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And there's one more important piece of advice for you. So listen up! Time keeps on ticking even as you are reading this message!
Yoshi's Island DS Time Trial mode message box

So, you've just beaten a Load-Bearing Boss, and are escaping from the Collapsing Lair. Or you're on a timed mission and need to beat a certain level before the timer runs out and your character inexplicably dies for no apparent reason. You keep going, and come across another character, beginning a cut scene...

Hey, why's the timer still going? Why is it still counting down even though I'm stuck listening to this loud mouth going on a long philosophical Motive Rant? Heck, did I just die in the cut scene?

As can be seen above, this is simply when the timer continues going through events that in all fairness should not be affected by it. Examples include during cut scenes and other periods where the player's control over the character is removed, to the point where they can die without any way of preventing it, or when going through the inventory or saving the game. A possible sub trope of Fake Difficulty, as this is one of those things that averts a common and rather beneficial Acceptable Break from Reality.

If it happens while you're paused, it could also be a Bladder of Steel.

Examples of Time Keeps on Ticking include:

  • Wario Land 1 had the timer continue during the cut scene before the final boss, and Wario Land The Shake Dimension had it continue in the rather long cut scene between the two phases of the final boss battle.
  • Super Smash Bros/ Brawl and Melee have this during the pause screen in some areas, like the Target Tests. Probably justifiable in that case, as pausing the game also gives you a good look at where all the targets are.
  • Yoshi's Island DS actually mocks the player with this, with the message boxes being replaced by taunts saying things like "Lost time!"
  • Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland for Game Boy Advance
  • In Final Fantasy V, at one point you have to escape a castle before it explodes. Just when you think you're out, you get ambushed by a boss that insists on talking to you before attacking while the timer is still counting down. If you don't beat the boss before the timer ends, you're done for.
    • In any of the Final Fantasy games with timers on them, the timer keeps running while you're in the menu screen, although you can stop it by pausing in battle.
  • Persona 2: Innocent Sin has a bit where you have to defeat a boss, find a certain item and then escape a building before it explodes. This whole thing is on a timer which runs even while the menu's open, and you can't save during it.
  • Metroid games generally keep the timers of their (frequent) timed missions going during elevators and cut-scenes, but generally not when you pause.
  • In Animal Crossing: Wild World, when a villager gives you a package and a specific time limit for delivery, he means that amount of time. The games do run in real time, after all.
    • Another frustration in Wild World is the lack of a quick way to switch among various tools. Catching certain insects (bees and underground/rock-dwellers) is annoying and difficult as they run away while you open the menu to grab your net. (The Game Cube game pauses bugs while some menus are open; City Folk switches tools with the Wii Remote's Control Pad.)
  • In Chapter 2 of Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door, after Lord Crump activates the self-destruct sequence in the Great Tree, the timer keeps ticking even while you're fighting the Mooks that get in your way. Heck, it even keeps going while the Puni elder is shouting at him. Fortunately, it does pause on the menu screens. Not sure why you'd need the pause menu at this point, though, except maybe to heal yourself before the boss battle. Hold on to your items; there's a Refresh Block next to the Save Block right before the battle.
  • Perfect Dark has a level that does the opposite - to get a cheat, you have to do it in a certain time, but there is a part where you are forced to wait for a door to unlock that takes nearly half that time. If you start the lock and then start a cutscene, the door keeps unlocking but the level timer pauses.
    • There is another unrelated, but very annoying example in the level Area 51: Infiltration. Immediately skipping the cutscene leads you to discover that the guards were walking in a real time game during the cutscene; you were just invisible. Just so happens skipping the opener right away has a guard already staring at you (At least in the 360 version, I'm not sure if this happens in the N64 version) with a sentry gun and two more guards just slightly to your right. So, to be safe, you get to watch the minute and a half or so cutscene all the way through every time you fail!
  • Resident Evil 4, at least in the part with a timer.
    • Same for the self destruct mechanisms in previous games. Luckily, the clock didn't start until a certain point and there was usually a generous amount of time since you were already at or near the final battle.
  • Live action TV example: In Dinner Impossible, the timer starts ticking almost as soon as the head chef meets the people for whom he's supposed to cook.
  • Before the banquet in Final Fantasy VI, you are given four minutes to talk to as many soldiers as possible. If you come across Kefka, he gets an extended conversation that uses up 20 seconds minimum. What's more, Kefka doesn't count as a soldier in the final talley - the only reason you're allowed to talk to him is as a trap to use up time.
    • Also, early in the game you have to stop Ultros from dropping a weight on Celes, which he helpfully states it will take him five minutes to finish moving. Between your party and him is a walkway infested with rats, which trigger unescapable battles when touched. Even with high enough levels (which you really don't want because of the Esper stat bonus you can't gain yet) and good equipment, you still have to figure out how to encounter as few enemies as possible to even make it to him.
  • In the first Baldur's Gate, the game would un-pause whenever you went into a character's inventory. The intent was to keep you from being able to do things like change armor during combat, but it was pretty frustrating when you forgot to, say, pre-equip a potion or arrows. This was fixed in the sequel; you were simply prohibited from changing armor during battle.
    • Fortunately, you could start it as a multiplayer game even without other players joining to keep it from doing that.
  • In the reactor escape in Final Fantasy VII, the timer elapses while you're in the menu. It's not much of a problem, due to the brevity of the level.
    • When escaping Dollet in Final Fantasy VIII, the timer also ticks down while in the menu. You have 30 minutes to escape, though, so it's not a big deal... unless you're trying to get a SeeD ranking of 10.
  • During the big cutscene before the Volgin fight in Metal Gear Solid 3, Snake has just set the building up to explode. Volgin goes on a classic Metal Gear villain Motive Rant, but The Sorrow spends much of the cutscene holding up a timer to remind you of how long you have left. If you skip the cutscene, you'll have time from then to defeat Volgin with. In harder difficulty modes, there's a danger of the bomb actually going off during the cutscene and killing you unless you skip it early on.
    • Similar happens during the end of Metal Gear Solid. Liquid sets up a bomb that goes off in three minutes, then talks about what Snake could sp0end that time doing, wasting thirty seconds of the time, and giving you just 2:30 to beat him. If you fail and die, then continue, or skip the cutscene, you get the full three minutes.
  • Star Wars: Rogue Leader had this. Its sequel didn't.
  • Another live TV example is 24. This is quite telling when it's recut for non-American television and the commercials are missing (meaning 24 becomes about 18...)
  • In Dead Rising, you have to talk to survivors before they join your party. There are a few painfully long conversations through which you have to mash the A button while the clock ticks down on other survivors in the mall.
  • Tomb Raider: Anniversary has some cutscenes that where the clock keeps ticking during Time Trials.
    • This is particularly annoying with door-unlocking cutscenes. To exit the "St. Francis Folly" and "Midas" levels, you must open multi-stage locks. Each stage of unlocking has its own cutscene that takes up time.
    • However, the clock does not keep running during interactive cutscenes, aka "action events", where the right key must be pressed at the right time during the cutscene.
  • Played painfully straight in Puzzle Quest: Galactrix. Pausing the game does not pause the timer on the Leapgate-hacking game.
    • Also the original Puzzle Quest, which only really matters when your turn is on a timer (i.e. training mounts).
  • Game Show example: The final round of Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? involved competitors trying to get through a maze of gates. In order to open a gate, a question had to be answered correctly, the questions were not all the same length, and the voice asking them spoke rather slowly. Oh, and there was a strict time limit, which didn't stop while the question was being asked.
    • Family Feud also has this, but the timer is not nearly as strict.
  • During timed comet challenges in Super Mario Galaxy, the timer doesn't stop until you touch the star at the end of the level (not, say, when you've collected the 100th purple coin), which leads to many a Kaizo Trap for those who aren't paying attention. Thankfully this was removed in Super Mario Galaxy 2... with the timer now stricter than ever.
  • Probably unintentional in World of Goo where you have to watch an intro screen showing the name of each level, which cuts into the level play time; although this can be avoided by simply pressing retry immediately after starting which doesn't show the intro screen. (especially useful when you are on a level that needs to be done within a certain time limit to get full completion)
  • Time Crisis 1 had this. Plus instant Game Over upon time-out, and time extensions depndent on skill.
  • The Nintendo Hard Bullet Hell NES Shoot'Em Up Recca. There's a time limit constantly counting down, if it reaches 0 it's Game Over and it still counts down even when the game was paused!
  • Generally the case for speed runs for games which have no "total play time" display and thus must be timed externally (or for games whose "total play time" display includes pausing, menus, and the like).
  • In Half Minute Hero, Normal difficulty stops the clock inside towns. Hard mode does not, forcing the player to manage his time even more strictly. The Time Goddess also does this as punishment if you try to short-change her on the money she requests for a prayer.
  • An unusual form appeared in Twisted Metal 2. Pausing the game did not suspend projectiles in the air (notable exception: rolling ricochet bombs), so you could get hit by a missile and die on the pause screen! This worked both ways: if an enemy was about to dodge your shot, press pause and it freezes your target so you get an easy hit.
  • Okami's timed missions allow you to pause the game with no benefit, but using the Celestial Brush (which freezes everything on screen) doesn't stop the clock. This is justified, though, since you are actually doing things with that time.
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