests, but they exist. Some of them are Escort Missions, no less. However, most of the timers are rather generous. Especially considering teleportation is fair game.
    • However, even the most generously-timed quests can be well nigh (if not entirely) impossible to finish if they require you to go deep into a capital city and your computer isn't exactly new or your connection is bad. Putting timed quests in Orgrimmar is just cruel.
    • There is also something called the Boss Enrage Timer. Essentially in most raid boss battles, you have an invisible (though visible through the use of add-ons) timer in which the boss must be defeated in before it becomes Enraged. At this point in time, the damage of said boss will be multiplied immensely, usually resulting in a one hit kill to anyone still alive. Typically the timers are generous enough to where they're not an issue, and only exist to make sure a fight does not go on forever or won by a small number of players that just happen to continue to live through various means. However the Trope is also played straight as sometimes they're purposefully short resulting in the players needing to cause as much damage as possible in the short amount of time (referred to as a DPS race encounter). Unlike most Timed Missions, the boss is still killable after the timer ends and he becomes Enraged, it's just very unlikely. If it enrages at an extremely low amount of health, however, the players may be able to finish it off before everyone is finally killed off.
    • A few dungeons have timers, but not of the game-over variety. It's just that there are hostages held by the last boss, and getting there in time to come to the rescue gives you a bonus.
  • Guild Wars makes liberal use of this trope, though it (mostly) limits the timed aspect to bonuses: if all you want to do is get through the mission, you are free to take as long as you require; if you want all the rewards, however, you must complete it in under X minutes. "X" naturally ranges from extremely generous to Nintendo Hard.
  • Mabinogi has quite a few... They are usually quite generous with the clock though.
  • Every single Mission in EVE Online is this. They even have 2 separate timers. First, after a certain amount of time, you just lose a bit of extra payment, which isn't that bad. Then, 1 week after accepting the mission, it expires and you can get a new one.
    • Expeditions also qualify, in that you only get 24 hours to get to the Deadspace site where the Expedition takes place.

Platform Game

  • Every single level of the original Super Mario Bros., and some of its sequels. When the time is up, Mario dies for no explained reason.
    • The time limit is outright pointless in the automatically scrolling levels, though.
    • Particularly present in the last Bonus Level of Hell in Super Mario World, a very long stage that gives you only two minutes to complete it. Fortunately, you could get power-ups to extend the timer, making it quite possible to finish the level with more time than you started with.
      • Super Mario World also have another kind of timed mission, in the boss fights against Reznor (fortress boss): The floor progressively disappears, exposing a Lava Pit.
    • Taken to sadistic extremes in various ROM Hacks. With only scant amounts of time allotted for certain levels, players get forced into careless or hasty moves.
    • To get some of the shines in Super Mario Sunshine, you have to push a red button and grab 8 red coins before a time limit expires. You inexplicably die if time runs out.
    • There are also the Speedy Comets in Super Mario Galaxy (4 Minutes is plenty of time though).
      • However, some of the purple coin missions are also timed, and in those, time is very, very precious. For instance, the one-minute time limit in Ghostly Galaxy is enough to make that one That One Level.
      • The most annoying thing is even after you get 100 of the coins to make the star appear, the clock still counts down and it's possible to run out of time and die after making the star appear!
    • The Speed Run prankster comets re-appear in Super Mario Galaxy 2. On the one hand, the game does make it so that as soon as you complete the required objective (collect all the Purple Coins/Silver Stars, defeat a boss, etc.), the timer will stop (obviously doesn't apply if the star is out in the open and you just have to reach it in time). On the other hand, you get much less time on the clock, so speed does matter. In some of these runs, you get an absurdly short amount of time (like 20 seconds) and you have to extend the time by collecting stopwatches as you go.
    • "What does a bomb go off or something?" "No, you just-a die."
    • A possible explanation, as provided by Brawl in the Family.
  • Similarly, most of the earlier Sonic the Hedgehog games have a ten-minute time limit for individual stages. The more recent games aren't as strict, except for Sonic Adventure 2 which has quite a few timed levels - but with some justification, being both races against other characters (Rouge's stage in the vault, all of Tails' stages, the Sonic vs Shadow fight at the end of either story mode) or the environment (Sonic/Shadow's "escape from a doomed jungle" level; and also the fight at the end of either story mode, where the battlefield starts falling apart after ten minutes, since according to the cutscene immediately following the fight, the Eclipse cannon - Which Sonic is trying to stop - would have fired by then). Interestingly, the game doesn't make this fact very explicit.
    • And the fourth mission in every level in Sonic Adventure 2 except for the two driving levels is a timed mission. Some of them give you so much time that you barely even notice. Others...
  • Every Metroid game (except Metroid II) uses this trope at least once, and the vast majority of them are triggered by a Load-Bearing Boss. Metroid Prime mildly subverted this, however; a timed mission at the start is standard fare, but the expected timed mission after the final boss turns out to just be a Cutscene.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes had a particularly nasty version of this trope. After you defeat the 'final boss', the timer starts, giving you a limited amount of time to escape the doomed planet before its destruction. Then you are forced to fight the very definitely final boss during your escape, BEFORE that timer runs out.
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has four of these. First, Samus must defeat Ridley while falling down a long shaft, before hitting bottom; the remaining distance serves as a timer. Second, Samus has to reactivate the cannon on Norion before the Leviathan impacts and flattens the base. Third, after chasing the Space Pirates off, she has to repair an escape pod before she literally rides the bomb into another Leviathan. Finally, she has to defeat Dark Samus and Aurora Unit 313 before she becomes fully corrupted (damage sources take time off the clock while Anti-Phazon pickups put it back on, making this timer somewhat variable).
      • It should be noted, however, that in Corruption, two of the timed missions do not have a clock on-screen; instead, a voice radios in telling you how much time you have left. That is usually a sign to Take Your Time, since the voices in those games are usually scripted at regular locations so that your victory is Always Close. This is not the case with Corruption; they simply did not put a timer on the screen. You can run out of time.

AU242: Attention all personnel: meteor impact will occur in four minutes.
Spire Pod Computer: Five minutes until engine shutdown.

        • Actually, when you think about, the game didn't have an onscreen timer at all. As stated, one of your timers is your health, so it varies based on how many energy tanks you found and how often you heal or take damage. Two of the timers are announced. The only one that really counts as an actual timer is the one that shows up during your fight with Ridley, but even that one is just displaying how far from the bottom of the chasm you are rather than displaying an actual time limit.
    • Metroid Prime Hunters had a timed escape sequence after every boss, sometimes forcing you to fight one of the various Hunters on the way out.
  • In the original Prince of Persia the entire game is a timed mission, giving you one hour to complete it. (This is increased to two hours in the SNES version, since it has more levels.) You have an infinite number of lives, but get sent back to the beginning of the level when you die. An indicator at the bottom of the screen shows the time remaining at regular intervals, and at every death. Interestingly, the clock stops when you defeat the final boss, even though you still have to walk a bit from there to Save the Princess. The same happens when you are dead (although staying AFK for too long will cause the game to restart from the title screen - indicated by the blinking "PRESS A BUTTON TO CONTINUE" prompt)
    • Likewise, the sequel Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame, though the game timer doesn't start until after the first several levels.
  • Mega Man Zero had timed Boss Battles, as well.
    • A timed Final Boss Battle of the series which was a bitch to begin with! Justified, you are on a falling piece of machinery that is hurtling down to Earth, after all.
  • As you return from dropping off a Krazoa Spirit in Star Fox Adventures, the sole female Thorntail in the game can be heard making noise. Turns out some evil creatures are stealing her eggs. Ensues a Hold the Line mission where you have to keep them from exiting with any of the eggs for 100 seconds. Inexplicably, when their time runs out, any creature with an egg drops it and flees.
  • Done in Wario Land 4 and The Shake Dimension for certain levels. While usually you have to escape the level under a time limit once you reach the end (Stalked by the Bell), these levels actually start the escape timer either as soon as or a short while after the level starts, forcing you to run through the entire level under the time limit. This is the case with the Golden Passage in Wario Land 4, Lowdown Depths from Wario Land The Shake Dimension and Launchpad Labyrinth from same latter game.
  • Hideout Helm in Donkey Kong 64 is a Timed Mission. It's also a case where the amount of time you have is affected by how many Plot Coupons you've collected throughout the game.
    • The formula is a 10-minute base, and another minute for each blueprint piece you collected. 40 blueprint pieces means you can have up to 50 minutes. (Justified in-universe as the guy you bring them to needs more info to better sabotage the giant laser cannon). As one more side note, it's also a case of Time Keeps on Ticking, because the clock does run while you read the description of the game.
  • The final boss in Yoshi's Island is a timed mission. If you take to long to defeat him, the floor will cease to exist.
  • Some missions in the platformer I Ninja also qualify. One notorious example is having to outrun a fuse before it reaches the goal (and detonates it). Other missions are traditional timed missions.
  • When the final boss of Mega Man X 8 calls out the name of his special attack, "Paradise Lost", the players have less than 30 seconds to finish him off.
  • A variation from the original Donkey Kong Country. "Tanked Up Trouble", a late-game Underground Level, requires you to consistently jump into fuel cans to keep a Temporary Platform riding on a path that winds throughout the stage. If for whatever reason you're on some scaffolding by the time your platform drops off the track, your character will act as if you've just lost a bonus stage and you'll get booted back to the world map, minus one life.
    • You can turn this moderately frustrating situation into something amusing as well as justifying the lost life by playing as Diddy and positioning him next to the edge of the platform: as his "bonus game lost" animation consists of him throwing his cap to the ground and stomping on it, he ends up throwing it down the Bottomless Pit below and jumping after it.
    • It is justified in that if the platform falls there is no way to get out of the level without jumping and dying.
  • Many in Jak and Daxter. Many of those are also Nintendo Hard.
  • Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? has an eight minute time limit on each level, and a three minute limit on boss fights. Fortunately, the timer resets every time you lose a life. Which is often.
  • N: Your ninja can only live for a certain amount of time. For him to survive longer, he must find gold, which inexplicably extends his survival time.
  • Iji in the Ultimortal difficulty mode. The timer stops for boss fights, but not for the "sub-boss" fight against Assassin Asha in sector X.
  • With few exceptions, each stage in Purple has a time limit running out of which kills you.
  • New Super Marisa Land's time limits seem reasonable, at first... until you notice that the "seconds" tick down twice as fast as they really should. Thus, a stage that gives you a time of 150, is actually giving you under a minute and a half to complete it. Have fun!
  • Each stage in Athena has a time limit, which can be extended by picking up hourglasses.
  • In The Quest of Ki, each level has to be completed within a time limit, which depending on the level can be anywhere from 30 seconds to 180 seconds (with one exception). Like The Tower of Druaga, powerups can give you more time or make the timer run out more quickly.
  • Most of the earlier Castlevania games had level timers. The more exploration-oriented Vampire Killer and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest were exceptions to this rule.
  • In Miner 2049er, every station has to be completed within a time limit. If the "Miner Timer" runs out, Bounty Bob dies instantly. The Excuse Plot barely manages to Hand Wave this by referring to the presence of radiation in the mine.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Oddly enough, the NES version had level timers and the Arcade Game didn't.

Puzzle Game


Guy 1: That clock is gonna keep ticking until it reaches 999!
Guy 2: What happens then?
Guy 1: Nothing. You just suck.

  • The entirety of Tetris the Grand Master 2 's T.A. Death mode and TGM3 's Sakura, Master, and Shirase modes are Timed Missions. Sakura mode requires you to complete a set of stages within each stage's time limit. T.A. Death, TGM3 Master, and Shirase have checkpoints that terminate your game early if you reach them too slowly.
  • Half Minute Hero - The eponymous hero only has thirty seconds to stop the Evil Overlord from casting a spell that can destroy the world. Fortunately for him, the Goddess of Time is his ally and he can pay her to reset the clock.

Real Time Strategy

  • Pandemic is a timed game, you have a set number of days until humankind creates a vaccine to destroy you (The Virus) There is a chance that the vaccine will backfire though, making you immune to all future vaccines.
    • This is also a rare example of where you can lengthen the timer - the more hospitals that are shut down, the longer it takes to make the vaccine. If all or almost all of them shut, or there's hardly anyone left alive, the timer is set to 'infinity'.
  • Timed missions occasionally happen in Real Time Strategy games, too. It's rare that a RTS timed mission will fail completely if the timer runs out, though; the effect is more often along the lines of "destroy this secondary base before the timer runs out and it won't send the engineers to repair the bridge, which will make it easier to destroy the main base as it won't get reinforcements". If the timer runs out before you've killed the first base you'll have to fight it, the other one and the reinforcements all at the same time, and the game will get harder. Some players deliberately wait for the timer to run out before engaging the enemy because they love the challenge. See also Unstable Equilibrium.
    • In the Rise of Nations campaign, most missions are timed. When defending, you have to survive for 90 minutes. Impatient players can end the game faster by going on the offensive and wiping them out.
  • Likewise, the entirety of the first Pikmin game is a timed mission. You have 30 days to get 30 spaceship parts, but you can still get a good ending if you get most of the parts.
  • World in Conflict has many, many time-based objectives. Some of them are secondary, some don't even have a timer on screen, but several are mission-critical. One mission is timed entirely, another one is pretty much over when the timed objective is achieved.
    • Given that you have no unit-producing base to destroy and that you're able to deploy lost units after a short time without end, either a Timed Mission or an Escort Mission (possibly a Hold the Line variant where you must protect a stationary objective or prevent the enemy from reaching a given point) is neccesary for there to be any chance of failure at all.
    • Multiplayer matches also always have a time limit. If it runs out before any side achieves a clear victory, the team closer to it wins.
  • Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne has one in the Night Elf campaign, in which you have to kill 4 summoners (all thankfully in the same place) before they finish casting a spell.
  • StarCraft has at least one in the expansion campaign. Kerrigan has to recapture the Matriarch before the Protoss can teleport her away. Finishing with more than 5 minutes remaining out of the original 25-minute timer unlocks the secret mission.
    • StarCraft II has a lot of timed missions, though not always in an explicit "timer on screen" way. For instance, one mission has you assault trains that are sent through the area in regular intervals (depending on the difficulty). You are only allowed to miss a few trains, too (again depending on difficulty). Others are loosely timed by factors such as opponents trying to reach the same goal as you do, or certain conditions that make the mission harder to beat the more time passes (such as clearing out buildings infested by zerg that send out masses of infested terrans at night, or escorting a number of civilians as more and more zerg land on the planet).
      • Several achievements also impose time limits on missions that usually don't have one.
  • The now freeware game Warzone 2100 has nearly all the missions being Timed Mission. Even worse are the transport mission, which you need to wait for your transport to bring your unit into field, 10 units per trip. It can be taxing on new players.
    • Largely justified given the nature of resources, as oil sources will never deplete and you do not need to have units running them, and the fact that your units, structures, and resources persist throughout the campaign, if they didn't use a time limit you could very easily corner the enemy and amass massive amounts of resources, making the game far too simple. Infact, as the first mission isn't timed, you could infact build up a healthy amount early on that can easily carry you through the first dozen or so missions with little problem. The game also usually gives you a generous amount of time, so in the end the timed nature of the missions comes more out of balance purposes than actually presenting a challenge.
  • The whole campaign of Earth 2150: Escape from the Blue Planet is a timed mission. You only have 180 in-game days to collect resources and send it to the evacuation ship construction before Earth is doomed, with the clock still running while you do missions (however, the weather only advances as you complete missions). The expansion packs The Moon Project and Lost Souls have no time limit.
  • For some reason passing understanding the default setting in the Total War series is to have time limits on tactical battles. This can be particularly frustrating if one is attacking a settlement because wall-taking and street fighting are much slower than field battles, mostly because units refuse to break and run. Thankfully the time limits can be turned off.
  • Lost Magic. Defeat all the enemies on this screen in five minutes? Okay! WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN THEY RESPAWN?
  • Close Combat 2 did this in a fairly realistic and fun way. As allied paratroopers land throughout the Netherlands, the defending Germans begin rigging several key bridges for demolition. The allied player must try to seize these bridges before the timer reaches zero and the explosives are successfully placed. However, the German player may choose to keep the bridge standing if he feels he can inflict greater damage this way (e.g. by using the bridge to lure the allied player into attacking recklessly). On the other hand, even when he chooses to destroy the bridge, there is a non-trivial chance that it will fail to explode, and likewise, even the successful capture by the allies doesn't seem to completely secure it. If it fails to explode, however, the timer will reset to a minute or so, after which the German player gets a second chance. Even when the bridge is blown, the game isn't over. In Son and Veghel, a Baily Bridge can be constructed, after a considerable delay; if the Arnhem Rail Bridge is lost, the Arnhem Bridge and ferry both remain (though neither presents an easy fight).
  • In the fourth "Disorder" mission of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Winter Assault, you have to destroy a convoy before it reaches a gate. Then, you have to stop the Eldar from teleporting there (or get a unit past the gate before they can), or you still lose.

Rhythm Game

  • In addition to being Luck-based, the "Guitar Battles" in Guitar Hero III are also timed. At the end of the song, you lose by default.
    • At least at one point, it was possible to win the first two one-player guitar battles on points at the end of the songs, on the easiest difficulty setting - just very unlikely due to the asymmetry of the parts.

Role Playing Game

  • The fights with Demyx in Kingdom Hearts 2 tend to be easy, right until the moment a time limit to defeat a certain number of his minions is arbitrarily invoked. Especially annoying as only a particular special move seems effective regardless of how strong the player actually is.
    • The game also neglects to tell you that fire spells are actually Super Effective against water clones as opposed to thunder spells.
      • That's because the game actually has no Water Element in it - Demyx is a Blizzard Elemental enemy, which is closest to Water physically in the element trio (since ice is technically water), but makes no sense otherwise.
    • It's actually possible to avoid the "10 forms in 10 seconds" minigame with a well-timed Knocksmash, usually when Demyx is a bar of HP or two away from death. It's more difficult on Proud Mode, naturally, since he must be lower in HP for it to actually kill him, but still doable. Whether it can be accomplished on Critical Mode is currently unclear, but it saves a major headache if it is.
  • In Oboro-maru's mission in Live a Live, in order to rescue the prisoner, you have to defeat a certain boss, but in order to actually kill him, you need to kill the spirits he maintains, otherwise he will rejuvenate, You only have a limited amount of time before all spirits reappear, making this very tedious.
  • Several of these can be seen in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. The first is when the brothers meet Hoohooros on their way up the mountain.
    • A variation occurs near the end of the game, in the battles with the Koopa Kids. While you have all the time in the world to pick your moves, you must win within a certain number of turns. A bomb on-screen keeps track of how many are left.
    • Bowser's Inside Story has the fight with the Fawful Express - 100 kilomoles from the starting position is a bridge that can support the train's weight but not Bowser's. The train holds a MacGuffin onboard, along with lots of loot from Bowser's Castle, and... do I need to explain any more?
  • Romancing SaGa was full of them: Especially the Fatestone missions (you had to get them before a certain number of battles fought or you would be unable to get them)
  • In Final Fantasy V, the party is given a ten-minute time limit to escape from Karnak Castle before it explodes. While it's easy to go straight to the exit in a minute or two, the real challenge is in picking up all the items that will be Lost Forever if they're not acquired in time. (Duplicates of most of them can be acquired much later on, though.)
    • FFV used the mechanic two more times, once when the summon beast Odin gives you sixty seconds to defeat him before he hands you a game over, and once when you have the option to dive into a sunken tower to retrieve the crystal piece for the bonus class Mimic. This latter one is especially tricky because to get the crystal, you must face a Puzzle Boss, taking up more of your time.
      • Odin also pulls the timed battle again in Final Fantasy VIII, where the clock starts as soon as you enter the area on the map he resides in. What makes this worse is you will hit Random Encounters on the way to Odin, which will waste time if you try to fight or flee. Luckily, you can gain the ability to turn off random fights to save time.
      • In fact, in pretty much any Final Fantasy game where you have to fight Odin, you're on a timer, sometimes visible, sometimes not. If you don't defeat him before the timer expires, he hits you with Zantetsuken, which kills your party instantly.
  • Lampshaded in Final Fantasy VI where Ultros the octopus, who wishes to interrupt an opera scene by dropping a weight on one of the - moving - main characters on stage, explicitly states "This is heavier than I thought! It'll take me five minutes to drop it!", and you have exactly five minutes to stop him.
  • Final Fantasy VII has the first Mako Reactor mission, where the time limit is more than generous (if it started during the boss battle, it would be a different story, but it's easy to reach the objective with more than seven minutes remaining). Much, much later in the game, the timer shows up again when you have to figure out a puzzle lock before an automatic shutdown permanently seals it shut, and when you have to reach the front of a train (with a boss battle on each of the three cars, even) before it crashes into a settlement and deprives you of the MacGuffin.
    • In the remake, the battle with the Aircrusher. Storywise, Jessie learns from the previous mission and gives you a bomb with a remote detonator, the intent being to activate from a safe distance. However, when the Aircrusher arrives, Heidegger uses a set of drones to hack the bomb and start the countdown himself. (While the bomb going off would further Avalanche's goals and cost Shinra a lot, Heidegger feels that if it succeeds after the public witnesses a broadcast of the Avalanche members slain by the Aircrusher, it would both demonize Avalanche and make them see Heidegger as a hero.) Thus, the player has 22 minutes to defeat the Aircrusher and escape, which is easier said than done.
  • Final Fantasy VIII has those in almost every mission.
    • But remember: if the timer isn't running, you can take your time, even if it seems urgent. Damsel hanging by her fingernails over a deadly drop? There's no timer so by all means delegate the task, do some random battles, have a cutscene, make a speech, complete some options, bactrack a bit, some more battles, hijack a jetpack, and...oh, yeah, is she still hanging there? However, time is an important factor to determine your SEED rank, which in turn determines your income.
  • In X-Men Legends, there's a mission involving a sinking aircraft carrier. Jean Grey is telekinetically holding it together (thus rendering her unplayable for that mission), and its sheer size means she can't do it forever.
  • Shin Megami Tensei has a few, the most notable being in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, when The Joker (A psychotic grinning maniac not to be confused with a more popular psychotic grinning maniac) lights the air and space museum on fire. You have a half-hour to find all the kids and evacuate them to the roof before the building burns down. However, it takes roughly 25 minutes to get to the top, followed by a pretty dangerous boss fight. At least it was justified! Also, strangely enough the items aren't too far off the beaten path, you only lose about a minute to gather them up.
    • Speaking of Persona 2, Innocent Sin has one in which you're given 30 minutes to beat the boss and escape from the Music Hall before a bomb explodes. This can be done easily in less than 10 minutes, making the Always Close moment that follows even more, well, stupid.
    • Persona 3 has another example, in which the SEES members must fight their way to the front of a monorail and defeat the boss there within eight minutes, or else the train will crash into another train, killing everyone aboard.
    • Every mission in Persona 4. You have roughly two or three weeks to rescue the victim or else, they will die! The ability to Take Your Time is quite limited here.
    • Devil Survivor has a mission where you have to kill six demons within three turns; while failing to do so won't give you a Game Over, it'll still have a negative effect on which Multiple Endings you'll be able to go for. Also, some of the missions where you have to protect civilians can become this, as the AI has a nasty tendency to completely ignore you and pick on them instead. Get those Wilder-type demons ready...
  • In the original Fallout, you have 150 days to find the replacement water chip. You can extend the time limit by 100 days by buying water from a caravan. After you complete the task, you have 500 days to stop the mutant invasion... but if you bought water, the limit is 400 days, because the caravan left tracks the mutants follow. (Because this latter limit cripples world exploration, it was removed in a patch.)
    • Fallout 3's "The Pitt" downloadable content has an interesting take on this: when you go to fight in the arena, the area has several barrels of radioactive waste. Consequently, the "timer" is the radiation meter that counts up to a lethal dose, and players can mess with the timer by taking Rad-X or RadAway medicine.
    • Fallout: New Vegas is full of Continue Your Mission, Dammit!, but one mission is timed by the scripted sequence; protecting the NCR president from assassination. Once figured out, it's trivially easy.
  • Lost Odyssey has two timed missions: one in which the party has twelve minutes (complete with timer) to escape a collapsing ocean platform, and one without a visible timer in which the party must defeat four giant monsters before any of them can reach the coastline and start ravaging the countryside.
  • In The Magic Candle, the whole game is a Timed Mission. The all-powerful demon Dreax is going to escape his magical prison in 1000 days (the number's lower on harder difficulties). That's how long you have to fix the thing. Just one problem: between figuring out how it's done and getting the necessary supplies, you'll have to go pretty much everywhere in the world first.
  • All of the guild/noble/merchant missions in The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall are timed in days of travel. Some of the main quest missions are also timed, but, even then, the time limit is very liberal for average gameplay. And traveling "Recklessly" can help. As a whole, Daggerfall plays close attention to its own internal calendar.
    • The most annoying timed mission in the game occurs after you assist a maid from Castle Daggerfall and she sends you to a location in another city to meet a contact. The contact will only be there for one specified day! As if it wasn't bad enough, the date the maid gives is wrong and the one in your personal journal should be trusted instead.
  • A quest near the end of the main questline in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion requires you to shut down the final Oblivion gate before a Doomsday machine of sorts gets through. Humorously, no matter how far back the machine is when you close the gate, it's always just about to get through when you get back out.
    • There's also the sidequest "A Brotherhood Betrayed", where you have three days to track down and defeat a murderer disguised as a vampire hunter, or he'll escape Cyrodill to Morrowind.
  • A glitch variant in the second Ar tonelico game, non-Japan release only: Due to a bug in the code, on the sixth attack (not turn) of the penultimate boss Raki, the game freezes, because the buffer can't handle the attack. Combines with Luck-Based Mission in that who gets first strike is random, and depending on how your spells go, you might not have a good enough spell, even boosted with Replekia, to cut 80% of the enemy's life.
  • Final Fantasy XII's optional Esper boss, Zalera, posits a unique scenario. You have to defeat him within five minutes, otherwise he will eject you from the battlefield and back to the last room. While this is annoying because he's invincible as long as he has Mooks around, it can also be helpful because the party is sent back to a Save Crystal, which restore all characters to perfect condition when touched. So, unless the battle ends in a total party wipe, the time limit isn't really much of a penalty.
  • Knights in The Nightmare has its battlefields limited by number of turns, and every turn on a one-minute timer. Interestingly, this 'time' resource only counts down while charging up an attack or if the Wisp hit by an enemy bullet. Makes sense, as the Wisp is a spiritual entity trying to complete its objectives before it runs out of energy and ceases to exist.
  • Averted in Marvel Ultimate Alliance. In Atlantis, you have to get a certain item back to Namorita within 2 minutes, which would be pretty much impossible, to the point that even the heroes complain that that isn't nearly enough time. So Namorita simply opens a portal back to her location.
  • Mass Effect has a few timed objectives. However, they are designed so that most players will succeed with time to spare if they are even halfway competent. The exception is the race to reach the Conduit at the end of Ilos. Without a timer, the player would probably attempt to engage the geth armatures defending the Conduit. The timer forces the player to simply floor it, usually reaching the Conduit with around 10 seconds to spare. And you can fail with 10 seconds left if you lag, because it seems to be 40 REAL TIME seconds.
    • The timers may be generous, but the very first Timed Mission requires you to find and disarm four detonators whose locations aren't highlighted on your map—while fighting through catwalks full of geth with rocket launchers. It's easy-ish when you know where to look, not so much on your first playthrough.
    • Mass Effect 2 gives you another one in the form of Legion's loyalty quest. Regardless of whether you choose to blow up the geth ship or reprogram the heretics, you get three minutes to escape or else you die.
      • The Arrival DLC uses timers for dramatic effect in the second half of the mission. On entering Project Base, Shepard is informed that the scientists know to the minute when the Reapers will arrive because of signal being broadcast by the local Artifact of Doom. They've helpfully filled the base with large digital countdown clocks, and failing to activate the Project and destroy the Alpha Relay before they run out treats you to a cutscene of the Reapers destroying galactic civilisation. Fortunately, the timer's so generous the only way to fail is to deliberately stand around to see what happens. Of far more concern is a second timer at the end of the mission. After activating the Project and running to the landing pad you're treated to a dramatic view of the Alpha Relay in the sky above you: It's getting bigger. Rapidly. And yes, taking too long to dispatch the last wave of enemies will result in the base slamming into the relay with Shepard still on board.
  • Dragon Quest VII has an unusual variation during Engow's Festival of Flame. The festival involves throwing torches into a volcano in honor of their God of Flame; however, if the ceremony is completed this time, it'll set off an eruption. Unable to prevent the festival from moving forward, the heroes must nagivate through the volcano's maze-like innards and make their way to the core; as you move between areas, the procession slowly advances... Get hopelessly lost and spend too much time wandering around, and the ceremony will finish, with unpleasant consequences.
  • The first Fable game has a single timed mission: Save the Archeologist. It involves making your way down a winding seaside path to stop a purportedly important NPC from being boarded onto a ship of doom, or something. You're given less than five minutes, and, along the way, you have to fight several dozen minions (ie the toughest melee enemies in the game)... basically, if you haven't thought to pick up Slow Time and a good Area of Effect spell, you're just not going to beat the clock. Thank Avo that you don't need to keep your guard escort alive as one of the victory conditions.
  • Used twice in Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia. First, you have a few minutes to board an enemy cargo ship before it departs. Strangely enough, it's stealth-reliant, and if you get caught, the enemies (Unaware that you're here to stop them.) escort you back to the beginning, before resetting their timer due to delays you just caused. The second instance is on board that same cargo ship, in the more urgent situation of trying to stop the ship from sinking. You have to get to the flooded lower portions and force a removed valve back in place, or Ship Sinks Everyone Drowns.
    • It's used twice again in Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs, under similar circumstances. You have two minutes to get onto a submarine that doubles as the Pokemon Pincher's Base. Later, you have ten minutes to climb to the top of the now flooding submarine and open the hatch to free everyone before Sub Floods Everyone Drowns.
  • Apparently in Pokémon Black and White, Black City/White Forest will be empty if you do not beat the Elite Four in 10 real-life days since the file was created. After that, you can only repopulate it by inviting NPCs from other copies of the same game.
    • From the same game, the Poké Transfer Lab. To make things worse, you only get to take the Pokémon you catch in the minigame.
  • Dragon Slayer Jr.: Romancia had a 30-minute time limit for the entire game. This was removed in the significantly expanded NES version.
  • Space Rangers is an interesting example. While it does have the standard timed missions, both games sport a complex AI system that allows both the Coalition and the Klissans/Dominators to act independently from the player's actions. As such, while you're traversing the universe doing whatever, major battles are fought in the background. If the Coalition loses control of all sectors, you are automatically given an instant Nonstandard Game Over, regardless of what you were doing beforehand.
  • The fight against Koru in Legend of Legaia. You have four turns to defeat him, and then... BOOM! Koru explodes, vaporizing half the region, dealing 9999 damage to each of your characters, and instantly giving you a Game Over.
    • Subverted in Duel Saga with the fight against the Mighty Balken. The fight is played up to be a timed fight against the drawbridge closing. Even if the time runs out, when you defeat Balken, he collapses and the shock of his fall opens the drawbridge and allows for your escape.

Shoot Em Up

  • In Star Control II if you don't finish the game before the Kohr-Ah genocide your world, the game is a loss.
  • The old Prohibition's entire gameplay consisting in shooting enemies before a set timer expires (said timer starts at 2 to 5 seconds depending on the enemy).
  • Minubeat gives you 60 seconds, from start to finish, to get to the final boss and destroy him. Should you run out of time, your ship explodes.
  • Einhander has the sixth mission where you have to destroy two rocket engines, or else you get a Nonstandard Game Over. Failing to beat the Final Boss within a hidden time limit causes it to finish you off with an unavoidable Wave Motion Gun.
  • Ai Cho Aniki, instead of conventional Video Game Lives, has a series of hourglasses that slowly drain over the course of levels and even more when you die.
  • Touhou Eiyashou ~ Imperishable Night is this as a whole: the game starts at 11:00, and adds time for every level/continue. If the clock reaches 5:00, you lose.

Simulation Game

  • Speaking of timed missions in every level, there are the Trauma Center games. It's part of what makes the games so wonderfully Nintendo Hard. It is somewhat justified though, as you're performing emergency surgery. Trauma Team does away with the timer for most missions, since they're not necessarily emergency procedures.
  • In Animal Crossing: Wild World, your neighbors will sometimes give you rigidly-defined time periods in which to deliver a letter or package to its recipient. Naturally, you don't have to return to them within this limit in order to succeed; merely deliver the package.
    • City Folk brings this back, along with some animals who want to play hide and seek with you, giving you 10 minutes to find them and their friends.
  • The Ace Combat series is nothing but timed missions, even when they shouldn't (like being escorted). Luckily, the limits are so ridiculously relaxed that they are, for all intents and purposes, non existent. Ace Combat 5's Arcade Mode has a pretty short timer for each mission, but you earn more time with each kill. The early games used a fuel meter, which made it plausible, though it led to an Instant Win Condition as you could complete a mission with 1% fuel left and not have to worry about RTB.
    • Maybe the fuel gauge only measures the time until the absolute critical point (bingo fuel) - past that, you don't have enough fuel to make it back unless you have a friendly refueling plane somewhere nearby.
  • The Wing Commander series has these pop up from time to time
  • Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge had a subtle one in a lategame mission, where a giant zeppelin-"eater" shows up. Being invincible from the outside, you had to fly a plane inside to destroy its core. Taking too long would lead to it destroying Nathan's zeppelin and a game over, but you wouldn't know that there was a time limit till you saw the cutscene where that happens.
    • Not to mention the three other bosses in the game;
      • Sea Haven: Destroy the giant spider-tank before it reaches (and demolishes) Doc's lab.
      • Navajo Nation: damage the worm boss enough before it destroys a friendly Navajo zeppelin.
      • Final Boss: destroy all the weak spots on Von Essen's giant tornado-making ship before he can tear apart Chicago.
  • Afterburner Climax has two invisible-timer bits, namely the parts where you have to hunt down the prototype plane and the B-2. If you fall too far behind you would miss out on them, but even if you kept them in sight, if you didn't splash them in time the mission will still make you let them go. The B-2 chase is particularly annoying because you need to gun it down.
  • Most of the missions you get from stations in X3: Terran Conflict have ridiculously short timers for no other reason than to make them harder. Hey Station Guy, if it's really that important to fetch your Vendor Trash in under 11 minutes, go buy your own freighter. Bonus points for Station Guy not telling you how much cargo space said Vendor Trash requires.
  • One of the things that makes Project Sylpheed so... interesting is that EVERY MISSION is one of these... but they don't tell you that. Nope, there's no timer,one somewhat cryptic and low-key warning at 5 minutes, and then boom. Game over. The fact that the time given is the same for every mission regardless of difficulty only makes things worse.

Sports Game

Stealth Based Game

  • Metal Gear Solid 2 subverts, or perhaps parodies, this trope in its Tanker episode to complete a mission before the commandant's speech ends. If time runs out, he decides to extend the speech and the timer is similarly extended a couple of minutes. If this extra time elapses, however, Nonstandard Game Over results.
    • The original Metal Gear Solid spoofed this too. At the end, the base is under threat from an air strike. A counter starts in the corner, solely to 'give a sense of urgency', as stated by the director - even if the timer reaches 0, nothing actually happens. (In story, the air strike was not going to happen anyway.) The game revolves around an 18-hour deadline which also never becomes an issue, partly for plot reasons, and partly because of the brevity of the game.
    • The Metal Gear series does have a few straight examples though. In the first game, escaping Shadow Moses at the end of the game is timed. In the second game, there are three. Two of them involve disabling a bomb before it explodes, and the other involves reaching the Shell 1's core before Emma dies. In the third game, Volgin is a timed boss battle, as is The Boss. In the fourth game, once again, escaping Shadow Moses is timed. In Portable Ops, reaching ICBMG's launch Silo is timed.
  • Two missions in a row give you this in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood.
    • First, you have to kill four enemies and meet up with other assassins in 5 minutes. It's actually pretty generous, but combined with the fact that you can't be detected it creates a frantic situation.
    • The mission right afterwards, you have to carry someone to a doctor before he's poisoned. There's no strict time limit, but his health meter sure is going down fast...
    • Additionally, several (optional) full sync requirements make you complete a mission in a certain amount of time.
  • Assassin's Creed II also had several timed missions.
    • About half of the tombs have timers in them, requiring you to make various platform jumps in a short window. These missions are optional.
    • Many side missions also have timed elements, especially courier missions.
    • Worst of all is a required mission called "And They're Off" where you have to hit sixteen markers on a map in two minutes. This requires almost perfect execution - you have maybe ten seconds of slack, so missing a move (due to your character not jumping in exactly the direction you wanted, or the camera position changing making you jump in an entirely different direction, or starting to climb a building when you didn't want to, etc.) will make you fail and have to redo the entire mission from scratch. It's not uncommon for players to have spent an hour or two trying to beat the clock.
  1. Fail to deal with an elemental by the third day after it appears, and it destroys the city