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A Time Limit (or simply Time) is a staple of the main Mario franchise platformer games, and its basic purpose is to notify the player of how much time is allotted to complete a level or task. If the timer reaches zero, the player loses a life regardless of power ups, including invincibility from a Super Star (and if time runs out when the player has no more lives left, they receive a Game Over). A timer's count is approximately 0.6 or 0.7 seconds in most games.
When the time limit decreases to 100 seconds, or in some games, 99 seconds, the "hurry up" jingle plays to warn that the player is running low on time and the level's music plays at a faster speed. In Super Mario 3D Land, New Super Mario Bros. 2, and Super Mario 3D World, the time limit glows red when it reaches 100 seconds, and also beeps for every second at the last 10 seconds.
In most games, it is impossible to increase a level's time limit. However, some games including Super Mario World, Super Mario 3D Land, and Super Mario 3D World feature a collectible (such as a green berry or a + Clock) that allows the player to increase it.
Time limits additionally appear in several other games such as in the Mario Kart series, Mario Party series, Super Smash Bros. series, and various Mario sports games where they function as a simple timer for a given game session.
Super Mario series
Super Mario Bros. / Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
Most stages in this game have a time limit of 400 seconds, which is 160 seconds in real time. Athletic levels, castles, and some overworld levels have a time limit of 300 seconds, which is 120 seconds in real time, with the exception of castles that are puzzles, which have a time limit of 400 seconds.
World C-4 in Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is the only level whose time limit is different in the original version (300) and in Super Mario All-Stars (400).
Super Mario Bros. 3
In Super Mario Bros. 3, most stages have a time limit of 300 seconds, due to the game having much shorter levels. World 6-5, World 8-, and World 8- are the only three stages that have a time limit of 400 seconds. All of the Hammer Bros. Enemy Courses and some very short stages, such as World 2-, have a time limit of 200 seconds; the map screen's pipe tunnels also have this limit in the original NES version.
In Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, the time bonus is x100, x200, and x500 for defeating Boom Boom, the Koopalings, and Bowser, respectively. The time bonus can also be doubled (like all gained points) if the Red Switch is active. The Green Switch can also affect the time limit by slowing down the first 50 seconds.
Super Mario World
In Super Mario World, one count of time is exactly 41 frames in the NTSC version, and 35 frames in the PAL version. Most levels have a time limit of 300 seconds. Some levels like most Ghost Houses (bar the Choco-Ghost House and Valley Ghost House), Yoshi's Island 2, Donut Plains 1, Donut Plains 2, and 2 Morton's Castle have 400 seconds. Switch Palaces, the Top Secret Area (in the GBA version only), and Funky have only 200 seconds, though it is possible to increase Funky's time limit by having Yoshi eat a green berry. Due to the timer's absence during the final battle, there is no time bonus for defeating Bowser.
With the exception of the final boss fight with Bowser, if Mario somehow loses a life in a level with no time limit, the "TIME UP!" message is still displayed.
In the GBA version, Bowser's Front Door time limit of 400 seconds is doubled to 800 seconds, his Back Door is increased from 400 seconds to 600 seconds, and the timer keeps running in the final battle. Additionally, the time bonus is x100, x200, and x500 for defeating Reznors and Big Boos, the Koopalings, and Bowser, respectively.
New Super Mario Bros.
Starting with New Super Mario Bros., time limits vary depending on the level type. Short levels have time limits of 300 seconds, most normal stages and Ghost Houses have a time limit of 400 seconds, while longer levels, towers, and castles have a time limit of 500 seconds, with the sole exception of World 2-, which has a time limit of 300 seconds.
In this game, Bowser's Castle has a time limit of 800 seconds.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
The time limit reappears in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, where time limits once again depend on the level type. Bowser's Castle has a time limit of 700 seconds, which carries on to most other versions of the level in the New Super Mario Bros. series.
Additionally, respawning at a Checkpoint Flag after losing a life causes the time limit to be reduced by 200 seconds (e.g.: if a level has a starting time limit of 500 seconds, restarting the level from the Checkpoint Flag will have a time limit of 300 seconds). This behavior carries on to future games, excluding the Super Mario Maker series.
Super Mario 3D Land
Due to Super Mario 3D Land lacking a score system, a coin is added to the coin count for every 10 seconds remaining instead (except for in World 8- 2). It makes players lose lives a second after the on-screen limit hits zero.
The time limit can be increased by collecting a + Clock. The amount added depends on whether it is a cyan clock (10 seconds) or green clock (100 seconds). In certain Special World courses, the time limit starts at 30 seconds, and it must be extended by collecting cyan clocks or beating certain enemies which hold cyan clocks (mostly Goombas) to keep it from expiring.
In this game, the time limit's indicator (the icon of which is a + Clock) starts to glow red when the timer falls below 100 seconds. When there are only 10 seconds remaining, the indicator beeps every second.
New Super Mario Bros. 2
The time limit reappears in New Super Mario Bros. 2. The time limit's indicator glows red under 100 seconds and beeps every second for the last 10 seconds, as it does in Super Mario 3D Land.
In the game's Coin Rush mode, most levels have a time limit of 100 seconds, though some courses, like World 1-1 and the third course of Coin Challenge Pack A start with only 50 and 20 seconds, respectively. It can be increased by passing a Checkpoint Flag (which adds 50 seconds or 100 seconds) or by grabbing + clocks, though green ones only add 50 seconds to the timer instead, unlike in Super Mario 3D Land. Like in Super Mario 3D Land, the remaining time is converted to coins, with a coin gained for every five seconds remaining.
New Super Mario Bros. U / New Super Luigi U / New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
Every level in New Super Luigi U starts at 100 seconds. 100 additional seconds are added to the timer when entering a boss door, while 250 additional seconds are added before fighting Bowser. Each in-game count lasts one second in New Super Luigi U.
Super Mario 3D World
The time limit reappears in Super Mario 3D World, working as it does in Super Mario 3D Land, though it once again gives points instead. Certain courses (like Pretty Plaza Panic) have a 100-second time limit. The + Clocks also return, working as they do in Super Mario 3D Land.
Super Mario Maker / Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS
The time limit reappears in Super Mario Maker and Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS, where each count lasts exactly one second. The time limit of a level can be set in the editor from 10 seconds to 500 seconds and can only be a multiple of 10.
Super Mario Run
In Super Mario Run, there is a time limit of a maximum of 99 seconds for World Tour and of 60 seconds for Toad Rally. In World Tour, expanding the time limit is allowed, either by hitting Time Blocks or by throwing Bob-ombs at Bowser in the last level. Remix 10 is the only game mode to not include a timer, as the levels have unlimited time limits. Time limits are also erased if any compatible level is played on Easy Mode.
Super Mario Maker 2
The time limit reappears in Super Mario Maker 2, working as it does in Super Mario Maker. In the online multiplayer mode of this game, if the time limit reaches zero, all players restart the course in Multiplayer Co-op, while in Multiplayer Versus, it is considered a tie.
In the Super Mario 3D World style, the indicator glows red when the timer is below 100 seconds, but it does not beep for the last 10 seconds.
Mario & Wario