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A pit, also called an abyss or bottomless pit, is a common area in platforming video games where no solid ground is programmed. If a character falls or jumps into a pit, they will be affected negatively, usually by immediately losing a life. Aesthetically, many of these pits appear to have no bottom; after falling a varying distance down (usually simply below the camera or screen), the player will die. Even an invincibility-granting item cannot protect the player from a bottomless pit, as it is not an enemy that can be defeated but rather an obstacle. In various 2D platformers, certain pits may only be one block wide; in such cases, the player can often run straight across the pits without falling down as long as they have enough speed. Walking across these narrow pits without running will generally not work.
While most pits will cause instant death, some will instead warp the player backward or to a particular location (sometimes in addition to losing a life). Other pits, such as those found in Donkey Kong, are clearly not bottomless (although the player will still lose a life upon hitting the bottom). The pits in Wario World lead to Unithorn's Lair, a subterranean cavern, and because players can resume progress once a specific goal has been reached, these cannot be considered bottomless pits.
Aesthetically, pits can take many forms. Although Mario can swim in some levels of Super Mario Bros., if he falls into water in a non-swimming level, he will lose a life just as if it was a pit. In Super Mario Bros. 2, allowing the player's character to sink through quicksand is the same as falling into a pit. In 2D platformers, lava is essentially a pit. In Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2, pits often take the form of black holes, appearing in island-like galaxies like Beach Bowl Galaxy or Matter Splatter Galaxy.
In 3D Mario platformers, many levels consist of landmasses or platforms floating in a large void. Examples of this are Whomp's Fortress, Pianta Village and many levels of the Super Mario Galaxy games and Super Mario 3D Land. These voids are essentially considered to be massive pits.
In Super Mario 64, in the mansion of Big Boo's Haunt, if Mario falls in a pit, he will end up in the mansion's basement rather than losing a life. Also, in the DS version remake, if Mario falls into a pit in Big Boo Battle, he will be teleported back to the starting area.
Pits also appear in the Mario Kart series, appearing in certain courses such as Mushroom Gorge from Mario Kart Wii. When a character drives off the course into a pit, they will yell out as the camera pans down into darkness, and a few seconds later, Lakitu will lift the character back up and drop them back onto the course, essentially making the pits act as a large time penalty, though they also cost the player a few coins in the games featuring them.
It is unknown if the pits in Super Paper Mario are bottomless because if Mario, Princess Peach, Bowser, or Luigi falls into a pit, they will flip back onto solid ground and lose 1 HP. A few pits in Super Paper Mario (on the outskirts of Flipside and Flopside) do not hurt the player, instead sending them to a secret room with a spring and a valuable item(s). Also in Super Paper Mario, some Shaydes are tasked with cleaning pits as punishment in The Underwhere.
In Super Mario Maker, the game may play an easter egg sound effect upon the player falling into a bottomless pit, with a landing noise suggesting that the pit apparently has a bottom. In these sound effects, Mario is heard to be doing something off-screen. On some occasions, the sound effect will be accompanied by other objects such as a car and several other Marios.
In Super Mario Odyssey, once Mario hits the pit's event horizon, several coins will spill out in each direction, and he will lose several before respawning; this is due to the game lacking a life system.