From the Super Mario Wiki
A Time Limit (or simply Time) is instituted in almost every platformer game, and its basic purpose is to notify the player of how much time is allotted to complete a level or task. It is a prominent element in the Mario platformer games. When the time limit decreases to below 100 seconds, the "hurry up" jingle traditionally plays to warn that the player is low on time and the level's music plays at a rushed tempo.
While the player is in a level, the time limit on the HUD decreases at a steady rate until it reaches zero. If the player does not finish the level when time is up, they automatically lose a life and have to start the level over (or receive a Game Over when they have no more to lose). Once the player finishes a level, the remaining time is multiplied by a number and then added to the player's score (or coin total in Super Mario 3D Land). With few exceptions (e.g. in Super Mario World, Super Mario 3D Land, and Super Mario 3D World), it is impossible to increase a level's time limit. In Super Mario 3D Land, New Super Mario Bros. 2, and Super Mario 3D World, the time limit glows red when it is below 100 seconds.
In addition to the platformers, the Time Limit appears in various spin-offs.
Mario Kart series
In the Mario Kart series, the time limit is used for Battle mode games like Balloon Battle and Coin Runners. In addition to Battle mode, the time limit also appears when a race is about to begin. When Lakitu comes in with the traffic light, the timer will start once the first red light comes on and when it hits zero, the light will turn green and the race officially begins. Some missions in Mario Kart DS also have a time limit in Mission Mode.
Super Smash Bros. series
In the Super Smash Bros. series, the time limit appears during a standard match. The time limit varies depending on which mode the player uses. The timer starts when the announcer signals when to start the match. When time runs out, the match will end and a winner is announced but if the score is tied when it hits zero, then the match will go to Sudden Death.
Mario Party series
The time limit also appeared in the Mario Party series during a minigame. The amount varies on which type of minigame the player will participate in. When the time limit reaches five seconds, it will pulse when it counts down to zero and since Mario Party 4, the timer will also turn red.
Games in which the time limit appears